Editor´s Note

Some of you may remember an article we published last year about Juan and his donkey Conejo. They hang out in Old Town and for $1.50 you can take your photo with Conejo. This is the way that Juan makes his living and cares for his animal family. The gist of the article was that despite signs in English, tourists take photos with their phones and don’t bother to pay him the measly 20 pesos.
At the time we searched high and low for Juan so we could take some photos and pay him for the pleasure. We couldn’t find him and eventually ran the story with some photos a friend had taken.
Last night I ran into Juan and Conejo nearly a year after running the original article. I stopped to introduce myself and to pay him for the photos we used in the paper. He said to me that things haven’t changed much, but he has a new sign ready for the tourists. I heard a story that last year Conejo was very sick and that some of the animal lovers in the community helped Juan with expenses.
Which is wonderful, but more wonderful is if people would see their actions for what they really are… It’s only $2 people! Not unlike haggling with a taxi driver over 10 pesos. Perhaps it adds up over the years, but if you are here for a short time – consider that value is relative and 80 cents means a lot more to someone who lives on $10 a day than some who lives on $100’s.
Which leads me to what happened next… I’m enjoying a fabulous burger at Derby City Burgers – it costs 100 pesos, not cheap but in my opinion totally worth it. A juggler comes by and does his thing. I’m not particularly interested but recognize that for him my 10 pesos is far more valuable to him than me, I happily hand it over. He says the usual. “Thank you. Welcome to Puerto Vallarta,” and I don’t correct him but the table behind me?! Oh, they correct him. Correct him with an adamant “VIVO AQUI!” “Don’t assume we’re tourist just because we’re not Mexican blah, blah, blah…” I’m sure you’ve heard it before.
The indignation! Needless to say, they didn’t tip him for his act. Because you know, they’re practically Mexican and despite affording a burger that is likely his daily take, they don’t have to support the entertainers, the buskers, the street kids that are doing what they can to get through another day in paradise.
So, I was disheartened to say the least. I wanted to tell them how ridiculous they sounded. But you know what?
Three years plus here and I find myself letting things roll off my back. I wasn’t going to win any argument with that crowd so I didn’t bother.
I said to myself, “I know what I’ll write about tomorrow.” And I did. Any maybe they’ll read this and recognize themselves and maybe, just maybe they’ll realize that we are visitors to this beautiful country that openly embraces us.
That makes life for us here one of the easiest, most pleasant countries in the world to live in. (Have you tried immigrating to the US or Canada lately?)
Anyways, long rant short, it’s 10 pesos. If you don’t have it, or don’t want to give it – then a polite smile and a “Gracias, pero no.” But remember that these vendors, donkeys, jugglers, Aztec warrior dancers, sand covered chess players, freaky little alien that scares the crap out of me every time and yes, even the Tequila floggers make up the spice that is Puerto Vallarta. If you don’t support them, then who will?
NOTE: No photo today because I forgot to take one. How ironic.

4 comments

  1. Madeline,

    This Editor’s Note brings back memories of a picture in my childhood scrapbook that my grandmother lovenly made and left for me, of my picture in my cowboy outfit sitting on a donkey. This picture is some seventy five years old, and of course I do not remember sitting on a donkey in San Francisco … however here was someone like Juan who was making his living in San Francisco by taking the donkey into the neighborhoods to attract children and their mothers.

    I do , I think, remember the monkey and organ grinder who also went around the neighborhoods to have pictures taken of them for a fee. Today likely the city does not allow either to be in the city or neighborhoods, unless associated with a circus. My , how times have changed. It seems that these working people have been replaced with panhandlers who sit and stand on most streets in the shopping areas asking for money..

  2. That is a great article! I am not among the cheapasses here, but I’m glad you wrote this. Hopefully, a word to the wise is sufficient. Thank you.

  3. Well said. The best thing we can do with those ‘pesos that mean more to a street performer, photo opportunist, or squeegee guy’ is flaunt it, not be afraid to smile and meet their eyes and smile some more….then perhaps those who choose not to give, (and do not wish a good day), will see how beautiful it is to share. You are right, no lectures are needed, for that would change who you are, who I am, who others are, simply by example – not flaunting, but not hiding our smiles for having made a connection. Anything else would increase negativity in narrow-but able to grow-minds. Don’t have 10 pesos? Give 5. Have given away so many 5’s you’re uncomfortable? Give 2. Give wishes, eye contact, smiles. Only lectures are prohibited.

  4. Hi Madeline … Merry Christmas 2015.

    Thanks for the opportunity of reading this article for the second time , now that we have met over lunch and got to know each other face to face . I have met charming persons, and you are one of them. Also one with a good heart for our four legged friends.

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