“I know engineers are afraid of commitment! Come on, Andrew. Leslie wants to do it. Look at her face!” It’s true, I was smiling. In fact, I almost started laughing. The dainty figure of $8,600 was written at the top of the notebook paper and the timeshare sales person was putting on the press. Much to my disbelief, Andrew was actually considering the offer. But, let’s back up two days.
On our second day in Cabo, we spent the majority of the day walking. We walked the beach, the neighborhoods, the hills, and then we clamored our way across a granite shoreline with the hearty locals, just to see what there is to see. In making our long walk, we ran into every hustle you could possibly imagine: the Henna Tattoo hustle, the silver jewelry hustle, the cigar (but under here I have marijuana) hustle, the massage hustle, the glass bottom boat hustle, jet skis, snorkeling, scuba diving, deep sea fishing, you name it, we got hustled. A young man of twelve placed an iguana wearing a tiny sombrero on my shoulder.
Andrew sat on the beach in awe: an entire city worth of sales persons starting from the ripe age of 6 years old. We watched poor sales strategies flounder and winning strategies develop into an up-sale. The best strategy, is subtle and artful. You don’t realize you are being hustled, until you just purchased a couch for your 40 foot sailboat.
No, we didn’t purchase a couch, but we could have.
The first time it happened, we were walking along the beach heading back to the boat. A friendly face casually approached “Are you having fun in Cabo, guys?” As the Hustle-EEs, we have a few options. We can stare straight ahead and keep walking, we can say “No Gracias,” we can scowl and just say “No!” But, by nature Andrew and I are friendly and polite people. The man did not offer to sell us anything, he just asked if we are having a good time. So, I say “Yes, thank you.” And he falls in step with us. “Did you do anything fun today? Any activities or anything?”
We explain we have been walking around, seeing what there is to see. He asks us where we went, and smiled with surprise when we told him about the local restaurant we hit and that we hiked the craggy shoreline. “Nice, nice. Adventura! You guys are outdoorsy people.”
By this time, we reached the spot on the beach at which we would jump in the ocean and swim back to Sonrisa. So, we naturally stopped walking. “My name is Sergio,” he says, reaching out a hand to shake. At this point, he seemed like a local who is just curious about my day, it would be rude to not respond in turn. Andrew and I introduced ourselves. He asks us where we are staying, and we point at Sonrisa over our shoulders. This surprises and delights him, and he launches into another series of questions about where we sailed from, how long it took, and whether we caught any fish on the way.
We are at least 20 minutes in, and he finally says: “Is there anything that you want to do while you are here? I know you probably don’t need to do water sports, because you already have a sailboat, but do you want to do something on land? I can help you with anything you need. Smooth. So, smooth. Let’s pause for a moment here to admire the sales tactics: (1) Start friendly, get them talking about anything other than what you want to sell them; (2) get to know them, find out what drives their interests: outdoorsy, not water sports; (3) offer to “help”.
I say, “No thank you,” but Sergio does not take no for an answer that quickly. He says, “No, really. How long are you staying? I know you are going to want to do something, let me help you find something fun. Anything, tell me anything at all. What would you want to do?”
“Ok, I say: Mountain biking.” I had thrown this out to another guy earlier in the day, and he offered me an ATV ride instead. So, I thought I safely chose something that would keep us out of the lair. To my surprise (and suspicion), Sergio says, “Mountain biking! Yes, we have that! Let me go find my brochure. Come into my office, over here, over here.” He leads us to a shack made of palm fronds and wall papered with magazine articles about fun things to do in Cabo San Lucas. We sit on a rattan couch covered with a colorful Mexican blanket while he searched through piles of brochures strewn out on a desk.
He can’t find his mountain biking brochure, but he calls “Francisco” and asks when the mountain biking tours are available over the next couple of days. He keeps Francisco on the line and asks me when we would want to go. At this point, I am concerned. Is there really a mountain biking tour? Or maybe they will say mountain bikes but we will end up on ATVs. Or are they going to take me in the desert and bury me? All of these things seem like possibilities. I start to tell Sergio no, but he said, “no, no, when would you want to go if we can find the brochure.” We tell him on Monday, and he continues his conversation with Francisco, reserving our spot. He starts writing out a reservation ticket while simultaneously shuffling for the brochure. Eventually he finds what he is looking for: a three page document with colorful photos depicting happy people on mountain bikes, in the desert, over looking the ocean, ending at a house with women in floral embroidered linen dresses making mole poblano with chicken for lunch. It even includes a free tequila tasting. I am still very suspicious.
