Saturday, August 8, 2009

Me in Mexico

(no, that's not me in the picture but he does look like he's having fun, doesn't he?)

It was early Saturday morning. I woke up at 4:30 for the flight, with ease of course. Waking up "that early" is sleeping in for me. And as I opened my eyes, I realized that for the next 7 days of my life, I would feel normal again. Because waking up at 3 a.m. is not normal. But if being not normal means I get to live and breathe my passion, then so be it. For now anyway.

Passport? Check.
Flight information? Check.
Cell phone? Check.
Cash? Check.

I had a laundry list of items that needed to be checked off before leaving my cozy apartment. Finally, rest and relaxation. The hard work is starting to pay off I think to myself. It's been nearly five years, and saving the money for a vacation has not been easy. You've heard the term "starving artist". Although I never would have categorized myself as such, I didn't make a lot of dough out of college. My first job as a journalist? $19,000. You get the picture. Just don't let the number fool you into thinking it was a depressing time in my life. I made great friends, learned a lot about myself and this thing called "reporting".

That of course is another topic in blogs. This is about "Me in Mexico". Several more blogs will follow this one on my trip to Mexico, experiences and such. For now---Mexico. What comes to mind when you think of Mexico today? Swine flu maybe? The drug war? Kidnappings? "Mexico is a dangerous place!"---I quote several of the people closest to me, which made me realize at the time when I was contemplating on where to vacation, that people are fearful. Afraid they may catch the H1N1 virus, even though it had already made its way to the U.S. AFRAID that they may get kidnapped if they ventured away from their resorts. When I declared to the newsroom, "I'm going to Los Cabos, Mexico!" my co-workers snickered "Don't get kidnapped for ransom." Of course they were kidding, I thought to myself. But I could not ignore the stories I had heard and read about in the newspapers recently.

WAS IT SAFE FOR TOURISTS TO TRAVEL TO MEXICO? I was about to find out for myself.

"Airport Adventure"

It didn't take long (minutes after landing) for a local to approach us about attending a time-share presentation at one of the local resorts. If you've ever experienced it, you'll know they are persistent, rarely accepting no for an answer. I, however gladly obliged, recalling the time my family and I listened to a grueling sales pitch years ago. The payoff? FREE activities. I managed to negotiate a snorkeling trip, Sunset Cruise (dinner & drinks) and a Glass Bottom Boat tour. Plus, the 30 dollars we spent on the shuttle from the airport to OUR hotel. I spent much of Saturday in the pool, taking in the spectacular view of the deep blue ocean and stuffing my face with food. By bedtime, I contemplated whether or not meeting complete strangers for a "time-share presentation" at 8 o'clock the next morning was a good idea. All the news stories about drug cartels and kidnappings raced through my mind. Nah, I thought. But I woke up with apprehension, and as I walked out of my gated hotel to meet a taxi cab driver, waiting to take us to a resort selling time-shares I couldn't help but to question our safety. We were alone in the taxi, "Is anyone else coming?" I asked the driver in English. He shook his head no. I turned to my significant other, "What if we get kidnapped" I mouthed. He rolled his eyes and chuckled.

Clearly, we DID NOT get kidnapped. We did however, have to listen to a sales man named "Jeff" for three painful hours, trying desperately to convince us why we should invest $16,000 dollars in a one-week time share per year for the next 30 years of our lives. I downed two mimosas, and told the guy "Listen, I'm not signing anything."

p.s. Does anyone own a time-share? Thoughts!? On the surface, I think the whole thing is a scam. An attempt to rip tourists off...that could just be the journalist in me though.

In the end, we left with our three activities and a free bottle of tequila in tow (which by the way was crushed in our luggage on the way home to Salt Lake City. Now I'm stuck with a laundry basket full of clothes that stink like tequila.)

Anyway...Day One was an interesting adventure to say the least. It made me realize despite the very real danger of the drug war in Mexico, there is no reason for "tourists" to be scared of visiting the resorts.

That's my two cents.

Meanwhile...good reads.,0,584254.story