|Dropping by Uncle Leon's in Coyoacán, Mexico City|
The negative aspect of patriotism is similar to an obsessive, stalking love infatuation. Regardless that there are other fish in the sea, there is nobody better, sexier and perfect than my country. There is only one. We have the best healthcare system, we are have the best sense of humour, we are the smartest people, our soccer team may not be good but at least they are handsome, our army smells better than yours, etc. This passion leads us much like a subservient horse with blinders on, keeping it from being frightened by the reality that surrounds its pretty large eyes. This obedient horse is managed with the crack of a whip much like we are driven by our own national psyche: nobody does it better than us. Should you break free from that carriage hauling foreigners' behinds through the colourful touristy city streets and become a wild stallion galloping freely through bountiful plains, the world out there will surprise you.
Mexico’s national image is becoming stained by the localized bloodshed, leading many foreigners to opt for other vacation destinations. I have heard people comment: “I don’t want to go to Mexico to be murdered.” Even Mexican expats contribute to tarnishing the sinking reputation of a magnificent country, stating that they moved away because of the drug cartel violence. What they won't tell you is that they actually left to pursue professional ambitions and originate from relatively sheltered regions. Mexico is still a place where you will discover a thousand shades of something new. Mexico has not matured as a destination. It has always been mature. Mexicans are proud of their rich history and culture, doing an outstanding job in maintaining world-class hotels and resorts. The services in these establishments far surpass many North America, European and even other Latin American countries’ standards. There, you can definitely find your land of dreams, whether it is walking shoulder to shoulder with the pre-Colombian gods on the Mayan Riviera, sipping a "Coco Loco" on the Pacific Coast or taking in the lovely sights of the many bustling urban centres.
During my two summer internships I was fortunate to befriend several Mexicans hailing from different parts of a very diverse country. There is something very genuine about the nature of these kind people and their enjoyment of others is unparalleled. When they say, “We should get together”, they actually mean it. They find a way to include you in their activities and before your trip is over, you are guaranteed to have expanded your own network of friends and professionals. You know where you stand with them, unlike other cultures where opinions are hidden behind a veil and an artificial smile. It is refreshing in a way not to partake in psychological warfare to ascertain where you stand in other people’s books. This provides an environment to enjoy the small things that, once added up, make one great time. Mexicans do go out of their way to ensure you feel welcome and comfortable, taking the time to explain everything to their foreign guests. They did not seek to label me as an ignorant gringo or lead up with topics to get an “I don’t know” out of me.
|In my office in Polanco, Mexico City|
As I closed my chapter in Mexico, a majority of my co-workers were sorry to see me go – and really, so was I. I had not realized that I had been actively engaged in supporting so many people in the staff that everyone knew me, from the ambassador to the custodian. A senior trade officer whom I had closely worked with on the Terry Fox Marathon campaign in Mexico City urged me to stay, however, I had to return to Canada to pursue my university studies. I am sure I could have landed a permanent position there, but unfortunately, these days everyone needs to have a diploma or certification to get ahead in life. Gone are the days when you did not even need to finish high school to get a job. My experience there made me grow as a person and professionally. ¡Viva Mexico!