It started for me when I was 14 and I had an exchange student from Mexico sharing my room. He and I called each other brother. We bonded intensely, became family. And ever since that time, through countless trips to Mexico, my love for the country and its people has continued to grow.
When a U.S. presidential candidate kicked off his campaign by pointing his finger at the Mexicans, as if they were to blame for America’s problems, calling them foul names and insulting them, I reacted defensively and indignantly as you react when someone attacks a family member. This weekend was my first trip to Mexico since my country elected that candidate as president. I felt embarrassed to be an American traveling to Mexico.
I felt responsible as a representative of my country to try to be a good example and to assure the Mexicans I encountered that not all North Americans agreed with the anti-Mexico attitudes of our new president elect. But how can you do that? It’s delicate. You can’t just run up to everyone you see and say, “Hey, I know I look like an American, but … we don't all feel that way… .” It would be ridiculous, but that’s how I felt.
It had been on my schedule for a long time to travel to Mexico to attend Travel Impressions’ annual Best of the Best event, when the mega vacation wholesaler rewards its top producing travel agents with a weekend at an all-inclusive beach resort.
But somehow it never really soaked in that I would actually be traveling to Mexico during the first few weeks when the world was still reeling from the election as president of the U.S. of a man who made Mexico a target of some of his most hostile barbs, and whose own pugilistic personality encouraged some of the nastiest people in America to swarm out of the woodwork and openly display their hatred and prejudice toward whole nationalities and religions.
I had just hoped all that nastiness would be over and soundly renounced by the American voters by the time my trip to Mexico took place. I was surprised and disappointed when it wasn't.
We’ll all have to figure out how to personally react to it. For me it makes me want to display my love of my Mexican brothers and sisters more than ever, as one gathers around a family member who has been attacked by a bully. I want to go there, be there and show my love as much as possible. Maybe I’ll become a Mexican.
But staying at Secrets Playa Mujeres (the beach of women) made it easier to forget about the ugly politics back home. The resort is in the Riviera Maya region, and it really is like Paradise. It’s a cloistered oasis of palms, pleasure and luxury on a gorgeous beach where cool breezes sweep gently off the Caribbean Sea. And since it’s an all inclusive, you can wander around the place and ask for anything you want and get it, no strings attached, as if you were a king.
Best of all were the wonderful Mexican people, as warm and loving as ever. They are an extraordinary people, and it’s time for North Americans to show them our love more than ever. Unless you really believe all that negative stuff, and then you might feel differently about it.