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Hard times in Mexico

March 2, 2009 - Chuck Hunt
We have made a winter trip to somewhere warm almost every winter since, well, lets just say for many years. Many of our trips have been to Mexico - although much like Blue Earth Mayor Rob Hammond, another favorite escape has been to the British Virgin Islands. (The reason we like the BVI's is similar to why we go to the places we go in Mexico. We avoid the touristy places - the time-shares, condos and fancy high-rise resorts. We like simple, and we like to see the real country. The BVI's, as opposed to their neighboring islands, the American Virgin Islands, are not built up or very fancy. We like it that way.) Mexico this year was a little different. Even in tiny Zihuatenejo, it was obvious that American touristos were staying away in droves. Restaurants and shops were virutually devoid of Americans. A restaurant with 10 or 12 tables set up would have only three filled, and that was during the noon hour, or at supper time. A headline in a local Mexican newspaper reported 60 percent unemployment in Ixtapa, and 50 percent in Zihuatenejo. Several store owners, who sell items such as hand-woven rugs, or nice silver jewelry, reported record-breaking poor sales. One owner told us that the American economic woes were being felt in Mexico. Americans were not taking their usual winter vacations. Of course, another problem was having the U.S. State Department warning tourists to avoid Mexico due to the drug cartel violence. We have to admit we saw a lot more Federal Police with their shotguns and machine guns, than we had ever noticed before. They were guarding every bank and public government building it seemed. They should have been guarding the Zihuatenejo Police Station. We heard a report that a couple of hand grenades went off there the day after we left. Reports like that should keep the tourists away, for sure. Nobody wants to kidnapped or killed on a vacation. We have always found the Mexican people to be warm and friendly, even when we have traveled well off the main traveled roads. We have stuck to the small towns, and have never felt threatened. In fact, I have been more nervous walking around Minneapolis at night, that I have walking around Pueto Vallarta at night. Unfortunately that may not be as true this year as it has been in the past. The world itself seems to have more violence - more drugs, crime and gangs - than in the past. A sad state of affairs to be sure.

 
 

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