Culture

I Seem To Be The Only One Offended By This Mexican Theme Park In South Carolina

Instagram/ @puertoricanflagsup @jennyhodgie
CREDIT: Instagram/ @puertoricanflagsup @jennyhodgie

When you think of the term “south of the border,” you probably think of states in Mexico — you know, places that are actually south of the border. Not many people think of a Mexican theme park in South Carolina, but that is exactly what I came across on a recent road trip. This bizarre concept is a fullblown theme park with restaurants, shops, rides and a mascot named Pedro.

The idea for this huge tourist attraction came to the mind of its founder, Alan Schafer, in 1949.

thesouthoftheborder.com
CREDIT: thesouthoftheborder.com

This theme park technically is south of the border because it’s in South Carolina just south of the North Carolina border. However, what first began as a beer depot, according to its bio on their website, slowly grew to include a restaurant, a drive-in, a motel, multiple shops, a miniature golf course, a campsite, and so on.

It might have been a funny or cool concept 60 years ago, but in today’s political era, it doesn’t feel like a Mexican homage at all.

So why a Mexican theme? Schafer, while doing business in Mexico in the ’40s, recruited two Mexican men to help him start a theme park.

Araceli Cruz
CREDIT: Araceli Cruz

According to the site, Schafer helped two Mexican men get to the U.S. and hired them as bellhops at Schafer’s motel. Instead of calling them by their individual names, Pedro and Pancho, people just combined these names to simply Pedro. (Because why not, right? ?) So “Pedro” became like the mascot and can be seen throughout the grounds.

Most of the 175 billboards for this park can be seen up and down Interstate 95. Each one tells you how far you are from “The South of the Border.”

No matter how corny #TheSouthoftheBorder billboards are. It always lets me know how close I am 2 my grandma's house. Very nostalgic 🙂

A post shared by Lashay Dopejestic Basnight (@dopejesticbasnight) on

As the Instagram above says, the billboards are completely corny and dated and literally everywhere. According to the site, there are 175 billboards between the Virginia/North Carolina state lines. That’s a small number compared to the original 250 billboards that existed.

This place is hardly a tribute to our culture, but more like a weird fantasy of what some people think Mexico is like.

Instagram/@ itismeganjones @littleanchorboutique
CREDIT: Instagram/@
itismeganjones @littleanchorboutique

Yes, I was curious to stop and take a look but mostly because I – a Mexican-American – couldn’t believe a Mexican-themed tourist attraction existed in South Carolina.

I felt extremely uncomfortable being there mainly because I was the only real Mexican there. The whole place felt like a big fat joke, as if Mexicans are something to gawk at and laugh about.

Araceli Cruz
CREDIT: Araceli Cruz

I initially thought we could stop and have a margarita, but one look around and I honestly wanted to get out of this insane Chuck E. Cheese-like place.

I seem to be alone in thinking this place is borderline racist because other people are having a great time.

We are under attack at #thesouthoftheborder

A post shared by Zoe Mayer Parsigian (@zomapa) on

Yes, dinosaurs are also celebrities here right alongside Pedro. Why? Who knows?! Maybe because Mexicans and dinosaurs have something in common? Are we both extinct?!

And as you can see from these Instagrams, most people who love this place are NOT Mexican.

For some weird reason, The South of the Border was on this lady’s bucket list.

Apparently, taking a picture with Pedro is also a must.


The Pedro statue is what I found to be probably the most offensive.

Drivin 20 hours ain't so bad with this squad! #DisneyBound #13hoursdown #7togo #SouthOfTheBorder #Pedro

A post shared by Betz?? (@tyrannosaurus_betz) on

IMO, this kind of theme park could be more relevant in a place like California or Arizona, where the Mexican culture thrives and can be celebrated in a powerful way.

Aside from the sombreros and mustaches and all the other stereotypes, what makes this downright disrespectful to me is that the Latinx population in South Carolina is 5%.

Araceli Cruz
CREDIT: Araceli Cruz

In the early ’50s, when this place was first built, the Latinx community in the area was a lot less than 5%, almost non-existent, which makes the idea of this theme park seem nothing but exploitive.

Schafer caricatured Mexican culture instead of actually celebrating it.

