This time last year I was in a Mexican seaside resort town for a family birthday. While I never even got in the water I did soak in something else. I absorbed a human truth. For most of us, being rich isn’t an absolute state but a comparative one.
The local Mexican townie culture of Puerto Vallarta and its relationship to American Boomers reflects the cynical math of resort towns and tourist destinations the world over. It’s about feeling richer than someone else.
Apparently you go abroad because being rich and living in luxury aren’t the same thing. Plenty of Americans don’t feel rich.
It’s a source of intense insecurity and much of our national politics reflects the desire of Americans wanting “being rich” to mean living in luxury in comparison to someone elseDay 797 and Feeling Rich
By coincidence I’m in a seaside town again this year. I spent some of the day seeing the same class dynamics that I saw in Mexico.
I’m on the Ionian Sea in what is aspirationally called the Albanian Riviera. I say aspirational as it’s technically correct. It is in Albania and has all the qualities of other rivieras you may have been to in France of Italy.
It’s astonishingly beautiful in its natural splendor. It is awash in foreign wealth if you are close to the beach. The blue Ionian Sea is quite a draw.
It has the unmistakable angst of those wanting to feel rich. It’s packed with Italians. It would seem Italians come here Albanian to feel rich just as Americans do in Mexico.
If you’ve ever been to South Beach and had cause to step off the luxury hotel lineup of Collins Avenue into the Miami exurban swamplands you can probably mimic the feeling I am experiencing. Showy wealth doesn’t extend much beyond the constructed resort experiences.
I went an an automobile mechanic not more than a half mile from Main Street along the seaside. I saw the old communist block housing. Every place has its townies and the help can’t be too far off.
So if you want to “put on airs” as the British say and show off your wealth stop and ask yourself if feeling rich is about other people.