Stupid Tourist Stuff | Mexico | Living in Mexico

Stupid Tourist Stuff

San Miguel de Allende attracts many tourists. Unlike the beach resorts such as Cancun and Puerto Vallarta, the majority of tourists are citizens of Mexico, not Europeans or Norteamericanos.

Foreigners come to San Miguel to enjoy the colonial ambiance and to visit the vibrant art community. They come to get away from cold winters or hot summers. They come for the social seasons: January through March for Californians, New Yorkers, and Canadians; June through August for Texans.

In other words, Winter for Democrats, Summer for Republicans.

Mexicans come here to visit the Cradle of Mexican Independence. It was on September 16, 1810, in the nearby town of Delores Hidalgo that Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla gave El Grito (the cry) that heralded the beginning of the Revolution for independence from Spain. What are now the states of Querétaro and Guanajuato were once the scenes of much of the early fighting.

In 1926, San Miguel became a national monument, ensuring preservation of its colonial buildings. Among all of the Bajío cities, it is the best preserved. It attracts parents who want to show their children one of Mexico's important historical sites. Schoolchildren on field trips arrive in busloads to study their national heritage.

In general, San Miguel does a good job of balancing the needs of a working town with those of a potential UNESCO World Heritage Site. But occasionally some touristy operation intrudes that threatens to make a mockery of our historical city. For example:


This is our historically irrelevant cable car. Well, you can see it's not really a cable car. It's a cable-car-like construct on top of a Mercedes truck chassis.

The wretched thing is embarrassing.

San Francisco style cable cars never existed anywhere in Mexico. This horrible vehicle clearly is just a Disney-esque tourist ride designed to appeal to the mouth-breathers. I mean, why not go whole hog and have a proper carnival ride. I propose the following as an upgrade:


The cable car is the biggest passenger vehicle permitted to operate in the historical center of San Miguel. It cannot properly negotiate the narrow streets, and frequently causes traffic jams.

There's a corner by my house that is too tight for the cable car, so it has to back up to complete the turn. The back-up alarm would be bad enough if I had to listen to BEEP BEEP BEEP all day long. But this thing makes a sound like a donkey being beaten: HEE-HAW HEE-HAW HEE-HAW. Some months after it began operating, I stood close enough to hear the back-up sound more clearly. Through the distortion of the cheap sound system, it became apparent that the intended effect was that of a steam locomotive: CHUFF CHUFF CHUFF. What the hell the sound of a steam locomotive has to do with a cable car is beyond me.

The policy of our community is to preserve our colonial look and feel. This piece of crap clearly violates that policy. So there's only one possible explanation for the existence of this eyesore on our streets: somebody has a lot of juice. Either someone is related to the power elite, or money changed hands.

Here's another example of rampant idiocy:


Yes, sir! Getcha scuters here!

Scuter is not a word in the Dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy, although the word scooter is. Maybe it's a word in Mexican street lingo, but I suspect it's just a stupid mistake, like the botched phone number at the bottom of the poster.

(Scuter however, is a slang English word, meaning "a person who is scum from the gutter.")

Yes, sir! Getcha scuters here!

It's an idiotic advertisement for a bad idea. Look at the scene on the left.


Here we have tourists despoiling a riparian site, plowing through a stream and no doubt fouling fish eggs with silt. Yeah. We all want to encourage that.

Now the other scene:


Here we have a scuter and two four-wheelers tooling down a cobblestone street. We residents have to put up with them passing at high speed in dangerous situations, violating one-way streets and adding to congestion. We occasionally see them piloted by 12-year-olds.

Licenses? We don' need no steenking licenses.

(Note that most of the people pictured are not wearing helmets. I find this to be the most encouraging aspect of this whole mess. Maybe we can get a little Darwinian thinning here.)

Incompetent, corrupt and just plain bad government is endemic here. This country has more laws and regulations on its books, it seems, than anyplace else on earth. But they are enforced unevenly. Local businessmen can buy or influence their way through the thickets of red tape.

But just let a homeowner paint his house a non-approved color, and the architectural cops swoop down with a citation.