Travel in Latin America
About this time of year, I normally start haranguing about tourist season in the little central Mexican town where I live, Guanajuato. If you haven’t been following my articles, and if not, why not, you would know that I do not take kindly to the usual American and Canadian tourists who come sweeping into town to make life a hellish existence for the locals.
Once, as I reported, the wife and I were sitting in Bar Ocho, a lovely little place serving great grilled salmon, when a group of gringos, drinking beer the way you and I would drink water, finally hit barracho overload. They were quite drunk. When they finished eating…I mean drinking (since the beer was the meal), they tried flagging a cab. They became belligerent and were standing on the curb shooting the finger and yelling the favorite American phrase (“You mother fu*ker!”) at cabs that wouldn’t stop.
I mean, would you stop for a drunken mob of American sods if you were the cab driver?
Over the years, we could not wait for tourist season to end so life could get back to normal. I’m not saying all American tourists who came to Guanajuato acted like they were raised by Neanderthals. But, a sufficient amount did. This caused quite a bit of discussion between me and my Mexican friends who demanded I explain the behavior of Americans who came to tour Guanajuato. Frankly, I got to a point where I would try to pretend I wasn’t from America so no one would ask me.
That pretense never worked.
However, I am very happy to say two things in my annual American tourist report from Guanajuato.
One is that tourist season seems to be year-round now. They are coming in droves and are spending lots and lots of money. This is a great thing for the Mexican families we have befriended who depend on the tourists for their livelihoods. This is good.
The second thing is that they are behaving. A different breed seems to be coming into town. These people know, more or less, that coming to Guanajuato and acting like you were raised by a troop of baboons is probably not a great plan. This is a very, very good thing if you ask me.
I can give no account about why there has been a distinct absence of The Ugly American Syndrome these days in Guanajuato. However, it is so pleasant to see. I don’t find as much writing material as I used to, but, hey, that’s ok. For once I can sit in El Jardin and not have to hide my head when some American couple, usually retirement age, stands in front El Hotel Posada Santa Fe and screams:
“I know you speak English here and are pretending you don’t.”
Nor have we had the entertaining opportunity to watch an entire American family meltdown. We have seen families almost come to blows over the fact they couldn’t have American television in their very Mexican hotel room or something else they felt deprived of. Always, mind this now, they say, “the hotel staff did this to us on purpose…”
Spookily, the current gringo tourists seem to be behaving well. I’ve been asking my cronies downtown, mostly waiters and cabbies, if the gringos are behaving. To my surprise and a little shock, they all report affirmatively.
I’ve also seen the tourists hiring bilingual tour guides, which is just wonderful. Not only are they pouring money into Guanajuato and feeding Mexican families, but they are also beginning to get that there is a lot more to Mexico than resorts and watching humpback whales breeding off the shore of Puerto Vallarta. I am not saying that’s not fun but just how many times can you watch whales having sex before it gets old?
When you tire of that, central Mexico is the place to visit.
Now, if I can only get them to learn some Spanish before coming here for a vacation.
Stranger things have happened.