In my travels abroad I have encountered many adventures but generally no real danger. However, there was a night in a mountainous region of Mexico when I threw caution to the wind and the results could have ended in real disaster.
Our journey through Mexico had taken us from the turquoise bay and curving, white beaches of Acapulco to the picturesque, silver mining town of Taxco perched precipitously on the slopes of the Sierra Madre Mountains. The views from our hotel were enchanting and ecstatically we strolled the cobble stoned streets enjoying our first taste of the real Mexico.
Absorbing the ambience of the main square or Xocalo, we stopped to listen enthusiastically when a young Mexican in a small corner stall asked for a few “momentos” to explain the tour he was offering. “Senor, Senora, have you seen the Yucatan flyers here in Old Mexico?” he asked. “We offer you an evening of fun and entertainment.”
Here was something I truly was interested in and so, without even thinking of the consequences, we immediately purchased the tickets he offered. As promised, the taxi arrived at our hotel at 6:00p.m., just as the sun was setting over the western peaks of the high Sierras. Night falls quickly in the tropics and, by the time we had travelled a few blocks through the town, darkness had enveloped us. Soon we left all signs of civilization behind and the road wound into the surrounding jungle.
For the first time the sense of our vulnerability hit me. I thought of people who had vanished without a trace in other Latin countries. A man we knew about, living in a rented house in Puerto Vallarta along with his whole family, disappeared from sight one day, never to be heard from again.
No one at home knew of this new addition to our itinerary. Was this a trick? Were these a group of ‘banditos’ who would murder us high in these mountains hoping to get our money and our passports? Beads of sweat broke out on my forehead. I moved closer to my husband and took his hand. He smiled reassuringly at me but in the small glow of light from the dashboard, I noticed his face had taken on an anxious look.
Just as panic was about to overtake me, we emerged into a clearing in the trees. Besides the outside arena where the pole for the Yucatan performers was set up, there in the middle of this jungle hideaway was a large, round building from which emanated revolving coloured lights and loud music—a Mexican disco!
Well, the show did go on—we had our evening of fun and entertainment—but the lesson I learned that night in a Mexican jungle about using discretion when travelling will never be forgotten.
Sadly from time-to-time we do hear of these disasters: a young girl on a vacation with fellow high school graduates disappears in Aruba; a passenger on a cruise ship to Alaska from Seattle is never seen again after stopping at Victoria, B.C. Just last week another cruise passenger disappeared without a trace. It happens all to often.
It pays to use common sense when travelling as it does in our own cities. There are areas in Vancouver that I would never walk through—day or night. So when you on vacation, be adventurous as you like, but be sensible about it. You want to arrive home safely with both yourself and all those holiday pictures intact.