Every day I ask myself what I can do to lessen the rigors of “voluntary isolation.” I am still extremely careful but not as much so as I was at the start of the pandemic. However, I can see that taking a few liberties will land me on a slippery slope.
The scientists and governments all over the world tell us – Wear a mask, wear a mask – Please wear a mask. I do, and so do most other people. Yes, masks look dorky and in Yucatan’s hot, humid climate, they are not at all comfortable. But if masks are going to keep us safe, we need to wear them.
Then, over the weekend, I found out that a group of super-hot “influencers” were in Uxmal, running all over the site, mask-less, shirt-less, and clue-less. For their shenanigans and disrespect while visiting Uxmal, and their refusal to adhere to the established health code, INAH-Yucatán (National Institute of Anthropology and History in Yucatan) gave these influencers the heave-ho.
According to Michelle Fridman, the State of Yucatan’s tourism marketing maven, these paragons of social media have a combined following of more the 15,000,000. She says they are not receiving any “money” for their efforts on our behalf, but I wonder about the air tickets, hotel rooms, food, and other perks. Somehow I don’t think they are covering their own “incidentals”.
What is going on here?
In Yucatan, the authentic Maya are not shown as the spokespeople for the “promotion” of the ancient cities, built by their ancestors. No, for those purposes, we have the influencers.
How the tourism marketing and targeting strategies are contrived, differs very little from the tactics of ancient Roman rulers´ to control their citizen’s mindset. Flash & fluff, smoke & mirrors, bread & circus. There’s not much new. But the pursuit of tourism income should not sacrifice decorum or health protocols. Neither Yucatan’s tourism work force nor its other residents should be forced to accept crass behavior and disrespect as the price we pay for the influencers’ stamp-of-approval. Or anyone else’s either.
Those of us who live in Yucatan need to remember that this parched peninsula is one of the most highly respected and culturally revered areas in the whole world. There is no need to cheapen ourselves or our heritage by trying to present our archaeological sites as sexy and oh-so-cool. Give me a break! Visitors should feel honored to be here, and behave accordingly.
I support the INAH’s decision to oust the influencers from Uxmal.