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Zihuatanejo-Ixtapa, Troncones and Barra de Potosí on the Costa Grande of Guerrero, Mexico

Zihuatanejo Mexico

Archive for the ‘Personal Musings’ Category

God’s Own Bullets and The White Man’s Burden

from Aubrey Beardsley's "Salomé - The Stomach Dance"

from Aubrey Beardsley’s “Salomé – The Stomach Dance”

Just this past week a post on my Zihuatanejo-Ixtapa & Troncones  Mexico Message Board regarding the possible source of a local recent rumor turned into something quite different, quite argumentative and quite amusing to me, but  only because I’ve learned not to take most folks as seriously as they think they should be taken. Nevertheless, arguments on the internet are never pretty sights to most viewers, even less so to people looking for a relaxing getaway from inclement weather, their jobs and their daily lives. I have deleted it from my Message Board for obvious reasons, though I aready knew from the subject of the original post that it was not a message thread I intended on saving for very long.

The original post had a link to a news article about the arrest of an alleged criminal and speculated on the source of the rumor regarding child abuctions that had circulated in Zihuatanejo during late February and early March. The first inane reply came almost immediately and said “that’s why god invented bullets”. Meaning the alleged criminal accused of the child abductions for organ harvesting or whatever should be shot and not even have evidence against him presented at a trial. Since the person posting was one of my favorite “conservative types” (you know the type) I of course couldn’t resist a little jibe and a little personal entertainment (yes, I can be a bit of a mindfucker at times when things are dull). What’s amusing about an argument? Well, I’m pretty sure I’m not one of the brightest bulbs on the tree, but it amuses me to no end how much dimmer most people seem to be, but of course I could be wrong because as I said, I ain’t the sharpest knife in the kitchen drawer. Not even close.

So in reply to what I fondly referred to as the comment about GOD’S OWN BULLETS, I wrote something like: “Were those the same bullets used to massacre the indigenous folks in what is now the USA?” I could have just as easily written: “Were those the same bullets used to assassinate Lincoln, the  Kennedys, Martin Luther King, Jr. or the children at Sandy Hook Elementary?”

"Mango Man" by William T. Templeton

“Mango Man” by William T. Templeton

Immediately the outrage began! First someone claimed that the Native Americans were happy on their reservations. Someone else claimed that disease killed most of them.  Someone else even wrote that there were now over two and a half million Native Americans in the USA (which actually got a burst of laughter out loud from me). But not only did all these people miss the point, they ignored it glaringly. Dodge and change the subject, attack the messenger, argue about inanities. Almost immediately one person claimed I was an anti-American sexist and chauvinist, which of course got a couple of attaboys from the female peanut gallery, whom I suspect had been drinking wine.

Not one other person seemed to care about the larger question I actually touched upon by my original reply to GOD’S OWN BULLETS, to wit: injustice in the name of religion. No, they were so deep in denial and woe and caught up in the White Man’s Burden that a tirade was unleashed against me accusing me of everything from being anti-American to Communist (as if those would be labels that should cause me anguish) as well as a sexist and chauvinist.

"Mouse Trap" game

“Mouse Trap” game

I’ve lost count of the times in my life when some ill-mannered and disrespectful angry fool pretended to tell me what I am, and most times I simply shrug off the attempted chides because I don’t suffer fools lightly and there’s no sense in arguing with people’s prejudices. While I enjoy my freedom more than most people, I am not so foolish as to be so free with my inner self that I reveal myself to strangers or even to most people. My wife knows me. My mother knows me. My family knows me. My friends know me. But folks who have mostly never even met me and only read what I write on my Message Board don’t know anything about me of substance because I learned quite young, before I was even a teen, that you have to have different images to different sectors of people, you can’t just be yourself in front of everybody. Just like you probably don’t discuss much about your sex life with strangers, I keep most of myself private. But since I’m not exactly the cleverest ape in the tree, of course I could be wrong.