Sergio tells us to meet him at his office in the morning. He starts walking us toward Sonrisa again and then looks out across the water. “How did you get in here this morning.” When we tell him we swam and he looks out again, “from all the way out there?” Yes. He arranges us a water taxi to take us back for free. That was nice. We wave, “hasta mañana!”
Back at the boat, Andrew blames me for being a sucker. I sleep fitfully that night worrying that we might be buried in the desert, but how am I ever going to have any fun if I don’t trust someone sometime? We are in tourist town, we are tourists, and we are worth more alive then dead I assume. Poor Sergio. I’m sure he would be offended to know I was worried he would bury me in the desert.
The next morning, Sergio sends in another water taxi to pick us up and greets us at the beach. He escorts us to the place where the road taxi picks us up for our mountain biking tour and sees us off. What do you know, we end up out in the desert with Hector “The Protector”, a fabulous mountain biking tour, lunch and tequila tasting.
On the way back from the mountain bike tour, it happened a second time. This time, though, I am convinced Andrew was the sucker. We said “no, thanks” to Carlos’s offer for a fishing excursion, but he had casually walked out in front of our path extending his hand and a smile. “That’s ok, that’s ok.,” he says in response to our rejection. “My name is Carlos,” he continues, shaking Andrew’s hand and looking at me. “Are you two honeymooners?”
“Nope, married almost ten years,” Andrew responds and starts to walk.
“Really?” says Carlos, “You look so young!” By this time, Carlos is shaking my hand, and standing in my path; Andrew couldn’t leave me behind. Before we know it, Carlos is telling Andrew what he needs to say to me (in Spanish) every morning to keep us married. “Repeat after me!”…something about beautiful and love of his heart and whatnot. And then of course that isn’t enough, he must teach me what to say to Andrew, too. 20 minutes in, and the whole process is going according to Carlos’s plan.
By the time we are done, Carlos has us signed up to go to a timeshare pitch at a fancy golf course resort, a free round of golf, and a free zip line excursion. I cannot believe this. Andrew and I do not play golf (well), and we don't want a timeshare. For that matter, do I want to go on azip line excursion? No. See Posts re: Mexican infrastructure.
The next day, Carlos arranged a taxi to pick us up and accompanied us out to the resort. All the way there, I keep asking myself how did this happen? I console myself about the lost time by rationalizing that resorts are a part of the Cabo experience, so I should at least see what the fuss is all about. When we arrive, we find the property is beautiful. The golf course is green, landscaped with bougainvillea, agave, and all manner of flowering desert plants. The “villas” all face the ocean and the 10 acre swimming pool. Yes, you read that right. The pool is 10 acres, so you can kayak in the pool rather than the ocean. The bar is well appointed, the staff friendly, and the area quiet. No Spring-Breakers allowed here, they say. It is like a cruise ship on land, an island of vacation paradise isolated from anything that might possibly become unpleasant.
Eventually we got down to the brass tax. "Would you like a coconut margarita? Everyone who drinks a coconut margarita says 'yes'!" Our friendly salesperson explains. We were going to let them say their schpielle, say no, and get out of there.
They break out the purchase price figures, first aiming high and then giving us the “deal for just today!” All is going as expected until I look across the table and see Andrew’s face; he is actually considering the deal. The salesman leaves to give us a moment to “pow-wow”.
I lean my head toward Andrew, “Are you actually considering this?” I whisper.
He laughs and says, “Its a much better price than I ever expected. And what if the property takes off? Think of it as an investment.”
They send in a third salesman to close the deal, but he misreads us. He thinks that I want to do it, and Andrew is the hold out. He accuses Andrew of failing to commit, which I think is a brilliant sales tactic. Anyone who knows Andrew for five minutes knows that he is a man of his own will. He prides himself on his ability to commit to something. I suspect the sales guy knows this, and was trying to appeal to Andrew's sense of commitment from from the back door. But, in the end, Andrew remained committed to not committing, and we stand up to leave.
In exchange for being suckered, the golf gods smiled upon Andrew’s 9 holes, allowing him to skirt through only 18 above par. If you have ever golfed with Andrew, you know that is a great day on the course, right Brent?
And, I enjoyed rappelling and the zip line. I have no pictures to share, though. They wouldn't let me take my own, and then they tried to hustle me out of $65 to get the pictures they took. I have to draw a line somewhere.