Steve and I had been reluctant to take a vacation. I mean, rationalizing the expense was difficult. We live in a place many come to vacation. Our home sits across the street from the Sea of Cortez. We are minutes from popular dolphin hangouts, sandy beaches, and challenging mountain hikes. There are numerous dining and entertainment options. And even though Steve works 10+ hour days, we feel like we kind of are on vacation every day. As we hit the three quarter mark of his current contract, not knowing if it would be renewed or not, we realized we really did need to get out there and see more of the country we had come to love.
As an elementary teacher, I had used Mexico as a central theme in the creation of Spanish language and cultural lessons for my kindergarten students. My research gave me a brief look into separate, specific aspects of the country, but there was so much I was missing. My limited knowledge was enough to convince five and six year olds that I knew what I was talking about, but the truth was a different story entirely. If I am being honest, I can admit that I thought of Mexico one of two ways: either as one big all inclusive resort or as a quaint, colonial village surrounding a central plaza. (And yes, even though I knew that Mexico City has a population of over 20 million people. Go figure.)
So I managed to persuade Steve into joining a tour that would take us to Guadalajara and its surrounding areas, San Miguel de Allende, and Guanajuato, all in the central highlands of the country. We laughed as we answered questions like “Can you comfortably walk 10 blocks?” and “Are you able to carry your own luggage?” on the pre-trip paperwork. Then we went to the informational meeting and immediately understood. Steve and I were the youngest on the tour by between 25-30 years.
Our guides tried desperately to keep our meeting focused on the historical sites and artistic centers we would visit. Yet, the conversation always seemed to come back to shopping. “Will there be time for the glass factory in Tonalá?” “The talavera pottery factory in Dolores Hidalgo?” “Who remembers where that one clothing store was in Ajijic?” “And shoes- -we just have to find this one special design- -it is the only one I am missing!” As the only sucker, er, I mean husband in the group, things were beginning to look a little bleak for Steve. He rifled through the itinerary, certain that he had somehow missed the Tequila Tour in the paperwork. There was no doubt that he would need multiple shots of tequila after daily dealings (and apparently lots of shopping) with five women. I even think our fearless leaders, Mark and Miguel, were beginning to agree.
It was painfully obvious that we were the real amateurs of the group. Steve and I listened closely as the women discussed what stores would ship packages to San Carlos and for how little. We received specific instructions detailing how to pack the most efficiently. One fellow traveler even planned to rotate no more than three outfits to make the most of her space.
I asked a lot of questions and took a lot of notes. Steve was relieved that they had nothing to do with shopping. There was no secret who the nerd of the group was! (I may have even cried a little when I learned we would be visiting the site where Padre Don Miguel Hidalgo made his now famous “Cry of Dolores” speech.)
So really, it was no wonder Steve looked so betrayed, when on the way home from the meeting, I suggested we take advantage of the one suitcase per person rule, as opposed to sharing.