Update from Mexico – It’s different than the U.S.
I’m not sure if you knew that or not, but I’m here at the southern tip of Baja California, and I can tell you from firsthand experience this week, it’s definitely different.
For starters, everyone here speaks Spanish. Like, one hundred percent of the people. That’s different than where I live in California, where only eighty-five percent of the people speak Spanish.
Secondly, the drivers here are suicidal, but also incredibly polite. If you are in another car, they will do everything in their power to run you off the road. If you are a pedestrian at a crosswalk, however, they could not be nicer or more accommodating. Imagine having crosswalks on the track at a Nascar race, and all the drivers are required to stop to let any pedestrians across or their cars will instantly explode. It’s kinda like that.
Sidewalks are also a major difference. Here in Mexico, sidewalks seem to be something they thought were a nice idea, but not necessarily mandatory. Often times your sidewalk will simply end, replaced by a field of rubble where the old sidewalk was inexplicably demolished and the remnants left in place. Other times the sidewalk will simply disappear, becoming a sand or dirt path for twenty or thirty feet before becoming a sidewalk again.
Occasionally the sidewalk will become impossibly skinny, as if the buildings all moved out toward the street and swallowed it. This usually happens somewhere with an incredibly high curb, so you end up negotiating the skinny section of sidewalk like a mountain climber moving across a narrow shelf on the face of a cliff.
And you can’t walk on the sidewalks with your head up, looking at the scenery. If you do, you will fall into one of the many open manholes and electrical or other utility boxes in the middle of the sidewalks without covers.
And there is construction everywhere, which isn’t that amazingly different, except here it occurs with no safety barriers in place for the general public. America has much more of a “We need to protect you from the dangerous work happening here” mentality, whereas Mexico has obviously adopted a more “Hey, idiot. Watch your own ass” philosophy. You are free to walk right up to the man operating the jackhammer and step through his rubble pile, but you do so at your own risk. Someone welding near your dinner table? That’s just how it goes. It’s on you to keep the hot slag and sparks out of your ceviche.
The language, construction, and driver differences are all very interesting, but they might be too subtle if you aren’t paying attention or if you’ve had one too many watermelon margaritas (which are phenomenal, by the way).
One international difference that is anything but subtle down here? The marketing of male erectile dysfunction drugs.
In America, Viagra and Cialis are marketed on television with almost appropriate for all ages television commercials. Usually, a rich and powerful salt and pepper-haired corporate executive and his beautiful younger wife are seen on vacation or out at a fancy dinner. They hold hands and gaze at each other lovingly as they make their way back to the well-appointed hotel room. “When the time is right, will you be ready?” the understanding and non-judgmental voiceover asks.
The commercials are very targeted in their vagueness. The people who ask, “Ready for what?” are not being marketed to. Then, in keeping with the “we need to protect you from everything” American way, they strongly advise you, the powerful and soon-to-be virile again CEO, to consult your doctor to make sure your heart is healthy enough for sexual activity.
(News flash – no man in the world has ever worried if his heart was healthy enough for sexual activity. The most infirmed of us might worry if we’re healthy enough for a light jog, or a brisk walk, but given the opportunity, sexual activity is always a green light. That’s how we all want to die, anyway.)
Not necessarily surprisingly, they took a different route here in Mexico. They decided the best way to advertise a pill for erectile dysfunction would be to make the blue Viagra pill into a cartoon character for window posters at pharmacies.
He stands at least six feet tall. His torso is the chiseled muscular semi-diamond-shaped blue Viagra pill. He has muscular arms and legs, and vibrant bushy eyebrows, narrowed across his brow in a triumphant smile. He is Viagra Man, or as they say here in Mexico, El Hombre de Viagra.
He has the word VIAGRA tattooed on one of his manly arms, and “MUCHO CALIENTE” scrawled in front of him, indicating – as if you didn’t already know – that he is very hot and spicy.
He stands with his feet spread wide and his hands victoriously on his hips. He wears a traditional huge round sombrero, dazzling white teeth, and the commanding jawline of a hero.
His only article of clothing is a bright red speedo, in the front of which he appears to be smuggling a medium-size burro.
Subtlety is not an issue with El Hombre de Viagra.
Well done, Mexico. Thanks for being so caliente!
See you soon,
Copyright © 2017 Marc Schmatjen
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