Friday, January 16, 2009

The News from Mexico

Newsflash: This Ain't Disneyland

The photo here is of an abandoned and decayed mansion. Probably a couple of hundred years old. There is something charming about the rot. Perfectly painted brightly hued buildings with pristine iron work are just fine, but the the place earns a certain gravitas, a kind of soberness and balance from the ghosts of habitations past.

Looking at the Mazatlan newspaper this morning a few interesting tidbits---

1. A new record has been set. This state of Sinaloa today has 16 bank robberies since Jan. 1, 2009. That's one a day. 14 in the capital, Culiacan, and 2 here in Mazatlan. I'll stick with using the ATM's I think.

2. Headline from the charming Mexican city of Guanajuato, where I spent a few days in November: "Prison for Those Who Kiss in the Street." Evidently the city fathers in their wisdom have passed a new ordinance that mandates jail for a couple kissing in the street. The constable was quoted, "in the case of those that just give a light kiss, there is no problem; however, there are some embraces that are Olympian." Those, he said, will incur a $120 U.S. dollar fine or arrest. Now, it's common to see Mexican couples on every park bench wrapped in hot 'n heavy embraces. "Get a room," you want to yell. Well, that's just the point. Families at home frown on hanky panky and the kids can't afford a motel. What's a couple to do? Imagine trying to get this law passed in the U.S.! Ouch!

3. A columnist named Guillermo Farber (Farber a Mexican name? Yep.) wrote today about "La Tercera Edad," (the third age, or as we would say, "the golden years").
With arthritis and all, I don't know what's so damned golden about them, anyway. I like "Third Age." Youth, then middle age, then Third Age. Makes sense to me.
Anyway, Faber writes: "The Third Age is when you still have desires, but you don't remember for what." Hmmm...been there. He continues: "The Third Age is when everything Mother Nature gave you, Father Time begins to take away."

4. Interesting data: Mazatlan is the 15th largest port in Mexico with 1,600,512 tons of cargo in 2008. Number one is Manzanillo. But Mazatlan is #4 in the unloading of automobiles shipped by sea. In 2008, the port received 46,840 vehicles. And I saw a forest of them parked next to the docks in enormous fenced in lots.

5. Yesterday, the peso/dollar exchange rate hit its highest point since last fall--right at 14 to one.

6. The Mexican restaurant industry is forecasting a 10% drop in business in 2009 due to the economic crisis.

7. Sexual discrimination in the Want Ads: here's an ad that ran today--looking for waitresses in an upscale local restaurant: "Wanted, female, 18-24 years old, excellent presentation (read: cute), send resume AND PHOTOGRAPH). Enough to give American human resources managers an acute case of the willies!