What happens when the sun comes up?
Here in Acapulco there is a hopping night-life whether you are in the Condesa along Avenida Miguel Alemán or in the even newer Diamante section of town. Fromm Guides, Moon Guides, Lonely Planet Guides, all of them tell you where to get strong drinks, cheap dates, and a reasonable bed to finish off both. The cliff divers in La Quebrada are a must-see, and the bungy jumping is a must-do (except for when the cord snaps!). All this is well-known, well-documented, and is explored again and again every time the sun goes down.
But what happens when the sun comes up in Acapulco? What is life like while the tourists are sleeping off the night before?
Part of the mentality of the tourist is that the location exists to be consumed–whether Orlando, Las Vegas, Venice, or Acapulco. The people who actually live and work in these tourist locations are props, not people, and they exist to exoticize the experience for the consumer. The nameless girl in the grass skirt, the shoeless child we put our arm around in the photo–who knows who they are, what their life is like, what they think or even if they think.
I wonder about this all the time.
Much of what I do when I’m not doing something else is, is talk to people. This is the beauty of speaking Spanish; my experience here is no longer mediated exclusively through guides and interpreters, so I take advantage of it. I’m usually enough of a novelty that people talk to me–shop keepers, waiters, lifeguards, cabbies, prostitutes, police officers, commuters on the bus.
In occasional posts I want to capture some of that experience.
This is a real city with real inhabitants (about 800,000), there real issues here, real struggles, real hopes. Sonya, a hotel employee, said she is glad so many people come here to enjoy the bay, but she couldn’t remember the last time she was on the beach.
While many here either work in or benefit from tourism–and they can tell off-season by the decline in their income–many do not, and their lives are not determined by the flow of tour buses from Puebla or Mexico City or the T-Shirt consumers from Canada and the US.
There are schools here, but Guerrero is ranked as one of the three Mexican states with the lowest rate of general literacy (along with Oaxaca and Chiapas). There are churches here, and not only the one in the Zócalo that was first built (then abandoned) as a movie set. There are libraries and film series, and book talks, and health clinics, and veterinarians, and funeral directors, and drug dealers, and tattoo artists. Who are these people and how does life happen here?
I’m not sleeping off a hangover, so I’ll be awake in the morning. I want to know: What is Acapulco after dawn?