So when one particularly ill-mannered and disrespectful angry person on my Message Board pretended to pigeonhole me, I of course couldn’t resist the temptation to play the easy winning hand and publicly admonish her since the entire affair was simply just a silly game of mine to begin with and the angry players lost so rotundly.

dumb tattoo

stupid tattoo

But the icing on the cake came when the same ill-mannered and disrespectful angry person revealed her true hateful, mean-spirited and conservative self by calling another person who corrected her a “Robette”, a term originally coined and used on a website forum that has been gone for many years and that many of my readers who knew of it jokingly referred to as the “Blue Board”, because they were all such a sad and sorry lot of mostly angry, bitter, hateful, envious, and conservative blowhards. She might as well have just rolled up her sleeve and showed us her stupid tattoo. 😉

I’ll try to play nicer.

Z AmaZing Zihuatanejo

Acapulco Statue

Bronze statue of a sunbather in the morning light (click to enlarge)

The magic of Zihuatanejo is palpable and is something most residents and visitors can see and feel all around them, beginning with the first rays of dawn and the amazing spectacle of the morning light as it illuminates Zihuatanejo Bay and everything around it. The colors seem to vibrate and give life to inanimate objects, playing tricks with the mind and one’s vision, revealing new beauty and details in old and familiar things, whether it be a flock of birds, boats in the bay, buildings on the hillsides, fishermen, a market, a street, a beach, a walkway, or a statue. Even the colors of the ocean, the hills, the clouds and the sky seem fresh and new each day.

For those of us fortunate to experience this magic, it recharges our batteries and invigorates the soul, reminding us to appreciate what we can while we can, for it will be different tomorrow and we may not be here. Every day is indeed something new. The past and the future meaningless abstracts to the here and now demanding our attention. Reminding us to appreciate what we have and where we are at this moment. Reminding us there’s no time like the present.

Here are a few photos mostly from my morning walks with my wife along the waterfront of downtown Zihuatanejo.

Click on any photo to see it enlarged

Downtown Zihuatanejo

Downtown Zihuatanejo

Pelicans on Playa Principal

Pelicans on Playa Principal

Fishing boats arriving

A fishing boat zooms on to Playa Principal

Fishing at Dawn

Several shore fishermen try their luck at dawn on Zihuatanejo’s Playa Principal

Fishing at dawn

A lone fisherman at dawn on the Playa Principal

Fishing boats on the beach

Fishing boats line the beach at the fishermen’s market

El Faro and Los Morros de Potosí

The lighthouse and Los Morros de Potosí

Waterfront fishermen's market

The fishermen’s market

Mostly huachinango

Mostly red snapper

Fishing with pelicans

Fishing with pelicans

Fishermen arriving

Fishermen arrive with their overnight catch

Fisherman casts net

A fisherman casts his net in Zihuatanejo Bay

Here are a couple of wide-angle panoramas I took of Zihuatanejo Bay in the morning. You can move them right and left as well as zoom in. I recommend clicking on the button in the upper right-hand corner of the images to see them full screen.

 


Long morning shadows on the downtown beach called Playa Principal

 


Fishermen following pelicans during a feeding frenzy that started at Playa Principal and ended at Playa La Madera

Summer Camp is OVER in Zihuatanejo-Ixtapa

A chaise lounge sits empty

A chaise lounge awaits a sunbather – click to enlarge

The summer vacation period in Mexico ended yesterday and today millions and millions of children returned to classes across the country. In Zihuatanejo that meant walking to school in a light drizzle for many students. It also means streets, hotels and beaches void of tourists. An unsettling occurrence for local business and lodging owners.

More and more I think it becomes apparent to lots of local businesses that opened up here in the past decade that not only is Zihuatanejo saturated with folks looking to live off tourism, but that the government’s efforts at promotion, what little they’ve done, has completely changed our tourism, especially during the summer vacation period.

