06 Feb Timeshare Resort or Tourist Petting Zoo?
My traveling job search needed an odd job hiatus, so I began in Puerto Vallarta by doing what I do best, talking and shooting the shit about what one can do to make real money in Mexico with any breathing person I could find (minus hippies-I hate hippies). As previously stated, Mexico is an amazing country for a multitude of reasons (tacos, cheap beer, friendly locals), but it is also a country ripe with opportunity for budding entrepreneurs, hustlers, and those seeking to just escape a cubicle before they walk the plank. As I quickly learned (and not surprisingly), anyone who makes real money in Mexico owns a business (legit or not) that typically caters to tourists, or is involved in real estate, which is either legitimate, or a timeshare ownership scheme at a mega resort. While old historic Vallarta is dominated by nightclubs, restaurants, and a vibrant gay scene that revivals San Francisco’s Castro, it’s mega timeshare resorts occupy the outer limits of the city.
In case you unfamiliar with what a Timeshare is, in a nutshell, it is a big hotel/resort/plot of undeveloped land
with great future promise that has been turned into a corporation. Pieces of time allowed to stay at the exclusive resort (1-2 week) are then sold to unsuspecting tourists as the investment of a lifetime (note- now the word investment is avoided and replaced with lifestyle choice). The word Timeshare can also be replaced by “Vacation Club”, “Holiday Membership”, “Fraudulent Dog Shit” amongst other names, but they are all the same thing in a different dress. Because it is a corporation, the real owners can either be a big bank or a some guy’s cat whose name the corporation is registered to in the Cayman Islands. They can be found all over the world, and range from complete fraud to a really bad deal you will be forced to rationalize to yourself, your friends, and your family for the next 25 years as a terrific deal you made at the time.
With this new knowledge, I woke, put on my best garb, black shorts (ya know, the ones the fellas keep complimenting me on) and a white short-sleeve shirt, and headed into Nuevo Vallarta (the newer tourist Mecca in the north). An hour bus ride and a random drop off left me wandering aimless in the New Vallarta until I stumbled upon one of the makeshift kiosks littered between the mega hotels. Here several smooth talking Mexican guys are posted by each of the Timeshares/Vacation Clubs to cajole tourists into taking tours of the resort by bribing them with free accommodation, day trips (sailing), shows, and even cashola. After determining I was not a qualified sales lead to
manipulate engage, rather quickly I might add (under 35 years old, male, beard, disheveled hung over look), they informed me as to the best place to inquire about employment: the Grand Mayan.
“It is only 3 blocks that way”, relayed my new friends.
“Great. No problem. Gracias”, replies naïve Gringito.
Three blocks in America is very different than three blocks in Europe, which is completely different than three blocks in Mega Resort-golf-course-Land. Dust, dirt, and face smacking garbage from high-speed buses tramming tourists between resorts made the Israelites journey through Egypt look like a beach stroll. High-walls with electric wire kept the
penitentiary grounds free of credit card-less vistors, ie. me.
I will not go into the details about how I initially went to the correct employee entrance only to be chided away (or so I thought, don’t quit after Spanish 3) and then detoured to the front car entrance and back again. I know my pansa de borracha needs work, but making me walk outside in the fresh air in the heat? Paaahlease, get my car Ratigan. This heat is absolutely tepid. Maybe I should write a song to one up Eminem – 9 mile Resort road.
At the employee entrance, I had to negotiate for twenty minutes to get any type of acknowledgement. I was aghast and outwardly indignant at their unwillingness to bow to all my wishes seamlessly and without hesitation like in tourist-ville playland. But I guess once you disclose that you are a pay-seeking Gringo instead of a paying-giving Gringo, the attitudes change faster than Mitt’s positions. After much apprehension, I finally received my security bracelet to enter Eden.
From the dour slums of the employee entrance through the tunnel of emancipation, it was like arriving on a new planet. Manicured gardens, exotic plants, and most immediate in climate change – smiling employees – who greeted me with deference and enthusiasm, rather than disdain and silent neglect.
Trying to figure out which building to enter was a university degree worthy endeavor in and of itself. The building complex was so vast, expansive, and monolithic, it sent shivers down my spine. Although gleaming brand new, with every detail of the property tended to in perfection so as to maintain the illusion of luxury to potential customers, the complex echoed a similar tone to that of the Soviet Union: You are small in comparison to the greatness of big brother, be impressed (and bestow your credit card) and we will take care of you.
Wanting to survey the property before facing the Politburo about a work agreement, I headed toward the beachfront. On my way a golf-cart tram whizzed by, carrying a legion of Umpa Lumpa workers wearing matching white outfits to the tunnel exiting the imaginary Eden.
At this point, I was having a hard time adjusting to my environment. It was so drastically different to the outside
prison resort, that it all seemed surreal. I finally weaved through the manicured mazes and made my way through the 5 pool swimming area to the beach. The pool was served by a crew of workers dressed like members of Disney’s Jungle Cruise(minus the fake pistols and obvious jokes). The highlight of the pool was a replica of Chichen Itza that was turned into a waterslide so that the screaming children of the plebs could be entertained as their parents downed their “all-inclusive” margaritas, aka Mexican gasoline. Down the way the beach awaited for the more brave of patrons. Rows and rows of thatched tiki roof umbrellas lined the beach, cementing the impression that you were alone on a tropical secluded island and not a pre-manufactured zoo. Next to the huts,a Mexican tourist village was constructed,
inmates old fat white people vacationers could have the experience of buying cheap, shity trinkets and be swindled without having to leave the comforts of the giant collective. Despite my hustled VIP wristband, I sensed that the Umpa Lumpas were getting suspicious as to why I was not choosing to partake in any of the parks many activities. So I decided it was time to meet the Wizard of Oz himself behind this Iron Curtain.