There’s a considerable contingent of our fellow passengers who don’t leave the ship in our Mexican port calls, or if they do, don’t go any further than the gated disembarkation area, where the thoughtful natives have set up souvenir shops and temporary cantinas, so the nervous may set foot on Mexican soil that is already conveniently walled off.
We venture beyond, of course, because stuff gets even cheaper past the security portal, where you can drink, eat and bargain in Spanglish. Yesterday we took a cab out to Chico’s Paradise, a riverside resort about thirty miles outside of Puerto Vallarta, where we could zip-line in the company of monkeys and parrots, and get a platter of seafood the size of an off-road tire for the equivalent of 45 bucks.
The zip-lines and the seafood were there, but the waiter said they only had one monkey left.
“And Thursday is his day off?” we suggested helpfully. The waiter was not amused.
One fellow passenger wore the same shirt every day, a red, white and blue number emblazoned heavily with American flags and eagles, which we took to mean he was in contempt of those of us who sauntered ashore to keep the company of mariachis and margaritas, and chose instead, to express his disdain for our host country by patriotically staying on the deck of a ship registered in the Netherlands.
That didn't keep him from being in contact with actual Mexicans--a pair of local customs officials were spotted at the buffet in P.V. Nothing really happened as a result of their visit--they might have been there just to nosh on some lox--but it proved the Mexican government was on the job.
People do get killed in Mexico, of course, but they are mostly cartel members and soldiers killing each other. The US finances both sides of the drug war, by being a nation that likes to use drugs and having a government that wishes they would stop. The drug users pay for the cartels’ weapons and the US government pays for the military's, and then we bitch about the results. If you, as an ordinary citizen, want to participate, you need to get caught in a cross-fire, which is difficult, as the firefights are not generally conducted in tourist hot spots. If you are really determined to get hit by a stray bullet, you are far better off going to Chicago.
Likewise, if you want to be killed because you picked the wrong disco, movie theater or elementary school to be in, stay in the US. Mexicans are not permitted to own guns unless they are for legitimate hunting purposes. We are sure they have people here like we do at home, that think that everybody at a particular concert or in a certain church needs to die, but Mexican mad killers lack the means to bring their dreams to life. A deficit of personal guns and ammo also means they seldom have the opportunity to accidentally shoot themselves or each other. If you need to have that kind of fun, stay in the US.
Only one shopkeeper, who learned his English in Fresno, wanted to talk politics. He was very voluble, and would have been content to lecture us for hours, but we had cervezas to drink, and detached ourselves from his company before he was done. We grasped his central point, though. It was that no matter how brown and disgusting and inferior we want to regard a group of people, it is almost impossible to get them to feel that way about themselves.
We have to admit, he might be right.