Monday, November 22, 2010

The Politics of Resorts

Currently, I am in Salenitas, El Salvador staying at Decameron as an early graduation surprise from my family. Literally, I had no idea I was coming here and had a completely different perception of El Salvador from my mother's description of hardship, poverty, and war that the nation has struggled with over numerous years. I've heard the realities of the nation, and nothing was sugarcoated. I wanted my trip to be an experience to understand my family's culture as the last time I came here was when I was 4 years old.
Staying at the resort came to an abrupt surprise. Prior to coming my mother had asked me if I wanted to participate in any touristy attractions. I replied no because I wanted a pure experience and to see El Salvador in its raw state. Upon our arrival to the resort there are two soldiers with rifles. Beyond the gates, is paradise. Beautiful beaches, lush forests, pools, air conditioning. . . Throughout my stay, I cannot help but think of the diverse crowd that arrives at Decameron. There is a mix of Latinos, Asians, and Caucasians. My mother looks at me and says from time to time about how people would never know such a place existed in El Salvador which was exactly my problem.

People who stay at resorts in Third World countries are exposed to the best of the best and may not necessarily experience the hardships and realities of the nation. If someone literally arrives at the airport and is transported to the resort and nothing else, they see the country through the eyes of the resort. Of course, in such a location the resort is going to sell it to you as a safe space and paradise. However, the programming that occurs throughout the day is another form of communicating the nation's culture.

The other night I went to a dance performance that is called "Water and Fire." There are several different dances that comprise the show. One stuck out to me as the audience shifted in their seats. On the water, there is a performance of a man and woman in what is to reflect indigenous clothing. It demonstrates a very primitive form and is overtly sexual as the man thrusts his hips behind the woman's butt. It was an excessive form as in dance gestures are exaggerated for the performance. After he is finished thrusting several times, he pushes the other dancer into the water a clear act of violence. This frustrated me as it reiterates the male-domination and being able to exert their power over women. The next dance was a battle between two men with fire on the water. It was literally a demonstration of machismo at its finest and reminded me of a live novella with its predictability.

I have yet to see other performances, but thought how political everything can be in what is supposed to be a vacation at a resort since it demonstrates a skewed perception of a nation with harsher realities beyond a created paradise.

You can click here to see more on Decameron.

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