Recently, there was some controversy in Mexico about some random woman who went to the top of a pyramid known as Kukulkan at the Chichén Itzá archeological site when she wasn't allowed to.
Known as "Lady Chichén Itzá."
Why Mexican media decided to give her the name in English is beyond me but I have a theory.
Once at the top, she did a little dance and then went down to find a big crowd of angry Mexicans and foreign tourists.
Consequently, people began attacking her.
Mostly by pulling on her hair and throwing water and rocks at her.
Here's a video.
Truth be told, it's not a very interesting story in my opinion but it did go viral.
What is more interesting though is the social media reaction to the incident.
Before we get to that, let's take a quick look at this woman with this photo here.
Now, before you begin reading more of this article, ask yourself this question: "what is her nationality?"
Because that was the biggest focus that you saw on social media when people were discussing this issue.
Almost comically so.
As I said, the reaction to this incident is much more interesting than the incident itself.
Let's dive into some basic information and that social media reaction.
Why is it Prohibited?
As you can see here, climbing the Kukulkan pyramid was actually allowed until 2008.
"Since 2008 there have been stiff penalties implemented for climbing the Pyramid of Kukulkan, as conservation reasons deemed it forbidden to climb the ancient structure. Now, penalties established by The Federal Law on Monuments and Archaeological, Artistic and Historical Areas can be quite high. According to Article 55 of the law, they can even be as high as 100,000 pesos, which equals about $5,000 USD."
And the conservation issue seems to be the main reason why it became prohibited.
As you can see here, some people say that it's not just the deterioration caused by all the foot traffic but also supposedly some people were damaging the pyramid purposefully by putting their name into it, stealing parts of the pyramid, peeing inside, etc.
Though, as you can see here, some people believe it is because some old person died going down the pyramid.
When doing some basic 5 minute armchair research, I couldn't find that story in Google about an old person dying there.
Not saying it isn't true but I just couldn't verify it.
The only information I could find anyhow as it relates to someone dying was within Mexican Spanish language media and a lot of the articles claim it is an urban legend (among other reasons you hear about as you can see here).
Regardless of these other theories, the official reason is that it is to conserve the pyramid better.
Of course, someone might ask "how would we know if it is prohibited?"
Any Indication it is Prohibited?
I've never been to this pyramid before so I can't speak from experience as to how obvious it is regarding how it is prohibited to go to the top of the pyramid.
According to social media like you can see here, they supposedly tell you when you buy your ticket.
Also, given that there likely isn't anyone among the hundreds climbing, I suppose that'd be a clue.
Not to forget the fact that, as you can see here, they seemingly have some barrier around the entire pyramid that you'd have to get over and some small sign that says it is prohibited.
And, as you can see here, this chick clearly knew she wasn't allowed and climbed over the barrier.
So it's pretty obvious.
What Was Her Nationality?
Having covered all that, let's get to the interesting stuff now.
As you can see here, you have had news articles online asking "what was her nationality?"
That is because, if you were paying attention to social media, the biggest topic has to do with the nationality with the woman.
So what was it?
You remember what was your guess at the beginning of the article?
We're about to find out if you are right.
Of course, if you are American, you know right away that the assumption is that she is American also.
We all know about the stereotype of Americans being terrible tourists, ugly, loud, ignorant, etc.
The "go to" nationality for most people would be to assume then she was American.
Especially since she is white with blonde looking hair.
Of course, I can't blame people too harshly for thinking she is American because, if you pay attention to the videos out there, she's literally wearing a shirt that has the American flag on it.
If she turns out to not be American, the conspiracy theorist in you would almost believe she was a paid actor to make Americans look bad.
Without going full Alex Jones on you anyhow, it was the case that American was the main theory with a lot of people using this as an opportunity to bash Americans as you can see here.
An example that went viral online that only reaffirms their pre-established prejudice that most Americans are bad, ignorant, offensive, etc.
But, like I hinted at, American wasn't the only theory.
As you can see here, some people believed she was Spanish.
