Monday, August 05, 2013

starbucks no aqui

I am stuck in a Fellini film.  At least, I thought so on Saturday.

I was leaving the post office empty handed when I saw him walking toward me.  You know the type.  Young.  Good-looking.  Dressed as if he had just completed a Liverpool model gig.  The type of middle-class preppie look with world-wide currency.

When he saw me, he put on that look of "I-don't-know-you-but-we-belong-to-the-same-fraternity" cockiness that inevitably leads to a question.  His completely took me off guard.

"Where is the Starbucks?" 

This he asked in Spanish.  Even with my fingertip grasp of the language, I knew what he was asking.  The question is akin to those other language school gems.  "Where is the red pencil box?"  Or "The green fountain pen is stuck in the roasted chicken."

You would have to live in Melaque to understand my response.  The town makes is living off of Mexican, not northern, tourists.

Without thinking, I said: "You've got to be kidding!" 

I am certain it was in English because I do not have the foggiest idea how to translate a double colloquialism into Spanish.

And then shocker number two.  He said, as if it was the most startling thing in the world: "You speak English!?!"

Take a look at my photograph at the right.  I look as if I could be the AARP cover boy for Boy's Life.  What language would you guess I spoke?  Well, maybe German.  Or Norwegian.

It turns out he was from Mexico City after having lived in California for 10 years.  He was visiting Melaque with his parents, who came here when they were young.  His take on my little village?  It is boring and dirty. 

I told him the nearest Starbucks was in Guadalajara -- a bit of misinformation: the nearest one is an hour away in Manzanillo.  And, not being a coffee drinker, I had no idea if there was a decent substitute here.

I would not be surprised to see a Starbucks in Melaque before too long.  The village has long had a reputation of being a tourist stop for working class tourists -- who still arrive in caravans of buses from the highlands during the summer.

But the trade is changing.  SUVs filled with middle class couples and their average 1.9 children have become quite common during the past two years.  And where J. Crew and Izod travels, Starbucks cannot be far behind.

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