A few random thoughts and observations from
a first timer in Mexico
Part 1: Basura
Things are definitely different down here and to get the most out of your precious time you have to use different eyes to view life accordingly. A lot of people who are off the beaten path, well away from the white-washed and manicured five-star resort tourist traps, have strong negative first-time reactions to what they see. These need to be broken down carefully so it's clear that one is thinking objectively and not just noting again and again that this is definitely not Norte America.
But first I have to mention that it always rubs me the wrong way when I'm with a group of cruisers and something happens etc and the first comment made is "well, it is a third world country after all ..." As if they're making some magnanimous allowance or being charitable in their observations! After thirty years on this rock I still don't know what a third world country is (if you actually do please write me). Anyway, why do we need three worlds?
One of the typical first comments gringos make about Mexico is how dirty everywhere is and "why don't they just pick up all their trash?" This is a complex statement on many levels here. I've often thought that Mexico could definitely benefit from a public works FDR style "new deal" but that solution is far from perfect. On one hand it would give everyone something to do which could only help since Mexico certainly is economically depressed (the average daily wage is around $3 USD, but a Coke still costs $.50). On the other hand, the older I get the more I question the value anything involving "progress" (building more city infrastructure, bridges etc for industry).
If there were a couple of days set aside each year where everyone banded together to clean up beaches or their village or whatever and maybe even got a free meal or cervezas it would really start to make a difference, however. The other strange thing about the basura (trash) situation down here is that trash collection is very regular and reliable (even on Christmas Eve on a remote beach) so it makes one wonder what's up with the proliferation of trash everywhere. Perhaps people have worse aim in some parts. I've never lived in abject poverty, missed meals frequently so I can't speak to this issue much but it does seem to me that if you have nothing and worry about providing for you family everyday the last thing on your mind is how aesthetically pleasing your front yard is.
Beyond the issue of basura I never tire of remarking that overall I find nearly every city in Mexico either more interesting or aesthetically pleasing that some of the more contemporary cities in N America of equal size. I don't think it's just because there's a more European flare (there is) but each place just seems to have more of an organic flow about it. The fact that every city here, regardless of size, seems to have a zocalo (city center or central plaza) speaks to this issue. Why doesn't every N American city have a little square in the middle of it where people gather on Sundays to walk around and talk about art, politics or meet girls.
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