editor’s note: People’s Guide correspondent Jeff O’Brien sent us the following piece with many guilty caveats. “Do you think it’s too negative?” he asked, adding, “I feel bad saying anything bad about Mexico.” It’s OK, Jeff. We all feel your pain.
Psst! There is something I DON’T Like About Mexico.
It’s easy to tell people why I love Mexico. The reasons come so fast and easy and are so oft repeated they have become clichés. Answers easily given without any need for critical thought. They just have to be listed off. No explanation or context is necessary. Truth be told, I’ve been asked the question so many times it becomes a little off putting and I just tell people what I know they will want to hear.
The sun. The beach. The food. Easygoing people. Partying. (Woo hoo.) The answers come easily. Too easily.
So just to clarify things in my own mind and as an exercise to see if I’m in a rut, I’m going to change tack and tell people something I DON’T like about Mexico. It seems like a small thing, but it’s a big thing. It’s where I spend a third or more of my time in Mexico.
In bed. More to the point, in a Mexican bed.
They look so inviting. After hours of flying to get to Mexico there they are. All clean and fresh and draped in beautiful covers… Like sirens, they beckon this weary traveler.
Come to us Jason, hear our song…
How many times have I collapsed into a Mexican hotel bed, feeling flushed after a wonderful day in a country I love? How many times have I woken up feeling like I have been kicked in the kidneys or lain down on topes while a group of rugby players played a friendly over me? The best way to describe it: I feel as if I have spent the night lying on a hump that runs from one side of the bed to the other.
I slide to the edge of the bed, pull myself to a seated position, and then with great effort, lift myself up. Back, arched, I look across the room and I wonder if during the night I was drugged? That bathroom was ten paces away the night before and now it’s at least fifty. No, a hundred! I’ll need a bottle of water with me for the journey. Will the hotel staff find me if I don’t make it?
Ow ow ow grunt, groan snap, crackle, pinch ow ow ow. I trudge to the bathroom. I get to the bathroom. I reach down, grab my leg and pull it up over the red, tile step. I drag my other leg over the step, bracing myself in the doorframe. I do my business and return to get dressed, still about as mobile and limber as Robocop.
The physicality of getting dressed loosens me up somewhat and by the time I get out in the street, I feel the sun on my face and want to shout out with joy. Hey world, it’s me and I’m out of that bed!!!
I’ve stayed in the cheapest Mexican family hotels on unfinished floors where steel rebar and exposed pipes wait to ambush gringos. I have stayed in resorts so posh that the hardworking staff spend hours on hands and knees cleaning off palm-sized stones by the walkways. In all cases I can honestly say …
I don’t like Mexican hotel beds.
I know that wood is not as widely used in Mexican construction as it is where I come from. And I’m fine with that. I love iron chairs and tables and I appreciate how many buildings can be so cool with their cement nature. But the hotel beds? Invariably they are concrete pads with a single mattress.
I’ve slept great on couches and in hammocks and I have slept like a log on the beach. Okay, a drunken, sun-blasted log but still a log. But in all honesty, painful as it is, I have to say something negative about Mexico.
I don’t like Mexican hotel beds.