Squatters atop hill at La Majahua

New squatter lodgings at La Majahua – click to enlarge

It used to be that we had a decent mix of day trippers who came by bus, car and truck and more affluent tourists who occupied local luxury homes and lodgings. But between the hotels in Ixtapa changing their marketing strategy to almost exclusively all-inclusive seeking a class of tourist with less purchasing power, effectively charging rates that the predominantly non-corporate owned Zihuatanejo lodgings simply can’t compete with, and the government’s almost exclusive promotion of “social tourism” (the folks who come in tour buses for a day at most) we now find that all of us who live and have businesses here can no longer make a sustainable living from the tourists we’re getting. In spite of this new reality, FONATUR, who for years hasn’t been able to find buyers for the lands they’ve developed for sale, continues allowing megaprojects to wipe out natural areas and privatize beaches on the one hand while FIBAZI does similarly with squatters on the other, selling Zihuatanejo’s ecological zones for political expediency if not also personal profit. The squatters of course can’t find work and the megaprojects of course can’t find buyers, but with developers that isn’t the point. They build, they get paid, they move on to repeat the process. Similarly, many squatters get their stolen land and sell it for a huge profit and move on to repeat the process.

Unfortunately with the change of political fortunes underway, no one is doing anything. It’s almost like, no it’s definitely like there is NO GOVERNMENT (except of course they still want to collect taxes).

Tourists at Las Gatas Beach

Tourists enjoy a lovely day at Las Gatas Beach – click to enlarge

Lots of folks from other places sure want to live off the Zihuatanejo cash cow, but it seems no one wants to do the real work of getting folks to come here, no one seems to want to engage with potential tourists, to answer their questions that help them make the decision to take their vacations here. Even the airlines seem to be conspiring against us. So I plug away here and there trying to keep Zihuatanejo in people’s thoughts, answering questions and hopefully projecting the image of a place folks will want to visit for their vacation. But man, do I ever feel like the little Dutch boy with his finger in the dike: alone in my efforts to try to salvage Zihuatanejo’s tourism and attract newcomers with the spending power needed to help at least some of us make ends meet.

Good-bye SECTUR!

The proposed disappearance of the Secretaría de Turismo (SECTUR) announced by Presidente Calderón this week has drawn criticism from several locals in the tourism sector, but personally I’ve always thought SECTUR to be a waste of public resources. It’s time for us to stop allowing others to do the work we should be doing.

The paternalistic approach of SECTUR has incapacitated us locally and made us dependent on their outside help, but no outsider or bureaucrat in Mexico City is going to promote us or look after our interests better than we can ourselves right here in Zihuatanejo-Ixtapa.

Among all the millionaire businesses such as luxury hotels, tour operators, developers, restaurants, time shares, and others (including FONATUR), it’s time they pay the tab for all the milk they have been suckling from our cash cow. As the popular Mexican song goes “toma chocolate, paga lo que debes”.

Personally, I have dedicated over 12 years promoting our tourist destination by means of my own personal website as a service for the community without selling any advertising space, paying the costs from my own pocket and with my own time. Now through my website I have “primary contact” daily with over two thousand people, and over a thousand of them visit my Message Board daily finding answers to their questions. I seek no rewards or public recognition from politicians or anyone. I do what I do out of love for my community. So, if I can do this without seeking personal gain then I believe others can do so whether it be for love of money or simply to promote their own interests or perhaps for other reasons. It’s time others raised the torch and assumed their responsibilities to promote our destination as an integral entity instead of only seeking benefits for their own businesses.

Unfortunately, in the last few decades almost all the promotion by the government has been principally for Ixtapa, and its businesses have benefitted from their proximity to Zihuatanejo without having to give anything in return except perhaps to pay the meager wages of some of their employees, many of whom aren’t even locals but were brought here or have come here from other places. Zihuatanejo, the original attraction, and I would say the main attraction, has practically been forgotten by them, but the time has arrived to work together if we want to survive this economic crisis and the changes to our reality.

