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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Mexico's Troubles

As my past few posts have mentioned, we spent spring break in Mexico. It was a fantastic trip. We rented a lovely house in San Pancho, Mexico a charming fishing village North of Puerto Vallarta. My parents and aunt and uncle joined us on this wonderful trip.

I had planned the trip in September 08. When the flights were ticketed, car booked, cook reserved, and deposit for the house mailed, I felt that I covered everything and that I had nothing to worry about. The feeling of planning the perfect vacation lasted until February when I received a phone call from my mom regarding a 60 Minutes episode she recently watched. It was on the drug wars in Mexico and it made her a little worried about our upcoming travels. I told her that I thought it was only a border town issue and that we should not worry about it. So I put the drug cartels out of my mind until I saw a friend at school who also talked about Mexico travel warnings. I guess I had been living under a rock, because I really had not heard any of these reports.

I was then on hyper alert. I started scanning the internet for reports and found many travel advisories cautioning spring break revelers. NPR's Diane Rhem had an evening show dedicated to the unrest in Mexico, The Early Show ran a piece, MSNBC had weekly reports on their website, the newspapers were running stories and my worry-o-meter started to fly through the roof. From the reports I read, it seemed that most of the issues were occurring at border towns or in the bigger cities. And the majority of the violence was between drug gangs.

I felt that I should do more due-diligence and emailed the owner of the home we were renting to see if he had heard of any issues in the Puerto Vallarta, San Pancho area. He reassuringly told me that the media was really blowing things out of proportion. He had just been down there for two weeks and had a terrific time. He reminded me that, just like at home, it was important to lock the doors when we left the house and at night but other than that the area is very safe.

We headed to Mexico and had a great time. The people were friendly, the weather was great and the company fantastic. San Pancho is a beautiful, sleepy little village where we felt completely removed from the hustle and bustle of touristy Puerto Vallarta. We enjoyed walking down the cobblestone streets, meeting locals, and drinking strong margaritas on the beach. It felt like a true cultural experience, not a commercialized, sanitized version of Mexico that you get when you go to an all-inclusive resort. The part that we had to worry about the most was the semi-rough surf but we were able to drive to other beaches with calmer waters. It truly was paradise.

Now we are back at home, enjoying our pictures and memories. Sadly, Mexico is faced with another frightening issue, the swine flu. And this has me more concerned than the drug violence. On our way home we connected through Mexico City. We were in the airport that is now handing out surgical masks to travelers. We were there just one week ago! I know I am being irrational--but could we have been exposed? My gut tells me we are fine. My husband's eye rolling, tells me the same. But I will keep a keen eye on my children.

I just hope that the swine flu is contained, that no more lives are lost due to this virus or drug violence and that Mexico is able to rebound from all of these difficulties.

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