First Published: November 2, 2009
As I drew this strip, which as usual took more time than it should have because I kept obsessing over minutiae, I constantly worried about the high potential for misinterpretation.
Ugly terms kept strolling through my mind, such as "Third World romanticism" and even "happy negro." Poor kids with bright smiles are a cheap cliché. Ungrateful rich people are the stuff of bad telenovelas.
My only defense is that I'm not just conjuring a stereotype, these are actual memories. I got to the village by boat and into the posh hotel by invitation. The hotel of the third panel was affordable so I paid for it myself.
The boy looked more or less like that, but he was part of a group. The lady had no resemblance to her drawn representation; I can only remember her awful voice and the horror buried deep in the concierge's eyes. The faucets indeed made a horrible noise when opened; the issue was settled quickly and a tip changed hands.
For this strip, I researched the shape of Colombian shacks, the shapes prevalent in expensive hotel lobbies and the standard attires of male and female concierges. ("Research" = a cursory web search.)