Monday, June 05, 2006

the departure of snakes

I celebrated St. Patrick's Day in 2003 on the tiny undeveloped beach of Mazunte in Oaxaca, Mexico in the bar of a place called Einstein's Youth Hostel, named not for the genius of yesteryear, but for a man who modeled himself - or at least his hair - after said genius. This very small, boisterous, perpetually half-naked person called himself Carlos Einstein and he was drunk and festooned with the bleached pelvic bone of a donkey when I arrived at about 7 pm.

Instead of accepting my money and recording my name in his guest book, he handed me a glass of green Mezcal and dragged me down to the bar to celebrate the departure of snakes from Ireland with the rest of his guests who hailed from Argentina, Germany, Czech Republic, Denmark, South Africa, Italy, Japan, Hungary, and the good ole U.S. of A.

You just can't beat the beach after dark, especially a remote and secluded one like Mazunte where the tide is the only lullaby and it is almost difficult to make out individual stars amidst the glow of galaxies. Einstein's bar, glowing gold beside the deep blue, was draped with hammocks (you can pass out within feet of the owner and he'll toast to your health!), filled with revelers, and plastered with handwritten anti-George Bush/Tony Blair slogans. He'd left more pens and paper on a table nearby in case anyone else cared to contribute to his impromptu protest of the impending war in Iraq.

In Oaxaca City, earlier in March - when the war still seemed a vague and slightly absurd threat - an Internet cafe I frequented used on their desktops a picture of the American flag with skulls substituted for the stars. Another one included a swastika over the top of the flag.

A few weeks earlier in San Miguel de Allende, Mexican and American residents held a candlelit vigil for peace in the main square. Various speakers addressed the crowd, including a human rights activist who got her start in Nicaragua. She in particular railed against various US actions against small brown people. The next day, a young American man in a cafe asked me, "Did that woman scare you? She really hates us. And they cheered for her."

We tend to define "ugly American" on a small scale - one person, family, or tour group at a time. The ugly American is loud and demanding, refuses to accept or acknowledge customs and traditions of the cultures/countries we're visiting, and wants to carry our way of life into their space.

But, we've committed the above mentioned follies as a nation also. Time and time again.

Most of the policies that have angered these folks have simply been made overt by the Bush administration but the American government has been encouraging and supporting "regime change" covertly - especially in Central America but also in the Middle East - for a long, long, long time. And the citizens of the rest of the world have known about it from the beginning.

In other words, we've been alot uglier than most of us realized long before 9/11 and long before W came into office.

4 Comments:

Blogger Guerreiro said...

Good writting, keep it up.

Just a litle thought: While there is peolpe with your concerns, the US will never be an ugly country.

4:39 AM

 
Blogger zen imbecile said...

krava, where are you from?

7:38 AM

 
Blogger Guerreiro said...

Hi again. You placed a qquestion in my blog abou twhat i mean abou "never being ugly"
Well, as long as someone aks him/herself abou why are the US disliked even among traditional allies like france, or even Portugal (that´s where am from, the picture of the "ugly american" will never trully acurate. I am an optimist and like to think that good sense will always prevail over ignorance.

Now let me give some input. In my opinion its not the ignorant turist that is responsible for the low reputation of the US. Its the fact that US has such a pewerful armed forces and a Foreign relations department that is fit for a Third world country. I mean, in the last thirty years it was the Marines and the CIA that acted as PR for the country, and now the results are showing.

3:54 AM

 
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3:15 PM

 

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