Araceli Cruz
CREDIT: Araceli Cruz

READ: 9 Ways I Felt At Home In South Korea


Would you visit “The South of the Border?”

Puerto Rico Is Planning To Vote On U.S. Statehood Once Again And Here’s Why So Many Are Against The Idea

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Puerto Rico Is Planning To Vote On U.S. Statehood Once Again And Here’s Why So Many Are Against The Idea

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Puerto Rican’s are no stranger to referendums. Since 1967, they’ve had five chances to make their opinions known on U.S. statehood and each and every time, their voice hasn’t been listened to. Congress has failed to take up the issue after each referendum and local leaders are often guilty of using the referendum simply to drudge up support for their candidates.

But this upcoming referendum is different in that it comes at a crossroads for Puerto Rican politics. The island has been plagued by natural disasters, political scandals, and unprecedented hate crimes. Even Bad Bunny is letting his thoughts out on the referendum and many others have lots to say on the issue.

For the first time in the island’s history, the referendum will ask a single question: Should Puerto Rico be immediately admitted as a U.S. state?

On Saturday, Puerto Rico’s pro-statehood Republican governor, Wanda Vázquez, announced yet another vote on the question (the sixth since 1967 and the third since 2012). It’s a move that comes amid growing frustration with the island’s territorial government and its relationship with the mainland.

However, it’s a question that also outraged the island’s independence supporters and members of the main opposition Popular Democratic Party – which supports the status quo.

But it’s a gamble that members of the governor’s pro-statehood party are confident will pay off given that Puerto Rico has struggled to obtain federal funds for hurricanes Irma and Maria, a string of recent strong earthquakes and the coronavirus pandemic amid growing complaints that the island does not receive fair and equal treatment.

“Our people will have the opportunity once and for all to define our future,” Vázquez said. “It’s never too late to be treated as equals.”

The upcoming referendum is just the recent in a long line of previously failed ones.

In the past, voters have been asked more than one question and presented with various options, including independence or continuing with the current territorial status – but none of them have ever been as direct as the upcoming one scheduled for the November 3 general election.

However, many on the island see the referendum as little more than a political move by the governor’s New Progressive Party to get voters out on Nov 3 – to boost her party’s candidates.

The New Progressive Party has been rattled with scandal after scandal and many are ready for change.

The past few years have not been good for the party – or the island for that matter. A string of devastating hurricanes, a severe debt crisis, ongoing corruption scandals that even forced a pro-statehood governor to resign, earthquakes, and now a global pandemic – have all led to challenging times in Puerto Rico. To some observers, the idea seems to be: Let’s dangle the illusion of a yes or no statehood referendum (nonbinding) that is already dead on arrival?

Many also feel that Gov. Vasquez is not truly authorized to make such a decision since she was never actually elected to the office. Instead, she became governor after Ricardo Rosselló was forced to resign following massive protests.

Meanwhile, the Republican government on the island doesn’t even have the support of the Republican-led federal government. The Trump administration’s blunt response was basically, “The first priority for all Puerto Rico leaders should be getting their financial house in order.”

This coming November, there will be plenty of incentive to vote “no” and punish the Vázquez administration. Even prominent figures such as Bad Bunny are jumping into the fray against her leadership.

What would statehood mean for Puerto Rico?

Statehood would award Puerto Rico two senators and five representatives, but it’s unlikely a Republican-controlled Congress would acknowledge the referendum because Puerto Rico tends to favor Democrats.

Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens but cannot vote in U.S. presidential elections. And while the island is exempt from the U.S. federal income tax, it still pays Social Security and Medicare and local taxes and receives less federal funding than U.S. states. Many believe the island’s territorial status has contributed to its struggle to recover from the hurricanes and earthquakes, as well as worsened its economic crisis, largely caused by decades of heavy borrowing and the elimination of federal tax incentives.

Coronavirus Has Flipped Our World Upside Down And Here’s How It Could Change The Future Of Travel Forever

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Coronavirus Has Flipped Our World Upside Down And Here’s How It Could Change The Future Of Travel Forever

Alvanverna / Instagram

Most of us have been social distancing for weeks if not months now, and between all the extrema anxiety and being away from friends and family, plus winter is over – a getaway sounds like exactly what so many of us need right about now. I mean, it wasn’t long ago that we were hopping on planes at every change we got – but in a shockingly short amount of time, the world completely changed.

