Monday, March 23, 2009

My Own Experience

Last week I had the opportunity to cross over the border for myself and experience a very different way of life. I took a cruise through the Mexican Riviera, leaving from Los Angeles, California and traveling to Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas.

When first boarding the Princess Cruise Line, holding 3,000 passengers and 1,000 employees, I noticed that many of the employees were of ethnic heritage. When I asked our waiter, Romeo, about the different ethnicities on board he said more than half of the employees on board were from another country, including Russia, Mexico, and Canada, just to name a few.

Our first two days on board were spent at sea, and during our second day on board the activity manager asked for passengers to yell when their home country was called. When Canada was named I noticed more than half the passengers outside by the pool started chanting. When I asked a family next to us, who I noticed had been chanting, why so many Canadians were on board, they replied that travel expenses were minimal. They said to go on vacation for them right now in the state of the economy, coming from Canada to Mexico was very cheap.

After the two days at sea, our first stop was Puerto Vallarta. The staff members from the ship told us of a hotel we could go to and show our ship card, and they would allow us to use their facilities for the day. As soon as we stepped foot on the beach the little kids selling souvenirs and women selling henna tattoos and hair braiding started following our large group of college students.

When we finally made it through all the women, children, and other sales people on the beach, we entered the Krystal Hotel. Upon entering the large pool with attaching tiki style bar, I met a couple who was visiting from Canada. I asked them why they chose to come on vacation to Puerto Vallarta, and they replied that including flight and an all inclusive hotel for a week, their total price per person was $750. Can't beat that!

A video on Puerto Vallarta

The following day was spent in Mazatlan, which was the only place of the three I had not previously visited. Upon leaving the ship, there were men with machine guns and shuttles waiting to take us to the port terminal. I noticed that Mazatlan seemed like a much more industrialized city and not nearly as large as Puerto Vallarta. The large group of us piled into two large vans that took us nearly 10 minutes to the nearest beach bar. The city appeared older with a lot less college students compared to Puerto Vallarta, and the cabs were all open air taxis. When we finally reached to beach bar, the employees were ecstatic that so many of us had come, seeing that there were only around five people before we got there.

Video of Mazatlan

The following day was spend in beautiful Cabo San Lucas, where I had visited two years earlier. When we exited the ship we walked across the deck to catch a water taxi to take us to the local beach. As we approached the beach I had spent my time two years prior, I noticed the amount of people seemed far less than what I had remembered. I asked our waiter, and he said the spring break population was much less than usual. Other than that, the beach seemed the same with some additional condos being built. The beautiful beach and clear water was just as I had remembered it.

Video of Cabo San Lucas

In America, I never see little children following me around the beach trying to sell little clay turtles, nor do I see people with machine guns on a daily basis. The people in Mexico were very friendly and receptive to us spring break kids, mainly because a lot of their money comes from our yearly visits during the spring break time. The difference in the way of life and culture between Mexico and America is drastic, but I have learned to appreciate both in their own ways.

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