In Spring 2007 I published an essay called “The Low Season” in The Cimarron Review. It’s the story of how my wife and I paid for a month in Puerto Vallarta with money we made by attending timeshare presentations. This is the tenth and final installment. To start reading from the beginning, scroll down. For more about Kate and my Mexican travels, click HERE.
The Low Season
Part Ten: El Fin
The Mayan Palace doesn’t let you go without a fight. It’s not like you say no and everyone instantly breaks character, the confetti comes raining down, and two plastic, Price-Is-Right models slide out from behind a curtain to hand you a giant check. You don’t say no just once; you’ve got to drive the point home like a railroad spike.
Say no to Steve, then you wrangle with his boss, who explains the whole deal again in painstaking detail, down to the food pyramid and the Mayan calendar-looking chart thing. Did Steve explain that you can sell your extra weeks? And you know about the golf packages?
Disarm the bossman with a string of no-no-nos, and you’re steered outside to a lush, trellised veranda, where you’re force-fed more coffee, then left alone to quietly contemplate your flawed decision.
After fifteen minutes, a third sales guy comes out. Steve’s boss’s boss. El motherfucking Jefe. He looks like the other two, but older, balder. He runs through the particulars yet again. You do understand that this is a money making opportunity, correct? What if I were to tell you that just for today we were running a special?
No the big boss to death and you’re almost home. All that’s left is a half-hearted spiel from the guy who’s trying to unload the pre-owned units. These suites here are just like new, but at half the price, see? You and I both know you can afford one of these.
Finally you convince him that he can’t say anything that will change your mind. Nothing. Nada. No.
“Walk through that door over there,” he says, slumping ever-so-slightly. “They’ll get you your money.”
And that’s where the five-star hospitality ends.
In the business office, you’re scowled at by a woman who’s BMV-grade surly. She opens the cash drawer and counts out seven 500-peso notes, almost wincing as she hands them over, as if it were her own personal money. She doesn’t say Thank you or Goodbye. She doesn’t point you to the exit. You’re left to wander the lobby in search of the driveway where you last saw Eyder.
When you walk through the front doors and into the Pacific sun, even the bellhops and valets seem vaguely disappointed in you. Nobody blows a whistle to hail you a cab, so you wave toward the line-up of blue and white Nissans. As the taxi circles the driveway, you reach into your wallet, hoping you have enough small bills to get back to Old Town. You didn’t realize you’d be paying for the ride home.
Kate and I squeeze into the cab, and I’m regretting what might have been, heavy with non-buyer’s remorse. But the magnetic pull of the Mayan Palace is weakened with every mile the taxi puts between it and us. When we jerk to a stop at the simple and charming and 99% cockroach-free Estancia San Carlos, it seems ridiculous that I was so tempted—ridiculous because it wasn’t the condos themselves that had seduced me. It wasn’t the 1,200 thread-count linens or the brushed-aluminum fridge and granite countertops. The luxury isn’t what I wanted. That stuff is just fabric. Just metal and rock. Sure, I suppose I wished we could afford the Mayan Palace, but what I really wanted was to say no to it. I wanted to walk away convinced that Kate and I didn’t need a swank timeshare to validate our lives.
But I didn’t say no. Kate did. She stuck to the plan. She did the job.