CH. 27 «The Thing with Amazonians»

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Just what makes one an Amazonian, anyway? How are they different than Martians and similar to Earthlings? Are we talking about ethnic groups or social castes here? This may be a confusing topic for some readers who’ve never even been to Mars or know anyone from Amazonia. I promise I’ll make this an easy download for you. If there’s one thing I’ve learned living in this territory: it’s how to judge the differences in people.

The term Amazonian is used to describe anything of or related to Earth’s territory of Amazonia on Mars. We’re all part of the U.T.E. so there’s no difference nationally; we all speak the same language, use the same currency, eat the same food and wear the same clothes. There is nothing different between calling a person Earthling or Amazonian politically. There’s a big difference socially, though, and now to be an Amazonian starts with believing you’re entirely different kind of human.

I’ve lived on Mars long enough to be considered a resident. My driver’s license and address may argue that I’ve become an Amazonian. If you ask a True Local, though, they’d say I can’t just move in call myself an Amazonian; you’ve gotta be born here to be part of the clique. And it’s hard to guess if you were from Mars just by looking at you. Amazonia is populated mostly by pureblooded Earthlings. Most people here look (more or less) just like me.

Your family would have to have moved here more than three or four generations ago for it to be likely to see pointy ears and antennae genes mixed in via marriage. And if you don’t have any Martian heritage you could never acquire any of their physical features–except for the “green” skin. Anyone can shut themselves up indoors and far enough from the sun to lose their tan. Pale skin appears greener in contrast to the red landscape of Mars. It’s the ‘glow’ the indigenous people became so famous for when Ionian colonists drove them out from underground.

It doesn’t even matter, though. Mars is a melting-pot-world of multi-toned native and alien cultures. You can’t use skin color to accurately determine a person’s planet of origin. Particularly when both Earthlings and Amazonians participate in self-tanning as a ritual of status; often artificially.

Historically, Paleness has been associated with purity and luxury more often than having dark skin, especially on worlds where being part of the working class means toiling under the sun… like most planets. Or it’s a sign you’ve been rich enough to travel in space recently and skip out on our star’s harmful UV rays, cozily curled within the radiation shield of your ship.

In places like this, where the more wealthy and blessed should feel no need to expose their skin to the harsh sun, the Amazonians find novelty in laying out under it all day, letting it bronze and crack their skin. The wiser Martians would be covered by layers of chemically tinted glass, or the wide brims of their somber bonnets, were they in the southern territories. Its only where they’re forced to labor daily outdoors in the northern hemisphere that they look as dark as they wealthy pay to appear.

No, there’s reliable means of guessing someone’s nationality superficially…nor should there be. The best method to find out remains asking them, “Where are you from?” If that’s not possible and you still want to determine from afar, it’s better to watch what they’re doing instead of seeing what they look like. Growing up in this harsh, most-deserty place indoctrinates a different set of values than being raised on a moister planet.

For example: a world mostly made of water (like dear Earth) engenders in its inhabitants a notion that the liquid is indispensable and can just be squandered. Anyone who has seen enough summers here, or has been fined for overuse during a drought, knows the importance of not wasting a drop of water. It’s rare you catch any native Martians indulging with the robust, unnaturally enriched yardscapes that adorn most of the wealthy neighborhoods overlooking Olympus County from every rising hillside and ridgeline. Of course, as with the first generations of any transplanted families, it can be hard to let old traditions die.

Another notable dissimilarity in habits of Amazonians and those Earthlings living on Mars is sight-seeing. I’m more than certain anyone born on this world has visited attractions like Olympus Mons, Valles Marineris or any of the dozens of amusement parks dotting the sunset coast a hundred times since they were old enough to take a road trip with their family. And it was probably kinda boring anyway, what Amazonian would want to do that again? The only Martians you’ll find there will be the people leading around a party of noob tourists.

Earthlings don’t know to always wear UV rebounding sunglasses and brimmed hats or to stick with few layers of light colored clothing. Earthlings don’t usually trust the food from chains they’ve never eaten at or heard of before, and usually stick to the types they‘re very familiar with, hardly daring to adventure away from their normal pallet. Earthlings don’t often figure out how to cool off and take it slow. Amazonians are generally easy going and well adjusted to anything that comes their way.

However Earthlings don’t feel an undeserved sense of accomplishment just from merely existing, or that they have some sort of birthright to fame because this place is closer to the stars. Earthlings don’t actually have to update their fashions along with the changing trends to stay acceptable or in. Earthlings don’t dine at more than one fast food joint in the span of a day, and would never think about visiting the same chain twice in the same day. Earthlings don’t just look at life from the perspective of someone who’s grown up in one of the plushier little parts of the red world, and don‘t wonder honestly why people can‘t see it their way exclusively.

But just give them some time. Eventually everyone that moves here succumbs to a condition I’ve dubbed Amazonication: an obsession with the lifestyle and culture of Mars to the point where one desires to (and in many cases believe they have) become an Amazonian. Some fall victim to this telecommunicative disease before they ever move here.

Early symptoms include the complete abandon of all previous traditions and might manifest as addiction to tattoos, piercing, tanning, surfing, fast food, or any of the other facilities Mars provides in excellence. The next sign of infection will be the development of an Amazonian resident status with any or all of the following side-effects; bank accounts, comm provider plans, emission certifications, vehicle operators’ licenses, cannabis green licenses, state health insurance policies, automobile and skipper insurance policies, Marsquake insurance policies, meteorite and other falling space junk insurance policies. All are important indications one has come down with Amazonication.

I, of course, suppose myself a severe victim of the terrible affliction for years. But no matter how long I’ve been carrying this disease, or how good my ability to assimilate culture and adapt to my surroundings are, I could never become a local Amazonian. I’ve tried, they won’t let me. It’s a tight clique.

But just because I don’t qualify for membership in their cosmo club it doesn’t mean that I can’t still take my position in the race for the Martian Dream. There’s a slot reserved for anyone daring enough to try to find a new life on Mars.

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PREV: CH. 26 «Everyone Comes Here»

PREV: CH. 26 «Everyone Comes Here»

NEXT: CH. 28 «Women are like Lighters»

NEXT: CH. 28 «Women are like Lighters»


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