Let’s get personal today…
We just got back from a rare out-of-country trip …
Friends and students oft-hear from me that I hate to travel.
I usually put it: “After 2 tours-of-duty as a consultant, I’ve had my fill of French restaurants and airports”.
That said, some friends nudged me to take a trip to Cabo.
Even though it was my spring break, it didn’t dawn on me that it was every college’s spring break.
The obvious become evident to me when I realized that my wife & I brought our flight’s average age up by about a year or two (think about the math of that calculation for for a second).
A college girl boarded with an appropriate t-shirt: “The few. The proud. The privileged” … ah, to be an American college kid again.
For the record, here are a couple of takeaways from my trip…
Ken’s Trip to Cabo
Let’s start with the travel process.
Since it has been awhile between trips, I was pleasantly surprised by the digital streamlining that has been implemented by the airlines and Feds.
I used United’s digital app to snap my passport and do an international check-in from my desk.
OK, I’m old school and didn’t know you could do that.
Still amazed that the blurry photo was adequate to link to all of my passport info.
Airport check-in was a breeze.
Confession: While we were standing at a kiosk, a United agent who smelled “old school”scurried over to coach us through the digital process … and point us to the bag check station.
United coded us as “TSA pre-check” so we had access to one of the special lines — faster, shoes-on screening — less than 30 minutes from bags checked to sitting at the gate.
Note: I’m generally against capital punishment. An exception: the shoe bomber. He should be hanged for forcing the world into shoes-off screening.
Arrival in Cabo went smoothly … long lines, but they went quickly.
Got hassled by a few pesky time-share salesmen on the way to our ride, but they were pretty easy to fend off.
Bottom line: can’t complain about the front-end process.
I was highly anxious about security and possible anti-American sentiment.
No problems on either count.
We were bunkered at a remote, relatively posh, “all adults” resort.
Since I didn’t want to spend the day fending off beach hustlers, that was fine with me.
When I remarked to another resort guest how safe I felt, she opined:
“The cartels have declared the resorts to be safe zones … any crime is dealt with quickly (and severely).”
It’s not altruism on the part of the cartels … better than that, it’s strictly business.
I don’t know if that’s true or not … and, I don’t care.
Side Note: We lived in Oak Park, Illinois for a while. It was largely crime free. Why? Many of the large houses were Mafia habitats, and “they” had no tolerance for crime in their neighborhood.
All that mattered was that I thought that I was safe.
Cautionary tale: We were advised not to rent a car. It’s OK if you stay on a “protected road” … but make a wrong turn and you’re chum for the banditos. Sure enough. At the airport we ran into somebody who rented a car, turned left instead or right and got held up.
A big surprise to me was how friendly the resort staff was.
Sure, they’re carefully selected and trained to act nice to guests.
But, that’s the same in other locales where I could easily sensed the phoniness and feel the thought-daggers.
Not in Cabo.
All the locals that we ran into seemed genuinely OK with us Americanos.
If there was any wall-resentment, I sure couldn’t pick-up on it.
Once again, another guest provided a code-breaker:
“They’re way more interested in putting food on the table than the US-Mexican political bruhaha”.
Since the masons who were working on the stone walls were reported to be earning $5 per day, I bought into the explanation.
Bottom line: Whether genuine or just a facade, the locals made us feel very welcome …
The travel process – part 2 …
Again, surprised by the cordiality and efficiency.
Easy check-in, super-fast TSA-like screening, no immigration control checks except for the gathering of the card we filled out when we arrived (which had a control number that could be computer-matched to make sure we went back home).
Arrival at Dulles offered more pleasant surprises.
We’re not ‘World Pass’ or ‘Mobile Entry’ or anything like that, so we expected to be in line a couple of hours.
Longest part was the marathon walk from the plane to Immigration & Customs.
We scanned our passports at a kiosk, answered the customs questions (yes, we declared the Spring Break sweatshirt that Kathy bought in Cabo), got our picture-receipt … and breezed though the process.
Gotta hand it to the Feds, they seem to have streamlined the process as best as they could.
Hardest part of the return was standing in the cold waiting for the bus to economy parking.
Net-net: A surprisingly pleasant experience … but, it sure feels good to be home.