Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Baja Ha Ha

We just returned from a nice family vacation in Cabo, something I'd been both dreading and excited about for weeks. Of course, I was ready to leave the drizzle and fog and get to some nicer weather and enjoy homemade tortillas and fresh seafood. But I was worried about the travel and couldn't get the image of Dylan screaming non-stop on a four hour flight while the rest of the passengers all glared and judged us from their cramped seats.

It didn't go down like that, and we learned that Dylan enjoys airplanes and prefers the company of total strangers over the safety of her parents. The stewardesses were the first to snatch her up, breaking all Patriot Act laws by letting Dylan pilot the plane. Next came the immigration officers and airport employees. "Hola chica," they smiled. Dylan would look up from her stroller, arms extended, and they'd pick her up and show her how the metal detectors work and let her play with the drug sniffing dogs.

And so we learned, in a hurry, the advantages of traveling with a baby in a country that adores babies. The first real test came as we tried to get in to Mexico. We didn't give it much thought when the stewardess told us that if we didn't fill out our immigration forms properly, we'd have to start over and go to the back of the line. Frazzled from collecting toys, backpacks, and, oh yeah, Dylan, from the plane, we forgot to sign the forms. Even Dylan needed her "signature." I thought I'd do something funny, like write her name with my left hand and make the N backwards, but then promptly forgot. So, when we finally got to the serious man who was checking the forms, he rolled his eyes and sent us away. I knew we were doomed to the back of the line, which now extended out to the runway, but, one smile from Dylan and we were ushered back to the front. And, despite the fact that we all three signed our forms on the wrong line, the official just shrugged, as in, "Close enough," and waved us through. Yes! We passed the first test.

Next, we had to gather our luggage, run it through the x-ray machines, walk through the metal detectors, and then press a button. If the light turned green, we were free to go, unmolested and unhassled. In our last two trips to Cabo, the light has turned green every time. I knew our luck was running thin. Regina was the first through and sure enough, she pressed the button and BAM, the light turned red. Red means an entire staff peruses through your luggage. Red means a full body cavity search. Red means an interrogation that may include water-boarding. Red means a long time in the airport. Dylan must have sensed this with her keen awareness skills and immediately began crying. Hard. The rough-neck crew who was putting on their rubber gloves in anticipation of a gringo shakedown saw the crying baby and the joy drained from their eyes. They didn't speak; one of the jefes just waved us on. "But it's red," I protested. Regina pinched me and I started crying.

This blog was originally intended to be a day by day account of all the trials and hilarity that ensues while traveling in Mexico with a baby. But, I learned, Cabo is baby-friendly, and life at at resort isn't too exciting. I could have written pages about my water volleyball game when I and a bunch of people I didn't know beat a team of people I didn't know, and I won a free drink. Or the time we walked into town and bought a t-shirt. Yeah, I know, it's edge-of-your-seat excitement. A real page turner. We had no crazy tequila nights with Sammy Hagar; no wake-up-in-the-sand mornings. Really, not much to report on, especially daily.

Did we miss the wild side of Cabo? Not really. Although Regina and I would push Dylan past Cabo Wabo and I'd peer in with anxious eyes and wonder, anyone topless yet? Or we'd stroll past Squid Roe and Regina would lick her lips and mumble something about running in for a quick jello shot. But, we avoided the bars and consequently had clear-headed mornings and early to bed evenings and the the only vomit came from Dylan when she swallowed too much pool water.

Despite the lack of wild late night parties, Cabo with Dylan was great. Why? 'Cause Mexicans love babies. Flat out. We'd caught a glimpse of it in the airport, but we accredited it mostly to tired employees wanting to get the tourists through as quickly as possible. But the fact came to light downtown. Waiting in line in the coffee shop? Cut right in, sir. Yes, you with the beautiful baby. Security at the airport on the way home? I could have had a Cuban cigar behind my ear and a pistola in my backpack, as long as Dylan smiled at the security ladies.

And smile she did. Somewhere between crying her way through security and the car ride into town, Dylan realized that Cabo was her own pageant parade and she was the Grand Marshall. In the room with her "uncool" parents, life sucked. Booooring. She fussed and moaned and wanted out. Outside the room -- belle of the ball. She waved and cooed and made funny noises. We heard the phrase, "What a happy baby," at least a thousand times. Which, of course, made Regina and I smile and nod while we each thought, "Who?"

And so it was. Our first big vacation with Dylan. We're home, back to work and enjoying the Christmas season. And now, when Dylan and I go into the bakery in Etna for a mid-morning snack of donuts and coffee, we cut right to the front of the line. Old habits, I guess.

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