I probably have the distinction of being the only member of my family ever to have eaten camel. Or is it the shame? My father was so shocked when I told him what I had done that his normally eloquent vocabulary left him stammering. I think he was, in reality, half-horrified and half-amused.
There was a comment in the last thread about how different my experiences seem. I’ve always enjoyed a kind of rough-and-tumble form of travel, which is how I ended up in the camel restaurant. But in a larger and more general sense I’ve been wondering if I gloss over the negative sides of places too much – Montreal and Mexico City, for example.
I’ve also been thinking how I could, just as easily, take my photographs from Mexico City and paint a rather dismal picture of the place – make it into a place that no sane person would want to travel to.
Do you see what I mean? And that’s not all, by any means … there’s plenty that I have photographed – and could show – to back up an argument about the badnesses and injustices in Mexico, or Montreal, or even Vermont.
It’s a requirement in journalistic photography that you’re supposed to be honest about what’s shown, but the warp lies in what’s not shown (or talked about). I certainly am showing what I like about Mexico, but I also have plenty of negative opinions (and photos to support them), and not limited to Mexico.
I do think, however, that it’s important to see both sides of a coin. Is that glossing over? Yes, I think it is sometimes. But I think it’s also useful to talk in different terms, especially about a place that gets editorially stomped on. I said in an early post, before going there, that I wanted to present a positive view, since so much of what’s published is negative.
On our last day in Mexico I was speaking to a young Mexican man who was working behind the desk in our hotel. He was young and hip-city-relaxed, with spiky black hair and lime-green framed glasses. He and I had just settled up the bill so he knew we had been there for a relatively long period of time and he wanted to know why. It’s not a hotel frequented by North Americans – most of the people who stay there come up from the South instead. In an abbreviated answer I said we liked the hotel and the neighborhood. He response was that most North Americans – by which I assume he meant Americans – complain about staying there because they don’t want to stay in a “ghetto”.
Well, if that’s a “ghetto”, then I guess I’m really out to lunch. But I don’t think I am. It’s a relatively affluent upper class neighborhood, nothing like the rich ones but nothing like the poor ones either.
I’ve always liked living in these in-between neighborhoods. In Montreal we live in a pretty swanky part of town – The Plateau – but under the caché it too has its rough edges (though nothing like the other places).
I hope I won’t avoid politics, the environment, and social issues on this blog. But most of the time I’d rather not go at them head-on. There is a lot to talk about, in Canada as well as in Mexico. I’m not blind about this, but personally I get tired of feeling inundated by other points of view. I know that mine seep out, and whether you agree or disagree, I hope most of all that you will feel welcome here (and able to say what you think). That’s the way I’d like it to be, and it’s a roundabout answer in my general approach to this blog. I hope it comes through, because it’s not always easy.
Perhaps you remember the market photo a few posts ago (scroll down). I thought, as a contrast, a photo from last weekend would be fun. It’s Montrealers coming out of the winter funk and flocking to one of our largest markets – the stalls are still confined to the indoors but in everyone’s mind it’s already spring!