Monday, 15 October 2007

Cancun - is this really Mexico?

The beach at Cancun's Hilton hotel

Cancun was a fairly newish resort with about fifteen (big) hotels when I first visited in 1981. The airport was one small terminal and a strip cut into the forest of coconut palms.

It doesn't feel much like the rest of Mexico. Everything is charged in dollars and pesos also. It all feels a bit too organised and tidy to be real Mexico. I'm not wild about Cancun, but it this hotel is very comfortable.

It’s my fourth visit since then. Much has changed. We arrived to a Cancun airport that looks as big as Mexico City’s. At the car rental office a blue-eyed guy in a white cap began to chat with me in typical friendly Mexican fashion. My daughter growled at me for telling our life story to the first person who asked. But that’s how Cancun is. We want to know your life story, thanks very much. How else can we know which of the various services we have on offer to sell you? And my daughter is right, I’m probably way too friendly.

This guy and I had discussed: 1) the lack of a Mexican community in the UK, 2) the shocking state of our native Mexico City (I’m from Coyoacan, he’s from nearby neighbourhood Colonia del Valle), 3) the lamentable record of Mexico’s most corrupt former presidents and their responsibility for the disintegration of Mexican society, 4) the growing influence of Columbian drug lords on Mexico (he reckons plane after plane lands in Cancun loaded with Colombian cocaine, with airport air officials bribed/threatened into turning a blind eye); all this before he finally tried in a very relaxed fashion to sell us a tour or a time share apartment. “I can’t exactly buy a time-share from you, not when my sister sells time-shares, “ I told him. He blinked and nodded in agreement. “But come and have a day at the resort, drinks, watersports, as my guest anyway, no pressure, any time you like.”

This morning the sea is rough but already looks turquoise, the sky is filled with bunched clouds, the pools at this hotel seem infinite (and there’s a huge infinity pool), people are out training.

My lovely cousin Rodrigo just happens to work at the hotel we booked into. He’s studying International Tourism at Uni. Classes from 7am, and works reception in the evenings. A tough life, he admitted, but he loves it. He upgraded our rooms and breakfasts, and left us a delicious chocolate truffle cake in the room…

1 comment:

Chu said...

You managed to discuss ALL these things in a welcome-to-cancun conversation? Wow! I'm friendly, even more so when I travel. But after reading how much you've talked to this guy I'll probably recheck my concepts of friendliness! :-)))