chapter  16
10 Pages

When pesos come at the expense of tourism proximity and moorings


These two vignettes emerge from my field-notes during my ethnographic research on tourism and development at Celestun, a coastal Mexican community. This community became part of the Biosphere Reserve Ria Celestun and a major ecotourist destination because it is one of the few nesting and breeding sites of pink flamingos in the country. Both scenes evince the anxieties and conflictive social relations that typically precede tourists’ encounters with pink flamingos as well as the way in which specific collectives of the local population actively engage and shape ecotourism development activities from below. The first vignette describes the tense waiting episodes and bitter encounters with hosts that often precede official ecotours at the estuary, a hyper-regulated conservationist and ecotourism spot. This episode captures the (im)mobilities informing the strategies to gain control of ecotours that have been developed by a group of ex-fishermen who have been transformed into tourist boatmen locally known as los lancheros. The second describes the frantic activity of capturing tourists for informal boat tours that have emerged to compete with the high prices of official ecotours. This example captures the intense motilities (walking, wandering, cycling, gazing) deployed to stay put in an unregulated tourism spot.