Culture is everything that people do in social
life, from food preparation in the kitchen to
master violinist on the concert stage, and
all activities before, between and beyond.
There is culture and regional culture and
subculture and even agriculture - "culture"
is a word which anthropologists spend all
their time studying & debating with blue haired
ladies who like to keep young artists locked
inside tuxedoes in their closets. Yet culture
is one of the biggest - if not the biggest
reason why people enjoy visiting México.
It is the "nature" of the experience tourists
love to experience. The Mexican cultural
experience. Music, food, street life, markets,
art, language, cities, history, and yes, nature.
Tour guides speed tourists through the ruins,
creating "mysterious" images of "ancient culture"
while other tourists browse through books
and museums absorbing "culture" on their
own. Then they go out to shop and eat and
listen to mariachi music or norteño or banda
or yucateca or tambor or... you get the picture?
Culture is not a thing, it is a process, and
visitors will find themselves engaging in the
process of tourism as a highly developed
subculture which is respected by Mexicans
who by nature are friendly and outgoing on
the outside, and enjoy sharing the beauties
of their culture, but who will always hold
something in until a certain, special moment
when de repente - suddenly - they confess
the beauty and sadness of life and the Provencal
and Italian and Spaniard and Greek will
understand here is a Mediterranean brother
(sister) while the North European and North
American will sigh and agree the Latin soul.
To be cultural is the very nature of human
nature, even though most people think that
"Culture" means: Art, Music, History,
Literature etcetera "cultivated" ad cultum
like some big fine arts orchard, while "Nature"
on the other hand implies something wild,
untamed, uncultivated, unhumanized, or
even uncivilized. Most people tiene razón
have something right in this idea, at least
so far as the two words are concerned, but
across the ancient and future civilization
of Mesoamerica, humans have been living
their culture side-by-side, or to say rather
right-in-the-midst-with nature for several
millenia - since the first hunter gatherers
wandered in like I am (not) twenty or more
thousand years ago. They eventually would
discover Corn Maize and settle down in
villages and turn natural plants into their
agri-culture. Get it? Got it. Good. God.
"Nature," as we moderns and postmoderns
like to think of it, still survives in the wilder
mountains and last surviving jungles and
in our cultured forms in the parks and patio
gardens, yes? But much of it has been
changed, transformed, channeled, adapted,
damaged, threatened, enslaved or even
lost forever. Welcome to the 21st century
world. Tropical jungles and temperate
mountain forests have been cut down. Rivers
have been dammed and lakes sucked dry.
Huge reservoirs put excess stress on our
lady Earth's crust, and the planet tilts
off its axis. Or so the popular myth says.
Yet Mexico remains one of this planet's
treasure storehouses of ecological diversity
and wonder, a premiere destination for
eco-tourism and biological experience,
from the hot jungle of Calakmul to the
chill mountain gorges of Cañon del Cobre
(and each has bonus attractions, one Maya
ruins, the other a spectacular scenic train).
It is often said that the Mesoamerican
civilization bloomed amidst the largest
spread of ecological niches ever known
in one area of this world. Nature and culture
are merely two opposite ends of the same
spectrum of life, two differently facing
sides of the same earthly coin. Enjoy.