"The tour leaves at one from the dock. Wear shoes you can slip off." Minnie and I looked at the Mexican hotel clerk surprised. Visiting Mazatlan, Mexico in March we walked the city shops, dined by the sea, and I para-sailed. Today we planned to explore outside the city limits. A dozen of us gathered at the dock for the tour. Wearing black pants legs rolled up to the knee, our guide waded around the small fishing boats to steady them for us to board. Life jackets? None. Mini-motors sputtered. We headed up stream at a Mexican pace - slow.
Moving through the narrow tree-lined river we looked about for creatures in the water and didn't see any. Our guide headed for a cleared bank, cut the engine, jumped out, held the boat, and motioned for us to get out. Minnie said, "Ah, this is where our shoes come off and our pants legs roll up."
Children came from a stick hut to greet us. "The vertical sticks are spaced so pigs and chickens can come and go," our guide explained. The young toothless mother came forward with an infant in her arms.
We were astounded at how they lived. We expect much more for ourselves. Was it a setup for money? Our guide gave them a little from our group, but the kids just wanted candy. Kids are kids. Their lifestyle hadn't changed in hundreds of years, or more. What is the mortality rate? Mouths agape, we stared at the footed sleeper with "Minnesota" embroidered on it, a gift from a church group in Minnesota. Extremes.
Silence ruled our return trip to the city. We didn't know what to make of their situation, or if we were obligated to do something - the American dilemma. Perhaps the purpose was to remind us we have so much to appreciate and not take for granted.
Copyright 2006 Red Convertible Travel Series