How I made it out of Mexico !
27.01.2012 - 03.02.2012 23 °C
To understand the Mexican ... You must first think like the Mexican ....
Hmmm OK !! Well that's a mighty tall order , especially considering the average Mexican inhabits a universe so very foreign to my own experience...
For a kick off Señors Garcia and Hernandez ... Partial to the occasional cold beer on a hot day, are of the opinion that to truly enjoy the benefits of a Corona ( or a Pacifico or Montejo ) it must be consumed , not from the bottleneck ( with the retardation to flow afforded by a sliver of lemon or lime , so beloved of my Australian amigos.)
No .. This is not good form !
Instead the Mexican amber nectar is discharged from the bottle and mixed with a generous shot of a cloudy lemon based concoction which lends to the brew a certain cloudiness not unlike it's Australian cousin Coopers sparkling ale ! Garnish with a sprinkling of salt around the rim of the copa , a la margarita , and there you have it ....Different , but strangely alluring !
It's not entirely a surprise that Corona and Sol... The most visible Mexican beers in your average trendy Sydney hostelry are not highly regarded on their home turf and in much the same way as our own international brand , Fosters , is largely disregarded in Australia , the global Mexican flagship drop is regarded with haughty disdain , in favor of more parochial varieties.
You would think that having consumed generous quantities of the good stuff that the local populace would be lulled gently into slumber at a reasonable hour......No such luck amigo!....and as I am finding as I move East across South America the siesta is king....recharging the batteries for an assault on the hours after midnight which beggars belief.
Now im no slouch in the party department ! I can mix it with the best of them. However ! Noone seems to eat before 11pm and I simply cant wait that long for my tucker !.....and after a solid days exploration of the third largest city on the planet,by midnight Im ready for a kip!
But the noise !!! if it wasnt the revellers it was the fireworks...if it wasnt the fireworks it was the guns or other inexplicable explosions...if it wasnt the guns it was the dogs and the cockerels who seemed to be competing. In Ixtapan the town clings to the hillside looking across a wide dusty valley to the Sierra Madre. Every night it would seem some body was letting off fireworks and bombs and the sound from several different towns somehow seemed to find its way to my bedroom.
Thank God Kirsten had the presence of mind and theh travel nous to pack five pairs of earplugs with my luggage
As I am three weeks into my trip and composing this blog retrospectively I have come to realise that abiding by Australian sleep patterns becomes futile and I am now adopting a "cant beat them....Join em" attitude.
Another small clue to the fact that the world turns a little differently here came during my first tour of the city on foot. I was staying some distance from the Centro Historico and decided to take a somewhat circuitous route to the Zocalo in order to get a better feel for the place, which eventually brought me to the outskirts of the CBD. It struck me very quickly that the street down which I was strolling was filled entirely with shops selling nothing but electric light accessories...switches...wiring ...light fittings you know the type of shop I mean....but all the shops grouped together in the one place. This struck me as somewhat odd in that in Australia or the UK these shops are likely to be seperated and immediately adjacent to other different types of business.
Moving to the next street I quickly found that this rule of thumb also applied to purveyors of sexual novelty items!!....oo er have you ever been tickled missus ?.....moving swiftly on I found myself in the Distrito mobile phone and so on and so forth with only the occasional department store providing a departure from this trend.
To the Mexican this is perfectly normal.
Later that evening I was having a drink with one of the locals and I questioned him in this regard. His response was that it was simply the way business was conducted here and always has been. His explanation was that it enabled the customer to drive a harder bargain when the Senor in the next shop had the same product at a few pesos less....Great for the consumer and very likely to elevate the levels of customer service.
The next day I was continuing my Lawrence travelogue and happened upon a section where he discusses the same phenomenon in a small Mexican town, but in the 1920s .The Zocalo becomes a market place on the weekend and vendors from the outlying villages come to the big town to sell their wares...be they fruit....leather goods...... poultry etc etc....and Lawrence noted that each type of business had its own little area of the market place. He posits that the need for social intercourse is intricately entwined with the desire to barter....and that the deal becomes immaterial ,merely providing the vehicle for human contact with a stranger and the correspondent satiety of the need for human contact..........Go figure !
He also observed that there was a vigorous trade in the shoe making sector in human excrement....at the time used as an adjunct to the tanning of the leather....and that prospective customers were sniffing the pots to make sure he got the best shit......ewww...a practise now mercifully redundant....(although one of my taxi drivers did tell me there was good shit to be had on the streets.......perhaps thats what he meant)?
Oh and the taxis.....there seems to be a taxi classification whereby taxis are broken into two groups safe (Seguro) ,authorised (Autoriso)taxis and the rest....which I am reliably informed are certainly not safe and inadvertent entry may see you driven to a less salubrious suburb and relieved at the very least of your camera and wallet....and in some instances your period of time on the planet !! Now call me crazy but I cant see people queuing up around the block for an unsafe taxi can you ? “ no mate....thought id live dangerously tonight and go for one of the dodgy ones !! ”
For it does seem that despite its undeniable charms Mexico is not without its challenges from a socio economic perspective.
It seems to be the case that whilst the wealthy , at least, appear to have harnessed the potential of a vibrant nation, growing fat on their tequila y enchiladas....the common man....whilst by no means starving, remains largely impoverished and underpaid....and driven by ever increasing cyber glimpses of a 21st century Utopia beyond their shores, and the lure of a quick buck trafficing drugs , the noble savage has turned bandido in order to sate the burgeoning need for a newly minted coin of consumerism.
One need only look at the crime statistics...a staggering 20,000 plus murders took place in Mexico last year, along with countless acts of petty crime, pickpocketing ,muggings and rape.
Smart Traveller urges the need for extreme caution in Mexico and to steer clear entirely of the border towns such as Suarez where the crime rate is out of control where the rubber meets the road of Cocaine trafficing between North and South America.
Everyone who has visited Mexico seems to know someone who has experienced some act of crime or violence and warnings abound to never go out alone after dark.
The upshot is that whilst Mexico is a fascinating and beautiful place to visit I never did feel 100% safe and whilst I made some forays alone into the city at night I tended to stay pretty close to my hostel as a result of this awareness.
A little sad I guess but I least I made it out of Mexico.......wonderfully fed and watered...fascinated by a disparate culture.....So ,sleep deprived and thirsty for my Chilean adventure....Santiago here I come !!