As I sit in this small Mexican prison cell just outside Tijuana, I realize some of the things we do without a second thought in Tlell aren’t so acceptable in the larger “off-island” cities of North America.
For example, waving at strangers and sleeping on random lawns is status quo in Tlell, but in places like Seattle, this is actually frowned upon.
I learned this while attending a concert in Seattle this past week. As is my custom, I showed up for the event full of the excitement that comes from being in a new place, and just like when I first arrived in Tlell, this excitement manifested itself as free hugs to strangers. But in Seattle, walking around giving big bear hugs to people you don’t know can land you in hot water with local law enforcement (“hot water” is American for handcuffs).
We need to appreciate these little nuances of island life and remember what sets us apart from the rest of the world.
But you’re probably wondering where the Tijuana prison cell comes in. Let me try to explain how a simple-minded island goofball nearly started an international political crisis just trying to be a “good guy.”
I will do this with a helpful list of things we do in Tlell that you can’t do in big-city America, and let you guess what happened.
Things that are acceptable in Tlell but not in the rest of continental North America
A common practice in Tlell, but not on the mainland and certainly not in American state parks.
On Haida Gwaii, the beaches are especially good places to take the 4-wheel drive vehicle. In America, municipal green spaces are not.
Borrowing things from neighbours who aren’t home
When my neighbours aren’t around, I freely help myself to things like food, gas, vehicles, boats and children (I borrow my neighbour’s child when I need a small place like a chimney or attic cleaned of spiders). Don’t do this in America. Especially the children part.
There’s no better Sunday than one spent butchering a few chickens or some fish for the freezer. In America, this is a not the case. Especially if the animals in question came from the city zoo.
All these no-nos can get more complicated when, in a fit of panic, you realize the car you are about to borrow belongs to someone who feels the need to call local law enforcement. You claim to be from Mexico and personally know *wink wink* that red-headed orangutan of a man they call “the president.” While you and I might chuckle at such a descriptor, American police are touchy about it, especially when you also make fun of their flag and silly four-down football game.
One final piece of advice.
Should you ever find yourself in a Mexican prison, don’t accuse the guards of not knowing their own cuisine just because they don’t provide sour cream with the state-issued burrito.