Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Story that Changed Commerce

Okay, I’m totally not braggin. Seriously. I just have to share this story. And because it’s long, I’m going to do it in two parts. So please bear with me. I do actually have a point.

Part I

During my recent trip to Mazatlan, Mexico, some friends and I stayed in a remote condo complex sandwiched between a lush golf course and a private beach. The place was gorgeous, with tall palm trees, miles of light sand and blue water, and plenty of wildlife. (Hey, I'm talking animals here, what were you thinking? *winks*) (Yeah, it was posh, and no I'm not trying to rub it in, I promise.) (Also, none of us are golfers, but that's a whole other story.)

Given that it's now April, this should be a pretty busy season for them. But this year, other than resort employees, the place was practically a ghost town. We stayed in phase 2 of 3, and in our section, there were around 12 other people there, total, in a place which could realistically have held 300 or more.

This surprised my friends and I, but given that we arrived on a Monday at the end of March, we chalked it up to an off day of the week, or an off week of the season, and went about our merry way, endlessly entertaining the staff with our antics (of which there were many, I assure you). A few days into our trip, we took a shuttle (again, we were the only passengers) for the 40 minute drive into town to do a little shopping.

Because, let's face it. Five women in Mexico might very possibly explode without at least one shopping trip. Just sayin.

We had the driver drop us off in an area near the cruise port, because we knew there would be a lot of fun places to see there, and because we only had a few hours. Again, we took notice that there were very, very few tourists in this area that should have been bustling with cruise passengers, as well as vacationers. It's a popular place to visit, you know? So we asked one of the shop owners if it was an off day for the port area.

Got an interesting answer. Turned out, not long ago, a couple of stupid cruisers left the safe areas of town and headed for the not-so-safe hills, by themselves, with no map and no guide and apparently no clue. They happened upon members of a hidden drug cartel, and got themselves killed. (Yikes, right?) Sad, sad situation, for sure. But even sadder? Because of this incident, which isn't necessarily isolated, but also not a regular occurrence in the area, the press had a heyday with the story.

People were up in arms, arguments were had within governments and private contractors and cruise companies and resorts. In the end, the cruise companies canceled all scheduled ports in Mazatlan until 2012. Airlines cut flight options going to Mazatlan in half (meaning the prices skyrocketed, FYI). And now, a few months later, respectable, hard-working merchants whose livelihoods depended on tourist support, are in danger of sinking like the Titanic.

So sad. Cuz those little shops have great stuff. And it's such a fun city. But this is the cliff hanger point where I make you wait til Friday to read the rest. (Sorry! I warned you.)

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