Des has a funny post about eliminating stupid people by not warning them about dangers they face in life. She says we should take down all the warning signs and safety precautions and let nature take its course.
I thought about this the whole time I was in Mexico.
Mexico is a country full of blatant danger. If you fly in, you will most likely land in Mexico City, where the very air is the color of a nice strong caffe latte(Scroll down to see photo). And that's on a good air day.
If you want to travel about, you can hop on a bus that may or may not have had a safety inspection in the past 20 years. It might even be a U.S. school bus that was retired when it lost the ability to stop at each railroad crossing because its brake lines were hopelessly faulty. Try to pick one with some brakes left. You can tell by listening carefully for the metallic squeal as they lurch up to the bus stop.
Or you could take your chances with a taxi. The good part is that there are no limits on the number of occupants, so go collectivo-style and mash 8 of your closest friends into the 1982 Toyota Corolla with you. If the driver can't see out the windows, that is ok. Smart drivers and pedestrians know to stay out of the way of taxis.
What, you want to walk? Ok. Wear close-toed shoes and keep your wits about you. Cavernous holes in the sidewalk, pieces of rusty rebar that jut out at eye-level and sudden changes in height and width of walkway are to be expected.
And yet nary a warning sign is to be seen, unless it is the classic no-parking sign "Se Ponchan Llantas Gratis" ("We will punch your tires. For free! If you park here." Kinda friendly, kinda menacing).
The whole country is full of dangers unimaginable in the U.S., yet somehow everyone manages to muddle through just fine with good humor, endless patience and grace. I was always watching some dangerous situation unfold and thinking "Man, why aren't people up in arms about this?" But no one ever seemed upset.
When I visited the archeological site on Monte Alban, there are ball courts that are about 30 feet deep. The trail goes next to them and there is no fence, no handrail, nothing.
My Mexican tour guide, walking and talking, stumbled and almost fell over the edge. He turned to me and grinned, sheepishly. He wasn't indignant. He assumed that if he would have fallen and killed himself, it would have been his own clumsy fault and that would have been life. Or rather the end of life. Oh well.
Check out this path down to the amazing gorgeous Hierve el Agua in Oaxaca (wa-HA-ca). It is hard to imagine, but that little ridge is about a foot wide between an 8 foot drop on one side and a 15 foot drop on the other. Handrail? We don't need no stinking handrail!
It also has water constantly running over it. This is the main path down to one of the most popular tourist attractions in the area, a natural mineral pool. Hundreds of people walk down it every day during the summer.
It is worth it, though, because then you get to this, a natural, warm infinity pool:
I asked my Spanish teacher, Erica, about all this danger and the fact that no one seems to be upset about it.
"Don't you have lawyers?" I asked.
"We have plenty of lawyers," she replied. Then with a beautiful little grin she added "But they are not so busy."
Some fabulous writing from fabulous women on Linkateria today.