Without getting into the politics of Mexico, there were three interesting takeaways I can share about Election Day here on June 5. My husband and I biked out to a polling location a few kilometers inland from the malecon, or beach walkway, in Mahahual on Sunday. But only one observation comes from the polling place.
1. Election Day was on a Sunday so more people could vote.
Most Mexicans work long hours, but Sunday is the day most people have off work. Unlike in the U.S., where Election Day is always on a work day for most people. I think having such an important event scheduled for a day most people can get out and vote, is a brilliant idea. I asked to take a picture from a distance at a polling location here in Mahahual. The officials agreed – so I’m only posting the pictures where you can’t really see inside.
I got the impression that no tourist here had ever requested to take a picture, let alone bother to stop by and wish everyone a happy Election Day. A quick Google search will show you what the inside of polling places look like in Mexico, if you really want to see them.
There were about a dozen people at this location. They were all so serious, and some of them seemed to me to be a little nervous at my presence with a camera. So, after I snapped my shot, I joked that Election Day in los Estados Unidos es muy importante, because many people consider Donald Trump to be el diablo. Almost everyone belly-laughed.
2. Alcohol sales were banned from 7:30 a.m. the day before Election Day to encourage sober engagement.
All shops and stores and restaurants outside small designated “tourist zones” were not allowed to sell beer or liquor. Only restaurants and bars in the zones could serve tourists alcohol – not bodegas, or stores. There are big fines if a place is caught breaking that rule, so some stores outside the zones were closed all day Saturday. Stores inside the tourist zones blocked their coolers with beer.
We only saw tourists drinking in restaurants – and the locals all went home early. This made for a very quiet Saturday night here in Mahahual.
Now, some people might not think this is such a ‘great thing’ – to ban alcohol sales except for tourists. But I do. It was easy to sense the importance of the event that was to come the next day. Think about it – do you really want alcohol-influenced chicanery going down at the polls? Electing leaders is serious business, and shouldn’t be influenced in any way, in my opinion.
Of course, the running joke among gringos here is that on Election Day in the U.S., people may need to drink copious amounts of alcohol. No one really laughs when they say that ‘joke’, however.
By the way, normal sales resumed at midnight Sunday, but most places just stayed closed since it was so late.
3. All people simply want a secure life with basic comforts; I empathize with that and feel grateful to be American.
We talk to a lot of local people wherever we go on our travels. And just like everywhere else, all hard-working Mexican people want what Americans have – a life free from worry about food, water, shelter and basic comfort. In order to have that freedom from worry, that freedom from fear, they hope they elect leaders who are competent, honest, and who work for their best interests. People like me and you just want to live a good, relaxed life without struggle for basic comforts, and with the knowledge that their children will be better off in their futures.
I marvel at how lucky I am to be born as an American at this time in history. My worst days are better than some of the best days that so many people on this planet experience. I cannot complain.
Observations on other cultural things:
- Culture watching at malls in Malaysia
- What really happens at this ethical elephant camp in Thailand
- Why we see more Chinese tourists than American tourists