Got high for the first time in a long time today. I’ve been abstaining for awhile for the most part for a variety of reasons, some practical though some simply because I’ve known for awhile I’m not going to be able to smoke weed here as much as I used to at home and it was best to cut back before I had to.
Since weed actually is pretty easy for almost everyone to quit and not the gateway to shooting heroin into your eyeballs, I hadn’t really missed it too much the last couple of months.
But today Tanya was at the pool and I was taking a break from unpacking and found the vape and decided to just sit on the couch and let nature take its course, which is now that I read it a pretty gross way of alluding to smoking some weed and watching stupid TV shows.
After coming back from the pool, Tanya and I decided we should walk up to the neighborhood grocery store and pick up some supplies for dinner and some more water. (This will be noted in a future “random thoughts” type thing about living in Mexico, but you’re never more aware of the preciousness of water until the water in your tap is no longer suitable for drinking.)
It occurred to me as we left the security of our condo building that I had never gone for a walk while high in another country before. Then I was immediately reminded that I’ve almost never been more aware of my “American-ness” than since we’ve moved to our new (temporary) neighborhood.
This is obviously not a bad thing. We didn’t move to Mexico to only hang out with a bunch of Americans and Canadians while playing “tourist” in bars, restaurants and stores staffed almost solely by Mexicans. You can do that in Puerto Vallarta (and sadly, many people do) as easily as you can rent a hotel in Times Square, only walk four blocks in any direction and claim you’ve been to New York City.
But acknowledging that we’re part of a building full of American BnBers in a neighborhood that, quite frankly, probably isn’t too excited about our presence is important to telling this story of our journey. I want and need any Mexicans who end up reading this to understand that we’re self-aware of the gentrifying influence that Can-Am sunbirds and budget retirees have on neighborhoods like 5 de Diciembre.
Because most Americans know more about New York City than we should I think this is probably a pretty accurate analogy. The most desirable neighborhood for foreign expats to live in here is the Zona Romantica. That neighborhood would be akin to something like Greenwich Village in New York City, Rough around the edges compared to anything around Central Park, but an insanely desirable place to live relative to almost any other comparison. (For my New York peeps — important to note that I do GET that many people would choose to live in SoHo or the Village or even Chinatown compared to the Upper East Side. Please don’t get bogged down in that part of the analogy.)
The Romantica (as we locals call it) is about a 3 kilometer walk from our place, plenty safe and mostly along the beach, so we’ll be spending plenty of time there but it’s not close enough that we’ll be frequenting its shops and restaurants like we those in our neighborhood.
To finish the analogy, our neighborhood is more akin to Williamsburg in the late 1990s. The writing is on the wall that money and development is going to reshape the neighborhood in the days ahead, but it’s still very rough around the edges. If I hadn’t made it clear, I like that. Like I said, we didn’t move here to live in a Mexican version of Disneyland.
Even if we end up renting a place in the Romantica here in a few weeks (which is unlikely — we’re even mostly priced out of most of the neighborhood and we’d probably have to sacrifice some space or amenities for us to be able to afford it) we would still regularly come back to this neighborhood for some amazing spots that we’ve already found in only four days. With more time, we’ll find more.
The rooftop restaurant around the corner (I’ll touch on this in a future post) is one of the more trendy places in town amongst locals and local Yanquis still really haven’t figured it out. Again, it’s not the kind of place a snobby American living in the Romantica would go out of the way to visit (yet), but the building I live in and this restaurant will sooner or later force out most of the mom and pop places and taco trucks in my hood. It’s just a matter of time (and money). You probably can’t throw a rock in Williamsburg without hitting someone who lives between E 14th and Houston streets these days.
But it’s difficult at times to know that I’m playing a part in making this neighborhood less interesting. Don’t get me wrong. Liberal guilt only goes so far. That’s the part conservatives somehow are never able to get. At the end of the day I’m not letting liberal guilt get in the way of me living the way I want to live, but I’m going to do it on my terms and while mentally acknowledging that I’m aware of it and I do what I can not to be an asshole about it.
So I try to speak Spanish where possible and say “hola” to all of the abuelitas sitting on their front porch when we walk by, even if I’m guessing they might not like us.
This is their neighborhood and I’m just a guest.
Postscript: I should mention that the analogy above only extends as far as much as it remains a comparison to New York City. There are neighborhoods on the ocean north of the airport with million dollar homes filled with Americans who exist in a universe that I will never know anything about. But that was never the point of the post. Still, it should be noted that those people laugh at the “losers” who deign to live in the Zona Romantica.