Hola! – Special field trip to Mexico

It’s been two months since I arrived in San Diego, and almost everything is settled. There are still a bunch of fresh and interesting activities that I’ve never tried before in Taiwan, which always reminds me to explore, experience, and cherish more here in the following 80 days.

I enroll in Global Sustainable Tourism Management (RTM 470) in SDSU this semester. The focus of this course, sustainability, is different from my major, business, and I have never engaged in this kind of topic before. Therefore, it’s a perfect opportunity for me to learn about tourism and sustainability in the course. Last week we went on a field trip to Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California, Mexico for four days to visit some wineries and hotels and to interview the locals about their opinions of the tourism in Valle de Guadalupe.

Wineries – Getting drunk at noon

Valle de Guadalupe is a recently popular tourist destination for wine and Baja Med cuisine, the weather there provides a wonderful environment for grapes to grow. In the first two days, we visited many wineries, where the owners were so hospitable that they provided us with many kinds of wine to taste, accompanied by cheese and baguette. I even got dizzy after tasting all these wines, and it was quite an interesting experience to drink right at noon. I also learned the 5 S’s of wine tasting from my classmates: swirl, sniff, slurp, swish, and swallow. The most important step is to be sure not to touch the base of the glasses when holding the wine goblet in order to prevent the temperature of your hand from warming up the wine.

Hotels – Sustainable? Or just following the trend?

In the last two days we visited some hotels, and it surprised me that most of the hotels we visited were established less than 3 years, in other words, they are almost brand-new hotels for tourists. Then here comes the question:

Why there are so many new hotels springing up in this area? Aren’t they oversupplied?

Just as I mentioned above, Valle de Guadalupe is a rising tourist destination for wine; therefore, many businessmen operated hotels in this area in these years. Some hotels that we visited impressed me with their efforts of protecting the environment around them including reusing the water, using local food ingredients to cook and make wine, planting pines…etc. However, the area where they built hotels is somewhat in conservation. No matter how many eco-friendly methods they tried to apply, this area was no longer the original one as it was before.

What will happen after the trend fade in the long run? If there are fewer and fewer tourists coming to this area, will these hotels be abandoned, and waste more resources to handle these so-called “Mosquito places” in Mandarin, which means the places that were built with a large amount of money being unused for a while, and became the nest for mosquitoes to breed eventually? Nowadays, the Mexican government doesn’t have much regulation about the establishment of the hotels, and the communities in Valle de Guadalupe aren’t integrated enough to face this kind of issue. This is certainly a huge issue for the Mexican government to tackle with these years.

Interviewing the locals – different images just across the road

     During these four days, we interviewed some locals about their opinions of the focus and the impacts of tourism in their residential area. It is quite shocking that their residential area is just right across our hotel, and the scenery of the two sides is completely different. On the side of the hotels is luxurious- the fancy wooden structure with warm yellow lights; whereas the residential side is quite shabby- the simple gray crude concrete house. This made me think about the gap between the have and have-not. The rich from other areas just came here and built an incompatible, fancy hotel, interrupting the locals’ daily lives. As these locals go out every day, the first image they see is the huge hotel standing in front of them, what will they think about that?

Learning a new language

Most of the residents there speak Spanish instead of English, so we had to interview them in Spanish, and therefore I learned the first sentence in Spanish in my life:

“Hola! Mi Nombre es Kiki. Soy Estudiante de SDSU.”

As I said the sentence to them, they replied enthusiastically in Spanish even if they knew that I didn’t speak Spanish. That’s what Mexicans are known for- passionate, enthusiastic, and hospitable. I appreciate that they treat you as their family, and it feels like we have met each other a long time ago.

Piñata – Strike it as hard as you can!

The most interesting activity in this field trip is Piñata time. People hang the Piñata on the rope first, and the one who is going to strike it has to be blindfolded and spins around for three times. Then here comes the most exciting part- some people will start singing “Dale, Dale, Dale”, the song that people sing when someone is hitting piñata; while others around will guide you to the piñata with their voice. As you get close to the piñata, hit it as hard as you can! After the piñata broke, the candies inside will pour out, then everyone will rush for these candies and collect as many candies as they can.

Piñata was originally shaped like a star with seven points, and these points represent seven deadly sins that humans have. While the blindfold means belief, and the stick stands for the courage to beat these sins. This activity signifies that with the faith and braveness, one can overcome these sins and get rewards from heaven.

One of our classmate playing piñata.

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