Sunday, December 9, 2007

Psychedelic Tourism

A friend just sent us this article from San Diego about tourists going to Mexico in search of the hallucinogenic cactus plant, peyote. Those travelers searching for the mystic experience offered by the plant are referred to as peyoteros. The article's main point is the danger of extinction that the plant is facing due to a number of recent activities. Although the tourism component is significant (and provides for a better "human-interest" narrative), a smaller portion of the piece discusses what sounds like much more devastating activities - greenhouse tomato production and silver mining. Where the tourism story becomes more interesting is where it connects to the evolving micro economy of places like Real de Catorce. The economic relationship between the peyoteros and the region sounds a lot like the widespread phenomenon of ecotourism, where it's a balancing act of preserving both the non-human and cultural ecologies while navigating the economic potential of tourism in the face of cultural, economic and spatial encroachment.

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