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Mexico, Inc: Advertising Excess in Treasured Places

Dear Rudy:

We would like to pass on some information about a sickening trend we stumbled upon.

Barra de Navidad is a small town on Mexico's West Coast you've probably never heard of. It's been one of our favorite Mexican destinations since the 70's. We've spent many romantic weeks there - even months at times. Since the devastating 1995 earthquake, the town has been spruced up using infusions of mucho dinero from the Mexican government. The town still retains its beautiful small-town character, even though it has taken a quantum leap from the ragged but lovely little urchin it was in 1974.

Alas, however, it has been raped by Pepsi Cola! We visited last week, and what a shock! Pepsi has invaded the town - plastered it with advertising so gross, so hideous, so intrusive as to nauseate even the most indifferent traveler.

Barra has a beautiful lagoon where the fishing boats and tourist skiffs anchor. All the boats lined up along the lagoon now have blue canopies emblazoned with the Pepsi logo. Most of the restaurants along the lagoon have new Pepsi awnings. The old Hotel Tropical has a huge Pepsi banner draped on its south side. Across from the lagoon is a charming little island now sporting Pepsi banners and flags on 30-foot poles. A gringa who lives there says they also have a string of flags and banners near Highway 200, south of town. Pepsi canopies, awnings, flags and banners are everywhere.

When I chided one of the boatmen and asked if Pepsi had bought the town, he grinned sheepishly. We told him the Pepsi advertising destroyed the town's beauty. He just shrugged, no doubt a beneficiary of Pepsi's "generosity." From now on, we told him, we will call the town Pepsi de Navidad. We even tried to complain to the local tourist office, but it was closed.

Doesn't Mexico realize that touristas find such advertising overkill appalling? First stadiums sell their name to the highest bidder, now it's whole towns. Companieros Arriba!

Rene & Mary



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