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do we really need them

San Pedro La...
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do we really need them

what are peoples views on western cultures taking over local traditions.

Do we need to speak the language and adapt to a foreign culture or should they

Are tourists really helping by working and taking local jobs

Should something be done to prevent a cartain type of person, such as the english bouncer type, or the summer drug addict type coming to such fragile cultures.

Seriousy I would like to know peoples opinions especially after all the problems we have faced recently in san pedro

The Dalles, Oregon
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for Guatemala, Belize
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1. Re: do we really need them

It's a tough problem. Many of the towns around Lake Atitlán rely heavily on the tourist dollars so aren't in a position of turning people away. I'm sad to see the toll that influx takes on the local culture. San Pedro is a good example. Frankly, when I'm there I can't stand to set foot in the area around the docks and avoid it unless I'm taking a boat somewhere. The upper, more traditional part of town is far more interesting to me. I go there to work on my Spanish but only know a few words of Tz'utujil.

San Pedro La...
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2. Re: do we really need them

I totally agree with your comments, it is very refreshing to hear that there are other people with similar opinions as myself. Don't get me wrong, even in the dock area there are people who really have adapted to life in a mayan village, people who try to fit in rather than make town fit their needs. However i see an ever increasing flow of long term tourists who think they have certain authority/rights above others and very selfishly carry on with their own lives paying no attention to the impact they have on the town.

I just hope the Tzutujil people don't let this get out of hand.

Bethesda, MD
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3. Re: do we really need them

I think it's a mixed bag. But it also sounds like perhaps you have a particular situation or two in mind. Details?

San Pedro, Belize
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4. Re: do we really need them

I came for a week and stayed for a month. Loved every moment of san pedro but I can see after spending some time down the tourist strip, especially 7 avenue that it could become a little to much.......gossip etc.my advice is just don't get involved in those petty games. These people will soon get bored and move somewhere else and cause the same problems there.

Lake Atitlan
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for Lake Atitlan
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5. Re: do we really need them

Tourism certainly is a mixed bag, and each person who visits a foreign culture changes it in some way. Some for the positive, some for the negative.

I may be one of the foreigners you are speaking of. I moved to Lake Atitlan several years ago and now call this my home. I am a business owner and volunteer on several non-profit organizations. I put much more money into the community than I take out. I create jobs and provide employment that would not otherwise exist.

Many of the visitors to Guatemala are hear to learn Spanish, and the local economy benefits from the income. Others are here to enjoy the Mayan culture, but do not speak Spanish. They all put money into the local economy. Would you rather the non-Spanish speakers not come to your area???

The reality is that in order for you to succeed in a tourist economy, you will need to adapt more than the casual tourist. I am not saying this is the best thing for your culture, but it is good for business. Have you developed the skill sets needed for the tourist economy???

As tourism grows in Guatemala, these are the challenges your culture will have to face. Do not hold it against the gringos who may take a job short-term. Take the time and initiative to learn the skills needed to earn the job you desire. Create your own reality!!!

London, United...
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6. Re: do we really need them

I am not saying this is the best thing for your culture, but it is good for business

London, United...
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7. Re: do we really need them

Its comments like these that really sicken me. Why turn everything into business and money. There are many other cities and stock market where one can make money, places where these people who make their own reality would not succeed. Instead move to the third world to exploit.

No I am not saying that all visitors that come to San Pedro should speak spanish, it's impossible they are here for such a short time. Im talking about people who live, work, retire, start businesses etc.......they could.....at least learn the language! Its about time we all started to intergrate a bit more, and time we start experiencing other cultures and traditions, not bringing our own and ramming it down other people's neck.

Edited: 7:53 pm, April 21, 2011
Xenia, Ohio
6 posts
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8. Re: do we really need them

I've done a bit of traveling myself, mainly south and central america, I would not class myself a destination expert in any of these areas, I am merely another tourist. I myself travel for the memories, the experience and most of all to learn. Learn languages, cultures, lifestyles, customs, pretty much to learn new things.

Arriving in San Pedro was somewhat strange.

The chicken bus stops outside the church in the center of town, a vibrant place, people everywhere a hive of activity. The women all dressed in very colourful cortes matched with very simple blouses. Everyone was very friendly and unlike other towns there were less so called guides trying to make a quick buck off you. It was a very pleasant experience. I tooka quick walk around to get my bearings, check where the market was and the bank of course. I generally dont travel with a travel guide so I never really know what to expexct when I arrive in a town, but this one I liked....I thought.

After a half an hour walk around town I asked a lovely gentleman on the corner called Juan if he could reccomend me a hotel, he smiled and told me to head downhill towards the lake.

Reaching the bottom i was rather shocked, in no more than 150 paces i had gone from a mayan village to an American retreat. Everything in English of course, signs, menus, staff, music, food...far from guatemala. Here I am trying to escape from the western culture I know so well, traveled thousands of miles to escape it and BANG it hits you once again. I often ask myself why people have left their home towns or countries if all they want to do is experience the same thing just in a different place.

Anyway I dont was to rabbit on to much about this.

That evening after dropping my bags off at xcocomil, a lovely little hotel run by a very pleasant local lady, I headed out. I tried to find a comedor, in most places around these parts there are hundreds of local food pit stops. NOT here! I can only imagine that they have been forced out of business by other larger, better presented establishment. Its a bit of a shame. I resorted to tacos at the taco mex place just under a bar on the second floor, again run by a local guy and a very very friendly one at that. Opposite I sat sipping some fantastic coffee made for my by a Juan i think was his name, and what a fantastic cuppa he makes. I sat reading a small leaflet or booklet called Sol or something like that, looked sort of like an 11 year olds attempt of making a tourist guide. Who makes this magazine???? No wonder they are free! there goes another tree!

Anyway I headed down what this book called seventh avenue had a few quiet drinks, it is rather moire pleasant on the eye this part of town. Less traffic and more vegetation. Had a few drinks in a very nice place called Jarachik, run by a local family. If you need to know anything about where to go and things to do, ask the staff in here, they will give you a list as long as your arm....its rather different from the average response...why not try our happy hour drinks. I think it may just be a thing of us westerners always thinking of the bottom line and the bank balance! I did briefly stop in another bar just around the corner, cant remember the name but its the irish bar. I sat a while just observing, there were maybe half a dozen people there, they all seemed to know each other pretty well drinking at the bar. Loud. Obnoxious. and very arrogant I must admit all spouting about the horrible things the people of the town have done to their bars...on hearing this I swiftly left! The next day I left town. Shall I return? NO

Anyway I only stayed until the following day, nothing new or exciting to do here.

The Dalles, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Guatemala, Belize
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9. Re: do we really need them

Here's my new and exciting to do there, will keep me going back every year for as long as I can travel: www.becaproject.org

Xenia, Ohio
6 posts
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10. Re: do we really need them

sorry hopefulist, I was a bit harsh. What I meant is that i wouldn't go to that area of town again. Most certainly the upper part of town is very exciting and different and to a large extent holds its cultures and traditions. I do somewhat admire these people, how they have managed to keep a grasp on their culture with the ever more rapidly changing world. The project you are involved with sounds fantastic and I will sure pass by your project on my return, I will be heading south again at the beginning of fall. I will be sure to take a look at the fantastic work you are doing. It is nice to hear that there are still people who walk into another culture with their eyes and heart open. Its so important that we maintain world cultures in this very western world. As they say variety is the spice of life!