infinity on repeat

"It is the imagination pressing back against the pressure of reality. It seems, in the last analysis, to have something to do with our self-preservation; and that, no doubt, is why the expression of it, the sound of its words, helps us to live our lives.”

Tag: perspective

a travel guide is a tourist’s bible

Before I left, I looked at media representing Mexico–especially media directed toward foreigners and/or tourists. These are some travel books I found, and I think each depicts a specific type of “tourist gaze”…

1. Mexico Chic This travel book represents the luxury gaze. Like Ury and Larsen theorize, the tourists’ gaze depends on his or her own sociocultural ‘centre’–their culture, language, beliefs, daily routine & practices, economic, racial, and social status. This book caters to the contemporary American fashionable female. The implied reader’s lifestyle is heavily influenced by visual and sensual pleasure. The book presents Mexico as an oasis that is isolated from a daily routine of work, offices, and suburban/urban landscapes. It entices via large, colorful photographs of hacienda suites, resorts, spas, and fine dining– all with an “authentic” Mexican flair. Tag-lined with the phrased “you can’t get it at home”, the tourist is lured into an ideal of escapism. Mexico is only partially depicted, as a place void of actual people with actual jobs and actual lives, etc.

2. Graham Greene‘s Another Mexico

PalenqueThis book offers an historical viewpoint of Mexico: a mix of travel writing, social critique, and religious protest written in the 1930’s. After converting to Catholicism, Greene traveled to Mexico and explored the religious landscape. He described Catholics as a suppressed people, ignoring the history of Spanish colonialism and imperialism. Mayan culture was significantly changed by the infiltration of Catholic Spaniards, prompting Mayan religion to take on aspects of Christianity. This syncratic practice is a key notion in the study of Mexican culture.

3. An Archaeological Guide to Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula, by Kelly Joyce

This book approaches tourism through a scholar’s lens, offering the tourist a how-to guide on a more academically grounded, therefore ‘authentic’, experience. The book emphasizes visually compelling aspects of the Yucatan as an anthropological and archaeological field, and invites the reader into an insider perspective on Mexican culture. Tourism scholars could criticise this book for perpetuating staged authenticity, as the sites listed are all run somewhat like cultural theme parks. The scholarly authority imparted by the voice in the book seems verified and objective, which could be dangerous for a tourist audience.

4. Lonely Planet: Cancun, Cozumel, and Yucatan

 

This is what I would consider a “classic” travel guide. Lonely Planet produces hundreds of guides for destinations all over the globe. The information is a survey of the Peninsula’s hotels, restaurants, museums, beaches, and cultural sites. The design has a visual and photographic emphasis, once again, with historical/cultural information in captions. The book is a self-described authority on “how to get there and get away”, and the place is presented as exotic, foreign, and other-worldly. The American tourist is instructed to see difference primarily, and there is not much about the people who inhabit Mexico today–perpetuating voyeuristic pleasure.

puerto morelos, my mexican dream cloud

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things” -Henry Miller

I was dreaming over guava juice and sandwiches outside of the internet cafe with Allie. We made friends with a dog and fed him chips and took pictures of him. There are so many gentil doggies that roam around Morelos, and I’d been wondering if they’re strays or just have chill owners. Turns out the chill owner theory is correct, as told by our second new friend of the evening– a shaggy haired guitar-playing cutie named Bryan. The dog’s name is Bongo. He and Bryan are friends because they both come to the cafe often, but Bongo has an owner whom Bryan has only seen a few times. Bryan is from Mexico city, and he’d never seen Mississippians in Puerto Morelos before. He said since he moved here a few years ago, he’s seen tourists mainly from Canada, and the few from the states are mostly from California. I asked if people came to Puerto Morelos because it’s beautiful, or if some came because of the Mayan presence–some, but not many. The ones who do come for the Maya know their stuff, though, and have inspired him to learn more about the culture. He described this distinct mystical energy– how he is continually amazed by the way things unravel serendipitously here.

Spirits are swollen. Dreams are the blurry film on our sunglasses after a day on the beach.

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