New -- 21 March 2008
The spit of land just off the Yucatan coast in the State of Quintano Roo, located near the modern city of Can Cun, Mexico is a world class destination for tourists the world over. Adding the Riviera Maya, which extends south from Can-Cun essentially all of the way to Belize -- and incorporating all of the many hotels, condominum complexes, and recreational enclaves -- every world traveler has a lot of reasons to make the trip to the land whose name derives from a failure to communicate. 
In addition to a great deal of "fun in the sun" (especially in the spring break traditions of party, party hardy, and keep on partying), there are the spectacular Mayan ruins to visit -- from Chichen Itza to Tulum and a host of other, increasingly well preserved sites. [Please note, by the way, that the first site is NOT pronounced Chicken Pizza.]
In short, Can Cun is a destination spot. And it's worth the effort to get there.
However... there is also in the same locale what might be called the Can Cun Con.
In any case, upon arriving at the modern Can Cun International Airport -- and struggling through passport control and (at random intervals) Mexican customs -- the unwary tourist is then let loose into the main terminal lobby where standing between the tourist and virtually all public transportation to the hotels is a phalanx of white shirted, very charming neo-conquistadores, spaced like a World War II Nazi tank trap of concrete pillars with similar intent. These men (didn't see any women) are the advance guard for one of the most terrifying of modern terrorists, the Time Share salespeople.
It used to be that many of the Mexican tourist destinations were plagued with beggars... a plague derrided even by the local residents. But now, thanks to the local powers that be (for the most part those powers immortalized in song as the Nacrocorridos), the beggars have been shunted aside and no longer allowed to prey upon the self-guilt, credulity, and ill-advised soft-heartedness of (primarily) Norte Americanos. Instead -- in the true tradition of modern times -- the beggars have been replaced with well-dressed, cordial and always smiling, high-tech salespeople armed with computers and soft ware sales tools whose goal in life is to sell Time Shares... however and to whomever. These salespeople may have law degrees, Ph.D.s in Archaeology, and/or aristocratic backgrounds. But in modern Mexico, their newly acquired goal is to convince tourists to purchase equity in the expanding, burgeoning hotels and condominium complexes that are springing up in Mexico along some of the most desirable ocean-front property in the hemisphere. Hotels and the like, by the way, which are situated on landed owned by the Mexican government and merely leased for up to fifty years. [Thus, a modified, limited form of investment equity.]
Even if one manages to escape the airport phalanx unscathed -- or even for that matter, thoroughly scathed -- one can then look forward to the world-class hotel's own brand of Time Share salespeople... only the latter sit at the hotel's concierge desk. In this way, they have expanded the definition of concierge (a thoughtfully hotel-provided aid for the hotel's guests) to that of a commission-dependent army of sell-at-any-cost, aggressive salespeople. They will in fact meet you at the elevator in the mornings, follow you all through the lobby, and rush to interdict you in any attempt to leave the confines of the hotel. The only exception to the latter is that one can generally escape unhindered along the beach to other hotels -- but this inadvertent loop-hole will undoubtedly be closed in the very near future. Enclaves to prevent unwanted entry by the less desirable people can also prevent unwanted exit by the more desirable people.
Did I mention the aggressiveness of these Time Share salespeople? Let's just say that Attila the Hun would have felt positively inadequate up against these people. Worse yet, they are everywhere... inevitably dressed in white, and very cordial, likeable senors, senoras, and senoritas. Besides the advance guard at the airport, whose sole purpose in life is to promise special discounts to see all the marvelous attractions (from Chichen Itza to Xel Ha), these people are there to promise all manner of benefits from massages to free meals... provided only that the new arrival is willing to sit through a ninety minute presentation -- and with absolutely no obligation to buy.
It sounds really pretty enticing, particularly when the savings might easily be $300 or so dollars... and just for sitting through a presentation in a well appointed public hacienda for a mere hour and a half. Forget for the moment that the tourist is probably spending something on the order to $500 per day (travel and lodging) just to be in the Yucatan in the first place. But it's only 90 minutes, right?
Well... In general, the site of the presentation can often be located south of your location by an hour or so. Because of this, it's painfully easy -- STRONG emphasis on painfully easy -- to spend six hours or so of one's first day traveling to, listening to 90 minutes of pure hell, struggling to obtain the vouchers to allow you to save that $300, and then being driven back to your hotel. And those six hours could have been used... how?
