After being away for three weeks, I awoke to a list of chores that needed doing -- whether or not I wanted doing them.
The usual small stuff. Check on the mail. Buy some time for my telephone. Stop at the ATM to replenish my depleted peso stash. Pick up some groceries. Nip into the farmacia to buy a new razor and blades along with a bottle of mouthwash.
The last three months of eating in restaurants and being toted from place to place like some Eastern potentate has left me with an increased girth. Most of it has been of my own doing. A lot of fat and salt has found its way down my gullet.
So, when I awoke at 6 this morning, I got dressed, walked past my anxious truck, and headed to the village on foot. Walking has always been the best way for me to get regular exercise.
I forgot one thing, though. For the past three months I have been in climates where hard shoes are the norm (if not necessity) -- Oregon, Copper Canyon, San Francisco, China. As a result, the soles of my feet have reverted to the softness of the proverbial baby’s bottom -- you know, the one that is not to be tossed out with the bath water.
By the time I had finished half of my chores, I realized that I had lost the callouses that make sandals comfortable. Instead, I had developed enough blisters that the return trip to the house was just a bit slow.
There is, of course, an inevitable comparison to be drawn. Immersing ourselves in cultures requires new sensitivities along with a certain hardness.
I thought of that this morning while reading the latest “shocking” news from Puerto Vallarta. On Thursday, 22 cruisers off of a Carnival ship were relieved of their valuables while returning from a nature trail excursion. Masked (and armed) highwaymen stopped their bus, and did their best Pancho Villa impression. (Well, not really. Pancho would have shot them all.) It is all just a bit too retro.
There is the usual internet buzz this morning. Foreigners (who would never have visited before the incident) claim they will not visit Mexico. And the Mexican government has issued the usual perfunctory calming statement that the incident is rare.
Which it is. But nothing will stop the cruise lines from taking Puerto Vallarta off their list -- as they have Mazatlan. Or they just may pull out of the western Mexico market -- as some lines already have.
I know this drill quite too well, having lived a bit of it. Lawyers for the cruise line will argue that the cost of insurance and the danger of losing one big lawsuit will severely reduced the profits from their western Mexico cruises. And another life joy will suffer the American peanut syndrome.
But I am not going to worry about this little morality play that will play its way out with its own cast of characters. Just as the death of Robin Woods did here in Melaque.
As for me, I am putting bandaids on my soles and building up my cultural callouses.
* I still have quite a few tales to tell about my China trip. But the urge to write about Mexico cannot be denied. So, I will intersperse the occasional Hispanic tale among my Sinolese commentary.