The State of Guerrero’s Secretaría del Fomento Turístico (SEFOTUR) has not helped us either, and the governor should immediately fire its director, Ernesto Rodríguez Escalona, and appoint someone more capable and who has love for our state. Someone who will promote all the attractions of our state instead of just receiving a juicy paycheck and looking out for his own investments in Acapulco. Someone who won’t make such stupid declarations as Mr. Rodríguez did by telling tourists not to come to Guerrero when the A/H1N1 flu broke out. In that instant the governor should have fired him.

First, we need to get our house in order, a job that does indeed correspond to the government. Then we need to work to invest in our own future instead of leaving it to outsiders and “public servants” whose interests are very distinct from ours.

So let’s get to work friends and neighbors! Let’s see how brightly Guerrero truly shines!

20 Years Ago Today… or Last Sunday

May 7, 1989 - Jean Claude, Doro, Noyo, Lupita, Lalo, and me at the muelle on day 3 of the Torneo de Pez Vela (click to enlarge)

May 7, 1989 – from left: Mayte Tamayo, Jean Claude, Nelli, Doro, Noyo, Lupita, Lalo, and me at the muelle on day 3 of the Torneo de Pez Vela (click to enlarge)

I walked from my home at Playa La Ropa into downtown Zihuatanejo, a man on a mission. It was Sunday, May 7th, 1989. I’d been in Zihuatanejo since mid-April with my soon-to-be ex-wife and our 4-year old daughter on our last-chance-for-romance “vacation”. The romance had flamed out and we had decided to separate amicably. Zihuatanejo was recharging my batteries while my almost-ex was anxious to return to “civilization”. So I decided that today was the day to re-introduce myself to my childhood sweetheart from 15 years earlier when I had first lived here but with whom I’d had no contact all that time. Actually, I had walked by her boutique a couple of times and glanced at her, but I couldn’t bring myself to take that next step… until today.

It was the third and final day of the annual Torneo de Pez Vela, though I didn’t know that until I got to town. I went to Lupita’s Boutique (then called “Nando’s”) and walked in with as much calm courage as I could muster after the long hot walk to town, ready for one of those blast-from-the-past moments. But as fate would have it, Lupita wasn’t in her boutique. The girl who was minding the store told me that Lupita had gone to the pier with some friends for the tournament celebration. Okay, minor inconvenience but no major setback. So off I strolled along the waterfront into the throng of hundreds, eyeballs rolling this way and that trying to recognize someone I hadn’t seen face-to-face for 15 years (except at a distance a couple of times through her shop window the previous week).

The pier was crowded all right, and I walked up it and down it and back up and down it again. No Lupita. I walked back along the waterfront until I came to Elvira’s Restaurant and decided I needed to boost my courage back up with a cold dark beer while practicing my introduction in my rudimentary Spanish. Two beers later I was pretty sure I saw Lupita stroll by towards the pier, though she seemed to be surrounded by a bunch of guys, one of whom I recognized as Lalo, the guy who sold my mother her pickup truck.

Reinvigorated and only slightly nervous I paid my tab and followed the group out to the pier. As casually as I could I let out a hearty greeting to my friend Lalo. The group stopped and turned to look my way. I saw Lupita smile and time stood still while everyone else and all the cacophony faded into the background. Lupita had my full attention, and apparently I had hers. Before anyone could break the spell I walked right up to her and in my poor Spanish said “¿recuérdame?”, immediately realizing I had goofed my line. I should have said “¿me recuerdas?” But Lupita didn’t miss a beat. She flashed that angelic smile and said “sí, pero no, pero ayúdame para recordar”, all the time gazing into my eyes and showing that she recognized me. It was love at first sight for us for the second time in 15 years.

At about that point the hackles went up on the other guys, especially Noyo, who let out a string of insults, the gist being a rather protective “don’t mess with this girl” attitude. We bought beers and tequilas at the pier while Lalo introduced me around. While the guys were playing macho games with me a photographer strolled up and asked if he could take our photo. Two or three of the guys there declined, but the rest of us hammed it up for the camera.

