Last night we went to the Plaza de Marimba in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas. Sunday evenings become a community event in most cities in Mexico and I suspect the same for Latin and South America as well. It is amazing to witness the sense of community here. We do not seem to have anything like this in the U.S. As we arrived at the park, families young and old were gathering and finding their seats around the central gazebo. Food and balloon venders were at every corner of the plaza, selling fresh corn, chips and hot sauce, and balloons of every variety. I decided to grab an ear of corn with butter and hot sauce which was probably not the smartest choice, in hindsight. We sat and watched the families and people for quite some time in anticipation of the live band that would start playing at any minute.
From nowhere, appeared a parade with a huge float, drums, and people dancing. All the kids and parents that had gathered in the plaza ran over to watch. So, Linda and I decided to check it out. To our surprise and dismay, the parade was an advertisement for KFC. They had a man dressed as a chicken, pictures of Colonel Sanders and signs bearing the letters K, F, & C. They threw candy, water bottles and other items with KFC logos to the kids. Linda and I shook our heads in disbelief and disgust. We witnessed first hand American marketing and globalization.
I could not help but think how sad it is that we have spread our influence around this country with Wal-Mart, Burger King, Starbucks, etc. Yet, we have yet to assist them or be successful in assisting them with the small, but important things such as modern plumbing and sewage systems. It amazes me that water, toilets, toilet seats and toilet paper are such a commodity here. Yet, they have Toyotas, Chevys, Hondas, and Nissans all over the place.
Many people are resistant to any American influence, yet I feel like we should at least share our knowledge of the important stuff. You cannot force people to be like us and it is a shame we try. If we want cultures to continue and thrive while retaining their core beliefs and customs we should focus on infrastructure instead of the superficial influences that attempt to make them culturally the same as us. Do they need a Starbucks? No! This is where coffee came from. They do not need a Seattle company to sell them what they grow in their backyard.
After the parade, the live Marimba band, Santa Cecilia started up in ernest. The music reminded me of the big band music my grandparents danced to every night at the local Lodge with a Latin twist of course. The elders in the community started dancing and it was a beautiful thing. We watched for over an hour in awe. It was simple, yet amazing. The park was full of kids in strollers, teenage couples, middle-aged married couples and even the very elderly. They all watched with respect as their elders danced and they socialized amongst themselves.
We left the park to get some dinner. As we walked, I began to experience severe stomach cramps stronger than I recall ever experiencing before. I assumed it was from something I ate, but I also assumed it would pass with time. After stopping along the way to buy some soccer shirts, the pain increased in intensity and frequency. We found a quaint little restaurant and were seated, but I don’t even remember the name since we left before ordering. When we arrived at the hotel, I took some medicine and tried to fall asleep. I woke up several times throughout the night in pain, but at this point it was not stomach pain. Rather, every joint in my body hurt and I could not get comfortable on the cement-like bed.
We were up early for us (7:20AM) and off we went to San Cristobal de las Casas. Hopefully, our new hotel is more comfortable.