In 2019, approximately 83.4 million US citizens traveled overseas, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office. Today, with a global level 4 health advisory in effect, trips to Mexico City are being replaced by virtual tours of the famous Casa Frida museum, and travelers who dream of trekking Machu Picchu are tuning in to live streams from Peru.

The abrupt change from globe-trotting to quarantine has got travelers everywhere wondering what travel will look like in a post-coronavirus pandemic world. But should you really book a summer vacation now? Here’s what the experts are saying:

When Will We Be Able To Travel Again?

Credit: Alex Walden / Flickr

Obviously, the entire world is in a very fluid situation right now, with major changes happening every day – even every hour – so it’s hard to give an exact date. But right now, many countries are still experiencing severe outbreaks of the Coronavirus and have extended mandatory quarantines and stay-at-home orders.

It’s also important to note that you should take your departing location and your destination into consideration. For example, if you live in an area where things are improving but want to travel to an area where they’re not, you should consider pushing your travel dates.

Travel experts are hoping for some late-summer travel but this would be largely domestic, essential travel – like college students returning to campuses and people who decided to quarantine elsewhere returning home. However, it’s not clear this will even be allowed. The US Department of State’s Global Health Advisory is still at its highest level, as is the CDC’S Travel Advisory, urging against all international travel. Between the possibility of a second wave of coronavirus hitting in the fall and vaccines not being introduced until next year, health officials are in agreement that people should avoid flying for the time being.

But looking to the future, what could flying actually look like? Temperature checks could be the new norm.

Credit: Lynn Sladky / Flickr

In the US, there is debate as to whether the Transportation Security Administration should start making temperature checks on passengers and employees mandatory. Airlines for America, a trade group that represents American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and Southwest, spoke out in favor of these checks.

But Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, says an estimated 25% to 50% of people who have contracted the virus are asymptomatic. Those who don’t show symptoms can still pass the illness to others, so the effectiveness of temperature checks remains somewhat unclear.

Blood tests and nasal swaps could also be required.

Credit: Unsplash

Some airlines and airports have already started administering Covid-19 blood tests to passengers. The tests give results within 10 minutes, however, they’re not yet available for widespread use. Places like Hong Kong and Tokyo have started requiring testing for arriving passengers from high-risk countries like Italy and the United States.

Flying could become much more expensive.

While some experts predict lower fares as airlines try to entice flyers, a press release by the International Air Transport Association anticipates fares rising by up to 54% in some places because of social-distancing measures, with fewer seats available to sell.

Staycations could become much more common.

Credit: @disneyland / Twitter

We’ve all been forced to stop and look around at what’s right in front of us – and, luckily for us all, culture, adventure, nature, and so much more are often not too far. Where we might have been compelled to travel to other shores in search of sunshine or beautiful beaches, the Coronavirus has forced us to reevaluate our travel priorities and explore our own neighborhoods.

Solo or small group travel might be more appealing than big tours or cruise ship travel.

Credit: katemahir / Instagram

Given the multiple COVID-19 outbreaks on cruise ships in the early days of the crisis, it’s not hard to imagine why some people might be put off them altogether. Traveler uncertainty coupled with unprecedented government warnings advising against cruise ship travel may make it harder for the industry to bounce back, according to the Economist.

This may be the perfect time to travel with family or a close group of friends in order to limit social interaction.

Traveling with purpose will be even more important.

Credit: Hotel Neptuno

We’ll be all the more selective with who we’re giving our money to. And after communities and economies have been devastes by the pandemic, this makes more sense than ever before.

Conservation has been in jeopardy without revenue from tourists. We’ll want to support hotels which also provide revenue for much-needed cultural and environmental preservation. Ethical travel options could grow in popularity, especially if travelers have the opportunity to support a community that was hard hit by a loss of tourism.

You may have to carry new ID proving your healthy.

Credit: alvanverna / Instagram

Thailand is already requiring passengers flying in from certain countries to present health certificates that deem them COVID-19-free before they can board flights to the country, and the IATA has suggested something similar, proposing an “immunity passport.” SimpliFlying compares these to the Yellow Fever cards passengers must show ahead of traveling to certain regions.