Back in The 'Kan EWA from the rain forests and beaches of Puerto Vallarta. Interesting week. It's very, very seldom that I do not connect with a people; this week I ruefully was reminded, again, of how Northern European I apparently am. Despite any language barrier anywhere, I never fail to feel a spark and be warmed by mothers with their children, teenagers waiting for the bus, waiters working hard, grandmothers on a walk. I always have all kinds of interesting, joyful, gracious encounters with people and their town, no matter what country.
Not this week. I was seen, unilaterally, as a money bearing, overbearing, irksome source of existence/subsistence not to be trusted or respected. I couldn't spend enough money in a shop; I couldn't smile wide enough or speak softly enough. Everything is negotiable. Anything is negotiable. They name their price, you name yours and the antagonism begins. All in the name of cultural merchantability, of course. When you hold your line, they say Don't play games and become sullen. Nothing is fair in Mexico. Everything is fair in Mexico. Game, that is.
And yet there is no industry, there is no commerce, there is virtually nothing in the lives of these people that isn't American-driven. Puerto Vallarta, like my hometown, is a beachtown and the business is tourism. I heard no French, German nor British English on the dusty streets of town this week; but I did hear six different dialects of American English. And the Americans were eating, drinking (Worst t-shirt: Maybe of all time: I AM SHY But I Have A Big Dick), shopping and soaking up the sun in the most gleeful of manners. And while I saw no ugly Americans this week I did see lots and lots of ugly souvenirs and cheaply made goods. Maybe the contrast was made all the more stark by the most exquisite of beaches--the North Shore of Oahu has nothing on Puerto Vallarta.
So it was a puzzling, confusing week. The bright exception was the professional, extremely competent guides in the rain forest, who expertly sent tourists flying 560 feet above the ground. I just can't think they are different people that all the other natives of Puerto Vallarta, but somehow the commonalities and similarities are lost on me.
The 'Kan EWA