Friday, May 05, 2006

Go Mexico!

Cancun, so much more than the beautiful Mayan pyramids!

I just recently returned from quite an interesting trip of 2 quite different countries - same language, 2 completely different experiences. First stop on my journey was Cancun. Long a haven for party crazy, booze fueled American Springbreakers. Its a super skinny strip jutting out on the Yucatan Penninsula complete with a Lagoon. The strip is crammed square inch for square inch with nothing but Hotels, restaurants, clubs and of course souvenir shops. The strip is just about 19miles and all situated beach front. Upon entering Mexico or should I say, Cancun; one should be forwarned about the absolutely shady and deceptive tactics of the timeshare jackels. I never thought I'd have to research a country's airport but Cancun is something out of the ordinary. Now I've been to airports, Holland, London, San Francisco, Jamaica, Barbados... you get it, quite a few but never ever have I experienced anything like this. It starts like this, you exit with your bags, one is quickly handed a tourist guide complete with map etc. A guy in uniform walks up and asks if you have transport to your hotel, you say yes and that you need to locate it, he directs you to some cats in very airport official looking booths and you say to yourself, hey they're here to help me. You go over and inquire about your bus and where you need to go and they give you all the necessary info, they then ask where you're staying, proceed to pull out a map, show you where you'll be and the then and slick and slippery as a snake, there is the "come-on". You're asked if you are interested in a free breakfast the next day and some fun tours, hey what a nice guy you say. You're then engaged in a conversation with this 3 card monty-like fast talker, he says hey your bus will be ready in about 20 and he proceeds to tell you he'll give you a discount to tours, just make a downpayment and all you have to do is go have this free breakfast in the morning, "see" this hotel that they're trying to promote since the Hurricane and you're on your way and oh, he'll even throw in a free week's stay for next time if you "see" this hotel. So now my husband and I are totally in but good old Carlos wouldn't shut up and all I could think was - why do you know how to speak English so well, damnit! So we make a downpayment and we're off with the warning not to let anyone try to sell us any tours. Humm whatever. Next morning we're picked up passed from one person to the next, checked on our marital status and financial via credit card identification. I finally get to have my free breakfast after much protesting and off we were on what was to become and elaborate and ridiculous time-share sales pitch! Arrrrgh! I can't believe we got weaved into this mess. We're off looking at the Yacht club digs, being sold the whole whazoo and being told that we could basically buy everything and exist forever in a grand utopia in Shangri La. Gorgeous suites, all for us and when not using well they'd be making money for themselves and you being rented and oh lets not forget the equity - sweet!
Fast forward 3hrs later (this was supposed to be a 90 minute presentation by the way) I'm all dressed for the beach and could only think about getting away from this sales pitch and running freely on the lovely white sands but alas I was to become a captive of ruthless sales hounds. On the final leg of this journey we were taken to the negotiation room. Crammed full of other couples being preached to. Drinks are brought to the table and out comes the heavy guns of the hard sell - starting at 89k, and shifting around to 59k then 39k with incentives and so much shape shifting and numbers and free weeks and weeks per year and on and on that my head was spinning and I couldn't write fast enough! Papers were moving all over that desk and the sales guy who seemed so calm and sweet soon had his good nature quickly evapourate as our indecisiveness became more of a negative. Were we to leap into this decision right away? Yes we were told to just be out with the credit cards and that some of the couples here were buying. Look at the properties, how wonderful, how nice, save money on your vacations, you're losing money now...Nope, not biting. Ok so the manager comes over and he looks like the closest kin to the Mexican Mafia, he asks what he has to do to make us buy, we say nothing we just can't come on vacation and purchase something so major without thinking! He gets irrate, dismisses us as the poor new sales guy gets almost spastic. He still tries to show us the properties, we want no part of it and we're passed off yet again for what was to be a sort of "exit interview" At this interview we're asked our feelings on the sales staff etc. But by the 4th question, we were yet again being hustled to buy!! What would this guy have to do, buy the time we ran out of there with the guy running behind Neil with his Rolex to hold onto; we were down to $6,000 for the share. We literally ran for our lives! I was able to get my deposit for the Jungle Tour back plus a Spa Treatment and a week free. But I had to fight my way out and away from the jackels. Then I had to yell and carry on to get my money back in US currency. By the time I was done with this gamut I was running for the beach and my sanity!! My warning to ALL going into the Cancun airport, just grab your bags and KEEP WALKING! Walk to your shuttle bus and don't look left or right, just go, you'll save yourself some agony, some sleep-in time and a whole lot of blood pressure. And even as you arrive in what should be the santuary of your Hotel you're again beseeched by the in-house "tour coordinator" - "Hi did you just check in, how are you, are you interested in any tours" By then Neil had had it and just walked right pass the poor woman, I wasn't using her so I just told her that I wasn't interested, we were leaving the next day and basically bug off. These are the things that make any trip to Mexico an enormous bother, trust me I would never return there just for a vacation, thank God this was just my stopover to my real destination. The sell doesn't stop with the time shares, everywhere one goes you are barked at and harkened to come into this store or that, this tour or the other - silver, decorations, hair braid, come into this restaurant and eat, this club, weed! blow! t-shirts! nice regalos! $10 only! got nice hats! real Cuban cigars! hand made! one of a kind! Oh gosh, a trip thru the Flea Market or downtown can be an exhausting experience, as people are practically trying to drag you into their booths and tour guides block you in the roads. This was definately something different - Cancun.

FUN FUN FUN - If you consider time share tours and annoying sales people fun that is!!!


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