We're still compiling our photos of Mexico
but we have some interesting memories of our visits.
Our first visit to Mexico was in the '60s, not long
after our 1966 marriage. We had completed a summer tour of Western Canada
which we followed by travelling many miles in the US - a trip that became
an annual event before my return to the classroom. I had bought a tall
Navajo straw hat in Arizona before travelling on to Southern California
and the Mexican border. My hair was long in keeping with the style of the
'60s and when we attempted to cross into Tijuana the border guards looked
disapprovingly on my Navajo hat and long hair and refused us entry. Obviously,
the very tame, moral and "strait-laced" Tijuana wasn't ready for two rowdy
In future trips we had better luck visiting Mexico
border towns from Arizona and Texas. On one trip we brought back a stuffed
iguana which now sits on one of our Altec monitors. But we ran afowl of
the border guards on another visit when we attempted to bring back tiny
bottles of Tequila as souvenirs for our friends back home. Apparently the
US had laws against importing such small bottles of liquor. We were allowed,
however, to dump the contents of the bottles and import the empty vessels.
Since we were allowed to import a large bottle of Tequila we were able
to refill the little ones with it after passing across the border.
During a another long road trip in 1978 we walked along
Laredo bridge over the Rio Grande -- pushing a baby buggy with our 6-month-old
Ja-On. We strolled through the border town markets and bartered for
a few clothes and souvenirs. As we had done in the past, we tried to bamboozle
the Mexican hawkers. When our first offers were declined Sue-On would carry
on a conversation with me in Chinese. I would pretend to understand and
shake my head, make obscure hand signals and point to rival sellers. Kinda
fun and it usually helped the bartering process by bewildering the locals.
While shopping in the market we were followed by a
kid who was trying to sell his baby sister to us -- one baby was enough
so we declined the offer.
On our return across the bridge we thought we saw Ja
becoming flushed and were afraid that the hot Mexican sun had started a
sunburn on the little guy. We panicked a bit and I started to run across
the long bridge back to the shade of the Customs office. We raised the
suspicions of onlookers and officials who looked in amazement at a white
guy racing across the border while pushing a baby carriage . . . and chasing
him, some distance behind, a worried looking Asian woman shouting directions.
It took another 30 years to finally gain entry into
Tijuana -- that pillar of virtue. We finally made it across in the '90s
-- this time with our three kids in tow as cover. Our day trip was rewarding
and we returned to the US side with some interesting purchases -- including
leather jackets, coats, vests, etc.
In more recent times we have given no thought to visiting
the border towns -- too many stories of drug gangs, vice, robberies and
kidnappings. We did, however, opt for low cost all-inclusive flight and
two week stay at Cancun via West-Jet -- a real fun-experience and a real
bargain. During our early years when we travelled on very low budgets,
we had tried a few time-share offers and had taken advantage of many free
tours, meals, shows, etc. without ever making an investment. We agreed
that those days were behind us. But we were a bit fooled at the Cancun
airport, when upon landing, a uniformed officer directed us to an official
By the time we left the airport for our hotel we had
agreed to attend a sales breakfast which in return offered free banquets,
facilities of a major beach hotel for a day, a ferry tour to nearby Mujeres
island, bus trip to the Chichen Itza pyramids, boat tours, snorkelling,
and free transportation. We cut the breakfast sales talk short by saying
that I had cancer and this could be one of our final visits to another
country. The sympathetic sales gal lost interest in a hurry. We had the
rest of the day to explore the strip with its thousands of tourists, countless
luxury hotels, malls, shops and bars - including Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville.
Our West-Jet hotel was some distance from the main
strip which resembled Las Vegas without the lights and with marvelous beaches.
Our hotel, closer to the old town, was a former gay retreat, but fully
renovated with all-inclusive attractions: buffets, bar, pools, beach, fine-dining
restaurant, water park and a theatre that put on a different musical each
night. Shopping visits to the nearby old town were interesting -- a mix
of old markets and modern malls. All in all, the trip was a great experience
-- quite a change from the grubby and dangerous border towns.