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?”

Live Out Your Boozy Fantasies And Spend The Night In This Giant Tequila Barrel Hotel

Culture

Live Out Your Boozy Fantasies And Spend The Night In This Giant Tequila Barrel Hotel

Marnbannon / Instagram

Listen up tequila lovers – we’ve found your new HQ. And it’s time we spread the word. 

Forget fancy vineyard buggy tours, or brewery visits. Mexico has really upped the game on boozy vacations. 

Because, guys. GUYS. We’ve found a boutique hotel in Mexico that lets you sleep inside a massive tequila barrel. 

No, but really. 

How’s a weekend surrounded by an unlimited supply of tequila, sound?

Welcome to the Matices Hotel de Barricas, Mexico, where guests can eat, sleep, drink and dream tequila. 

It’s the only hotel in the world that’s set on a tequila farm and distillery, and that offers bungalows shaped like barrels amongst agave (I mean… that is pretty niche). 

And we’re obsessed.

I repeat: they’re set among vast fields of agave plants.

Not only will you be able to sleep in a barrel that mimics the ones they use to brew tequila, you’ll be able to IMMERSE yourself in the tequila-universe for however long you’re there for (how’s a lifetime sound?).

Here are all the things you never knew you needed to know about how to sleep in tequila barrels.

It’s set in the pueblo magico of… Tequila, Mexico.

It only seems good ‘n fair that this hotel is based smack bang in the heart of Tequila, Jalisco. 

Spoiler alert – Tequila is the tequila capital of the world. It’s become something of a tourist hotspot for tequila fans hoping to learn more about this golden elixir. After all, agave plantations in the area have been churning out the good stuff since the 16th century! 

And we can’t get over how beautiful the grounds are. 

Credit: marnbannon / Instagram

Open the large front-door of your personal barrel, and you’ll be greeted with rows upon rows of blue agave – the stuff tequila is brewed from.

Ok, so maybe it’s not a traditional ‘detox’ vacation, the hotel is located far from the bustle of the city.

The whole place is owned by a world-renowned distillery called Hacienda Tequilera La Cofradía. The hotel itself only opened in 2017, but word is spreading like wildfire!

And it’s easy to see why. 

 Four walls? Boring. Corners? Yawn. 

Credit: maticeshoteldebarricas / Instagram

The hotel offers 22 wooden barrel rooms with a range of suites – from the ‘Aged King’ and ‘Silver King’, to the ‘Extra-Aged King’. 

Each barrel room can fit up to two guests and comes with a king-sized bed, rainshower air-conditioning, fridge and more. There are curved glass windows on the ceiling and some cute, kitsch wall paintings that give off some very Wild West vibes. 

Sure, it’s no Ritz but hey – we’d pick unlimited tequila and rustic charm over fancy bar soap, most days. 

The hotel also offers ordinary rooms for those travellers who, for some unfathomable reason, might not want to spend the night pretending to be your favorite liquor. 

I mean, do you really love tequila if you don’t want to…  be tequila? 

I mean, it’s basically a boozy hobbit hole for adults.

Credit: haciendasycason / Instagram

Tequila is aged in a barrel and comes out better. Be the tequila. 

Rest in here, come out e l e v a t e d. 

The grounds are also pretty freaking cool.

Credit: Tequilacofradia.com

That picture above is their La Taberna del Cofrade – a restaurant and bar that’s 4.5 meters (15 feet) deep underground! 

Other cool spots around the hotel grounds include their The La Cofradía Tequila Site Museum that lays out their impressive achievements and history across 5 exhibition halls. There’s also an ‘Art in Fire Ceramic Factory’ where the ceramic structures and containers for tequila are made. 

There’s also a very cool aging room where the tequila is stored in protective oak barrels until it’s ready for glugging. 

And naturally, there’s a tequila shop where you can pick out some bottles to bring home to those who so foolishly didn’t join you on the best vacation ever. 

