Compared to the hundreds of people who lost their homes and histories to the recent floods in the U.S. and to Dean in the Caribbean, Mom’s adventure in Mexico was a snap. Not that the overpriced hellhole run by moronic cretins is off the hook. But some of the fire is gone. Compared to recent victims of Mother Nature, Mom is in excellent shape. For her, there is no lasting damage.
We got home late last night. She’s fine, she loved having me there… even pissed, I’m fun. She, however, spent most of everyday in bed, recovering, sleeping. [Every horrid second of every excruciating moment will be detailed on the Overpriced Hellhole blog, coming soon. Don’t worry, you’ll hear about it.] In bed all day except, that is, for the 5pm stroll to the pool for her $7 margarita. During the day, while she napped, I walked on the beach, rode the bus into Playa del Carmen, walked around, read, fumed and schemed.
We were in the area known as the Riveria Maya, an oceanfront tourist mecca running from Cancun to at least Tulum, maybe even all the way to Chetumal. The entire strip is a little surreal, all dressed up and fancy, presented perfectly, like DisneyMex. If this is the only place in Mexico you’ve been – and there are plenty of people for whom this is true – you can’t really say, "I’ve been to Mexico." That’s like going to Trenton and saying you’ve been to New Jersey. Or stopping in Rio on a cruise ship, rushing to see the huge Jesus, then racing back to the boat thinking you’ve been to Rio. There’s more to it, but you never see it.
I haven’t seen much more of Mexico. There were the countless roadtrips through Tijuana on my way to Hussong’s Cantina during my L.A. party days. Hussong’s used to have a t-shirt that said "Left my panties at Hussong’s" or something like that. One of the many things I remember only dimly. I see no mention of those t-shirts now… This was 30 years ago and the Baja peninsula was practically deserted: there was nothing and nobody on the road to Hussong’s except a few kite jumpers diving off the dunes. Bet it looks different today.
Mexico or no, the Riviera Maya is an incredibly beautiful stretch of beach lined with timeshares and condos, more being built every minute. Shades of Miami and Jacó. Still beautiful, though. Unbelievably so. And still developing-nation simple. Thank goodness.
The Mexican people we encountered were just as friendly and welcoming as ticos. And the hardest working bunch of people I’ve ever seen. They’ve got the formula: work = money = stuff. No wonder U.S. companies can’t get enough Mexican workers. From the groundspeople to the concierges, waiters, taxi drivers, café owners, hoteliers, even the window-washers – and not just at the resort but everywhere – everyone was attentive, responsive, friendly, and working hard for a living. One of our taxi drivers told us he was from Veracruz, near where Dean hit across the Gulf of Mexico. His family was there, but he was on the Riviera because that’s where the work is. No work in Veracruz.
In ’91, Hal and I spent our honeymoon in Akumal, a little further south of Playa. We visited the ruins in Chichen Itza then: remarkable. And many more ruins to see. Mom lived in San Miguel de Allende for a few years. Her current husband still lives there with his girlfriend. Don’t ask. Mom lived in an RV on this beach many years before that, before the oceanfront RV parks were sold to developers and it became the Riviera. I wonder about the rest of Mexico: the real Mexico. But this discovery will have to wait for another life.
For the time being, I have my hands full getting to know Costa Rica. And as appealing and beautiful as Mexico was, it doesn’t draw me. Maybe because I’m not a beach person, but there is no pull. Not like here. Even the timeshare sales guy at the Overpriced Hellhole told me he’s thinking of moving to Costa Rica! Isn’t that funny? It’s nice visiting other expat places and confirming we picked the best spot. So happy to be home again.
P.S. Hal rented The Mexican with Brad Pitt and Julie Roberts; we watched it tonight. Laugh out loud funny! Worth a trip to the video store…