My wife and I are my no means rich, but we have been blessed with the opportunity to travel to various locations on this blue marble in space. Having said that, let me begin by saying that my wife was born in Michoacan, Mexico and we have traveled to her home town almost every year that we have been married, which will be 26 in November of this year. 25+ years of traveling to Mexico might sound dull or repetitive, but I assure you it is not. We have been in almost every state in Mexico, from Baja California Norte (Tijuana), to Quintana Roo (Cancun).
The people of Mexico are its true treasure. I have never been mistreated anywhere in my travels, on the contrary, I have been welcomed with open arms in every place I have traveled. But Mexico holds a certain spell on me, from the Mercados in Tijuana, where we would buy pinatas to the blue waters of the Caribbean in Cancun where we went scuba diving one year, Mexico is magical. I could spend years exploring its towns and villages and still not find all of her treasures.
My wife and I have had the pleasure of taking a couple of pilgrimages to Rome and Israel, with side trips to Greece and Turkey. The best part of all our trips have been the people we have met. From shop keepers to waitstaff at restaurants, we have been treated well.
I got to thinking about that tonight and wondered why we were treated so well. I believe it is perhaps that in our travels, we don't play the "ugly American" to those with whom we interact. People are the same all over the world, we all want to be treated with the respect we deserve as children of God, made in His image. Another thing that I think helped was trying to communicate with the "natives" in their language. Even if they know you have no clue what you are saying, it's the trying that counts. When they get that big smile on their face and start laughing, you don't know if they are laughing at you or with you, then you realize that they are laughing because you took the time to communicate with them.
I think we could use more of the "un-ugly American" ideals here in the USA when we are interacting with those living here.