Actually things have been going quite swimmingly in Ejido Wonderful. Not only was everything in better shape than it's been in years when I got here, but I managed to put my garden in early. Believe it or not, I actually have corn growing -- although I expect it to be in suspended animation for two months until the wind and the cold get over themselves.
The thing about being in Mexico is that first, it's not the USA. Second, the number of gringos down here has decreased dramatically in the last few years. In 2007 I was afraid that the whole place was going to hell. There was a real estate boom, and who knows what riffraff was planning on building their second home down here. "There goes the neighborhood," I thought to myself.
Fortunately a couple of things happened. There was this economic downturn. That got the shoe clerks out of the poker game PDQ. Then there was the combination of Mexico's War on Drugs with the fearmongering practiced by the US State Department and the mass media. If you listened to them, you probably thought that a thousand gringos a day were being turned into hamburger by the drug lords.
This is not true of Ejido Wonderful. Granted, there are a few places like Ciudad Juarez that I would not recommend for a summer vacation. But where I am -- no problem! The upshot of painting all of Mexico with a tar brush of drug violence convinced the vast majority of 'Merkans to avoid my part of the world. But evidently, the hysteria did not affect the Canadians who visit here.
Take Paddy. He's the reeve in Somewhere, Alberta. That's like the county commissioner or something. He's fighting fracking. I'm aggravating him by being a policy wonk. But I want to learn from him. And I hope I can be of service to him. After all, I am a fixer from Chicago. But I am a gentle fixer -- like a Canadian.
Then there's Leonard. He's a simple farmer from BC. He planted subdivisions. Canadians look simple, but they're not. They're very complicated. And that's another thing I like about Canada.
The mine used to be Canadian. Canadians have good intentions, even when they're fuckups.
Partly because Canada was not as adversely affected by the economic downturn, and partly because they are not so tainted with F*x News, I now find that the majority of turistas down here are probably from the Great White North. And that has put a different complexion on my gringo interactions.
Before, the beach was filled with lonely guys and old white couples who could only talk about twenty pound test lines -- twenty pound test lines -- twenty pound test lines -- (that's fishing talk). To a dirt digger like me, that's boring enough. And when I interacted with them, I often had to be on good behavior because of the high frequency of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity supporters.
But thanks to the new Canadian majority of gringos down here, I've had a whole different attitude towards talking with beachgoers. The first thing I discovered is that Canadians actually have a different culture from USAans. For one thing, there is hockey. This is more important than NFL football or college football or baseball. To some extent this was a blast from the past for me, as I paid attention to the Chicago Blackhawks when I was a wee sprat of a lad. But watching Canadian TV with them on a hockey game, and I quickly understand that I'm out of my league.
And speaking of football, Canadians are not much fun watching the American boys go up against each other on the gridiron. My wife is a rabid Oregon Duck fan, and when she's watched them play with our northern playmates, she thinks they're Presbyterians who've stumbled into the wrong denomination's services.
Watching Canadian TV is a kick, too. There are plenty of 'Merkan commercials for automobiles and hamburgers. But there are vacation ads for Cuba, too. Tim Hortons is supposed to be dee-lish fast food (doughnuts!), but they don't have a franchise in Ejido Wonderful. The interesting thing about Canadians watching TV is that they're more likely to scan for obscure local stations. People from Alberta don't just watch channels from Calgary. They switch around and watch channels from New Brunswick or Ontario or wherever. And one of the favorite channels for wintertime viewing is the Fireplace Channel. Yup, it's just what the name implies. People sit around watching the old electronic log burn for an hour or so before it recycles again.
But most of all, Canadians are the way good Americans used to be. Americans used to be as nice as Jimmy Stewart before they turned into vulture capital assholes. I say that Canadians are America's good twin. They don't have to wear this mantle of imperialism that affects everything America these days.
When Americans get out of their imperial asshole phase, they will become decent and fun to know again. I'm optimistic. I think it will happen a lot sooner than people think it will be. You might be surprised.