Tag Archives: mexico

Green Globe Trekker: Mexico’s Hope

Today on Green Globe Trekker: JP worries about Mexico’s recovery from narco-trafficking violence.

Last year in the Yucatan Peninsula

Last week, I had the rare opportunity to dig a little deeper into someone’s Spit List—the controversial Thanksgiving game of nominating someone you so detest you’d spit at them on a red carpet.  This year, Chef stopped dinner conversation cold with his choice: Recreational Drug Users.  As he explained, their choice is tearing apart his home country of Mexico.  Little did I know at the time that an assignment from Condé Nast Traveler would take me South of the Border to check out the affects of narco-trafficking violence on tourism—for contract reasons, you’ll have to read the full story in the March issue of the magazine.  But here’s what I can say: there’s a spirit of optimism afoot that things will improve in Mexico—but I’m not so sure that’s a good thing.

The last time I wrote about Mexico for Condé Nast Traveler was November 2004, and I commented on an excitement about the country shrugging off decades of authoritarian rule and looking forward to enjoying true democracy.  In the intervening years, Mexico has become the notorious site of drug cartel warfare.  Experts like University of Miami’s Bruce Bagley told me that was a direct result of the “success” of the American-backed war on drugs in Colombia that has just shifted the drug trafficking up through Mexico.  He believes that Mexico’s 71 years of one-party rule has left a young democracy’s institutions vulnerable—the courts, the police, and the military are cracking from corruption due to the incredible amounts of profits made from drug trafficking.

Where’s that optimism I mentioned?  Many people I spoke with told me a version of, “It’s safe here for tourists.  Drug traffickers don’t want to hurt North Americans.  They are the source of their profits, after all.  They’re the ones who buy their drugs.”  Yikes.  A forceful crack down on trafficking won’t ever stop the problem—there’s just too much money to be made.  Instead, we need to focus our resources on targeting the cause—Chef’s “spitees.”

The other hopeful note Mexicans sounded was that elections are coming in two years.  The likelihood is that the country will shift back to the PRI party—the same one in charge for 71 years—who will make a quiet deal with the drug cartels, and the violence will go away.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t sound like progress to me, but to many in Mexico it seems like the safer choice.

Bottom line, America’s “war on drugs” is a costly, failing effort that is ripping apart a country so dear to my heart.  After all, Mexico has given me so many gifts—and not just the seven or so nativity scenes that are part of my Christmas decorations.  The country blessed me with Chef, and as I’ve said before, I love being the Tex to his Mex.

Let’s put an end to the spitting, and to the drug war.

Check out StopTheDrugWar.org for more.

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Winter Games

Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul blames Chef for his lack of enthusiasm for the Winter Olympics.

Living with a Mexican can have unsettling consequences.  For example, I blame Chef for my somewhat diminishing interest in the Winter Olympics.  Every four years, it’s the same story.

“There’s nothing egalitarian about the winter games.  Many of the sports put warm countries at a disadvantage,” Chef complains.

“Wow, Mexico, so bitter.  It’s not like you do any better in the summer games,” I can never resist.

“It’s okay.  I like watching how much fun you have watching the figure skating,” he teases sweetly.

He’s right really.  Unlike the summer games where I’ll watch almost anything and everything televised, the winter games pretty much come down to figure skating for me.  Sure, I might put on women’s slalom or moguls on as background while I flip through a magazine, but my eyes are glued to the screen for men’s figure skating.

Let’s be clear—it has nothing to do with the athleticism and everything to do with the outfits.  The sparklier—and tighter—the better.  Since I was a just coming out teen, I’ve been enamored by the muscle bound thighs and rock hard butts.  In my heart, Brian Boitano was my first winter Olympic boyfriend.

To be fair, Chef isn’t solely to blame for my current lack of interest—NBC is.  I found excruciating and oddly amusing Tom Brokaw’s nearly 10-minute video lead-in montage treating Canada’s historic friendship with the US as if it were the subject of Ken Burns’ next 13-part documentary.

