Archived entries for Mexico

Riviera Maya

I have many travel rules, including avoiding mass market package tour destinations. So I was a bit apprehensive about flying down to Cancun this week, even with the promise of a 5-star hotel, the Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita, far from the raucous Hotel Zone, in the sedate Riviera Maya south of the city. From the second I was picked up at Cancun’s airport, with a cool towel and champagne waiting for me in the car to the hotel, I felt like royalty.

The property itself was gorgeous, with its 80 massive suites all named after destinations the owners have visited (my room was Mozambique). I was told the architect who owns and built the property created it as a sort of Taj Mahal for his wife, hence the name, “La Bonita,” or The Beautiful. Throughout the property, the owner’s fine tastes and true knack for shopping were quite evident. Virtually everything had been acquired on foreign trips resulting in a very authentic and unique feel to the place.

While I certainly enjoyed getting sunburnt by the pool (to the point that I had to completely cover up by day two) while the amazing staff waited on me hand and foot, the spa was pretty memorable, too. At their Thalasso Center, which bills itself as the first certified Thalassotherapy center in North America, I enjoyed a “marine hydromassage” which was basically a high-tech bathtub (imported from France, I might add). I was given a skimpy bathing suit to put on before slipping into the tub. Next the spa attendant came in and started his magic. First up: dumping a large mixing bowl full of seaweed puree into the clear water. Next, many, many drops of lovely essential oils. He turned on the jets, and programmed the tub for a 30-minute session. Their marketing materials claim the tub features “72 seawater, air and ozone jets strategically positioned along acupressure meridians.” Not a bad way to start the day.

By the pool with Jimmy and Ani, post-sunburn:

A huge recommendation for this property…

Related: Photos on Flickr

Visions of Cancun

There are many rules in life — don’t wear pleated pants; don’t fly mix gin, wine and beer; don’t date men from Upstate New York — and one of my own rules in life I violated this week. It the was the no-Cancun rule. I’ve always had this policy not because I hate Mexico (on the contrary), it’s because I have a problem with the American Midwest. And since Cancun is essentially 600,000 people from Dallas and Detroit crammed into a strip of sand about as wide as a knitting needle, I have had my objections.

cancun_water

Well imagine my surprise when I landed at Cancun’s shopping mall of an airport, amidst a flurry of flights from Edmonton (2 of ‘em!), Toronto (4 of ‘em), Montreal (3 of ‘em), Vancouver, and Calgary. Who knew this attracted such a diverse crowd (of Canadians). The water here is so blue!

cancun_lifeguard_thing

Cancun has always struck me as a bizarre sort of place. Not many people know that 40 years ago this sprawl of hotel chains packed cheek-by-jowl didn’t even exist. Some who vaguely know the history of the place think a computer picked the site for this newish megaresort town. (The tourism people tell me this version’s of Cancun’s birth is a legend. They say the choice was man-made and hand-picked, not computer-generated.) Regardless, Cancun is artificial and to a great degree feels that way, a developer’s interpretation of paradise.

cancun_beach

Where in the world am I…

• Same latitude as Honolulu.
• 600,000 people live here.
• This huge city, amazingly, did not exist four decades ago.

cancun

‘We want Mexico to look like Canada’

Since attending the May 1 Day Without Immigrants rally in California, I’ve become pretty interested in the topic. The San Francisco Chronicle today reports these staggering numbers: “10 percent of Mexico’s population of about 107 million is now living in the United States, estimates show. About 15 percent of Mexico’s labor force is working in the United States. One in every 7 Mexican workers migrates to the United States.”

“We want Mexico to look like Canada,” said Stephen Haber, director of Stanford University’s Social Science History Institute and a Latin America specialist at the Hoover Institution. “That’s the optimal for the United States. We never talk about instability in Canada. We’re never concerned about a Canadian security problem. Because Canada is wealthy and stable. It’s so wealthy and stable we barely know it’s there most of the time. That’s the optimal for Mexico: a wealthy and stable country.”

A Day Without Immigrants

Today in San Francisco I had the unique opportunity to experience the Day Without Immigrants rally protesting federal legislation that would make felons out of 11-12 millions immigrants living in the US illegally. It was one of the largest of the more than 60 rallies taking place in cities across the country today. The San Francisco Chroniclesaid it was “the nation’s largest coordinated demonstration since the war in Vietnam.”

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The scale of the protest was unbelievable — it was truly a sea of supporters snaking through downtown San Francisco — and the sheer gravity of the situation was moving. Standing there among tens of thousands of cheering protestors is an electric feeling, especially when you consider their backstory. It’s such a tough issue: there is no disputing that illegal residents got here — or at least remain here — through law-breaking. Normally I’d be all for busting on the rule-breakers. But that is illogical in this situation — can we really prosecute 11 million people? In the past ten years, as the number of illegal aliens has shot up from the 1996 estimate of 5 million, the situation has grown beyond this country’s ability to control it.

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I don’t consider myself soft on the issue of immigration but the 700-mile wall proposed for parts of the US-Mexico (that would cost billions to build) as part of this new legislation also seems like a stretch. The solution? If I knew, I’d be running this country. But as Bill O’Reilly said tonight, we might want to remember that most of the people living illegally in the US are probably good people simply trying to make a better life for their families (and as their protests signs remind us, they clean our houses, toil in the fields, and care for our children). He lays blame on the Mexican government’s inability to improve the country for residents, and the US government’s inability to touch the political hot potato that is immigration policy.

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Mexicans head north for a better life. Way north.

Canada is a hot spot for Mexican immigrants thanks to U.S. laws which make immigration infuriatingly difficult. The Christian Science Monitor says that “while the US is fortifying its borders and tightening entry requirements, Canada is putting out the welcome mat.” The number of immigrants is tiny compared to those headed for the U.S., but that is changing. In 1995, just 482 Mexicans became permanent residents of Canada, but by 2004, that had tripled to 1,648. The U.S. gave 173,664 immigrant visas to Mexicans last year.

“The climate is terrible,” one immigrant to Canada told the paper, “But we are happy.”



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