A portion of the presentation is likely a nice meal in a restaurant with a view of the Carribean Sea, one with a nice beach, and all the amenities (including a tax-free view of attractive, only slightly dressed individuals). The meal is "free", but the advice of "there ain't no free lunch" is well worth contemplating. For after your leisurely meal, the 90 minute presentation begins in earnest, with the ratchets being slowly turned until one finds themselves in a boiler room of computer-toting experts and the very hard sales pitch, the full court press of Biblical proportions.
Anyone who's every thought of purchasing an automobile, and then hesitating, will have undoubtedly encountered the standar sales technique of a second salesperson arriving on the scene -- just before you can escape the dealership -- in order to make a second, concerted attempt at closing the deal. The pressure is on... so to speak.
In Time Share circles, however, such a technique is considered pretty old fashioned. These professionals instead double the pressure with at least three more individuals doing their best to manipulate, trick, deceive, and/or accuse the unwilling tourist of being anti-leisure, anti-vacation, and anti-... whatever. Getting away with their free gifts -- without first paying at a rate of roughly 20 to 1 (or much, much higher) -- is no way to do business in the modern world.
How does one deal with such assaults, when the motivation for arriving in the area in the first place was rest and relaxation, and possibly seeing some sights?
The standard answer from those with experience in the genre is, "Never make eye contact." This includes not looking at anyone merely because they have thrown themselves at your feet, have blocked your path with the dexterity of a professional basket ball player in a mode for all out defense, and have done everything short of tackling you and throwing you to the... inevitably hard (and highly polished) marble-like or tile floor. The fact that your immediate horizon -- in all directions -- is exclusively populated with these salespeople should not unduly discourage you. You could, for example, carry a cane and pretend blindness. The cane, by the way, should be of sufficient thickness so as to suggest its periodic use as a caveman style club. Nails embedded in the business end of the "cane", with the sharp ends pointing outwards, tends to add a nice touch.
If on the other hand, you do find yourself in their clutches or well on the road to pedition for the crime of attempting to acquire a real bargain... how can you extradite yourself? How can you escape the clutching tenacles?
Basically,there are two possibilities.
One: You can buy the Time Share. This may cost you anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000 (or more), but you will at the very least make a few people happy. You might even come to like the idea of owning something far from your home. The problem, of course, is that you're only making some of them happy. Their competitors, who did not get a piece of the action, will still be after you. In effect, the airport's advance guard, the ones who use the promise of maps, special discounts for tours (Gray Line and so forth), are competing for your Time Share investment with your hotel's Concierge Contingent, and for that matter with every taxi driver's own connection to one or more alternate outlets.
Still... if you like the idea of Time Share, and if you're planning on many future vacations where you can routinely stay in your charming, shared-home away from home, then buying a Time Share might make a lot of sense. Financially, probably not... but it might also not be a massive waste of resources. You might learn to love it.
However... and this comes to the Number Two Method of avoiding buying the product... there are several relevant questions that must be asked. w
What, for example, is it about the Time Share program being presented to you in the present moment that is better than any other Time Share program? In other words, have you done any comparison shopping? The odds are that you haven't, and in fact, the 90 minute presentation is very likely with the first persons to get their clutches into your limited vacation time. On this basis, why in the world would you want to purchase the first Time Share you've been offered or been exposed to?
Thus, the unassailable reasons for your NOT purchasing the Time Share product, the particular product to which you're just now being presented, is to say -- with a great deal of sincerity and forcefulness -- something on the order of:
OR... you can cut to the chase, i.e.,
Meanwhile, be advised that the antiquities authorities no longer allow people to climb to the top of Chichen Itza's Kukulcan pyramid. Now, that's a serious bummer -- even if it does have the distinct advantage of helping to preserve the priceless monument.
 Allegedly, when Francisco Fernandez de Cordoba arrived in the Yucatan in 1517 and asked a native the name of the area, the native replied "Yucatan" -- which means in the native language, "I don't understand you." Robert Hendrickson, The Facts on File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins, Checkmark Books, New York, 1997.
2003© Copyright Dan Sewell Ward, All Rights Reserved [Feedback]