I find so much of Mexico’s bizarre culture concoction to be expressed in this picture.
Two local men, wearing their sombreros and morrales, have a chat at the churchyard in the main square.
They are reclined against the colonial handrail which surrounds it; right by a ceramic tiled bench that sports a somewhat tacky and undoubtedly European-style painting of a stream with trees on either side. The bouquets are easy to miss.
Beside them, a sign reads ‘NO PARKING 24 hrs.’ Yes – people parking right in the middle of the churchyard is a thing.
Behind them, the backdrop reads: Restaurant/Museum “Golden Age”. It also sports the logo for Mexico’s ‘Pueblos Mágicos’ (Magic Towns) program. This is probably the element that makes me feel the greatest dissonance. A ‘Pueblo Mágico’, according to the definition kindly provided by the department of tourism, is a Mexican town which has ‘always been a part of the collective imaginary of the nation, that represents a fresh alternative for foreign or local visitors, and that has known how to well preserve its cultural and historical wealth’.
Which is why, of course, it makes all of the sense in the world to sponsor a fancy colonial restaurant-museum (read: souvenir shop) most likely owned and managed by a foreigner as opposed to the man who works the mouth-watering sweets stand a few metres away, and the women who make curative aguardiente concoctions, and the old people who walk for hours in the rain selling handmade keychains, and sit selling nopales on the steps of the restaurant. Let’s not forget that the actual ‘cultural and historical wealth’ is of course, post-conquest. It saddens me that the concept of the program attempts to exploit the mysticism associated with pre-hispanic Mexico, and seems to not really endorse the businesses belonging to the locals as much, as opposed to the most touristy ‘atrractions’ and activities. What do a bike and a white woman with an umbrella really have to do with ‘authentic’ Mexican heritage?
Picture taken by a 5’8 white Mexican female. Who is writing about it in English.
This sort of images sometimes drive me to have a subtle identity crisis.
Better have some tlayoyos at the deep-fry stand.