Thursday, April 07, 2016

Not the Real Mexico

The view from our balcony.
When our family took our trip to Mexico, we all were more than a bit nervous about traveling to another country. It's been years since Wayne and I had been to Mexico, and we all wondered about the language barrier.

As I expected, everyone working in the resort spoke English. We got to practice saying "gracias" and "por favor" a lot, but otherwise all transactions occurred in English. We didn't even have to change our money, we paid for any cash transactions with US dollars and tipped in dollars.  Can you imagine someone from Mexico coming to our country and trying to use pesos?

Early on in our stay Lindsey asked if Mexicans who vacation in the US can stay in places that only speak Spanish. I said, "If they vacation in an area that has a lot of Spanish-speaking people possibly, but for the most part they need to know English."

"But that's not fair!" she said., You are correct, it is not.

One day when went shopping in Playa del Carmen and had a taxi take us to "5th Avenue" (which is actually on 5th Ave), with blocks and blocks of vendors with tables out, stores and restaurants. The drive to leave our resort was a boulevard lined with lights, sculptures and palm trees. The driver then took a left and we were on a city street lined with half-tumbled down buildings and ramshackle lean-tos. A clothesline hung under a bridge held tiny t-shirts for boys and dresses for little girls. The heat was oppressive and there was no escaping it -- no pool to dip your toes into, no one to offer you a cool drink.

I felt like we had been living in Capitol City in the Hunger Games while District 13 was right outside our door.

Our luxurious bathroom.
Our family talked about it for some time after our shopping excursion. I would like to think that our visiting the country, going to a resort that employs local people and tipping generously throughout our trip helps. Yet the poverty we saw in a few blocks was no different from the poverty I saw in Honduras 15 years ago. Of the thousands of dollars we spent on our vacation -- airfare, the resort, food and shopping -- the majority of that money went to Melia, the company that owns the Paradisus line of resorts, and the airline. How much of that trickled down to the employees themselves? I can't imagine very much.

Our girls got a glimpse of how extravagantly Americans live compared to people in other countries. We talked a bit about the girl our family sponsors in the Philippines and how we can't help everyone living in poverty, but we can help one girl. And that has to count for something.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous9:42 AM

    Beautifully said. Great lesson in gratitude and you're using it to help others and help the girls learn that also.