This past Tuesday night, Pronatura Veracruz, the wonderful environmental organization for which I volunteer, (www.pronaturaveracruz.org -- check out the website)held a benefit opening of Al Gore's movie, An Inconvenient Truth. It was held in one of the Xalapa multiplexes, the one in the subdivision called Las Animas. They closed off one of the many theaters so that after the movie was shown, we could all have drinks and snacks.
Briefly, I enjoyed the movie. There was so much photography of Al Gore's person in it that I might have thought he was running for president again, except there was nothing glamorous: you could even see that he bites his nails. It seems to me that we should all be worrying a whole lot more about global warming and the general effects of a profligate economy and lifestyle than we should be about terrorism -- although, wait a minute, in a way, the two bear a bit or relationship to each other. Anyway, I read that the producers or some group wanted to donate thousands of copies of the film free to US high schools -- but that the major US high school science teachers organization turned them down because they didn't want to offend the corporate sponsors of high school science projects. Anyone know anything about this? Sounds like satire and reality have become the same thing.
So back to the opening night. One of my wonderful friends commented that at times perhaps there was a bit of culture shock for us living here. At the beginning, there was some jangling. However, I thought I would show you a bit of suburban-style Xalapa (there's a lot more to Xalapa, by the way, so those of you who panic at the thought that the world is being Americanized can sigh with relief) so you could see that there is a bit of medication for withdrawal symptoms.
Although I can't say I ever missed what you'll see in the following pictures.
Las Animas is a fraccionamiento outside the main east-west highway which goes to Mexico City. It is relatively new and relatively well-off. The town "center" is an indoor mall which contains an Office Max, several banks, Radio Shack, clothing stores, and a bunch of other places which will seem familiar to you in the STates. It has the largest of the Chedraui supermarkets. Chedraui is the main chain of supermarkets in this part of Mexico and the Chedraui family is very, very rich. They also own the elegant new shopping mall called something like Espiritu de las Américas here in Xalapa. I'll send you some pictures of that, too, one day soon.
Anyway, Jim and I were invited to this benefit premiere because I'm a volunteer. I challenge you to see any difference between this view of the inside of a multiplex (remember, it has been partitioned off for the benefit -- without partitioning it would stretch out) and one in the states except for the language.
This was a benefit, so those accustomed to be benefactors were in attendance as well: A
And there were a few eccentric Americans:
Away from the crowd the service tables were set up. Here you can see a few of the many white-jacketed servers and the big Pronatura banner. We were offered chicken salad on rolls, tuna salad on croissants, ham and cheese roll-ups and some kind of veggie roll-up along with pastries and wine and various fruit drinks. Roll-ups are big in this segment of Xalapa right now.
We get the same movies in Xalapa that you get in the states, sometimes a bit later, as in the case of An Inconvenient Truth, sometimes a bit earlier, sometimes at the same time:
At the end of the movie, a very elegant man whose name I missed, though I suspect he was the Executive Director of Pronatura Veracruz (I just work in the office, guys) gave a wonderful, impassioned speech about the magnificent treasure that the state of Veracruz is, how rapidly it is being destroyed, how there are many among us who KNOW what to do, how we must do it. He was loudly applauded and cheered by the well-heeled crowd. I was quite moved. There are quite a number of people here who are sensitive to the environment as a place of beauty and natural wealth and as something which could die, which we will of course die with. Something I hear in this area is the word patrimony. Now it might not sound pc to say patrimony instead of something gender-neutral, but it conveys the deep sense of connection to place many people here seem to have. This is complicated in Mexico where so many are so poor -- the issue, for instance, of deforestation: up in the mountains among the terribly poor, it goes on apace because the population has grown so rapidly and people need to cook and keep warm. What to do? Solar stoves, you say. But there isn't enough solar in cloud forests for the stoves.
But there I go again.
Anyway, after the show and reception, Jim an I wandered over to Chedraui to pick up a few things -- I keep trying to find whole nutmeg. It doesn't seem to exist here, though a myriad of spices I never heard of before do. It wasn't in this giant Chedraui, either. I think you can tell it is a quote full-service supermarket unquote. I took one picture there, but could take no more. A store employee very politely told me I couldn't take pictures inside the store. You can't take pictures inside of US supermarkets, either. Why not, I wonder. Here is the one picture I took:
To conclued, I show you a house in Las Animas decorated for Christmas. It belongs to our friends Janet, on the left, and her husband. David, on the right, is from Madison, Wisconsin and is here with his wife who is doing consulting with the state dept of education. They live in Coátepec. Las Animas has actually a lot of charm. Many varied row houses, lots of different urban types live in it. Also some palacios of the very rich.