Then, as you can see here, some Spanish woman jumped in on Twitter saying "hey, don't make us Spanish look bad, she ain't one of us."
And they say we Americans are ignorant when that lady in the first tweet thinks Tijuana is in the US.
Next, as you can see here, some people believed she was Argentine even.
I also saw some folks saying she is Russian but couldn't find the tweet.
Ultimately, all of those people are wrong.
She was not American, Spanish, Argentine nor Russian.
Her name is apparently Abigail Villalobos and she is a Mexican from Tijuana of Baja California as you can see here.
"Después de que la llamada Lady Chichén Itzá se hizo viral en redes sociales, se reveló de dónde es originaria.
Como dimos a conocer en La Verdad Noticias, la turista que escaló la pirámide de Kukulcán se presumió que era una visitante extranjera, sin embargo tras darse a conocer su identidad, se reveló que es de nacionalidad mexicana.
Tras bajarla, la mujer fue detenida en la cárcel pública por las autoridades, donde fue identificada como Abigail Villalobos de 29 años de edad, originaria del estado de Tijuana."
And, as you can guess, some of the headlines covered that to be fair.
"the result is she is Mexican"
Of course, as we'll see, people who use this incident to feel better than others will simply refocus their attention then away from her nationality (disappointing, I thought only Americans did bad shit) to her race or potential politics.
Which, above all, is one of the main reactions to this incident online.
Got a Group You Hate? She is Part of that Group!
As we've established, part of the social media reaction was "ha, she's American. Americans so dumb" from people who just want to reaffirm their bias against Americans.
As if people from other nationalities -- like Mexicans -- don't do dumb shit also.
Right. Mexicans don't do dumb shit. No way, wey!
Anyway, it wasn't just a focus on her nationality but also her race and her potential political affiliations.
Really any group you dislike.
Got a group you dislike? Just say she's part of that group to feel better about yourself!
And then we have these people who -- with the assumption she is American probably -- also assumed she was a Republican.
Leave it to Americans to somehow autistically put politics from back home into the situation that has nothing to do with politics.
To be fair, I've been guilty of this also. I'm also an American!
Then you had no shortage of people also who, after seeing her skin color, focused on that.
Like you can see here.
You can even see some get annoyed when realizing she wasn't American.
"Well uh ok she might not be American but uhh she's still white, god damn it! Fucking whity!!!"
Which, as a side point, I wonder if the dude would still call her white if he knew she was actually Mexican. After all, no shortage of Americans claim that no Latinos can be white.
But I'm sure that guy would still feel better about himself because she at least has white skin and can still use this story to shit on all white people.
It reminds me of another article anyhow I wrote here about similarly all black Americans get online shit down here too based on some random negative story about a black American expat in Mexico going viral.
Having established anyhow that no shortage of people were using this event to confirm their biases against whatever group they dislike, there's a few quick points to be made from that.
The Media Clicks & Ratings
The first thing that should be said is that this is a pretty clear example in my opinion of, at least when it relates to Mexican media, trying to generate clicks based on what they know will trigger their audience.
As you can see here, there's no shortage of articles online that called this woman a "foreigner."
Including videos also calling for her deportation.
Even though it'd be pretty difficult to deport a Mexican from Mexico legally.
Even though she's literally from Mexico.
Which also makes you wonder why they call her in English "Lady" in the headlines?
Some of the articles I read gave a reason like you can see here.
"Con el paso del tiempo, los términos “lord” y “lady” se han vuelto cada vez más populares para visibilizar acciones que comprometen a los protagonistas de situaciones bochornosas en las que, generalmente, gana la ira y la prepotencia, las cuales derivan en burlas e indignación por parte de los usuarios de redes sociales. Uno de los últimos casos fue el de “Lady Chichén Itzá”."
Though I can't help but feel part of the reason too is to, with the best of their ability, try to emphasize how "foreign" she is.
In my time living in Mexico, while white Mexicans do exist, I have met and spoken with plenty who, at least in Central Mexico, feel like foreigners to their own country.
