Wednesday, November 28, 2012

American Movies & Mexican Audiences...

Last night Jen & I went to Cinemex in what I call the Home Depot Plaza (behind Home Depot at the west end of Coba) and saw The Campaign. It's funny enough, if you like Will Ferrell movies. At one point in the movie, Ferrell, who plays an infantile North Carolina fat boy-turned-Senator (think George W Bush before he found Jesus at age 40) and his naive gay opponent (think Richard Simmons' lamer brother) have some drinks together and Ferrell, in party mode, cries out, "We are going to Cancun...!!"

The trash-talking scene in The Candidate
Jen & I cheered a bit, but no one else did.. which surprised me. If an audience in Toronto was watching a movie & heard a line like that about T.O., someone, if not everyone, would react in some audible fashion. And if the audience was largely black, the place would go bananas (I know that's a stereotype but it's partly true).

Anyway, I kind of miss American & Canadian audiences. Isn't audience participation part of the fun of going to a movie? Compared to audiences at home, those here are a little too well-mannered (tho soccer games are another story). Some people laughed occasionally last night, but for a zany comedy, the theatre was generally pretty quiet (with two exceptions - hehehe)

On the way home, Jen reminded me of another funny incident that happened a few weeks ago when we were watching Ted. It's an adult comedy in which Mark Wahlberg's character has a lifelong dream/nightmare come true when his cuddly teddy bear comes to life... as an obscene pig. At one point the pair talk about starting a restaurant:  

"Okay, yeah, let's make it an Italian joint."

"Great, love it!"

"With no restrictions, everyone's allowed in."

"Oh my gosh I love that. Don't restrict anyone, not even the Jews."

"Well obviously not the Jews, why would you even say that?"

"We wouldn't, that's the point."

"No, but I mean, why would you even mention it right now."

"You wouldn't, I'm not even saying anything about it... But seriously, no Mexicans!"

No Mexicans! Of course Jen & I burst out laughing! Eventually we regained our senses, and remembered where we were. The rest of the theatre, of course, was entirely silent.

Anyway, I love most of the people I meet here, and I'm sure they are more lively on other occasions & I know that subtitled American films are no basis on which to generalize here. But I will say this: if Jen & I ever have a pizza party here & watch dumb American comedies in English, we'll invite our fun friends... but seriously... no serious Mexicans!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Looking for Market 28? This AIN'T It!

Jen & I live 5 minutes from Market 28, Cancun's main market. It's a great place to shop (Market 21 is slightly cheaper, but much smaller). Tourists flock to this place to buy everything from shot glasses & T-shirts to silver rings & porcelain pottery (photos below).

Almost every day we pass along a road called Tankah, that runs south from Market 28. And almost every day, when we return, we pass a large shop called Plaza 28. And almost every day, when we do, we see a group of white-clad men standing nearby, shouting something about Market 28 at passing tourists.

Only recently did it occur to us that these kind gentlemen were not directing people to continue on to nearby Market 28. They were inviting them to come in to their own store: 

"Come! Welcome! Market 28! Right here: Market 28!"

As far as Mexican scams go, this one is fairly tame, but you can be sure many tourists are fooled. "Oh, look, honey. Here's that market the nice fellow at the hotel was telling us about..."

Anyway, I'm posting this as a WARNING to innocent tourists. The store in the photo below is NOT Market 28...

NOT Market 28!

The guy in the chair and the guy nearby in the white shirt ARE "OPCs" -- Time Share employees.
Remember: Market 28 is a GIANT market covering several city blocks & comprising hundreds of small stores. If you don't see 8 billion kitschy souvenirs, you're in the wrong place :)

Now you're in Market 28, Bitches!

Buying Water - Agua Men-a-Poo!

I've blogged before about the water here in Cancun. We still buy most of ours in 20L bottles ($2), from one of the army of men who ride, drive, or otherwise roll through every area selling it. You'll be sitting at home, or lying in a hammock writing a blog post, and hear "Agua! Agua! Agua!"

If you need water, you holler back & the vendor (let's call him Agua Guy) comes over & swaps your empty bottle & 25-30 pesos (depending on the brand) for a full one.

Funny thing is, one day recently, instead of "Agua! Agua! Agua.." Jen & I began hearing what sounded like "Agua - men-a-pooo! Agua - men-a-pooo!"

