My son told me he was getting married in Mexico next month and that my attendance was required. I was thrilled about the wedding but not the location. He had vacationed in Mexico several times and loved the cultural atmosphere, sun-drenched beaches, humid mountainous terrains, beer, food and the cheap way of life.
Getting married in Mexico was an event contrary to my better judgment. It was actually a reckless decision for his family to attend the wedding, and thoughtless for his friends. How any of us/all of us could actually get vacation time off from work and afford the expense of traveling to Mexico? It wasn’t all about going to Mexico for the wedding. It was about going to Mexico during their difficult times of drug lord wars, social and environmental problems, high levels of air pollution and crime, especially crime; robberies and kidnappings and murders.
Getting either kidnapped or murdered after leaving my son’s wedding isn’t my way of celebrating his future as a new husband.
My visits to Mexico five times over the past four decades were to Tijuana, Calexico, Nogales and El Paso, but they were all border towns. The fifth time I had traveled to Mexico City was by bus, an indelible experience in my late teens that skewed by lifetime viewpoint about everything Mexico. The poverty seemed endless, the cultural shock was devastating, and the forthcoming illness of two months from the culinary aspect almost killed me.
Calling a few friends and asking a few neighbors, researching the Internet and reading a few articles about the current Mexico, as well as watching CNN’s interpretation about Mexican drug wars and how the Mexican government is handling the escalating gang violence, kidnappings and murders hasn’t cooled off my impressions of Mexico’s impoverished citizenship, their declining economy, HINI swine flu and their call to the world celebrating their exceptionally affordable tourism.
Once I had heightened emotional feelings of my son’s pending disastrous wedding, he explained that it was scheduled to be in San Miguel de Allende, a community of artists, designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2008, known for its beautiful colonial architecture and thermal springs, and that of the 80,000 foreign residents within the urban area, 70% are from the United States. Nice feelings within me were emerging about Mexico.
After I had read a story about San Miguel beginning its career as a center for American expatriates, explaining that it was a popular destination for Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, as recorded in Tom Wolfe’s novel The Electric Cool-Aid Acid Test, good feelings within me had emerged about Mexico. Ken Kesey was my hero of days past, and since he loved Mexico why couldn't I?
Were my feelings about Mexico too critical? Had my experiences with Mexicans—a boy pulling a pocket knife on me demanding my wallet, a young adult woman trying to steal my camera, a one-eyed elderly woman begging for any type of handout—had distorted my judgment? I finally realized that the half-dozen or so critical incidents didn’t equate to the huge populace of Mexico, that the poverty and crime wasn’t isolated in that country, political unrest, gang violence, kidnapping and murders weren’t indigenous events to Mexico. All those horrendous things happen worldwide and worse yet, take place in our affluent and precious United States.
I was now feeling okay about my son’s upcoming wedding in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. His friends and family members didn't object to attending his wedding, actually a few couples have extended their visit to Mexico City as a vacation after the upcoming wedding.
I’ll be traveling to Mexico, and I’ll just be more vigilant about my surroundings, offer my best Bert Lancaster smile to the locals, speak Spanish and worry less about money exchanges and tipping. I’d also have to drink bottled water. J
Perhaps I can write a follow-up blog after the wedding, detailing my new experiences in Mexico, and that would include my observations of the weather, food, children and adults, architecture and as well as coverage of the wedding. If any of you would be interested in that please let me know.