Those of you who read my blog are well aware of the troubles that plagued me and on an RV trip to Mexico a couple of years ago. Recently, I also wrote of the misfortunes experienced this year in Mexico by friends of ours. To say that my writings of Mexico and its out-of-control crime rate have been somewhat negative would be an understatement. I have not been very kind to our southern neighbors. I even swore that I would never return to Mexico!
This morning my son called me from California to tell me that his upcoming nuptials would be in Mexico. I blessed him and told him I would be thinking of him on his wedding day. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending upon perspective, Carol Ann says I have no choice. I must return to Mexico. But this time I will not be driving. We will fly direct to Cabo San Lucas and take a cab to the resort. I plan to remain on the resort property during the entirety of our stay. I will not rent a car. I will not “see the sights.” I have seen quite enough of Mexico already.
The very first time I set foot on Mexican soil was a short while after my return from Vietnam. Carol Ann and I had driven from Georgia to West Texas and the Big Bend area and thought it would be fun to go shopping on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande. We had heard about the great bargains available there, not to mention that the exchange rate was extremely favorable for us at that time. But even then I was cautious about going to Mexico. We decided to park on the US side and walk across the bridge to the small border town (I don’t remember which border town it was).
On the way to the border we stopped by a currency exchange and for a couple of hundred US dollars, walked off with a wheelbarrow load of pesos. We parked the car and walked across the the little two-lane bridge, passing the long line of vehicles waiting to cross into the US. I had been told that although trees hid it from view along the river, the town was just “right across the river.” It was a long, hot, dusty walk to the town’s one main street, which was lined with tourists’
traps shops. As we walked along the uneven sidewalk we were constantly
accosted by children selling "real" gold Rolex watches at unbelievably low prices. What the Mexicans call "almost free."
It turned out that the goods in most of the shops were not great deals at all. In fact the best bargains in town were probably the gold Rolex watches. Most products were priced in US dollars instead of Mexican pesos and no shopkeeper wanted our wheelbarrow load of pesos. It was like trying to pay for something at Walmart with Monopoly money. They laughed at it. We ended up buying a quart of Mexican vanilla and a case of Mexican beer with the few US dollars we had not exchanged.
I was ready to leave. Our money was no good and I was beginning to get spooked because this little third world border town reminded me of Vietnam. Not only in appearance but also in the heat, smell, language barrier, and the extremely large number of foreigners. The big difference being that the kids in Vietnam were trying to sell their sisters or mothers, not watches. We wasted no time in walking back across the Rio Grande and the good old US of A, where I felt safe once again. We retrieved the car and returned to the currency exchange to unload our pesos, but this time the exchange rate worked against us.
It seems that a trip to Mexico always costs more than expected. I'm sure that Cabo San Lucas will be no exception. I hear they are very proud of their hotels down there (and probably prefer US dollars to Mexican pesos).
“Hasta la vista, baby!”