You’ll also be able to get up-close and intimate with how the tequila is made.

After all, the hotel is connected to the La Cofradia tequila factory and is just a quick stroll away. 

You’ll be able to stoke the fires of your tequila obsession with a fascinating guided tequila tour of the factory where you’ll learn all about tequila farming and distillation. 

The distillery is said to use some pretty impressive modern distillation techniques. However, they use some of their same old recipes in order to make some of the world’s best tequila. 

Wanna get hands-on? You can help out the farmers working in the field, design ceramic containers and tequila bottles, or even distil your own tequila from scratch! 

Okay sure, but when’s the drinking start?

Credit: zori.ramos1173 / Instagram

We thought you’d never ask. According to reviews, you’ll be greeted with a welcome drink on arrival – tequila shots, naturally. 

You’ll also get the chance to do some free taste testing. We’d definitely recommend jumping every chance to drink from the source – Casa Cofradia is responsible for some pretty awesome tequilas. 

They include the spicy Agave Loco, and Astral, a tequila repped by the former ‘Most Interesting Man in the World’, Jonathan Goldsmith. 

Best of all – you can drink and go straight to bed. If emerging, slightly hungover from a barrel, doesn’t sound like fun we don’t know what does. 

And minus the regrets. No regrets here. 

Lastly – you’ll also be a stone’s throw from the lovely Tequila township.

There’s a handy free shuttle that goes between the hotel and Tequila town itself – conveniently rich in waterfalls, volcanoes and pre-hispanic ruins.

If you find some sober moments and are in the mood for adventure, feel free to jump on a horse, explore the area on a bike or dirt bike, or simply hike the rolling hills of this gorgeously old-school region of Mexico. 

So go on – live your best life. And by that we mean, spend a night in an oversized barrel. You owe it to yourself. 

I mean, just leaving this here… 

Credit: tequilacofradia.com

Because if you haven’t slept in a Tequila barrel in a field of majestic agave plants, have you ever truly lived? 

READ: Here Are Some Of The Tequila Brands Keeping The Beloved Art Of Creating The Liquor Alive And Well

Latinos Could Totally Own The Democratic Primary And The Candidates Know It

Things That Matter

Latinos Could Totally Own The Democratic Primary And The Candidates Know It

We are less than a year and a half away from the 2020 presidential election, and while the  incumbent President of the United States, real estate mogul and media personality turned politician Donald J. Trump is already tocando los tambores de guerra by attacking the  leading Democratic contenders, his potential opponents are still attacking each other. All around the country campaign offices are trying to come up with the best strategies, and have realizes that one key demographic for 2020 will be the Latino vote. 

As Jonathan Allen argues in NBC News : “Depending on how the race unfolds, Latinos might even end up being the key to the contest. That’s a function mostly of heavily Hispanic states, including California and Texas, moving up on the primary calendar at the same time that the chances for a protracted, delegate-by-delegate fight among several candidates appear to be more likely than ever. The possibility of African American voters splitting among several candidates for the first time in several presidential primary cycles also raises the stakes for candidates in trying to get an edge with Latino voters”. 

The candidates better start brushing up on their Spanish! (but please, no terrible gringo accents, porfavorcito). As Aida Chavez states in The Intercept after the debates a few weeks ago: “The desire to connect with Latinx voters was apparent in this week’s presidential debates, when several contenders made a direct appeal to the growing electorate by answering questions in Spanish on the national stage”. 

Latinos are a big, strong, decisive voting force for 2020: there will be 2 million more eligible Latino voters than African-American voters.

Credit: @abcfamily / Giphy

Just think about this: about 32 million Latinos will be eligible to vote in the 2020 presidential election, which is about 13 percent of the electorate, according to the Pew Research Center. By contrast, African-American voters will have 30 million eligible voters. Just let that sink in for a minute. 

According to a poll released by Univision after the debates, Kamala Harris seems to be getting her message across to Latino voters.

