Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Guanajuato, Mexico Tourist Season 2008

In the middle of the night when the bombing (Day of the Dead fireworks) began and I was startled awake by the consequent concussive three-foot, straight-up jump out of bed, I suddenly remembered I had forgotten to write my annual article about this year's Guanajuato Tourist Season! In case you don't know, I have been writing a special-interest article each year about the Gringo Invasion of Guanajuato. These invaders are called tourists. More specifically, these conquering travelers are commonly known in Guanajuato as Gringo Tourists. And to be even more scientific about it, Gringo is the Genus and not the breed of Tourists.

The word Genus, according to Webster means, "a class, kind, or group marked by common characteristics or by one common characteristic."

What I am talking about is the specific Species or Breed of Tourists taught in Tourism School or the science of Touristology called The American Gringo Tourist. To understand this better, think of the dog breed, The Great Dane. It is a domestic dog. Think also of the Chihuahua that also is a domestic dog. However, it doesn't take a genius to see the vast and magnificent difference between the two. The same goes with your ordinary Canadian, European, Australian, and Oriental Tourists. All are tourists but when you compare them with The American Gringo Tourist, the differences are, well, vast to say the least.

To simplify, think of Americans as a specific breed of tourist.

What I have done in years past is try to apply very carefully and with much forethought the scientific principles of ethnology – a science that deals with the division of human beings into races and their origins, distribution, relations, and characteristics (Thank-you Mr. Webster).

In doing so I would venture out daily into the wild and wooly wilderness of tourist traps like sidewalk cafes, boutiques, churches, park benches, and observe and record how The American Tourist acts. My results? Startling!

In past articles I would observe and record things like shrieking harpies (always females followed subserviently by obedient males) screaming in front of sidewalk cafes, "I know you speak English and are pretending you don't." This was by far the most common thing observed and recorded.

Next, I would see entire groups of this most common Breed of Gringo eating at small, out-of-the-way eateries getting so bombed on booze that entire groups of American Gringos would become falling-down drunk. There would always be someone in those groups, usually a male, who would find the brains God gave him to try and flag a cab. However, this blasted soul would soon have an American Gringo lapse and begin cursing wilding and giving the finger to each cab that passed him, already occupied with a fare, for not stopping for his "Here I am…American Tourist…HEAR ME ROAR!"

Finally, I would sit in the plazas and listen to loud bellowings come out of restaurants, "I ordered a taco!" or "You call this a taco?" or "Don't you have Taco Bell here?" It always was loud protestations about tacos.

I would make many minor observations too. Mostly these were carefully scribbled notes of how American Tourists would pitch public fits over where or what to eat, where to go next, or wailings to the point of almost swooning when they exited their hotels to discover that they could not find anyone who spoke English. Sometimes I could hear them ask one another, "Is everyone here really Mexican?"

These folks would do one of two things but never both. They would either run back to their hotels and in under three minutes come back out with packed bags to head to the airport for Puerto Vallarta, or they would join the shrieking harpies' battle cry (see above).

Well, I am happy as a peach that what I have to report for Guanajuato, Mexico's 2008 Tourist Season is none of the above.

That's right! Though it appears there were more tourists than ever, even of the American Gringo Breed, that showed up in town this year, we saw none of the behavior that spurred the naming of American Gringos as The Ugly American! Isn't that swell?

This year, the difference seems overwhelmingly to be that they hired English-Speaking Mexicans to take them by the hand all over the city. It also appears that the tour guides made a better effort than before to advertise their services and unbelievably, the American Gringos took them up on their offers to show them a good time.

Everywhere I looked I saw happy-faced American Gringos frolicking up and down the streets of Guanajuato holding hands with their bilingual tour guides and all merrily singing Canta no Llores.

Is this a good omen of many more Tourist Seasons to come? I don't know. But, as always, I will be here to watch and record from park benches, small cafes, small darkened corners in bars and grills, surreptitiously making notes for the Guanajuato Tourist Season 2009.


A Walk Though Mexico's Crown Jewel: A Guanajuato Travelogue, by Doug Bower, is available pre-release through Unlimited Publishing at their Website. Bookstore release is scheduled in 2009. Mr. Bower can be reached at Mexican-Living-Guanajuato.com

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