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“Black Tourism” = Vacations For Crazy People

Submitted by on August 31, 2010 – 6:14 pm5 Comments

I wouldn’t have believed this if I hadn’t read it myself. According to MSNBC:

MEXICO CITY — While most travelers flock to Mexico to sip margaritas on white-sand beaches, a hardy few choose lesser-known tourist sites where they are chased down by immigration agents or risk their lives in dangerous slums.

Escalating violence in Mexico’s war on drugs may be prompting some would-be tourists to think twice about Mexico, but agencies offering alternative tourism are thriving among those seeking not just a break, but a break from the ordinary.

Innovative tourist agencies offer trips to remote mountain areas home to leftist Zapatista rebels and to the most crime-ridden neighborhoods of Mexico City.

Come again? This has “bored, rich people” written all over it.

But foreign tourists, mostly from Europe, are signing up for undercover tours in Tepito, a sprawling market area in Mexico City notorious for drug deals, underage prostitution and pirated goods, said Cesar Estrada, head of Universal Travel.

Another community center runs what they call a ‘safari’ in this historic area, where many Mexicans refuse to set foot for fear of being robbed at gunpoint.

“We tell visitors to dress simply. If they want pictures, our guides take them discreetly,” Estrada said.

Are you effing kidding me?

Donata Von Salviati, a German tourist, said she prefers such tours because they provide the kind of insight into the real Mexico one could not get in a beach resort like Cancun.

“Things like this don’t exist in Germany,” she said.

No comment.

Domestic tourists are taking to reality tourism in the central state of Hidalgo, where one agency run by local residents simulates the dangerous trek Mexicans and Central Americans undertake as they cross the U.S. border illegally.

Tourists pay about 200 pesos ($15) for a nocturnal trek through a state park where they struggle to keep up with guides posing as “polleros”—ruthless traffickers charging thousands of dollars to usher poor would-be migrants across the border.

In order to help tourists understand migrants’ plight, guests are prohibited from carrying food and water as they wade through a river in the darkness and hide in bushes to elude the “migra,” or U.S. immigration authorities.

The tour ends quickly for those who don’t run fast enough—they are thrown in the back of a mock border patrol truck.

This new form of vacationing, known as “black tourism” brings new meaning to traveling in style. While the border crossing vacations was born of a desire to draw attention to “the plight of undocumented immigrants” there has got to be a better way to ring the bell. What’s next—”vacation plantations” where you “live” as a slave or slave owner to draw attention to the atrocity of enslavement? Thankfully, I’m not the only one who finds “reality tourism” creepy. One article commenter said it best:

“What’s next…tours flying ultralights into Baghdad? Learning how to parachute over North Korea? Sailing lessons on the coast of Somalia?

Photos Courtesy: MSNBC, Wikipedia

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