Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Freedom to Roost and Roam

In the states there is a lot of talk about all of these freedoms we have. Often it's in the context of freedom to start a business and make a fortune, freedom to own a gun, freedom to undue search and seizure, etc. Whenever I'm in another country with supposedly a lot less freedoms than we have back home, I always find it ironic how free I feel. I think there are so many little freedoms that we don't realize have long since been discarded in the US.

My wife and kids and I typically hop onto the backs of these little trucks to get wherever we want to go here in Oaxaca. Its an incredibly cheap and simple system. You stand virtually anywhere on the side of the road, and a little Datsun pickup truck picks you up. There's usually a bunch of people in the back that are very happy to see us. They all make sure not to wake the baby if she's asleep in her stroller. They lift the stroller up into the back. We all hop in, and off we go. The wind blows through our hair, the sun is shining, we can go anywhere we want to, and all for about 5 pesos (50 cents), and thats for the whole family. This little piece of freedom could never happen in the states. The truck doesn't have seat belts, its rarely loaded within its weight capacity, and there is no official access for the disabled, though I'm sure anyone in a wheelchair would be treated as well as us with our stroller.

Here's another case: my friend Mateo leaves his house to go to the local pub. A few hours later his dog randomly shows up in the bar, happy to see Matt, but clearly here at the bar for his own social or snack-induced reasons. Obviously, another no go - few dogs in the states live life as free as Paco. Perhaps due to myriad lawsuit driven laws - things like health code violations, the fear of rabies, roaming deranged Pit Bulls, etc. etc.

At the same pub, there is no roof in certain places, the chairs are delapidated, wires are all strewn about, and clearly the owner got this business off the ground with a pretty small up front investment. Nonetheless, the place is packed, everyone knows everyone, and its a real charmer of a place to hang out. In addition, the bar owner's wife and 2 year old son are lounging about, many bar goers are playing with the baby, and there's even a basonnette for the baby to sleep in when he gets tired. There is no oppression against the baby - he obviously loves the attention, no one is stammering drunk, its more like a dinner party type of atmosphere. Obviously here's another notch against freedom in the states. The freedom of the bar owner to start this place up on an incredibly low budget, the freedom of the bar owner and his family to run a business without spending a fortune on day care. The freedom of the baby to roam at will, and see his parents all day and night long. And my freedom, as a patron, to hang out, enjoy the atmosphere in a NON age segregated environment.

And yet another: we go to the beach, sit at a restaurant, and the kids can just roam free. Ananya hops up onto the swing at the bar - swinging back and forth blissfully, Nayan is kicking his beach ball in between all the tables and chairs, the bartender's daughter is playing with Ananya. There is no wall separating those priveleged to drink alchohol, and those not. There is no traffic to be concerned about. There are no social faux pas' causing us to worry about our kids annoying people. Everyone loves kids here, and if they don't, they have the freedom to leave.

Not all freedoms involve the government, and not all are those the news thinks matter. As many freedoms are lost in the states, or virtually any western nation, due to social pressure. In Ballard, maybe I do have the freedom to keep a rooster at home, but I'm sure my neighbors would hate me if I did. Okay, this is dragging on too long, and its unbelievably hot in here. My sweat is dripping into the keyboard.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How does search and seizure work in Mexico?

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