Imagine my surprise when I awoke from my blind night landing to find that I was docked at the feet of a ginormous sprawling hotel complex — the Grand Isla Navidad Resort. To quote: “it is set on palm-lined beachfront grounds amid lush hills, this high-end resort in a sprawling, Spanish Colonial-style lodging.”
More succinctly, it is an anachronism in rural Mexico.
The first order of business was to learn the icons for the men’s and the woman’s rooms… a bit sexist, but I got the idea.
Barra de Navidad was named on 25 December 1540, and I felt like it was Christmas morning. Once again I am living in two Barra’s — one upscale with the amenities (and prices) of a five-star resort, including a marina full of maga-yachts.
Here there are no “two for one” margarita signs, guests seem formal and aloof, the flora is colorful, the decor is elegant, and one listens quietly to the hotel piano player play classical music during the dinner hour. However the amenity I appreciate more than any other is the fast Internet.
The marina is equally up-scale.
There is no geographic blending these two worlds. The town of Barra Navidad (called Barra) is across a narrow channel and you can only get there via water taxi. A three-minute ride and a 30 peso round trip fare gets you to a world away.
Here “two for one” margarita signs are at every local tiki bar and one watches the sunset and later listens to Beatles music played by an expat from the 60’s on guitar.
I spent this delightful evening of music, margaritas, and friendship with the Banyon family.
I am privileged to live happily in both these two juxtaposed worlds — as different as day and night. When I have a chance to sip champagne in a five-star resort I relish the elegance. But I love even more wandering through Barra where the store fronts are open, the margaritas and music are authentic, and the smiles of locals and “gringos” mixing are everywhere.
I once championed Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) who broke the economic apartheid in South Africa (and spent 27 years in prison for it). But as far as I can tell, everyone seems to be at peace with the dual economic order here. And it is no longer my watch, so I care less and less about the drama of nations and avoid thinking too deeply about such matters. To be in full disclosure, I am going to admit something I once thought I would never say: it’s not on my watch, and I don’t give a s***.
A month in Mexico changes a person (as you can see it might). You gradually see the folly of what once mattered.
I have given up my passion for the drama of nations and my judgment on the economics of these two vastly contrasting worlds. Now I just watch the timeless sea roll it, wait to see a green flash, thank the gods for this day, and enjoy my 50 peso margaritas.