Tip of the Iceberg

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Posted by ZihuaRob from (dup-200-65-88-22.prodigy.net.mx) on jueves, julio 24, 2003 at 19:47:09 :

In Reply to: Re: Graciella: I hope her children are at the Indian School -not selli posted by Laura from (dup-200-65-89-56.prodigy.net.mx) on jueves, julio 24, 2003 at 17:26:56 :

You bring up many excellent points that illuminate and touch upon some sentiments that I've also tried expressing here. Regulation and fair competition among them as well as the influx of newcomers and their impact on our community.

Notable also is your reference to the source of the wares being sold. It used to be that the ambulantes actually sold only arts and crafts, but then came the t-shirts, the sandals, the plastic beach toys, etc. The only regulation in those days was a bribe to a public official, either by the ambulante or their patrón. Things aren't much different today. However, according to published regulations currently in effect in Zihuatanejo the ambulantes are only permitted to operate until 11:00 AM, which is a very unrealistic burden to place upon them and only engenders more disrespect for the law as well as adds to their hardship.

One day at La Barra a little boy came up to us to try to sell us some candles. These were obviously not made by him or his family, but instead, as he admitted, were from the supermarket, Comercial Mexicana. At CM they sold for about one fifth the price he was asking. They were not pretty, IMHO, and I did not see him sell a one of them, but there he was passing by about every fifteen minutes or so as if he had never seen us before and we had never told him no gracias already. He was obviously still studying Beach Hawking 101. I've already seen a couple of generations of these children grow up like that, starting with the Chicles and graduating on to other wares as they get older. Most of them missing school and a formal education the entire time.

In contrast, my ahijado Jaime Belén at the Mercado de Artesanía "Las Salinas" sells products made in his village by his neighbors. He completed his regular schooling and went to one of our local technical schools, as well as studying and mastering English. He purchased land, unlike many newcomers who are also squatters, built his home, married a nice girl and is raising a small family. The money he sends back to his parents in the small village in the Sierra where he was born has helped them to build a modern home (by local standards), and he is well-liked and well-respected by the members of that community as well as in the local artisans market.

We've only touched upon the tip of the iceberg. There are many stories to be told about our local ambulantes, mostly sad stories of the exploitation of impoverished people, but every now and then a star shines, giving hope and inspiration to others.

Thank you, Laura, for your wise insight.

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