We strolled back along the waterfront and had a large table set up for us at Banana’s, which was where Tata’s is now located on the beach side of Hotel Avila. The manager Doro took excellent care of us that day, joining in with the rest of the guys who kept trying to run me off since everyone could see that Lupita and I were having a love-at-first-sight moment. I took the abuse in good spirits, and my bilingual friend Lalo even helped Lupita and me to communicate with each other as we remembered our romance of 15 years earlier.

Lupita and I will celebrate 19 years of marriage this fall (Sept. 2009), and we both still feel like we’re honeymooners. Fate, destiny, karma or whatever it is that brought two people from such different worlds together. Our romance is still in full bloom and we are both happier than ever, and very thankful to have found each other.

If only more folks could find the happiness and love that we have enjoyed for so many years, the world would be a much more peaceful and harmonious place, for sure. Maybe it’s something in the water… or the beer and tequila.

Lupita and I want to thank our good friend Doro for recovering the old photo and sending us a copy.

Lupita and me more recently (click to enlarge)

Lupita and me more recently (click to enlarge)

Responsible Economics for Zihuatanejo

Zihuatanejo circa 1971  (photo by Gene "Cri-Cri" Lysaker)

Zihuatanejo circa 1971 (photo by Gene "Cri-Cri" Lysaker)

The reason capitalism is slowly but surely falling apart at the seams is because there is no incentive to be ethical or even rational in the use of resources or the distribution of profits. There is no incentive to be a good neighbor or a positive asset to a community. You don’t even have to treat your workers well. The only incentive is to make a profit at any and all cost, which often involves deception not only of folks outside the corporation but also within. So now the big capitalist countries are bailing out their BANKS and LARGE CORPORATIONS that should have failed and disappeared and been replaced by banks and corporations that implemented better business practices, according to laissez faire economics. While millions of good citizens are losing their jobs and homes. This is the consequence of years of failed economic policies such as Reagan’s “trickle down economics”. It’s also the result of glorifying greed.

Rational planning that incorporates not only rational use of resources but just as importantly good ethics and respect for communities, meaning their environment AND their people, must be the next step in economic evolution. It will obviously take a more socialistic approach to reach that step since it is plain as day that the large corporations won’t do the right thing even when on the verge of collapse and bankruptcy. We need a new economic model that takes into account the rational use of resources (including mandatory recycling instead of disposability) as well as social and environmental responsibility. No more bailouts for “burn baby burn” corporate toadies!

So under an ethically and socially responsible economic system, for example, if a store like WalMart wishes to open in a small community like Zihuatanejo where they will put dozens if not hundreds of families out of work via economic displacement in a finite market, they should have to hire and train only locals. Same with the big hotels. But this hasn’t ever been the case here, and instead of prosperity with our region’s economic growth we’ve seen more marginalization and more impoverishment as more and more outsiders suck on the teats of Zihuatanejo’s cash cow.

Good-bye 2008!

The Sierra Madre del Sur from Ixtapa

The Sierra Madre del Sur seen from Ixtapa

With the end of 2008 Zihuatanejo will also see an end to six years of municipal administration by the Partido Revolucionario Democrático (PRD). Zihuatanejo almost didn’t survive this past six years, and there is no doubt Zihuatanejo will never be the same.

We lost all our beautiful hillsides surrounding the Bahía de Zihuatanejo: on the one hand to tens of thousands of squatters stealing ecological zones that the city later re-zoned so they could continue to be stolen and settled by these land thieves (most from other towns and many with numerous properties), and on the other hand by developers of luxury homes and lodgings for people who will never really live here. From Playa Las Gatas all the way around the bay to Playa Contramar, roads now criss-cross our once pristine hillsides. The ecological zones that we thought would preserve the beauty of our town for generations to come were re-zoned by the PRD almost as soon as they took office, mostly in a political ploy to try to keep padding their electorate to win future elections. It worked for one succeeding election, but this year the voters of Zihuatanejo said ¡basta! and the PRD candidates were soundly and rather embarassingly defeated.

