As a general rule I don’t invite friends or family here. Especially to my little hideout here in Michoacán. I don’t extend invites to those people I know who won’t appreciate the subtle distinction between benign neglect and neglect. Places like this are just too hard to explain. And heaven knows I can’t protect you in a place like this from what you don’t like or don’t understand.
By all means visit the wonderful beaches. Mexico has some of the finest beaches in the world. Or visit some of the great cities here for the foods and architecture. But unless you have a particularly wild hair up your ass and want to see the real Mexico then I suggest you stay out of the interior, stay out of the mountains, and stay on the paved roads.
I can see my friend, Bernie’s visit from a million miles away. If he had his way, on day two, I would be eating American fast food in my own town because he saw too many instances of questionable developing-world-style hygiene.
So given his visit here, my life would almost instantaneously become like his life, even though I’ve been eating here and eating this delicious street vendor fare for over five years. No. Bernie will never get an invite here because I don’t want to live like him. Hell, I even moved four thousand miles away just to get away from that kind of fussy fastidiousness.
Why is it so many of my American friends and family presumptuously assume that adaptability should always trend in the direction of safe conformity to which logic, facts and the rules of compromise are needlessly sacrificed?
I remember a few years back when my old buddy, Doug visited me in Washington, DC. It was less than a great visit because that time he brought his screaming-wife-from-hell instead of his easygoing twenty-something year old son like he did the visit before. One lunchtime we were walking not far from the White House, closer to China Town, to where there were several exceptional eating places close by. Doug wanted something ethnic like gyros (tacos?) but his wife imperiously announced she wanted a sandwich. So instead of getting some good local food like from one of the many types of international restaurants that DC is famous for, we ended up getting a taste-the-same-everywhere sandwich from one of the big national chains.
In addition to getting my life hijacked, the other thing I positively hate just as much is being put in the position of having to explain everything sometimes ad infinitum to a visitor. Yes, compared to the US everything is much different here in Mexico. The architecture, the building materials, highways, roads, food, laws, government, police, crime – you name it – are all very much different here. But just because it’s different doesn’t mean the typical visitor needs to understand it – not to mention all of it – on the very first visit. And just because I happen to be sharing your adventure doesn’t mean that I need to share any/all of your thoughts on why things are the way they are like for example why the traffic signage back home is superior.
I most definitely don’t like talking about: Signage. Roads. Government. Any of that. That’s all gouge your eyes out boring territory. If you want to be a good visitor – shut up, go with the flow and at least pretend if you have to that you are having a good time.
Living in this wonderful place I am even more reluctant to share some of these great little secrets I’ve discovered here. I mean why? If I have to just about beg someone to try something wonderfully and deliciously new and they try a little bit only to reject, then who is the bigger fool?
Hopeless idiots should only travel with other likeminded hopeless idiots lest the very balance of the world be put at risk. Travel, be free – but please just leave me out of your plans.
I am not worried about you getting robbed, beaten, kidnapped or murdered, although those things do happen especially if you’re a moron or you’re one of those kinds of people who attract trouble.
Example. I laughed out loud last week when I read about some minor Mexican internet media celebrity who got himself a major surprise when the cartel chief he publicly disrespected had his subordinates hunt him down and shoot his ass seriously dead. Fifteen bullets. In public.
Yes, murder is against the law here just like it is there, but the real difference here is laws are recognizably permeable. Laws are only an abstraction of appropriate social behavior. They are by no means a protective barrier.
Here, there are real time consequences for bad behavior.
And I like that.