Oh, the People You’ll Meet in Mazunte

by Ekua on November 3, 2010 in Mexico,rantastic

Mazunte is rife with expats who can most aptly be described as “trustafarians”. People who have escaped from the man, man. During my interactions with these people, I was split between an understanding of their desire to escape the trappings of western ways, amusement at their frivolity, and annoyance with their arrogance.

I spent parts of my afternoons in Mazunte in the closest thing the town had to a square. This courtyard was where all of these hippie expats gathered when they were not on the beach. There, they would make and sell macrame jewelery.

I met one of the expats through the German woman who’d been on my boat tour. The expat was in her early 30s. She’d previously worked as a fashion designer in New York City, but after a period of being unemployed, she began to travel which led to her making Mazunte a home base for awhile. Her red designer glasses, her too polished “I-just-threw-this-hippie-garb-on” attire, and her underlying edginess belied her calm, carefree hippie facade. Part of me thought she was trying too hard. Part of me admired the courage it took for her to move her life to Mazunte.

She introduced me to the rest of the expats in the square, and the one who was the most present was an Austrian guy in his mid-twenties. We were discussing travel and got to the subject of American relations with Cuba which prompted him to erupt into some incomprehensible angry political babble. There may have been some truth in his or the other Mazunte hippies’ self-righteous diatribes, but it was hard to look past their daily activities of taking up space in a fishing village and selling macrame necklaces and bracelets.

And then there was the guy who owned the hotel I was staying at, who as I eventually learned, figured himself to be a revolutionary. On my first night, he came by my room to ask me what I wanted to eat. I hadn’t seen a menu, so I asked what he had available. He responded, “I make you vegetarian food. Fresh pasta with vegetables and shrimp!” I wanted to say that shrimp makes it non-vegetarian, but I just nodded because it sounded like what I wanted to eat.

I went over to the outdoor dining room to wait with the French-Canadian couple and read a book. It was a wonderful evening; the moon was full and luminous and the ocean was glowing.

The Canadians took over the two hammocks by the dining area, and I wanted to go back to my room and use mine and absorb the night while I waited for dinner. I asked the hostel owner what time he thought dinner would be ready. He immediately assumed I wanted my food ASAP. “This is slow food,” he responded with a haughty tone. When I explained that I was flexible about dinner and just wanted to go back to my hammock for a bit, he replied, “Stay here. You need to eat the food immediately after it’s ready.” Thankfully, the food was damn good and and I temporarily overlooked his increasingly grating personality.

The next night, the Canadian couple was preparing to leave on the night bus and I was the only one at dinner. I had my book to read, but the hotel owner obviously felt required to entertain me while he cooked. For a couple hours, he rambled about  revolutions and Mexico as he prepared dinner and I waited.

At one point, he suddenly looked around suspiciously and leaned forward. He pointed towards the ground and emphatically whispered, “I make revolution with this hotel!” I looked at the bushes to see if there was a guerrilla ally or two ready to pop out, or maybe someone from the government who was spying and trying to take him and his revolutionary cabins down.

But no one came out from hiding. Instead, he gave me detailed explanations of such revolutionary activities as refusal to buy products for the hotel that are made by corporations. My gaze wandered beyond him to focus on a bottle of Ciel water, a brand owned by Coca-Cola.

I know everyone needs clean drinking water and major brands aren’t always avoidable. Sure, I agree with supporting local producers and avoiding corporate brands whenever possible. And I fully support the different ways he and his wife tried to make the hotel more eco-friendly (even if it also made the hotel more wallet friendly for them). But still, it was a lot of self-horn tooting without much sacrifice for the cause. Is his lifestyle awesome? Yes. Is his way of life revolutionary? No. I was so excited when my food came out; chewing helped me avoid having to respond to him.

The last night I was in Mazunte, I returned from having dinner in town with some locals I’d met to find that the hostel owner’s family friends were visiting. I was thankful that he’d be fully occupied with family and friends. There was also a new guest at the hotel, another Canadian who had just finished studying abroad for a year. He was traveling around the country before heading home. He was about 22 years old, flamboyant, and had a hearty laugh.

We took a table next to the two families and chatted away over cervezas. He had amusing stories about his time abroad and was refreshing to talk to. I would later bump into him again in Oaxaca. He would join my group for dinner and confide in me that he too had to endure the hotel owner’s ridiculous revolution speeches once he became the only guest at the hotel.

Like the people I’d met in the square, he and his wife were not originally from Mazunte. The expats I met there clearly all had good intentions, but seemed to have integrated into the isolated world of Mazunte Expat Hippieland, a place that’s hard for reality to permeate.

Mazunte is definitely a place I’d recommend to other travelers; it’s fantastic for relaxation and wildlife observation, season permitting. Just be wary about engaging in conversation with that pajama pant-clad macrame maker you might encounter as you head towards the beach or into town.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Lauren Quinn November 7, 2010 at 10:08 am

“Mazunte is rife with expats who can most aptly be described as “trustafarians”. People who have escaped from the man, man.”

This gave a good little chuckle.

I really like your handling of these particular breed of expat. You look at them honestly, not playing into their bullshit—but you’re also not condemning or playing better-than. I love the honesty of: “Part of me thought she was trying too hard. Part of me admired the courage it took for her to move her life to Mazunte.” I can totally relate to meeting people and feeling that way.

And I can totally picture you ever-so-politely biting your tongue!

Reply

Ekua November 7, 2010 at 3:46 pm

I thought this would remain a lonely little post since anyone who reads my blog is probably used to me loving the people I meet when I travel. Realness is all I really ask for in the end, but you can’t win ’em all 😉

It was definitely an experience talk to those folks… as you probably know, it’s not uncommon to run into people like that in the SF Bay who might have similar ideas on life and the world but totally different ways of going about things!

Reply

Leave a Comment

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: