Wednesday, February 19, 2014

First Stop, Cancun

First stop on a year long trip from Mexico to Argentina ... Cancun.

There is much to be said for cheap flights. The shorter the stay somewhere the higher percentage of total budget is spent on the airfare. Even with long trips you almost always want to save as much as you can on the flight in. Common sense, right? When first planning this trip I had a couple of first stop destinations in mind. Cancun, San Jose C.R., Panama City, and Managua Nicaragua were high on the list, followed by a direct flight into Guatemala. I went with the absolute cheapest tickets i could find (that weren't Spirit airlines, because trust me you NEVER want to fly Spirit unless you are going to Florida sans luggage) which is how we ended up in Cancun. For the record i have never had any interest in visiting Cancun, but decided to give it a shot for a couple of days. Because, why not?

Ahhhh, Cancun, bless you for your beautiful strip of beach, and curse you for everything else. Cancun is a bit of what the Vegas strip circa 1995  would look like if it were located on a gorgeous strand of ocean swept white sand. It's cheesy, over priced, tacky, and filled with whiny white people in too small swim attire. Seriously, if you don't fit into your bathing suit do yourself a favor and buy a larger one.

Cancun is known for its Spring Break debauchery but what does it look like when the frat boys and sorority girls are still working hard on their 2.75 GPA's? Well, it looks like a cruise ship tipped over discarded it's passengers into resorts. These are not the world traveling type of vacationers. And there is nothing wrong with that, right? Right? I should stop being so judgmental, everyone needs a break now and then and the beach there was undeniably better than any beach ive visited in the States. However...

The second morning I was having breakfast with Randi in our 4 star hotel on the "zona hoterla"  in Cancun. The Zona is basically a giant strip of luxury accommodations for gringos, all set up along a fore mentioned beach. We stayed there only to get our bearings while spending a couple of days just chilling on the beach. The area has all these giant clubs and stuff,  and it's a huge party zone at night in places.  We didn't go out either night,  as when we briefly explored this area we found it  basically a desperate attempt to appeal to "western sensibilities",  or at least what the locals think we gringos want and enjoy. Gaudy, tacky, dominated by flash and loud noises, guys in The Mask and Spiderman costumes posing for 10 dollar pictures with the vacationing crowd. And guess what? It was packed with gringos acting like they were in an amusement park. Not even the sight of Policia armed to the teeth with heavy automatic weapons deterred this empty revelry.
Anyway, back to breakfast. The two of us, a waiter and a Bro looking dude with his girlfriend. The Bro was loquacious in the American sense of the word and struck up a nonsensical conversation with the waiter. At some point he asks the hotel waiter if he had ever gone swimming with dolphins,  as he and his girl were going to be doing so later that day. My ears immediately perked up and the absurdity of the question. Bro obviously had no idea how much a Mexican waiter in Cancun makes. He probably never stopped to think about it. 100, maybe 200 a WEEK. The waiter laughed nervously in reply and stated the obvious. "No amigo, I can't afford it." The Bro just chuckled,  still oblivious to how inane his question was. The locals working in Cancun slave away to amuse and entice the spring break vacation crowd while the herd remains oblivious.

The difference between me and the Bro? Exposure to the crushing and crippling poverty that capitalism sentences the "developing" world to. The grinding grasping for money infects like a virus,  and measure of worth is judged by the size of a bank account. We spread  this fallacy and turn the quest for money Into a life goal. It's sick and insidious. A cancer upon our psyche.  I wish we lived in a culture that was aware of the rest of the world. But that might lead to empathy for those you step on on your quest for $$$ and we can't be having that huh?

I don't want to make it sound like I am holding myself above people like the aforementioned Bro. I know I Contribute to the suffering of the third world. I,  however,  have been lucky enough to travel and see reality with mine own eyes. I've seen the "poorest"  people laugh and enjoy life. I've seen the richest behave like empty shells of humanity. I have,  I suppose,  perspective. I would not be surprised if I got robbed for flashing my American toys, I know I look like a walking ATM, and I know I am extremely lucky to be a visitor in these lands. I try to remain aware and respectful whenever I can. And I would never ever ask a local if they partake in the luxury of the tourist. It's flat out insulting.

Needless to say,  we left Cancun as quickly as possible, charting a course due south to Playa del Carmen, and hopefully to catch a boat today to Cozumel, a beautiful Island with what I'm told are amazing coral reefs.

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