Saturday, February 25, 2012

the old soft shoe

I am back in town.*  Melaque town, that is.

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.  


Kwallelno said...

I was thinking of your electrical problems just yesterday. Was it the grounding rod at the fuse box? A bit of wire crossing over?
The bandits on the road thing is something I fear on my backroads wanderings, I fear not going more. Life is too short to fail to drink at the water hole because the lions might be around-I do try to keep an eye out for them...
Get some moleskin for those blisters and keep on trucking.

Steve Cotton said...

I have not had an opportunity to tackle the electrical issue. I have been on the road since I wrote about it.

For today, I am slipping on a pair of shoes to go to church. That will give the blisters a chance to harden up.

Don Cuevas said...

The word on the Thorn Tree, Mexico Branch, from "JR in PV" is that there was one gunman with a pistol.
Still, not a Fun Ship day for the Carnival Cruisers on that shore excursion.

Saludos,Don Cuevas 

John Calypso said...

Glad you are back!

Felipe Zapata said...

Just one more reason not to gad about with a gaggle of Gringos in Bermuda shorts and dangling cameras.

Andean said...

In your 3 months of travel you also passed through various climates, being in the NE even though mild for winter this year, I would welcome Melaques with open arms.

Steve Cotton said...

It is nice to be back here. But the nights have been a bit cool. In the mid-60s.

Steve Cotton said...

But it does make for interesting tales. I am starting to feel a bit like Mark Twain. Though the writing does not quite match the assertion.

Steve Cotton said...

 Me, too.  I really appreciate the freedom of Mexico after the authoritarianism of China.

Steve Cotton said...

 It has taken me a bit to realize just how flexible facts can be when crimes are committed in our adopted land.