That's another topic I already discussed here where people of a racial minority -- be it black Argentine people or Mexicans who are too white -- don't feel represented within the national image of what it means to be from those countries and consequently get treated as foreigners in some social circumstances.
And I'm sure no shortage of people who are reading this article -- especially those unfamiliar with Mexico -- probably assumed she was a foreigner based on her white skin and blonde hair.
Someone like this for example -- most likely a foreigner not familiar with "white Mexicans" -- assuming that she isn't Mexican and is not connected in anyway to Mexican culture or Mexico.
Going back to my point anyhow, she clearly has the stereotypical look of a foreigner.
Has been called a foreigner in headlines.
Even given an English language nickname "lady."
And, as I wrote in this article here, it really is not uncommon for Latin American media (including Mexico) to invoke "the foreigner" for clicks.
In this case, citing the "bad foreigner" who did something wrong because the media knows that'll trigger Mexicans.
Mexicans eat that shit up.
Here's one example (among countless online) of some Mexican using this as an excuse to bitch about "gringos" even though she was Mexican.
A lot of people here have a strong ass complex where they imagine all foreigners as "taking advantage" of Mexico or doing whatever they want.
Especially among loser types who don't have shit going on in their lives and feel the need to focus their resentment on anyone doing better than them.
Which includes upper class white Mexicans and foreigners.
Similarly, as I wrote here, sometimes Latin American media will also publish stories of gringos speaking Spanish (BECAUSE THAT'S SO WEIRD!! FOREIGNERS SPEAKING SPANISH?!!?) and of those same gringos kissing the ass of whatever country.
Be it Colombia, Paraguay, etc.
Really the opposite side of the same coin.
Insecure about foreigner behavior and opinions.
Wanting to know if those "first worlders" approve of us and, when one of them acts bad, get all mad about it and paint all foreigners as disrespecting the country.
At the end of the day, this is nothing more than the media taking an incident that went viral and exploiting it because content about "bad foreigners disrespecting us" is like candy to Mexicans who have a complex about it.
I honestly feel part of the complex about "foreigners taking advantage of us" must be some shit built into their DNA after being colonized by Spain long ago and the US stealing half of Mexico later.
Just a theory.
Like you can see here, part of the social media reaction outside of the mainstream media framed this as "this is what happens when you disrespect Mayan pyramids."
Even though most Mexicans in that crowd attacking the chick were probably not believers of whatever the Mayans believed religiously.
Which goes to another topic that I wrote about here regarding how Mexicans hold in high regard the indigenous influence of their country's history but also treat like shit modern day indigenous people ironically enough.
Anyway, let's put that aside and move on.
An Excuse to Be Violent
Another thing that I find ironic is how Mexicans are so insecure about foreigners seeing them and their country as violent but yet some turn to violence or at least support the violence rhetorically when such an inconsequential moment like this happens.
Let's be real for a second.
She didn't disrespect the pyramid that bad or at all really.
She broke the rules and she'll pay the official punishment as a result without having to be attacked by a mod.
But thousands of people went to the top of the pyramid before and I bet that a majority of those pissed about her saying she disrespected the culture were not singing that same tune when thousands were climbing it before.
And, like I said, most of the people angry are not really Mayan, don't hold the same religious beliefs of them, don't see themselves as indigenous, maybe even look down on modern day indigenous people, etc.
On top of that, the pyramid itself isn't even entirely original.
The steps she climbed were not the original steps from long ago as you can see here.
"Reconstruction began in 1910 with the building, from scratch, of a new stairway. This first attempt at rebuilding the stairs with recycled stones was later torn out and new blocks cut for the stairs.
In 1922, the serious reconstruction work began. New stones were cut for the veneer, and the taluds and tableros of the pyramid’s sides were rebuilt from the bottom up.
The temple at the top of the pyramid was rebuilt as well.