Credit: Univision

The message to take away from this poll is that Harris was perceived as the winner of the debates over the only candidate with a recognizably Latino name, Julian Castro. Her identity as a powerful, independent, woman of color might be seeping into the Latino preference. This is an election about ideas rather than looks, and also an election about who seems better prepared to take on Trump, and if Latino voters start imagining Harris debating Trump and holding her ground, well, things might get interesting. 

And yes, the race among Democratic candidates is tight and getting tighter, with at least three clear frontrunners.

Credit: RealClearPolitics

Unless something really dramatic happens, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris will be the candidate. They are the ones polling the highest in the race for the nomination and whom Trump has directed his attacks against. 

It is clear that immigration will be the main issue in this election and Elzabeth Warren took the first step by announcing an ambitious and humane immigration plan.

Credit: Giphy

Unless a major international conflict arises before the election, immigration policies, including how undocumented migrants are treated after being detained at the border, will be the main issue. Elizabeth Warren took the first step by announcing her sweeping immigration plan.  She wrote in a post on Medium when announcing what immigration policy would look like under a Warren administration: “We must address the humanitarian mess at the border and reverse this president’s discriminatory policies. But that won’t be nearly enough to fix our immigration system. We need expanded legal immigration that will grow our economy, reunite families, and meet our labor market demands.” 

As we reported at the time: “This is a very intelligent approach to immigration, as it appeals to both those worried about the economy and how the United States can respond to the competition of global markets, and to the voters who consider current zero-tolerance policies, including ICE raids, inadmissible”. 

But others are falling far behind: enter Bernie Sanders and his big “socialist” problem among Latinos.

One of the big mistakes that many politicians make while trying to woo the Latino vote is assuming that all Latinos fall on the same end of the political spectrum. Bernie Sanders has certainly been guilty of this by failing to recognize that many Latinos, particularly powerful pockets of influence in places like Florida, actually despise left-wing politicians. As NF News argued: “Declaring yourself left-wing may be attractive among an American youth who have never lived under a socialist regime. But among Latino voters who have been exiled from left-wing regimes, this has consequences. This was demonstrated by the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, who is the co-chair of the campaign by presidential pre-candidate Bernie Sanders, Carmen Yulín Cruz, when she refused to acknowledge that she and Sanders are socialists. Both Cruz and Sanders have refused to condemn the dictatorships of Cuba and Venezuela. Instead, Cruz chose to compare the humanitarian crisis facing Venezuela with poverty in Puerto Rico”. 

This is a big misstep, as Florida in particular is a key state for this and any other election, and Democratic voters are wary of candidates who might perform poorly in the state (remember Bush-Gore anyone?). 

There are some voices of reason in Sander’s campaign, as reported by The Intercept in an interview with Chuck Rocha, a senior Sanders adviser. “: “We know that we’re going to communicate with young Latinos in English, we know we’re going to communicate with young Latinos in Spanish. We also understand the cultural differences between Latinos in Des Moines, Iowa, and Latinos in the East Side of Las Vegas.”

The no-show: Joe Biden?

The former Vice President has sent conflicting messages on how important the Latino vote is for his campaign. On one hand, as reported by NBC News, “Biden’s outreach has included a fully bilingual website, bilingual advertising and the first candidate meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus”. On the other, he has missed key appearances at events where he could reach to Latino Democrats. As reported by The Boston Globe, he was a no-show at  “an important forum hosted by the Spanish-language network Telemundo and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials that drew more than 800 of the nation’s top Latino policy makers and strategists”. Sanders and Warren attended. This lack of engagement could cost him dearly, as noted by the same publication: 

Denise Diaz, a 32-year-old city councilwoman from South Gate, Calif., said this was the second time Biden had disappointed her. The first was when he skipped California’s Democratic convention three weeks earlier.

“I have really changed my opinion in supporting him,” she said. “I am looking for someone who is relatable, has boots on the ground, and is accessible.”

You know what they say: camarón que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente. 

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