I had the wonderful opportunity to spend my 47th Birthday in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. I will admit that prior to the trip, I was one of those arrogant Americans that swore to never step foot in Mexico. “Too much violence” is what I said anytime anyone asked had I ever visited Mexico. When deciding where I wanted to go for my next travel adventure I was no longer able to fall back on this rationale. My boyfriend swore by this place and he insisted that I give Cabo a try.
My fears returned about a week or so before our trip when I came across an article in the Los Angeles Times that talked about Cabo being identified as a dangerous location for tourists. This was following the story of the six bodies that were left hanging for all to see in an area close to the resort where we were scheduled to stay. Despite my fears, it was too late to change plans, and, I quite honestly thought my boyfriend would pass out if I asked one more question about safety in Cabo. So, I boarded the plane, despite the Caribbean/Mexican tsunami story that hit the morning we flew out, and headed to Cabo.
This trip was a great reality check for an African-American woman constantly fighting against stereotypes associated with my people. Go figure! Here I was judging an entire island of people because of various isolated incidents that were deemed worthy enough to be a headline in the U.S. news. Traveling to Mexico reminded me of just how important it is to be open-minded and careful about drawing conclusions when you are provided limited information.
Sure, there is a drug war going on in Mexico, but, I would venture to say the epidemic of violence that I see in rural Halifax County, North Carolina could give them a run for their money. Or, what about the nationally recognized spree of violence that has wreaked havoc on the lives of many of the citizens of Chicago? So much so that there appears to be an epidemic of PTSD on the rise in Chicago.
While visiting Cabo, I only had one experience that made me question whether or not I would survive the trip and I can thank the shuttle bus driver for that. He departed the airport like a “bat out of hell” and flew down the highway like he believed he was driving in the Indy 500. Horrified, my boyfriend and I assured him that we were in no big hurry to reach our destination, while our drunk co-passengers laughed and cheered the faster he drove. Needless to say, he sided with our co-passengers :-).
Quite frankly, the people I encountered in Cabo were a lot nicer than some of the people I encounter in the good ole U.S. of A. Being the hyper-aware African-American woman that I am, I noticed that individuals working in the service industry provided me with the same high level of customer service that they provided to others. The decline in service because of the hue of my skin, that I have often experienced in my home country, did not exist (Hell, just before leaving for Cabo, the Lowe’s manager refused to come out and afford me a conversation after I had spent a substantial sum on a refrigerator that they figured out they could not deliver a week before it was scheduled to be delivered to my home. Absolutely refused! And, the proxy he sent out on his behalf could care less about alternative solutions to my desperate need for a refrigerator. I do not believe that would have happened if I were not African-American).
One thing that stuck in my mind the most about this trip was a conversation I had with one of the men working at the charter facility that took us deep sea fishing. I shared with him my feelings of fear about coming to Mexico because of all of the violence we hear about in America. I shared with him the story I heard about the six bodies left hanging for all to see. When I finished, he shared that they have similar fears about America and see our country as a very violent place as well (believe it or not, all Mexicans are not trying to relocate to the USA). He hit me with the recent shooting in Las Vegas where 58 people were murdered, and countless others were injured. And he asked, “how does something like that happen in the United States of America?” To which I had no response.