Archive | July 10, 2013

Vacation talk

CIMG1216We’ve never stayed at an all inclusive but it’s perfect for families with young kids.   But Mexico is not place you go wandering about looking for adventure.  Playa del Carmen seems pretty tame, but I can’t honestly say I saw much of it.  So I had to find ways to amuse myself.  One of those ways for me is bargaining.  Or trying to get a perk you haven’t actually paid for. Did I ever tell you I’m one of those people who send away for freebies? Oh yes in the wee hours of the night I’m dreaming of free razors and skin creams in the mail.

Hubby mentioned to the manager at check-in that our friends had stayed there twice and that’s why we came. We didn’t actually pay to upgrade our stay because with a small child it’s not like we would have really used any of the extra amenities (i.e. special cabanas to relax in on the beach, air conditioned bars with premium liquor).   I would prefer to splurge on a massage instead of perks I won’t use.  Yet our junior suite was  suddenly transferred to the “adult only”  gold section even though we only had lowly blue wristbands.  Usually I’d be impressed with the marble floor and glass doors in the bathroom but I have an active 3 yr old who loves to jump and run and you know where my mind went.  Hazard city! He had a minor spill as he ran out of the bathroom with wet feet and that was enough to teach him that mummy is not so crazy for telling him to dry his feet.

I have to say that when hubby travels, he has a way of connecting with people, particularly men.  But if I had mentioned it was my birthday, the manager he was chumming up would have thrown in a perk or two. I could barely get in a word they were chatting so much.  Man talk, you know. He has a lot to learn.  And if you haven’t noticed, in certain countries, the locals always defer to the men first.  I have money in my wallet and can buy whatever I want, but they always look at the guy when discussing money.

It’s something we always use to our advantage.  It comes in handy when you enter a marketplace where bargaining is common.  I like bargaining for things, it’s kind of fun and we really developed a system when we visited Bali many years ago.  I go in with the soft, sweet approach, never actually touching anything lest I be cornered into starting to bargain for it.  Never browse without the intention to buy something.  It’s such a hassle to say no to people who are depending on tourists for their livelihood.  I start with something I don’t like.  For example, I don’t care for knicknacks, but I do like silver jewellery.  And I also know how much I’m willing to lose if something is fake or a turns my wrist green.  Unless you’re buying from a reputable dealer, the 925 symbol on silver doesn’t guarantee quality. We stopped at a cart.  I pick up something I don’t really want or like that much.  For someone else.  Just browsing, really.  And then see how the bargaining goes.  And then I chat about the weather or what lovely things they carry.  Then while holding up said undesired piece I ask about something closer to what I really want, ever so casually. The one that’s definitely more expensive.  (I have no idea if I’m actually fooling anyone.)  They’ll throw in a significant discount if you buy more than one item.  Also, they think that if you get away you will buy the same or similar item further into the marketplace if you visit another shop or stall.   If it’s not satisfactory, I say I’ll come back later, which then is hubby’s cue to move away and since the vendor assumes he has the buying power decision, they go after him and then we finally get to the bottom price.  But don’t insult people with absurdly low counter offers, in fact, I rarely mention a price unless it’s the limit of what I’ll pay.  Insulting people just pisses them off and you walk away with nothing.  Everyone has their own pride to consider.

I only did this for a silver bracelet as it was the only thing I really liked and wanted for my birthday.  I got it for $50 which is what I spend at Starbucks in 5 weeks, though he started at $150 and no, it hasn’t turned my wrist green yet. I bought souvenirs later for friends in a one stop shop just for speed’s sake while hubs was at the beach with the kid, but frankly, there was nothing there you can’t get here for the same or cheaper price in Canadian (except tequila).

I also spoke Spanish (really badly of course) but people always seem to appreciate the effort.  And Boo was pretty good at saying Ola and Gracias. He was disappointed to not see Dora the Explorer.   Or Diego for that matter. I told him they were visiting another town.