Little by little, the new pyramid began to take shape:
In 1982, José Díaz Bolio, a writer, poet, and aficionado of archaeology, wrote his book La Serpiente de luz de Chichén Itzá. This book just added fuel to the fire. Attendance at the ruin site during the equinoxes began to spike, and newspaper articles and news broadcasts started promoting the event. Soon the state government in collaboration with INAH began to selling the idea of an equinox ritual for tourists. The idea worked much better than anyone’s wildest dreams and now over 90,000 people visit the ruins each year during the equinox periods to enjoy performances by dancers and musical groups.
In 2007, Chichén Itzá was named one of the “New Wonders of the World” by the private commercial organization “New7Wonders Foundation,” in a contest held via the internet that was open to unlimited, multiple votes by organizations promoting their country’s particular entry. The contest received much criticism at the time and was boycotted by several countries because of its unscientific methods of recording votes.
El Castillo wasn’t the only ruin in Chichén Itzá to be rebuilt to be what the government thought the original building “should have looked like.”
Finally, you have this argument too I found online that I don't entirely agree with but I get what he means.
If it's so sacred, why commercialize it?
But, as we established, it's not really sacred in a religious sense to most Mexicans as most are not Mayan.
So, with all that said, let's not pretend this woman took a shit on top of the pyramid that was handmade and all original by the Gods that most Mexicans actually believe in.
Though I would argue that most Mexicans who find this offensive are offended more on national cultural grounds than religious or spiritual grounds.
And, with that in mind, the larger point here is that I'm calling into question the authenticity of people's anger to this incident and asking how much of the outrage is bullshit to justify physically attacking someone.
Someone who was considered a foreigner -- be it American or Spanish.
Or, at the very least, considered a "white Mexican" for, as I wrote here, there's no shortage of Mexicans who hate the "white Mexican" person due to mostly envy and an inferiority complex.
And where you -- as a resentful local with shit to your name -- just want to take it out on someone you hold resentment against for what you believe carries an easier life than you.
Using this opportunity to turn said person into a piñata to thrust all your frustrations with your own life against as part of a larger crowd where consequences for your actions are unlikely and where you probably wouldn't have been as violent if not backed by the mob.
The Tendency to Assume American
In my experience traveling the world for almost a decade, I've met no shortage of people of any nationality that are ignorant about other parts of the world, are loud in public, do something disrespectful to the local culture where they are at, etc.
For example, I wrote this article here about some French students making fun of the indigenous features of Mexicans and using the Mexican flag at the toilet.
As we already covered, you have no shortage of Mexicans -- including professionals high up in the government -- doing disrespectful things in other countries.
Like these Mexicans here bringing alcohol to the recent World Cup in Qatar.
Seems a bit more disrespectful to their culture than going up a pyramid that isn't even 100% original, is of a culture most Mexicans don't really care about and of which they didn't get angry when thousands were climbing it each year not too long ago.
It's a topic I'll probably write about separately that I have been thinking about for a while now but never got around to fleshing out an entire article dedicated to it.
That being this assumption that anyone acting in an "ugly" manner is American when, as we have established, you have no shortage of people like that in any other nationality.
After all, clearly most Americans are respecting that pyramid at least since most don't try to climb it these days after it became prohibited.
As you can see here, at least 3 other people have tried to climb the pyramid in recent years.
"En los últimos años, al menos tres visitantes se saltaron el lazo que rodea la estructura, y subieron las escalinatas ante la mirada atónita de otros viajeros."
And, as you can see here, at least one of those 3 was another MEXICAN woman from Tijuana while being DRUNK.
"En 2021, una mujer de Tijuana, México, fue multada por escalar la misma pirámide supuestamente intoxicada."
So far, that's 2 bad apples from Mexico and seemingly none from the US.
And we're the bad ones?
Now, to be fair, I know you can find plenty examples too of Americans doing dumb shit abroad and these 2 examples from Tijuana don't mean that every woman from Tijuana or broader Mexico is a dipshit.
Though, if we were to use the logic here of taking examples of Americans acting bad to paint everybody as such, then why can't we do the same for Mexico?
Anyway, I'm not actually against generalizations usually.
Sometimes they are accurate as long as understand them to be generalizations.
