This past week I reached the saturation point. “No more!” I shouted (wordlessly, to myself), “No more Moore!” That’s all you heard about on the U.S. news channels – Roy Moore this, and Roy Moore that – as if this creep and his ilk in high places were all that mattered in the world, all that we news junkies should care about. “Enough! Basta!” I cried (silently). “I’ve had enough of these sick and twisted men’s ‘alleged’ sexually deviant behaviors!”
I had to change the channel.
This bold move for me was like going cold turkey because, I confess, I’ve become a CNN addict this past year — feeling the irrepressible need to be one of the first to know, for instance, the minute Trump starts a nuclear war with North Korea (CNN BREAKING NEWS!).
Fortunately, however, it happened to coincide with my Spanish maestra’s homework assignment for me this week, which was to watch at least one hour of Spanish-language television every day. My tutor Edith believes if I’m not willing or able to go out into this town and strike up conversations in Spanish with strangers, I could at least envelop myself with the Spanish language at home via the TV.
Of the one hundred or so channels to choose from on the local cable network in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, only a handful are in English, so I had lots of options.
I have acquaintances here who swear by the telenovela programs’ ability to teach lively Spanish, but I’m pretty sure these overwrought, over-the-top soap operas would only make me laugh. I used to watch a wonderful cooking show featuring a darling (and talented) young chef by the name of Jesus, but he’s no longer on the air, it appears. I’ve tried watching the dubbed-into-Spanish episodes of my favorite “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” series, but the “ripped-from-the-headlines” action and breathless conversations are too fast and furious for me to follow.
So, after a quick study of my remaining choices this week, I decided on what seems to be the perfect answer for me: The Mexico Travel Channel.
Here’s what I like: The guides in each place being featured are talking into the camera, clearly and slowly. They’re showing what they’d like you to see; they’re explaining fascinating aspects of their locale each step of the way. I can connect their words with what they’re pointing out. Some of it sticks.
So far this week, I’ve traveled in this way to several exciting places right here in Central Mexico I wasn’t aware of before — and I’m guessing relatively few American travelers have visited either.
I “went,” por ejemplo (for example) to the capital city of the state of San Luis Potosi, also named San Luis Potosi, and saw its magnificent baroque churches, several of its world-class museums, its Centro de Las Artes, the Plaza Principal, and the university there.
I “attended” the recently held international balloon festival (Festival International del Globo) in León, Guanajuato, which reminded me of Albuquerque’s annual grand event.
And, thanks to the program “Turismo Extremo,” I “climbed” the famous inactive volcano La Malinche (elevation 14,640 feet), just outside of Puebla, with a bunch of daring young men. (Fun!)
I have friends in the U.S. who travel a lot now that they’re retired – to “safe” (they think) places like London and Paris and Prague – who tell me they’re too fearful of traveling to “dangerous” Mexico (to visit me, as I suggest) because of the bad press Mexico gets in the U.S. This makes me sad.
Yes, no question, there is crime in Mexico, as well as corruption and drug cartels. (To learn more about such news and more, just subscribe to Mexico News Daily, which is written in English by a fellow in Oaxaca: www.mexiconewsdaily.com )
But there is more – much, much more in Mexico’s favor. (No Roy Moore!) There is immense beauty, deep and proud history, rich culture, colorful music and dancing, one of the five finest cuisines in the world, and warm and hospitable people who speak a language I’m slowly learning to speak. (Poco a poco is my motto.)
I and some of my American women friends here like to joke (yes, it’s black humor) that most of the murders that take place in Mexico are between members of warring drug gangs on back alleys in the dead of night – not on sunny Sunday mornings in sweet little white-clapboard churches filled with innocent parishioners by deranged lone-gunmen packing assault rifles. And the chances of an ISIS-inspired suicide bomber blowing himself up on any street in any Mexican city are slim-to-none.
So I’ll continue to watch the Mexico Travel Channel (and a little less CNN) to learn more about this proud country as I strive to learn Spanish. Some day, maybe, I’ll be fluent – and I’ll visit all of the glorious sights for real. What a happy thought.