I often find myself pondering the “real” in life in this age of instant gratification and digital everything. During my recent trip to Mexico, I pondered this a lot. What is the real Mexico?
As a photographer, I still find myself thinking that shooting on film is real while all these digital images we take are, well – less real. I learned to be a photographer by using 35mm film and developing it myself in a darkroom. When I encounter younger photographers who have never shot on a roll of film, I cry inwardly. I curse technology. Of course I try not to judge, as I happen to be in love with some of technology’s accomplishments like the “Hipstamatic” app on my iPhone.
A similar mindset applies to my travels. I’m always searching for the path that is now [or has always been] least traveled, older, more authentic.
During my recent trip to Mexico, I was given with the opportunity to stay in the all-inclusive Hacienda Tres Rios. It was an easy transfer from CUN to the Riviera Maya with Cancun airport transportation and then we were enjoying the resort. Which was great. The property is a sort of eco paradise. Tres Rios is gated and separate from the rest of the Riviera Maya and certainly far from the towns inward from the ocean. On many levels it doesn’t strike me as being, “the Real Mexico.”
Everyone, of course, defines that differently.
Perhaps real is racing through the jungle sitting on the back of what can only be described as the world’s-oldest-still-operational-dune-buggy. Or maybe real is a small pueblo where tourists don’t usually venture. Real might be a group of women who manufacture their own soaps and bath products still mixing ingredients by hand. Might it be a simple meal cooked by a woman who speaks no english on the side of a road under a thatch roof hut, not in a resort kitchen with all the modern conveniences of a 5-star restaurant in New York City?Whether my second day in Mexico was representative of “the real Mexico” or not, is debatable. However, it was my favorite day to photograph. It was also the day I felt the most out of my element, in all the very best ways.
Many thanks to Jesus who guided us through a few of the many projects Kanche supports. We paid for our tours, and you can do the same by visiting Yucatan Holidays. However, I’d instead highly recommend skipping the tours themselves and simply giving your money directly to the cooperatives that this NGO supports in Mexico. The tour is long, there is a lot of waiting around involved and at certain times of the year – like the dry season Mexico is currently experiencing – aspects of the tour are not even operational, so the typical tourist may find themselves disappointed. Yet, I strongly believe in what Kanche is trying to do in Mexico and stand behind their mission. I would happily give my money to support their work directly.