Mexico – Right Across the Border

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Day two in Mazatlan view from my room.

Mazatlan is a means to an end: that end being, a trip with a friend to Copper Canyon, and reacquainting myself with Mexico. I haven’t been to Mexico for a few years, and never to Mazatlan.

Impressions:

Poverty: It seems that it would be a good idea to teleport tourists from the airport to the Centro Historico in Mazatlan. Nothing between arrival at the airport and arrival at the tourist district would recommend staying here. The intervening reality is poor, dirty and disheveled, and disheartening. It is a testament to the Disney-fication of city centers that tourists are able to suspend the reality of what they see upon arrival and luxuriate in the artificial cultural authenticity of the centros historicos.

Noise: The noise level is challenging. People say Asians are loud, and some can be, but Mexico has the volume at 10 most of the time. Music, laughs, talking  — all great in their own right, but exhausting when constant. But, I’m in a city, so no rush to judgement.

Judgement: That is actually what I am here for, I realized. I am here to judge whether I can, or want to, live here. This task makes just enjoying the place a bit complicated.

Complications: Where to stay? Where to go? When? Why?

People: It is Mexico, after all. People are genuinely friendly, and some are equally genuinely interested in your money. Of course.

Safety: I haven’t seen anything yet to make me feel unsafe. The unsafe feeling comes from media images over time impressing on my mind the idea of the dangerous Mexican male of a certain age and deportment. This is called prejudice, but it gets ingrained and second nature. It’s hard to turn on American television without seeing Latino males causing havoc. It sells well to pander to existing prejudices with evidence to reinforce, and create more, prejudices. I feel safe and the Mexican men I have encountered have been kind and respectful. Now, of course, I haven’t been trying to buy drugs or frequenting the places where people do, and that is probably a very wise thing.

Heat: Yes, well the heat and humidity are here in Mazatlan. I’ll be going down for a long siesta today. The AC in my room is no match for the afternoon heat. I’ll try to score a fan from the hotel. Tomorrow I’ll catch a bus for Durango, 6000 ft up in the mountains in the east. I’ll be back here for a few days next week before heading north to the Copper Canyon.

Language: I’m sort of holding my own with Spanish. Mexicans tend to speak it blessedly slowly. I learn some every day, and have no fear of being able to have a modest mastery of what I need if I decide on Latin America. This hemisphere has that going for it over Asia — I can speak the languages, more or less.

So, my first days have been a bit disorienting and disconcerting, as I now have an agenda which makes me view things with a much more critical eye than in the past.

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