Monday, May 10, 2010

Portraits of Mexico

We just returned from a week's vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. So, I'm going to write a few words in Spanish. However, I only know a few phrases so this part will be very short - And, it is important information. It is a public service announcement for anyone traveling to this part of the country...The Spanish translation is in blue.

"Hello, do you know where I can find the bathroom, please?"
            "Hola, donde esta la bana? Por favor."
 "Yes, What, five pesos? Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha!"
            "Si, Que, cinco pesatos? Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha!"
 "What's happening?"
            "Que pasa?"
 "Thank you very much. Goodbye - You have got to be kidding!!!
             "Muchas Gracias, Adios! You have got to be kidding!!!
 "Joe, JOE, I need five pesos, please, yes five pesos. You have to PAY to go to the bathroom...sigh"
             "Pepe, PEPE, tengo cinco pesatos, por favor. Si, cinco pesatos. YOU HAVE TO PAY TO GO TO THE BANA, SIGH?"
(Note, I know the question marks need to be upside down and I have not written this to be gramatically correct) These really are all of the words you need to know to get around safely and with dry underwear. But, I can tell you this. Don't go to the country without a pocketful of five pesos - it can be a risky move.

So many things about this trip have caused me to think and to wonder. Most of us know we are privileged to live in the United States. But, until you travel to a country that has so much less and until you stay in a resort that caters to your every whim, that fact does not really travel home. Let me rephrase, a country that has so much less and works so hard for what they have and, yet, who are seemingly very happy people - the fact that I am so spoiled and privileged did not really travel home.

There are many things I brought home with me from this trip. The country is beautiful, the country is poor and the people we encountered have happy hearts. They also have at least this one thing in common. They LOVE to have their picture taken. And, they are not shy about letting you know. I found it so intriguing. Joe and I talked about this quite a bit. Maybe it is because they want to feel important, maybe they are just trying to make a little extra money, maybe they just want to be recognized and to put their stamp on this world in a permanent way. Whatever the reason, I'm thankful because I was able to offer them all of these things for just a short while. They opened my eyes to seeing others and to wanting to give them that moment.

We were walking through the city and an open air market. I was carrying my Nikon around my neck. Since it is a fairly noticeable camera (meaning too big to fit in my pocket), I was asked repeatedly if I was a professional or an amateur photographer. This cracked me up right off the bat - what I am is a picture taking fool. So, I thought this was fairly hilarious.

I was waiting for my husband and our friends and I had stopped along one of the stalls to rest. Across the way, I noticed two men that kept waving their arms, trying to get my attention and pointing to my camera and then to themselves. Apparently they wanted me to take their picture. So, I did.

I asked them to smile for me. So, they did (Isn't it GREAT?).

We continued on our walk through the city and along the oceanfront and we ran into this character. I had noticed him weaving back and forth in front of us as we walked along. We sat down and he circled back and came running up to us and said, "Hi, I'm Mexican from Mexico, take my picture." So, I did. Luckily Anthony was there to make the picture even better - the local guy is the little guy on the right. I didn't ask him to smile; but, he did. He was very happy.

We had dinner in a small village across the road from the resort. A stark contrast to say the least. We ate dinner in this placed called "Tony's Hide Away" that has delicious seafood. The restaurant is tucked away on the second floor of this adobe building and is "open air" - meaning no windows. We could look out over the village from the balcony. Again, I'm taking pictures of all I can see and we notice these arms waving at us from down below and from one of the other rooftops. Like I said, these people are NOT shy. I love the smiles...

I like the boys. We did not even know they were there until we could see their arms waving and could hear them laughing. I wonder what they were saying to each other.

As we walked back to the resort, we followed the road through the village. Here are some other moments that touched me:

AND, my personal favorite. I asked him to smile...and, he did!

I'm thankful for these moments in time - captured forever by the lens of my camera. But, hopefully and more importantly, captured forever by the lens of my heart.

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