Mazatlan is a beautiful country that has gotten a bad rap in the past several years, due to the high crime rates, mass amounts of drug cartel, and the increase in incidences involving tourists. As this information began to hit the media, tourism in the country went down, and cruise lines stopped including them in their stops. The country has since taken huge measures to protect the tourists, by hiring a new police staff in order to traffic the area, and help cut down on crime. Just last week, one of the largest drug lords was arrested in this country, due to their ongoing measures. Just this year, 2 cruise lines have decided to revisit the country, because crime rates have drastically dropped.
If you are aware of these things prior to visiting an area, it may keep you from visiting that particular place. One may think its not worth the risk, and that it isn't safe to travel. However, my friend and I looked at it as a deal. The prices to visit the all-inclusive resort were more than reasonable, and it didnt take long for us to decide that this was the place for us!
I consider us to be smart girls though…as most of you probably already gathered. We decided early on that we wouldn't attempt to buy any drugs, we wouldn't bat our fair colored eyelashes at any drug lords, and at no point would we EVER leave the resort….It simply wasnt safe!!
However, and as most of you probably gathered, it only took me talking to the van driver, on the way to the resort, to make me change our minds. I assured my friend that this man was a native to the land, he had lived here his entire life, and he certainly knew more than the media!!! When he mentioned we could ride in the Pulmonias, which were fancy two door golf carts that drove through the city, there wasnt a chance in the world we werent going….plus I now desperately needed to see the cathedral he spoke so highly of!!! AND….as luck would have it, this just happened to be the week of CARNAVAL. There were parades and everything!!!! We just had to go.
Anyone who knows me closely will tell you, if I have something in my mind to do, it's very hard to dissuade me. Since my eyes were lit up on fire, my friend didnt even try this time!
When the morning came, I woke us up promptly…which is generally not the case. However, my friend, if not reminded, will sometimes casually forget about the things that she doesn't necessarily care to do!! I wasn't forgetting. We made our way downstairs to the lobby, where I proudly shared my knowledge and need for a Pulmonia ride into the city! No problem. For a firm price of 160 pesos, or roughly $16, we could get a ride into the city. He told us NOT to tip the driver, and to make sure the price was confirmed, prior to entering the vehicle. This was SO easy, and I was proud of myself for actually listening.
It wasnt but a minute down the road, before the driver was trying to talk us into just going to the Golden Zone, which was a shopping area in the hotel zone, instead of the city. His reasoning made sense…the boardwalk going into the city was closed, due to the Carnaval. If we wanted to go to the city, he would have to drive around the city in a different way, meaning he would have to charge us extra……
This is where my friend Kellie and I differ. This is where she plays bad cop while I play good. Immediately she didnt care for the change of plans!! She became panicked, and envisioned him taking us to a remote area, raping us, and leaving us for dead. She shook her head and sternly reminded him that the deal was a FIRM 160 pesos. He said he understood, but in broken English tried to tell her again his rationale…..the road was closed!!
She refused to listen, and demanded that he turn around so we could go back to the hotel and locate a driver who would stay firm with his promised fee!
I tried to soften it by asking about the place he wanted to take us, which actually I remembered the van guy talking about it in my previous conversation. I was trying to piece the conversation back together, trying to recall the instructions he had so clearly given me. I pleaded with Kellie to please allow him to drop us at the Golden Zone…it sounded so familiar! Although she said “FINE”, I could tell by the look on her face that I was really pushing it! I made small talk with the driver until we got there, and then it came time to pay. Kellie handed him the agreed upon $16, and we started to walk away…but he stopped us. There was an issue with the payment!!!
Kellie quickly made her way back to the man and counted the dollars one by one, to prove she had the full amount we agreed upon! He said he understood, but she OVERPAID him… She couldn't understand his Spanglish and reminded him of our deal…160 pesos!! He said again he understood, but it was only 120 pesos to the Golden zone…she had overpaid him. I quickly used what street knowledge I had, before he called the rest of his cartel to help bind our hands and feet with twine, as he beat us with golf clubs. I said in full English…”Sweetie, you overpaid…he's giving you money back”!
She was humbled and gave him the entire $16 so he could take his own children to the Carnaval later, but not humbled enough to prevent herself from being irritated with me, when I told her we would have to take the bus into the city, that I couldn't speak Spanish, and that I had no idea which bus would take us to the market. I reminded her that she needed to have more sense of adventure, but honestly I was a little nervous myself!!
Somehow we made our way into the city, and got off at the right spot! We saw a beautiful cathedral, visited the boardwalk, saw awesome views of the mountains and the ocean, and made our annual visit to the farmacia! Then….it was time to find our way back!
We were in the same spot as we started, when we decided to take the Pulmonia back to the resort. Kellie was dead set on the 160 pesos! The first man we came into contact with was charging 250 pesos, which Kellie wasnt having ANY part of! He was just starting to pull his oozy out of his holster, when she finally moved onto the next driver…looking for a firm deal! I continued to look pretty in the background, shaking my head, tsking her, and acting like I was speaking Spanish under my breath, until she found a deal she liked… and I jumped in!
The little firecracker had got what she wanted at a reasonable rate!!!
I harassed my little friend the whole way home…giggling that she was so tough and caused these people to hate us. Truthfully though, I need her smarts to get us through! I would have easily paid the 250 pesos the first time, and likely would have gone up to 400. I would have let that man drive us to the outskirts of the city for an increased price, and would have seen no other choice but to load onto the yacht of the drug lord, who would, for the rest of my life, have been my master!
The real roles here are clear… I get us in trouble, and she keeps us safe! However, it was yet another great adventure with my tough as nails friend who I truly adore!!!