The guy who sold us our house here in Ursulo Galván used to start emails saying, “Another day in paradise….” The VisitXalapa user group keeps calling this place paradise. Even our more temperate neighbor calls it paradise upon occasion.
I say, paradise schmaradise.
Breathtakingly beautiful, yes. Paradise, no.
So I am a nattering nabob of negativity as an ancient vice president of the US was fond of calling Those of Us on the Left, but paradise this ain’t. You have to live in a very, very self-centered bubble to think Mexico is idyllic. Kind of like Americans at home who just don’t see past their own noses.
Complicated might be a better word, richly hued, prone to disaster at times, cruel and kind. People of all sorts live here and make their livings here, exploit the land and each other. At least half the people live in poverty, yet some are so rich they print their dinner party menus on sheets of silver. The second richest man in the world is Mexican, there are more millionaires per capita, I’ve heard, than in any other country. Yet there are people without enough to eat. Sometimes Mexicans would kick their own families out of their houses, sometimes they are so generous they will give away their last peso.
This is a land in which kingdoms thrived when people in England were still grunting and scratching. In which people fought brutal wars and knew about how to perform subtle surgery and create massive sculptures and delicate jewelry and predict eclipses and tear the hearts out of their captives long before the Spanish arrived.
Mexico has a centuries’ long history of wave after wave of exploitation: of the land, of the people, of the resources. It also has a centuries’ long history of great, sophisticated art, architecture, literature, and scholarship: indigenous, Spanish, mestizo, Mexican. It has a vibrant intellectual history and community.
In this land of great faith, the Inquisition flourished and La Virgén comforts.
So; according to the Oxford English Dictionary, if you’re not talking about the Christian paradise, you are talking about an idyllic place when you talk about paradise: someplace “Extremely happy, peaceful, picturesque; visually attractive in a quaint or charming manner.”
This ain’t Mexico. Mexico is MUCH more interesting than paradise.