But that was nothing compared to the announcement that Mary Carillo is going to be hosting the “late night” coverage.  She and I have been at odds over her constant haranguing of Serena and Venus Williams’ off-court pursuits.  It was nice to see that someone at NBC agrees with me since they dispatched Mary to the Arctic Circle to carry the Olympic torch while Matt Lauer got to walk a block with it in Vancouver.  Still, I don’t want to go to sleep with images of Mary in my head.  Anyone remember Pat O’Brien’s fireside chats from Lillehammer?  I thought he was so sexy in those turtlenecks.

In deference to Chef, I tried to tone down my enthusiasm for the opening ceremonies, although to his credit I could tell he was really trying with Vancouver.  We played a game awarding points to each other for guessing the next Canadian star to be featured onstage.  He beamed when Bryan Adams came on stage (too easy, really).  I earned extra credit for calling Joni Mitchell (could there be a sadder song for the opening?).  But come on, where was Celine?

As the competitors entered the arena, we of course critiqued their outfits.  And as Mexico’s time neared, I just couldn’t help myself.

“Hey maybe this year, Mexico’s team will have doubled in size.  To two!”

“No, I have confidence.  Probably three,” he said, nonplussed.

And at that moment, in walked the proud delegation from South of the Border—1 lonely guy, a 51 year-old fellow with the very Mexican name Hubertus von Hohenlohe.  A Prince, evidently, descended from an Austrian family, and he lives in Liechtenstein.

“Ay!  It’s the same guy!   Every Olympics! He only gets to go because he can pay for it.  Typical Mexico,” Chef said.

As the time for the United States delegation neared, I decided I wouldn’t applaud or comment, so as not to rub it in.  But as they appeared in their smart Polo puffy jackets, Chef shouted!

“Yeah, U-S-A!  Go U-S-A!”

He laughed at the shocked expression on my face.

“What?  It’s the first Winter Olympics since I became an American citizen.  That makes it all different,” Chef said proudly.

It certainly does.  Suddenly, things look a little brighter for me in Vancouver.


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Caught Red Handed

Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul discovers Chef has been lying about an important tradition.

After spending 9 New Year’s Eves together, I just discovered that Chef has been lying to me.  Part of being a member of a cross-cultural couple is adopting, or tolerating, the other one’s customs.  And boy, December 31st is the day Chef lets it all hang out.

There are a whole set of rituals that Chef insists we undertake on New Year’s Eve.  For good luck, we have to eat 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight—one each as the bells chime.  Then, for good fortune, we have to put money in our shoe and walk around outside, while for good travel karma, carrying an old bag of clothes, while for good gay karma, listening to Liza Minnelli’s New York, New York.  And, the custom that started all the trouble—for love, revealing new red underwear that has been given to you by someone else that night.

Friends Shannon and Susan joined us this year for the annual red underwear demonstration

Oh, I’m quite a sight all right hobbling around the streets of Mexico half-drunk, carrying an overnight bag, showing my panties and crooning, “If I can make it there!”  I’m surprised I haven’t been arrested on suspicion of prostitution.

Here’s the problem with red underwear—I’m very specific about my style preferences, and surprisingly December doesn’t offer many acceptable options.  The first year, I wasn’t pleased when Chef gave me a Santa-themed thong more appropriate for a stripper at a gay bar.  The next year, I was equally unhappy with the enormous flannel reindeer boxers—was I grandpa?

Thankfully, when our friend Susan started traveling with us on New Year’s Eve, she was equally suspicious of someone just selecting under garments for her.  So we made a pact to always go shopping together early, and pick out a pair for each other.  Still, a good red one is hard to find—although the striped trunks at H&M have become my go-to choice.

Imagine my surprise then to be reading yesterday’s New York Times and discovering an article about how you can gauge the state of Mexico’s economy by the color of the underwear flying off the shelves.  Turns out, there’s a choice.  Red for love, and YELLOW for money.  In this economy, citizens of Mexico are choosing YELLOW briefs in droves.

“All these years I’ve had a choice?  I could have gone with yellow!” I yelled at Chef.

“You would have chosen money over love?” he answered, wounded.

“It’s been 9 years!  We’ve got love.  Maybe one of us could have done something for money!”

“But that’s why we put pesos in our shoe, for money.  Besides, it’s fun to see you get stressed over red underwear!  It’s part of our holiday tradition.”

That made me laugh.  And I couldn’t argue with that, really.  Complaining about red underwear has become part of my shtick.  So, I’ll stick with red.  Besides, yellow is definitely not my color.


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