Like how it's true that most Americans born in the US (not including naturalized citizens) don't know a second language.
Though most Latin Americans don't either.
And, when it comes to the broader "ugly American" stereotype, some might say that indeed the characteristics of such can be seen in other nationalities but that Americans are the worst at it.
Obviously, I'm biased myself in disagreeing with that given I am American but we'll simply have to agree to disagree.
Like I said, at least compared to Latin Americans broadly, I see many similarities in them also and I don't really have the experience of seeing Americans being that much worse than them.
Including being loud, not knowing other languages despite the obsession with English among some, ignorance of other areas, doing what they want abroad, modifying foods from abroad to their own cultural tastes like I wrote about here, etc.
Above all, the point here is to simply bring to light how, at least when it comes to this "ugly American" stereotype, it often feels a bit outdated based on my experiences traveling.
Where, for whatever reason, people stick to it and think ANYONE who did something bad abroad is an American despite countless examples of other nationalities doing stupid shit abroad.
And then those assuming the bad guy is American look like retards when it is revealed later -- like in the case with Lady Chichén Itzá -- to not be American at all but actually Mexican ironically enough.
Of course, some of the people who assume that any bad apple is an American might also be someone who is just self-hating.
Which, when it comes to the topic of the social media reaction to this, you again find similarities between Americans and Mexicans.
While both nationalities have no shortage of idiots who do dumb things, both nationalities also have self-hating people that feel bad when they see one of their own acting badly.
The Self-Hatred in the Social Media Reaction
Among the responses I saw online to this incident, one thing I noticed a lot was the self-hatred I saw among some of the folks.
There actually wasn't too many Americans I saw who were doing the whole "this makes me ashamed to be American" thing.
Similar to how you have Americans that apologize for Trump while living abroad as I wrote here.
This was the closest to that from what I saw but this isn't very apologetic and more of a "please don't make us look bad" response.
Similar to Muslims hating it whenever another terrorist attack happens saying "please don't be Muslim" before more details of the story are revealed.
Nothing more than people of any group hating it when another bad apple makes them look bad and reinforce a stereotype established previously.
Among Mexicans anyhow, there was no shortage of people online saying shit like this here.
Basically saying that the violent reaction of the mod "makes us look third world and bad."
Literally that was the response of some folks online.
Which, to a degree, I agree that the optics of this isn't very good obviously for most people aside from those that enjoy seeing violence against groups they hate.
Be it, as we established, any of the following: white people, foreigners, white Mexicans and I guess Republicans if you are like that one lone Clinton supporter we showed on Twitter.
And, for what it's worth as it relates to optics, there were some people online saying "well, I guess I'm not spending my money in Mexico if that's how they react."
I don't think it makes Mexico third world or bad (even if it makes the country look bad to some).
But it definitely enforces the stereotype about Mexico being violent in the same way it would've reinforced a stereotype about Americans if she was American.
To be fair, I don't think every Mexican responding with a "this makes Mexico look bad" is self-hating either.
But, among the social media reaction, you definitely see that and get that type of vibe from both Mexicans and Americans respectfully.
And, speaking of violence, there is one thing that should be said in regards to that which might make the self-hating Mexican feel better.
At Least it Wasn't a Lynching
Based on what you see in the videos of this incident, you don't really see much of a police presence.
Some staff at the archeological site perhaps but nothing too heavy.
Given people were throwing stones at her and pulling on her hair, clearly some in the mob had violent aspirations.
You even have this video talking about how she was almost "lynched" and, funny enough, calls her a "foreign tourist."
It's well known anyhow that, at least in Mexico, lynching isn't terribly uncommon as I wrote about here.
Including some videos you can see here also.
Granted, those that get lynched are usually on the basis that they did some crime like stealing, trying to kidnap children, etc.
Sometimes the basis is bullshit and the person is innocent.
Consequently, the mob kills the person anyway regardless of their innocence.
And it's usually because the mob doesn't trust the police to prosecute the assumed criminal.
