Published: March 2008
My favorite place to sit in Bucerias, Nayarit is under the rooftop palapa of "The Bar Above", a fantastic martini and dessert bar owned by Buddy, who makes the world's best chocolate soufflé. It is inevitable that I will be joined by one or two old-timers, that is, people who have been traveling to Puerto Vallarta and the Bay of Banderas since the beginning of time. Without fail, as they gaze across the glittering lights of the bay, they say the same thing, Boy, things sure have changed. I remember when Puerto Vallarta was just a little fishing village.
This sentiment is shared by the readers of the local English language newspapers. Each week they arrive with brand new letters to the editor.
The traffic is terrible in Vallarta!
The development has to stop! It's becoming like America here!
And so on. And to those people who write into the paper each week, I have this to say, Wah, wah, wah. Get over yourselves.
The truth is that most of the people doing the complaining about the influx of Office Depots, McDonald's and Starbucks are the same people who after their two weeks or two months in Puerto Vallarta, go home and enjoy these very same companies at home in America or Canada.
It may come as a complete shock to some people, but the modern department stores, fast food joints and coffee shacks; they aren't for you. These companies are here to serve the local residents: the Mexicans and the full-time expatriates (of which there are not enough of to justify the development, so don't blame us).
I used to be part of the fist shaking, development damning brigade myself. That is, until I actually moved here full time. I noticed then that it was the part-timers who still wished that the Vallartenses were living in quaint huts on the beach and washing their clothes in the river so that they could enjoy their Mexican vacation in an authentic fishing village.
After my first four months in Vallarta, I had finally had enough tacos al pastor; I was dying for a Western Bacon Cheeseburger from Carl's Jr. During my fifth month, I ate at KFC. By my sixth month, it was a monthly ritual to go to Chili's and get a big Asian Chicken Salad. Before I lived here, I thought American fast food places were way out of line. Now I think, Who am I to deny my Mexican friends access to processed, fried chicken parts and bacon cheeseburgers? Maybe they get tired of Mexican food too.
I was thrilled when Home Depot opened. Now both I and my Mexican neighbors could get two cans of paint that were the very same shade! No longer did I have to run to three or four different ferreterias for a home project. The truth is that our Mexican neighbors deserve the same convenience and affordable prices here in Mexico that we enjoy in the United States and Canada. The giant mega-stores like Wal-Mart and Home Depot offer hundreds of jobs and they stimulate the economy. Yes, they hurt the small business man, but they do that in the US and yet still the demand calls for more expansion.
I am less inclined to accept the proliferation of Gabacho Hives, towering condo complexes that block the lovely Pacific sunset. But guess who's buying those? It's not the Mexicans, that's for sure. It's the same people who are complaining now and the same people who complained before modernization.
The beds are too hard. You can't drink the water. There's no internet. The electricity is spotty. The plumbing is bad.
Some people just like to complain.
So next time that you think about complaining because your favorite Mexican village has become modernized and developed, think about whether having a nice, quaint vacation spot is worth denying an entire country access to processed hamburger patties, matching cans of paint and a thriving economy that feeds hundreds of families.