Our vacation is over, and we are back from the sunny and warm Pacific coast to a grey and cold reality. It was even snowing yesterday morning. What a nice welcome back, Utah! I already can feel the vacation blues.
We went to a small resort town in Mexico, Mazatlan. It is on the Pacific coast, and it is much smaller that Cancun. Have you ever been there? It is a very poor town but it is still lovely. Just watch where you go and where you eat. We loved walking Mazatlan’s narrow cobblestone streets in the old town area. It felt safe. The Golden Zone (the center of Mazatlan) is a very commercial area with a lot of great restaurants. However, it was a little bit too commercial for us.
One night we walked to a restaurant that was supposed to be “walking distance” from our resort. The walk outside of our resort, close to the road and far from the beach, took us about thirty minutes and it was very… let’s say… unpleasant. The street was dimly lit and very lonely. The distress of the walk escalated when we passed by a freshly dug grave. Yes, I am not kidding. It was long and wide enough for a coffin, it was unmarked and it was in an odd place. When we finally reached the restaurant (which was great, by the way), I was ready to kiss the ground in front of it. I was THAT happy to be at the brightly lit place packed full with witnesses.
Ocean! Beaches! Sunsets! It was our first beach vacation. We usually spend our vacations exploring, sightseeing, and end up exhausted from running around, visiting the attractions and, generally, working hard instead of relaxing. This time we rested, we slept in and we did not worry about anything but putting on enough sunscreen.
Food! I think I gained at least ten pounds because I was constantly overeating. It was impossible to stop indulging because the food was delicious no matter where we ate. We did not have a bad meal. Not once.
Ocean! We left Mazatlan having a lot of respect for the ocean. The waves were huge, and the strength of them was amazing. The ocean made us feel little, weak and unimportant. It could knock us down easily, pull us into the deep, show us its power and pretty much do to us whatever it wished. It was scary. We wanted to do some snorkeling and boogie boarding, but after being knocked down a couple of times and falling into some holes, we decided to stick to developing our ocean survival skills close to the shore.
Timeshare salespeople! They spot you on the streets, in the restaurants, in the cabs and they hunt you down. The approaches they used to lure us into timeshare presentations were different every time: some of them were straight forward; some of them would start with showing beautiful pictures of the resorts; some of them would try to make small talk before bringing down on you their heavy sales pitches.
Poverty! We all know that Mexico is a poor country, right? But how much about that poverty do we actually know? We thought we knew it all, but we were wrong.
When we stepped off the plane thinking about sun, beaches and margaritas, we did not expect to step into the city filled with skinny children and people trying, struggling to survive. We saw houses with no roofs, huge holes in the walls, no glass in the windows and some even with no doors. Those were not abandoned houses! We saw children playing in dirt. We saw mothers nursing their babies in the streets. Everyone – the street vendors, the taxi drivers, the beggars, the waiters – are desperate for money. This money is us, the tourists.
We were not just shocked, we were deeply disturbed. It did not seem right to be in the five star resort, sipping margaritas, bathing in the sun, when outside the walls of the resort lies a city filled with people who live in such poverty. We bought a couple of cheap bracelets from a skinny boy on the street without bargaining because who would bargain with those hungry eyes?
If you ever go to a Mexican resort and lay on the beach, sipping margaritas, I promise, you will be contemplating a thought, the hope that the money you are putting into Mexican economy while vacationing there will help its people.