At any rate, I think it's fair to say that the lady in question did get lucky that she didn't get lynched.
Not to say that it was guaranteed to happen or even likely necessarily.
But it always was a possibility for this type of situation and where, as we saw, some in the mob did clearly try to hurt her physically (with rocks even).
While I'm not against mob justice in some cases depending on the criminal, I don't think she deserved really much of a physical punishment (be it what she got or worse).
All she did was climb the steps, move her hips to the right and to the left with her arms in the air and then climb down the steps.
But, aside from the ire of the mob, what other punishment did the Lady Chichén Itzá get as we go back to her?
The Fate of Lady Chichén Itzá
So what happened to her?
As we established, there is a legal punishment for climbing that pyramid.
Well, we have this article here that clarifies for us what happened to her:
"La turista fue entregada a las autoridades. Tras ser detenida, tuvo que pagar $5,000 pesos de multa, cifra que se quedó muy corta de acuerdo con las leyes que protegen zonas arqueológicas y monumentos históricos del país, pues las sanciones van de los 50 mil a los 100 mil pesos.
Basically, she only had to pay 5,000 MXN pesos (250 USD) while the range of sanctions is normally between 50,000 to 100,000 MXN pesos.
I guess they were probably easy on her given she already took a physical punishment and social humiliation in person and online for what she did.
Some might say -- especially Americans as it's in our blood to bring race into everything -- that she got off easy because she's white.
I'd argue that maybe they would've taken a bigger example of her if she was an American given that, as I said, some Mexicans have resentment against us for various reasons.
Anyway, who knows why she was given such a small punishment.
I guess with her only going up the steps and going straight down without doing anything too bad like take a shit on top, the urge to punish her badly wasn't very strong.
After all, that's literally all she did.
Here's a video on her situation also for those curious.
Let's wrap this up.
Above all, it's a bit weird to me that they have it shut off from everybody if the stairs themselves are not even original and reconstructed supposedly.
What exactly are you preserving then?
Couldn't you just spend the money to reconstruct them whenever necessary?
Perhaps take a few months or so every 10 years to fix any damages to the stairs that aren't even original?
The logic to "preserve it" doesn't make a lot of sense to me in that context based on what I read.
At the very least, I think it'd be smart of them to sell tickets to a very limited crowd of people that can climb the steps each year.
Similar to how Machu Picchu in Peru has limits on the amount of people who can visit also.
And, with the high price you can set on the limited number of tickets, that would surely cover the cost to fix any damages from all the foot traffic.
Which, given it'd be a limited crowd size, the damage from the foot traffic wouldn't be as bad compared to before when you had an endless stream of thousands climbing it.
And the money from the tickets would probably even cover the cost of having an extra guard or two watching the steps to make sure no tourists write their names on the rocks or steal anything.
With a limited crowd size going up, it'd be easier for a smaller number of guards to keep an eye out for that.
And, even if there was an old person who died on those steps like some say, you could just set an age limit or a physical health limit on who is allowed on those steps.
I have no idea what you could charge though to climb those steps.
Perhaps if it came with a guide and permission to be guided inside the pyramid, you could maybe charge 500 bucks per person?
With it being such a famous tourist attraction for Mexico, I could maybe see that price working out.
Anyway, that's the last thing that comes to mind when it comes to this topic.
Personally, I don't really care about this pyramid or being able to climb the steps.
I might visit it someday but I genuinely don't care that much about pyramids.
So it's no skin off my bones if they allow people up there or not.
Like I said, there are interesting things you can take from this incident that are more interesting than the incident itself of Lady Chichén Itzá going up those steps.
And, despite everything I said, I do hold some respect to the belief that some things of religious and cultural importance should be given extra care and not treated too carelessly as a playground for tourists (local or foreign).
I felt that way going to the Day of the Dead event in Mixquic of Mexico City but that's worthy of its own article for another day.
Anyway, that's all I got to say.
If you got anything to add, drop a comment below.
Enjoy this relevant meme also I just saw.
And follow my Twitter here.
Thanks for reading.