Spring Break Gamble
Canada. Mexico. Two countries that have been in the news for different reasons. As different as the Olympics and ransom notes. Hockey and kidnappings. Vancouver and Juarez. Good and bad. Life and death.
I was driving to work the other day and got a call (bluetooth, hands-free, so don’t go there) from a friend asking my opinion about his spring break plans. He wants to take his family to Mexico for a week. Yeah, Mexico, where you gamble with your life every time you step foot there. Here’s how the conversation went:
- Me: “I don’t like it. Have you heard what’s going on down there?”
- Friend: “Yeah.”
- Me: “Where are you going?”
- Friend: “Puerto Vallarta.”
- Me: “That might not be too dangerous. It’s a tourist spot.”
- Friend: “That’s what I think.”
- Me: “Fly right in there, and back. Shouldn’t be a problem.”
- Friend: “We’re driving.”
- Me: “(laughing, because my friend is always joking)”
- Friend: “I’m not kidding. We’re going to drive.” (all the way from Tulsa)
- Me: “Whoa. Not such a good idea.”
I should have told him to drive to Canada instead. More beautiful. Less drama. Much safer. Better chance of living through spring break. That’s always a plus. Instead I told him I’ll check on the latest about Mexico when I get into work. Talk about coincidence. I get to my desk and look it up, and see there’s a new State Department travel alert. It warns about heavily armed drug cartels and daytime shootouts in some of Mexico’s interior sections (nothing new there), saying: “The situation in northern Mexico remains fluid; the location and timing of future armed engagements cannot be predicted.” Translation: This is not a good time to take a road trip with your family to Mexico. (That goes for college spring breakers as well.)
I have a relative who used to live in San Diego and drive across the border regularly for work. He had lots of stories. One time he met a local mexican police chief at a party. They hit it off. The cop gave him his business card and said use it if you ever need to. The relative was stoked. He knew exactly what that meant. Flash forward. The relative was stopped in Mexico for some sort of violation, I can’t remember (probably for spitting on the sidewalk). But I do remember he was in trouble and possibly headed to a mexican jail. The relative pulls out the business card, the cop smiles, and says “Que tengas un buen dia”. Have a nice day.
My advice to my friend? Take plenty of business cards with you. But if you really want to have a nice day stay away from Mexico. Go to Canada and take up ski jumping, the downhill Super G, or the snowboard halfpipe. It’s much safer.