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Port of Call

I thought I would bike into town this morning to buy some fruit and read for a while on the Malecon. Little did I know that it was cruise ship day…

I was stumbling around the craft market bewildered by the sound of my own language coming from every which way when I noticed that an open air tour bus was about to leave and cost $20 mxp (actually $2.00 US – everyone but me paid with American dollars). I collapsed my bicycle and hopped aboard, unsure why I wanted to take this ride. I found a seat in the last row of the lower level and started to look around.

Progreso is a different town when the tourists come to shore. It appeared on its best behavior displaying not a few items I have not seen here before. The tour bus itself was brightly painted with civic pride and our conductor Renee introduced himself in good English as a student. Renee was wearing a palm frond hat – an appropriate choice in millinery for a banana republic – but unlike anything I have seen around here. Then I spotted the guys selling them to some older adults and while my initial reaction was to scoff and mock, I’m on this bus too, and so I will just say that I am sure that the transaction was mutually beneficial.

I am completely bemused by the entire happening. There are so many vendors, lots of very white people in shorts drinking margaritas before noon, and everyone is waving. I don’t know if everyone is drunk or if they are experiencing that goofy euphoria of being in a strange place for a short time, or if overzealous arm movement is part of the cruising code, but again, I say (in my mind) So Be It.

Progreso, for all its charm, is not home to stunning architecture, pompous statuary, or historical type landmarks. Basically we drove along the water and looped around, passed the modest zocalo and returned to the market square. Renee made some standard tour guy banter and jokes at the town’s expense that made me cringe, and endeared him to me all at once. With a smile and a “gracias” and propinas all around I bounded down from the bus and sped off and away from the chaos of coral anklets and my countrymen.

I am both comforted and repelled to be near them, these vacationers. They are getting massages and playing volleyball on the sand and it is almost too much to take. Three people asked me if my bike was for sale. The enterprising spirit is infectious and I almost told a kid to make an offer – until I remembered it was not my property to sell. I really enjoy telling them that I live here. What a kick in the pants. I know I won’t be able to stay away.

Without further ado, some footage from the tour:

There Are 3 Responses So Far. »

  1. I’m totally with you on being both comforted and repelled by the gringo touristas. I have the same experience. I want to reach out and connect with my paisanos yet somehow ICK! Seeing their pasty white skin and hearing their inane banter about how quaint Mexico is just irks me no end. I just want to tell them that this quaint thing they see isn’t the real Mexico. That the real Mexico is standing in line for 3 hours to pay the tenecia on the car…

  2. Don’t worry about the beer. We got the beer.

    The siren call of accents that sound like home is hard to resist, even when the sirens themselves are making asses of themselves and their (your?) country.

  3. Re: “I really enjoy telling them that I live here. What a kick in the pants.”

    That actually does sound strange to hear yourself say it the first few times – but after a while, you’re right – it is the BEST FUN!!! πŸ™‚

    …and you’re right about tourists being really wierd too! Don’t know if its Americans or tourists or a combination of the two – but they dress funny and act really nuts!!!

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