Do cruises give you a real taste of Mexico? According to this article, tourists don’t get a sense of Mexico and head toward the familiar rather than expanding their horizons.
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All types of people cruise and generalizing about cruisers is dangerous. On our recent cruise to Mexico, we heard some passengers say that they didn’t get off the ship in ports. The author of the article bemoans the fact that many passengers took prearranged cruises, which is typical of any cruise, not just those that visit Mexico. The locals in Puerto Vallarta could grab the entrepreneurial ring and offer similar tours to what the outsiders from states like Guanajuato and Guadalajara. In every town in America, outsiders set up businesses. This practice is hardly unique to Mexico.
When we arrived in Puerto Vallarta, we bypassed the shuttle and walked to the end of the road, where we found a local bus to take us to the downtown area of Puerto Vallarta. We had no clue where exactly, we were going, so jumped off the bus when we saw the cathedral, a landmark that typically denotes the center of town in Mexico.
We stopped at a small museum reached by walking through markets stalls geared toward tourists. Then we attempted to find lunch. We wanted typical food, but could only find pricey restaurants frequented, by tourists. These people don’t seem to be complaining about the cruise passengers, nor do those who have the jewelry stores and other shops recommended by the cruise line.
The artist quoted in the article notices that people don’t talk to her as much as they used to. She didn’t mention her prices and perhaps she needs to re-evaluate her business and move to a different area. If there is a network of artists, perhaps she should consider offering tours that visit local artists. That would be a big hit with cruise ship passengers wishing to get a better sense of place.
As for us, we searched high and low for a local restaurant until we finally came across a small, typical family-run place with no English spoken. We looked at the menu and ordered in our worst Spanish and had a delightful, reasonably priced, local meal.
Arguably, downtown Puerto Vallarta has changed from earlier days as has much of the world. There is a suburbia now with the big box stores. If cruisers wish to shop at Wal-Mart, that is their prerogative. As for me, I run quickly in the other direction. The only think that I need to know about Wal-Mart is that if I take a bus with that name in the window, I will be going back to the area of the port.
Spending fewer dollars in Mexico has to do with the economy. Has anybody noticed the cost of gas or food? Americans aren’t willing to forgo their vacations even if it means cutting back somewhere. The obvious place to save money would be to eliminate souvenirs from the budget.
Next time – how to have a more authentic Mexican experience.