Monday, November 14, 2011

Reflections on San Miguel and Mexico

One of the interesting paradoxes I have experienced in the last couple of years has been the US perception and reality of Mexico.   We've treated the drug problem as Mexico's but as the Ambassador to the US said to me in a lunch about six months ago - the drug problem has both a supplier (Mexico) and consumer (US).

Tonight we had dinner in an Argentine type restaurant (what we would call in the US a good steak house) and for most of the meal we were the only ones there.   This afternoon, we visited the Mask Museum in San Miguel and spent an interesting hour and a half with the owner - who has assembled a fine collection of traditional masks with some great explanations of how each of the indigenous cultures uses masks.  There is a huge collection in Zacatecas, but this one is better because it puts all the collection in context.

You might wonder what these two events have in common.  Both reflect the relative condition of tourism in San Miguel.   My wife and I have walked throughout the town at all times of day and night.   One of the interesting things about the city is how well people seem to get along.  The Episcopal parish that I discussed in earlier posts has Spanish and English speakers together. We've found the people in shops and on the street to be uniformly friendly and helpful.   But as the owner of the B&B/Mask Museum said to me this afternoon between the economy and the over-reaction that news sources have had about violence in Mexico related to the drug cartels, business is off.  This is clearly a buyer's market in real estate.

When we were getting ready to come for our trip - we asked a lot of friends to come visit us.  We have a huge house so we could accommodate guests.  Some had schedule conflicts but more than a few said they were afraid to come to the city or to Mexico.  That is not denying that there has been some significant violence in Mexico City and north of where we are.  But as a city, this place is tranquil.

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