Naturally, being the idiotic tourists that we are, we started cracking up. When I stopped laughing, I googled "mexican poo water" & got (in addition to a question from google asking if I realy meant "mexican poop water") almost 5 million search results about water issues in Mexico.

Anyway, today, after buying some water, I finally asked a Mexican friend on Facebook.

Me: amigo! how goes? agua guy keeps saying smthg like "Agua - men-a-pooo!" what is he saying?

Mario: beats me. agua guy? some context might help.

Me: the water seller :)

Mario: electropura? which is the name of the brand...

Me: ahhh.. thats it.. ur a genius!

So, mystery solved! 

Finally, I can return to my hammock, kick back & relax, with my newest blended beverage concoction: mango-ice-men-a-poo!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mexico's Day of the Revolution

Statues of revolutionaries at the National Museum of the Revolution
November 20th (tomorrow) is Mexico’s Día de la Revolución (Day of the Revolution). It’s not Independence Day, and it’s not Cinco de Mayo (which celebrates the Mexican victory over the French during the battle of Puebla in a war that Mexico eventually lost).

The Day of the Revolution is the anniversary of the 1910 start of the popular movement which led to the overthrow of dictator José de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz Mori after 34 years of military rule but ushered in over a decade of civil war which ultimately led to the promulgation of the nation’s constitution in 1917 and the 1920 ascension to the presidency of General Álvaro Obregón.

According to

Mexico’s revolution started in 1910 and ‘officially’ ended with the Constitution of 1917. But fighting, and social repositioning in the country went on through the mid 1920s. The Revolution ended the 33-year dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz, and set Mexico on a modern socialist path.

During the time of the Diaz regime Mexico’s economy boomed and was sometimes compared to the economies of Great Brittan, France and Germany. Diaz, ran a centralized government, and gave substantial land and tax breaks to foreign companies, so the Mexican economic boom was only being felt by the rich, and the foreign corporation that were given preferred status; mines, railroads and other concessions.

A series of events brought about the Mexican Revolution and the toppling of the Porfiriato, as the Diaz regime was known. Not only was there a huge economic gap between the 99 percent poor and the 1 percent rich, but the government also privatized the ancestral and communal lands of hundreds of thousands of peasants. At the time, 95 percent of the land in Mexico was owned by 5 percent of the population.

In 1910, Francisco I. Madero, a statesman from a wealthy family, campaigned to become the next president of Mexico, but Diaz had Madero arrested and declared himself the winner of the election. Madero escaped from prison and is credited with starting the Revolution when he launched the Plan de San Luis Potosi in 1910, and calling for armed revolt on November 20th, 1910.

In 1911 Diaz resigned and Madero was elected president, but was toppled in a military coup led by General Victoriano Huerta and killed in 1913. While all this political positioning was taking place, Pancho Villa was stirring things up in Chihuahua as a Maderista, and Emiliano Zapata was rebelling for peasant rights in Morelos, in southern Mexico.

When Madreo supporter and Primer Jefe of the Constitutionalist Army, Venustiano Carranza, marched triumphantly into Mexico City in August of 1914, he broke with revolutionary leaders, Zapata and Villa. Carranza became president and established the Constitution of 1917, which to many became the official end of the revolution.

The Constitution of 1917 stripped the church of much of its power, which led to uneasiness between the church and the government. In 1924, when Plutarco Elias Calles took over the presidency, secularist laws were applied stringently. Groups of Catholics revolted in 1926, and this gave way to what became known as the Cristero War.

The early 1920s saw many ideological changes as Mexico reestablished relations with the Soviet Union. The first murals by Diego Rivera, Jose Orozco and David Siqueiros were created opening up an era that openly embraced Mexico’s indigenous heritage, and meztisaje. Also, as a result of the 1917 Constitution, Mexico’s relationship with the Soviet Union, and land and social reforms pushed on by Zapata, Villa and others, the first national worker’s union, Confederación Regional Obrera Mexicana, was created in 1918.

But one of the most important accomplishments of the Mexican revolution of November 20, 1910, was national pride. The revolution gave peasants and workers a sentiment of worth, that they have rights, and that they can fight for these rights.  It’s is one of the reasons popular protests and movements like Yo Soy el 123, or the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas can happen today after 100 years since the ‘first’ revolution, in a country that is closer in reality to the Porfiriato, than the ideals of the Revolución.

Emiliano Zapata, Pancho Villa and others at the National Palace in Mexico City, 1914.