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 On Shooting Oneself in One´s Foot

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Hound Dog
Amigo
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Join date : 2011-02-21
Location : Ajijic & San Cristóbal de Las Casas

PostSubject: On Shooting Oneself in One´s Foot   Tue 18 Oct 2011, 11:14

DATELINE: SAN CRISTÓBAL DE LAS CASAS
THE ADVENTURE WORLD TRAVEL SUMMIT, AN ANNUAL TRADE CONFERENCE OF THE SEATTLE BASED ADVENTURE TRAVEL TRADE ASSOCIATION (ATTA) WHICH ALWAYS HOLDS ITS ANNUAL SUMMIT IN AN "ADVENTURE TRAVEL" DESTINATION IS MEETING THIS YEAR FROM OCTOBER 16TH THROUGH OCTOBER 21ST IN SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS, CHIAPAS AND THE THEME THIS YEAR IS "THE INDIGENOUS OF MEXICO".

Just a little background. We live in a barrio in San Cristóbal known as El Cerrillo near one of the city´s top tourist attractions, the Santo Domingo Ex-Convent which sits adjacent to the city´s primary pedestrian and tourist streets known as El Andador and, on its other (north) end, adjacent to the city´s huge and colorful indigenous market. The ex-convent a building with a striking and beautiful facade, sits on a large parcel of land also adjacent to a park which was taken over years ago by indigenous vendors who set up tents and stands along all the walkways in the park as well as right next to the convent building itself. This large and exotic daily gathering of indigenous vendors in the park primarily engaged in selling doo dads and trinkets and T- shirts to tourists as opposed to the adjacent huge indigenous market selling mainly foodstuffs and flowers to each other which gets a lot of tourists but is not primarily tourist oriented marketplace. Now, this tourist oriented market immediately adjacent to the convent is a place where tourists and residents can buy cheesy crap but also some very fine and authentic indigenous artisanal works produced by local villagers. This impromptu marketplace of many years duration has always highly irritated city hall known locally as the municipal presidency and they have, over the years, tried to move these indigenous vendors to a more remote spot near the town´s periferico but without success so far. It must be noted here that the indigenous population of San Cristóbal is quite large and probably constitutes at least 40% of the municipality´s population and for the reader not familiar with San Cristóbal - that 40% does not include the wholly indigenous communities which surround the city and are under autonomous indigenous governance. So these folks, who can be pretty belligerent so put it mildly, have proven, so far, to be unmovable.

Well, my wife has requested of several indigenous artisans she knows that they attend the annual artisanal fair in Chapala next month ( more about that on the Chapala Insider Forum) and went down to the convent yesterday to discuss the attendance of some vendors who work next to the convent building and asked if they would be there today. She was told they would not be there because the city had demanded that they vacate the convent area for the next four days until the delegates to the annual adventure travel summit have left town. Now, get this, the ATTA specializes in only "adventure" travel to exotic locations and this year´s theme is the indigenous people of Mexico which is why they picked Chiapas for their summit and the city is trying to impress the delegates by kicking out the indigenous folks the delegates came here to see.

We´ll see what comes of this and post about it later today after we walk down there and see what has actually occurred.

More later.
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Hound Dog
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PostSubject: Re: On Shooting Oneself in One´s Foot   Wed 19 Oct 2011, 12:02

Well, we strolled by the Ex-convento Santo Domingo and, sure enough, all of the indigenous vendors are all gone and the convent grounds and adjacent park are totally cleared of the many ratty tents that completely dominated the grounds and, I must say, it looks comparatively really nice, if neglected because the grounds have been obscured by all those rustic tents selling mostly junk and T-shirts, much of the stuff made in Asia, for the past few years. We continued on down the Andador to the cathedral plaza next to the city´s principal plaza known locally as "El Jardin" and, sure enough, the ATTA people in conjunction with the governments of Chiapas and Mexico have raised a huge tent there which I will designate, using a bit of poetic license, a latter day Mexican Indigenous Pontemkin Village. Really, the tent is filled with rustic small display stands run by participating Mexican states such as Oaxaca, Hidalgo, Yucatan, Campeche, Tabasco, Chiapas and others promoting indigenous arts and so-called eco-resorts. It´s kind of a disorganized, grab-assed zoo to be truthful but is being taken quite seriously by the Chiapas and Mexican governments and establishments who are determined to turn Chiapas into what they informally refer to as their "Green Cancun" while promoting "eco-resorts and artisanal products from states with large indigenous contingents.

You´ve got to love the irony. The ATTA delegates come into town for their annual summit which, this year, promotes "Indigenous Mexico" and the first thing the local government does is demand the real local indigenous folks "disgracing" their prized tourist attraction get the hell out of town for the duration of the summit and then they build a phony indigenous tent pavillion full of "pretend" indigenous hucksters with slick brochures and display kiosks for the benefit of the ATTA delegates whose main business function is to sell "eco-tours" to rich clients for exhorbitant fees.

Now, don´t get me wrong. I love the types of adventure travel to eco-resorts these folks promote with luxurious rooms resembling palapas and nice bars and restaurants overlooking primitive rivers and jungles. Beats the hell out of sitting in a sweltering tent in a mosquito, snake and spider infested jungle dropping those purification pills into the water drawn from local polluted streams before the next strenuous hike up a mountainside to mildew your underwear in a cloudy rain forest.

Dawg can´t wait to see what happens here in San Cristóbal after the "summit" folds its tents, the delegates leave and the local indigenous come back to re-set up their tents in the convento park and take it over again. Perhaps the "live-and-let-live" attitude that normally prevails here will prevail then. I hope so.

Amusing stuff.
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PostSubject: Re: On Shooting Oneself in One´s Foot   Sat 22 Oct 2011, 11:12

The Adventure World Travel Summit along with its 600 or so delegates left San Cristóbal yesterday after a week of touting Indigenous Mexico during which time, as I noted above, the organizers set up a huge tent in front of the cathedral filled with exhibits from states, primarily in Southern Mexico but from other states such as Michoacan and Hidalgo with large indigenous populations as well. The reader will note that I indicated above that the actual local indigenous street vendors were kicked out of the grounds of the Ex-Convento Santo Domingo for the duration but now that the summit honoring Mexico´s indigenous has left town, the real indigenous have returned and taken over the convent grounds and adjacent park once again now that they will no longer disgrace the city with their actual presence during a convention held in their honor.

Actually, while they were gone, it was kind of neat since, except for the fact that the park grounds have been sadly neglected, it was possible to enjoy the convent and grounds without alll those hawkers tents destroying the area´s ambience. I forgot to mention above that during the summit, the so-called "ambulentes" or strolling street vendors, mostly indiigenous women and children were also forbidden to hawk their goods from textiles to candies along the Andador. After all, we couldn´t allow these street vendors to harass and irritate these mostly travel agents as they walked the Andador from event to event. They might get irritated and not send their clients to visit San Cristóbal for their exotic travel experience. There are a lot of restaurants on the city´s several pedestrian-only streets in the historic center and a lot of unhappy restarauteurs since those travel agents were being fed gratis by the state and spent very little money at local businesses.

Well, the sun is back out after weeks of rain and overcast dampness and the high mountain crystal clear air of San Cristóbal is once again exhilarating. The delegates are gone and the ambulentes and tent sellers are out in force. Things have returned to normal.
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PostSubject: Re: On Shooting Oneself in One´s Foot   Sun 23 Oct 2011, 07:59

A case of sanitized gone overboard, without even mentioning hypocrisy.
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