Notes From Nestipac

By Phyllis Rauch

How’s Business?


jocoHaving spent 40 years at the side of a successful, professional artist I was often asked, “How did the exhibit go?” or “Did you sell a lot?” This isn’t the most tactful thing to ask an artist, but I think people usually mean well. So I had to think up a number of answers which while truthful, didn’t necessarily tell the whole truth:

“There was a great turn-out at the opening.”

“Liz Taylor and Richard Burton turned up.”

“The museologist hung the show so beautifully that I cried when I walked in the door.”

You get the picture.

I’m in another business now, working as the owner of the small, home-based Los Dos B and B. Recently I’ve observed than no one here is asking me “How’s the hotel business?” It’s small comfort (but some) that a great majority at Lake Chapala, whether working in hotels, restaurants, shops, real estate, or as tour guides, is struggling.

We are all reeling together under the triple whammy of the world recession, the influenza scare, and the purported downfall of the country due to drug wars (according to Anderson Cooper.)

We all know how much the northern press loves to exaggerate Mexico’s ups and downs. The U.S. government usually follows suit, even putting up warning signs on the border. We who have loved and lived in Mexico know how idiotic these scare tactics are. We also know how difficult they are to do battle with.

Family and former guests, many of whom are now good friends, do write asking “How’s business?” My first instinct was to follow the old pattern…to try to find ways of putting a positive spin on the current situation.

But, for better or worse, I’m not pulling any punches. I’ve been telling those Mexico fans that she’s hurting and that she needs champions to defend her. I’ve told them I’m healthy, still solvent, and haven’t seen any drug lords striding down the streets. But that we need their neighbors, friends and families to come here and see for themselves.

And in this column, taking off my rose-colored glasses, I feel like a lioness defending her cubs when I growl, “Shut up CNN and Sixty Minutes!! Wake up all of you who never having crossed your southern border dare to judge a fabulous country and its people on the basis of biased news reports and ancient prejudices.

“What about your own eternally dirty laundry? Take a closer look at your drug wars, gangs, crime statistics, tampered Tylenol, tainted food, pedophiles, serial killers, children who can’t read? It is we who should fear to cross your borders.”

Whew. Do I feel any better? Not really. Partly because I am preaching to the choir. All of us who have elected to make Mexico our home know how lucky we are. Know how much safer, healthier, happier we feel here than in those places we left behind. Know how clean the air is, how deeply blue and uncontaminated the sky. Know how supported we feel by our warm and caring Mexican neighbors.

We also know, that when up north all the leaves fall, the temperatures drop, the world turns gray, Mexico will come into her own once more. The snowbirds (who know the truth) will return. And many thousands more will decide to pack their shorts and sandals, ignore the nay-sayers, make up their own minds, and discover for the first time what the rest of us have known all along.

Then we’ll reply once again, “Yes, folks, business is great!”

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