Saturday, July 7, 2007

Mexico

No pictures from Mexico yet, but I have returned. Viva Mexico.

I just want to use this space here to sort through many of my thoughts that I went through while in a resort crowded with gluttonous Americans and native Mexican workers.

First of all, the physical landscape is breathtaking. The wildlife is incredible; it's like walking through a tropical location so distant from Upstate New York. Around the resort, different variations of peacocks would just walk around, iguanas would slowly perch by a rock or swim in the water, stray cats would loiter around for some spare food, and so many different birds were constantly circling around the premises. Not to mention, the trees and flowers were unbelievable. I've never seen anything so gorgeous and healthy.

The weather was extremely hot. Perhaps not something I would like to live in day-to-day. Could anyone live in a hot, humid environment that always ranged above 90 degrees? It was just too much for me, someone whose skin is prone to burning and freckling...

No bugs. No mosquitos. That's a dream for me. I wish we had that in Upstate New York. Our weather here would be a dream if we had no bugs to eat you alive when you sit outside at night or in the afternoon, or long, extreme winters that last through March and April. Yuck. Otherwise I love the weather here.

Back to my Mexican commentary: I realized why so many foreign countries hate us so much. I came into contact with so many American strangers who were very pompous and arrogant, very gluttonous and self-centered. Their attitudes came off when they would interact with the resort staff, which made me want to slap them right across the face.

One instance which I think clearly illustrates my point: at the swim-up bar, a bunch of people were sitting at stools waiting for their turn with the bartender. A young boy swims up to the bar and sits down. Both bartenders are in the middle of making drinks. "EXCUSE ME! EXCUSE ME!" The boy keeps yelling at the bartenders, wanting to be served immediately. Of course, a bartender goes to him to silence his rude screams, and he does not ask for his drink, he commands it: "Strawberry/Pina Colada Virigin Daquiri." If I was the bartender, it would make me sick to my stomach to wait on someone who treated me like such an animal. I also saw this same kid at a restaurant later in the week. He came with a small list of food that he wanted (four items with lasagna at the top of the list), and handed his list to the server at the buffet line whose job was to simply just cut meat. It was French night. When the server told him that what was on the buffet line and menu was all, he stomped back to his table in a fit. He filled his plate with more food than he could eat and wasted the food in return.

I saw many more instances of food wasting and ill treatment to the resort staff. Now think about the staff: these people do not have much money and work full days at the resort. We would go in for an early lunch, and they would be closing by dinner time working almost 7 days a week in the extreme heat. Some of them would act in a resentful way towards us, when I would ask for something, I could feel their contempt against me (not specifically, but a guest like me), for I know they are acting out of defense for most of us are conceited, rude, and ignorant of their lives. I didn't take it personally.

I really got a feel for how they live when I traveled through the downtown city one day, and another day we traveled through the rural area. I am not admitting that I know how their lives are. I don't at all. I can infer from my observations how severely different we have it from them. Their battered housing conditions alone made me feel so greatful for the house I currently live in. It makes me feel selfish when I would gawk at some of the student housing I rejected at college. Perhaps I am a bit snooty in some areas.

You could tell how desperate they are for many when you would walk through the streets and they would just hound you to buy anything. You couldn't walk three feet without someone yelling "senorita!" or "miss, miss, some jewelery for you?" or "silver, silver!" It was constant.

Even when we would sit at a small restaurant on the beach at the resort, we were elevated on a deck but were kind of fenced in from the actual beach itself, and vendors would walk along the deck and yell at us from the beach. While we were eating, they were trying to sell us merchandise. Mostly jewelery. One woman asked me at least two times a day for one week if I wanted my hair braided. My long hair had dollar signs on it. I must have been asked dozens of times if I wanted my hair braided. I hated feeling the harassment from their haggling and yelling. I wanted to be left alone as I walked through their marketplaces and shops. The more yelling they did, the more I refused to buy anything. I understand why they're being so nagging, but it really turned me off. I ended up buying a couple items, but I bought them in stores where people left me alone. I learned that I take that for granted in any store I've been in. More or less, sales reps will leave you alone. They might greet you, but they won't literally follow you around the store, commenting on each item you slide your finger over or comment on to your mother.

In one shop, I picked up a small turtle with so many vibrant colors on it, and the woman working there scooted up behind me between my mother and I, took it out of my hand, and said "Would you like me to wrap this for you?" And I was like no, no... I walked out because I felt violated. She then chased me out of the store holding other items in her hand that I might want to buy. Eek.

They must be so aggressive because some vendors would work all day and get no sale. That must be so hard. Can you imagine working 8+ hours every day and returning with no money? That must stew their behavior.

I was so impressed with the natives' abilities to speak both English and Spanish. Why can't we do that here? I wish we could. I tried to speak Spanish down there, but I am only at the level of like a three year old. My brother and I tried, but it was difficult. We actually saw a toddler speak nasty Spanish, and it was a bit discouraging that someone so young just owned us in the language.

They learn to speak both languages at a young age, which I think that we should do in this country, especially since we're becoming more global and multicultural even within our own borders. We passed by a few elementary schools in rural Mexico, and I felt very fortunate for my own. They have tall walls surrounding the school with gates and bars on the windows to keep them in. It seemed very much like a prison, like they had to conceal them inside. They all wear thick uniforms in the hot weather. If American students have problems focusing once the weather turns nice, I can't imagine how these students behave. Kudos to Mexican teachers.

I also went to a tequila factory and saw how they actually make tequila from green or blue agave plants. It's such an interesting process. I love tequila, so this experience was amazing. We tried different flavors of tequila, from the original to almond, chocolate to mandarin orange. Mmm.

But, the cultures are vastly different. I'm glad I got to see another side of the world, giving me different viewpoints on different styles of life and even new perspectives on people in our country. It was a humbling experience, as I am sure that any trip to a different country is.

I just wish I spoke Spanish, too.

1 comment:

Megan Bottle said...

Yay, you're back! I missed your blog... I was on vacation this week too (but to Iowa... Viva la Corn...) visiting TJ's grandparents... they have dialup so blogging was painfully slow anyway...

I know what you mean about snobby Americans. I see it best between my brother and I: when I was going through my teens, my parents had just divorced and quite honestly, my mom was flat broke. We never went without, though, but the clothes that I wore were plain, we took only mini-vacations to campgrounds, and holidays consisted of a few small, but always thoughtful gifts. My brother, on the other hand, went through his teens after my mom remarried. My stepdad had just taken over and become president of his father's milk trucking business, and because of the business' success, my mom was no longer a struggling single mom. Consequently, my brother demanded only Abercrombie and Fitch, brand new cars, etc. I'm content to take a vacation to Iowa and sleep on a futon for a week, have Duncan Hines cake for my birthday, and go thrift store shopping. He requires five-star hotels with marble floors and dinners at Ruth's Chris, deep-sea fishing and late nights in clubs...Oddly enough, my brother was in Mexico this week too. Just weird.

Anyway... my point is... from what I've seen, money=snobbery. Obviously, there are exceptions... but it seems to me that in the minds of those people, they belive that if they're going to spend big bucks on something, they want to be sure that it's going to be exactly what they want and when they want it. That's why I don't really like going on vacations with my mom and my brother... they're just too impatient and demanding when it comes to customer service.

This kind of sounds like a blog post of my own... I'm working on one, you know, because I just feel like I want to rant about stuff that people probably don't care to read anyway...

I can't wait to see the pictures that you post on your blog... Mexico sounds amazing...