There is nothing you can really do to prepare yourself for the wave of humidity and heat that overwhelms you when you leave the climate-controlled airport. The decadence of air conditioning that we have come to expect is ripped from you like so many used band aids. This is Mexico, Señora. None of your frilly chilled air here.
As we clear customs, we expect that the worst of our hassles is over. However, we must now clear the gauntlet of people swarming, all shouting offers to “assist” you. We come to find out that by assist, they mean to try to sell you a time share. I wonder if this is how people end up being kidnapped down here. The offer to assist no more trustworthy than a skanky dude in a busted van offering free candy to help find his puppy. I imagine that this is almost preferable to being kidnapped. Because with a kidnapping, you are almost certainly going to die, but the purgatorial time share pitch is a wish for death that never comes.
Our group meets the correct transfer coordinator, who at first seems a bit put off by the size of our group. He brings over his largest van, whose driver gives him the universally recognized symbol for “you gotta be kidding me” (raised eyebrow, incredulous eyes, slight derision), after seeing our huge pile of luggage.
When we visited the same resort family in the Dominican Republic a few years ago, we travelled as a couple. The airport transfer should have only taken an hour, but with six other stops along the way, it took nearly three times that. We learned there were certain advantages to traveling with a group. This time around, we were there in less than an hour with no extra stops. The highway we took was pretty much a straight shot over a long bridge. We slowed only for a heavily fortified police checkpoint, which had guards carrying the biggest guns I’ve ever seen. Yep, we are definitely in Mexico.
The Mexican government has subsidized a $1,500 resort credit as an incentive to entice travel to their country. With the slowed American economy, the tourism industry has been feeling the pinch. Still, even with those incentives, the resort is very quiet. Because my in-laws had purchased VIP memberships with the resort, we are greeted with champagne and snacks behind a velvet rope in lieu of standing in a queue like suckers.
We are given silver armbands, but notice that some members of our party are given black ones. A bit of terse discussion takes place between my mother in law and the concierge, and our silver ones are replaced with matching black ones. Apparently these bands entitle us to some additional perks, the nicest of which is the privilege of not being approached for a time share.
We are given slips of paper to sign with our room assignments and discover that my brother-in-law’s name is on our room. Being sticklers for documentation, we request that this is clarified. However, we are waved off by my in-laws, saying how it will be fine, history’s favorite set of “last words.”
We get checked into our rooms, which are not close by as promised. They are perfectly nice, however. I begin to think this might work out after all. The view of the Atlantic from our room is simply beautiful and there’s a hammock on the balcony. I quickly get changed into something a bit more summer appropriate and we head down to begin arrangements to use our resort credits.
At the front desk, they have no record of our previously emailed golf reservations. Because our room is in my brother-in-law’s name and not my husband’s, they can’t search for it by room number. We also learn that none of the rooms are in our name at all, so they need to see what we had received. Because we traveled with our iPad in lieu of the laptop, I can’t open the excel spreadsheet that was emailed to me with our tee times.
We are directed to a bank of computers in the hall to print it out, and we present this to the desk. They now demand that we pay in cash to get our promised VIP discount. If not, we can use the resort credits, but at full price. The rest of the group opted for their complimentary mani-pedi-massage, so we can’t get any help there. We decide to use the resort credit, but because our room is still in another person’s name, who is at that very moment using our free mani-pedi-massage, we can’t schedule ours.
We spend a better part of the first day stuck in the mire of language barrier nightmare, and it never really gets resolved to our satisfaction. However, we do get our free stuff scheduled and tee times confirmed, but not before we get into a huge fight and I spend twenty minutes in the lobby crying. Ah, vacation.