This post is about some of my experiences with people here in Mexico. I love the focus on family, and the mellow attitude most Mexicans have toward rules and regulations. There seems to be too many Americans these days who are in love with rules and regs., official and otherwise, if it allows them to act with disdain towards people they come across during the day. This is not very true in Mexico. And on the Baja Peninsula, which is this country’s wild west, things are pretty relaxed.
There is a general lack of people photographs here, and I apologize for that. If you’ve read some of my posts from other countries you know I do not have an aversion to taking photos of people. But for me it has to be the right atmosphere.
I almost never do casual people photography in the U.S., or most other developed countries. Most people do not like it, and they are harder to approach anyway. When it seems right, I always ask, and almost always engage the person in conversation, with some laughs thrown in. My goal is to loosen them up.
But sadly, Mexico is getting to be more and more similar to the U.S. There is a sort of standoffish vibe here now, and it seems to get more and more prevalent with time. Perhaps not coincidentally, I have noticed a real increase in the desire to shop and accumulate stuff in Mexico. I think the same is happening in China, but I don’t have enough visits to that country, so as to make that observation.
But go into the rural areas of Baja, and you will meet friendly farmers, ranchers and woodcutters. They survive on the edge, working a dry piece of land, or even living off broad stretches of land. I’ve met a few of these folks – always men it seems. Things are still very much traditional in rural Mexico (not just Baja). There is a traditional division of labor between men and women, and the woman runs the house with real power.
Actually, I’m fascinated with the traditional, matriarchal senora of rural Mexico. I’d love to do a photo essay one day. Another great thing to do would be to take a horse or burro and travel down the length of Baja, staying well away from bigger towns and cities. I wonder if my horse could do it? A burro and walking would definitely work better, what with the lack of grazing.
I have stayed in Ensenada for a few days now, getting something done. I’ve started to discover the out-of-the-way places: the little corner deli with great sandwiches, the best streetside stand for shrimp tacos, the sections where families walk, as opposed to those where streetwalkers walk. It is pretty cool for a traveler who is normally on the move to be somewhere for awhile, to begin to get to know the place.
In Mexico, it is usual for the town or city to at first appear very ugly. Trash on the streets, a sad, polluted and concrete-lined ditch that used to be a stream flowing down to the sea, houses made of sheet metal and plywood. But if you hang around, you start to notice how people use the place, how they make the best of things. Eventually you start to ignore the negatives and focus on the positives. I wish I were better at this, but I’ve always been a neither glass half-full or half-empty sort of person. I’m really in the middle, though the really bad stuff I have a habit of completely ignoring.
Ensenada draws tourists. There are a few big hotels here, and quasi-resorts line the rocky coast to the north. Cruise ships actually call here, disgorging passengers to roam the streets where tequila and trouble await. I’m always one to be drawn to the seedy side of town, at least for one late-night foray. What can I say, I like living dangerously. Last night I went out, and visited a very popular bar. On a Tuesday night it was elbow to elbow with locals, all having a drink and listening to a mariachi band, who played with real spirit while being jostled by people weaving their way through the crowd.
Then I went to a not so popular club, with maybe a dozen men sitting and watching girls dance. I had a couple lap-sitters come my way, angling for that expensive drink, or possibly more? After pleasantries (I want to help them learn their English after all!), I sent them gently away. In Mexico the girls generally do not take everything off, and some even strip down to nothing less than you see on many American streets, in broad daylight. So it seems somehow a bit classier than the typical place in the U.S. (which I haven’t visited in many years).
It’s funny to see Mexicans all dressed up in their winter clothes, as the temperature dips to 60. Many are women who are taking the opportunity to wear fashionable stuff, the kind that only comes in cold-weather style. They are quite image-conscious here, slightly more so than in the U.S. I would say. Of course this goes for the single senoritas much more so than the settled senoras. I think men are too, but in a totally different, more subtle way. Or maybe I pay more attention to the women. This isn’t to criticize, just an observation.
The sun is out again, with clear blue skies after a stormy day yesterday. So I will head out and try to get a few people pictures before posting this. Thanks for reading!
I didn’t get any photos of people, though I met plenty today. But I did get this photo of the Carnival ship that is docked in the harbor right now.