I’ve been in Puerto Vallarta for 6 days now, and I can’t stop thinking about “the wall”. Sure, a few Mexicans have joked with us about it, like the waiter who said after the wall is built, they’ll use a “trumpoline” to get over it, but mostly, it’s just reinforced the need to share a different perspective.
What I’ve seen here are hardworking people trying to eek out a living (vendors on the beach as you see in the photos), bricklayers, waiters, beauticians, grocery store clerks, hotel staff, craftsmen, etc.), families walking together on the boardwalk, a teen in the center plaza training his dog to do tricks, lovers holding hands over a candlelit dinner table, a dad guiding his tiny daughter through the ocean waters with inflated water wings around her arms. Ordinary people. Some vacationing, some working, some just hanging out.
One 70+ year old man who caught my attention crouched on the edge of a cobblestone street near our villa, with a pointed gardening tool in hand. With eyes covered by a film of grey clouds, he dug at the weeds between the stones and occasionally pulled one up and set it in a pile on the sidewalk. I can’t say if someone had paid him to do it, but it hardly seemed practical, to pull weeds between stones on a road pummeled by car tires all day and night. But, the man was trying to provide a service, in the hot sun, with little to no eyesight. We walked past him twice, and neither time did he ask us for money.
One woman approached us on the beach with her little son, perhaps 4 years old. I wanted to buy a small embroidered purse from her. Her price: $25. But, all I had was $21 in cash and a credit card. Of course, she did not take credit cards. Ultimately we settled for the $21 cash and a Sprite. We’d started a tab at the bar adjoining the beachside hotel, so we just added a Sprite to it. When it arrived, the woman found a seat under a beach umbrella behind us, shared the Sprite with her little boy and thanked us before heading off to sell more purses.
No one that I’ve seen so far seems to fit the description of a “bad hombre.” No one in my family or circle of family friends does either, and every one of us is a descendent of someone who came here as a Mexican immigrant generations ago. Most Mexicans are proud, hardworking, compassionate and loving, many of the same descriptors you’d use for born and bred Americans, or Danes or Poles or South Africans or any other human beings.
The idea of “the wall” should be an insult to every American who is the descendent of an immigrant, and that’s nearly all of us.