Letters to the editor
What is it like to run a hotel on a beautiful white sand beach in the Riviera Maya, Mexico? On our first day, the hotel’s only employee had the day off, so we began our chores. There were some similarities to running the Learning Tree, like the cleaning jobs, assisting with minor injuries and being available to help solve problems, except that the inhabitants were older!
We soon discovered we were out of water, and propane! Not to worry, the water truck was down the street. Lou went to town to search out the propane supplier. Next, no clean sheets! We dug out some we had brought along and figured out how the hotel laundry was being done.
As you can see, we were never transitioned from hotel guest to manager. This was the start of the peak season, so our day was filled with one backpacker after another inquiring about cabanas to rent or reserve for future nights. When Pepe, the employee, returned the next day, I had prepared a script or training program in cabana cleaning in my best Spanish and together we tackled the much-needed task of cleaning the kitchen, communal bathrooms, and vacated rooms.
Lou and I also prepared job descriptions for each of us. Now, I laugh at the thought of this and what Pepe thought of his new bosses. Soon we found out! At mid-day he left with the money from the cash drawer we had given him and went to the old owner and said he quit. He returned the money with the exclusion of $15, his wages for a whole day of work. We both realized his position had changed: the restaurant was no longer open (he had been the host,cook, waiter, and dishwasher), he was taking orders from foreigners and a woman in particular, and the job of “guest relations manager” was no longer available.
With only six rooms in the hotel, Lou and I found the tasks a welcoming challenge. There was always something needing be repaired or a solution needed for some situation. Lou was well skilled and had brought along $5,000 worth of tools, so he was prepared for any challenge.
We delighted in meeting each guest from far-off places like Israel, Italy, Ireland, Austria, S. Africa, New Zealand, England, Norway, Sweden, Canada, Germany, Bulgaria, Poland, France, Switzerland, Denmark, USA and a couple from Slovakia who had worked in Vail the past winter. English became our common language, so our knowledge of Spanish did not grow as rapidly as we had hoped.
Our bikes became our companions for exploring the ruins, beaches, cenotes, jungles and back streets of Tulum. We found out with each discovery there was so much more to the Yucatan Peninsula than we had ever imagined. Daily trash pickup on the beach in front of our property and the neighboring area was a task we took great pride in. People on the beach stopped us often to say thanks, ask why, or reply, “You must be Americans.”
Another of our projects during this period was to try to domesticate Nike, the backyard dog. When he began to mark his territory inside our casita, out he went! We ran with him on the beach and he made friends with all but two Mexican brothers living nearby. They had a vendetta for each other that were stronger than our desire to turn Nike into a pet. What happened one day on one of our early morning puppy dog walks is a story too long to tell, but it convinced us that their safety was at stake. When the police visited us for the second time, we felt comfortable saying that Nike would no longer be a problem on the beach, as he had moved to town with Victor.
With each day’s efforts and approval from the new owners from Boulder, we upgraded the rooms and hotel grounds and took great pleasure in being able to keep the hotel full with happy guests who had become friends. November and December days were glorious on the Tulum beachfront with the exception of a few days when some unwanted black bugs blowing from the jungle made life outdoors very unpleasant. But there is always shopping and restaurant exploring on these kinds of days.
Operating the hotel kept us busy and our minds off of the incessant waiting for a reply for the ogre of the Yucatan, the Sermanat. Our NEW project coordinator submitted another package with minor changes, including changing the name from Villa Mariposa to Casa Rosario (Rosario being the original Mexican property owner). We were told we’d have an answer by Jan. 10. They felt it was a slam dunk. We were approached several times by Mexican buyers who offered double what we had paid the prior year, but we both agreed: No se vende. We had gone too far to let our dream slip away now.
Daily we see structures pop up along the beach despite all the “No’s” we were told about building in this environmentally sensitive area. “The opposite side of the beach road can’t be built on, as it is a preserve for animals and plants.” But among other things a Mexican is building a restaurant and Mayan cultural center across the street from us with only a permit to build a wall. “The dunes are sacred and can’t be touched.” The hotel down the beach works at night digging out the dunes to build a beach bar, carrying wheelbarrows full of sand to the sea to dump. Unfortunately, the sand included trash, as they used to bury their seaweed mixed with beach trash. Lou took this on as a special project to approach the owners and the good part is they have stopped and cleaned up the beach, and have been shut down by some agency. But the bad part is they are not our best friends!
The correct definition of a stereotype is “a conventional, formulaic and oversimplified conception, opinion or image.”
This is exactly what Marty Lich and Frosty Wooldridge portrayed in their recent commentary, “Vail Valley’s Illegal Invasion.” I am surprised that the Vail Daily even prints this type of writing.
I can understand that many things have changed due to the recent immigration wave, but I do not agree with many misconceptions about all immigrants living in the valley. Accusing us of having hepatitis, tuberculosis and other diseases, living in a trailer with 20 people, and committing crimes basically is not true and is very disturbing to me.
I would like to see what would happen to the valley if all of us immigrants went back to Mexico and left the jobs we are currently in. I guarantee it would not be good. Regardless of everything mentioned in the column, immigrants do pay taxes, help the economy and basically run all the jobs that obviously are not filled by other people.
Lich and Wooldridge failed to mention anything about the people that are actually hiring illegals. Without them working for them, maybe they would be the ones living in a trailer with 20 people.
Next time either of them writes another column, it would be nice if they would not stereotype all immigrants under one false opinion.