But the damage by their two successive administrations to our bay, our environment, our tourism and our community will be leaving a sour taste for years to come. Never have things been so bad due to neglect, ineptitude, incompetence, greed, and corruption.

Nevertheless, many of us in the community of Zihuatanejo are optimistic about our future. We believe we can reverse some of the damage to the environment, especially our bay. And hopefully by paying attention to the many details that were mismanaged, overlooked and ignored by the two previous municipal administrations we can salvage and restore our tourism industry and the tranquility of our community for our residents and visitors. Neighbors in downtown Zihuatanejo have formed a community organization in order to express our concerns and provide constructive proposals and feedback to the incoming municipal administration headed by Alejandro Bravo Abarca, who will become our new mayor at the stroke of midnight tonight.

So GOOD-BYE 2008 and HELLO 2009!

Playa La Madera sunrise

Playa La Madera sunrise

Responsible Progress in Zihuatanejo

Zihuatanejo Bay circa 1969 (photo by Gene Cri-Cri Lysaker)

Zihuatanejo circa 1969 (photo by Gene "Cri-Cri" Lysaker)

I don’t understand why some folks insist on viewing the related problems of growth and development from extreme and often unhelpful positions.

Am I the only one who sees clearly what Zihuatanejo could be instead of the growing problems it is becoming? Am I the only one who believes we are missing out on capitalizing on our greatest potential by not preserving what put us on the map in the first place?

I can’t help but shake my head and wonder where the idiots come from that believe we need to make Zihuatanejo like Puerto Vallarta or Acapulco or Cancún and add more artificial attractions, more condos, more megaprojects, more marinas, or whatever; raping the natural beauty and calling it progress. So let’s ruin the natural attractions we have and hope we can build new attractions to make up for the previous regular visitors we run off? Make way for the stampeding herds, right? Wrong!

Community planning is never a bad thing. Planned sustainable growth accompanied by proper development of infrastructure with an eye to improving community well-being is an admirable goal. However, we have seen nothing remotely resembling that here, either by government or private investors. Certainly some useful planning has gone into creating Ixtapa, though the purpose is becoming less clear as its natural beauty is also being wastefully and unnecessarily destroyed there, too. Nevertheless, the apparent guiding principle for years has been “every man for himself” with developers ignoring building and ecological regulations and no authority consistently enforcing them. So now the natural beauty and community charm that have always been our main attractions and that we thought would remain intact and sustain us for future generations are under serious threat from selfish and short-sighted interests seeking instant gratification.

Excuse me for thinking we could do better!

And despite all the pessimism, I still believe we can. I am encouraged by the organizing I see going on within our community among long-time mostly native locals, getting ready to work with the incoming municipal administration. I will continue to support their efforts to try to right the wrongs that have befallen our community and endeavor with them to make Zihuatanejo a better place, first for the locals and then for our visitors.

In case you haven’t noticed, that’s what this website has always been about! ;~)

Merry Christmas from Zihuatanejo!

Christmas in Zihuatanejo-Ixtapa
2009 will mark two decades since I decided to move from Florida to work and live in Zihuatanejo. The election of a former spy chief as the 41st U.S. president helped make the decision easier.

This year I will celebrate my 20th Christmas in Zihuatanejo (counting my first Christmas here in 1974). In spite of this year’s economic hardships, I am happier than words can describe. The love of my family makes me one of the most fortunate people in the world. And Zihuatanejo is still one of the most beautiful places in the world to live. We have some of the most perfect weather and certainly some of the warmest people in the world. For all our problems, there is still so much good that far outweighs the bad. I feel privileged to be here.

So I just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas from Zihuatanejo!

¡Feliz Navidad!

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