Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Greetings from Puerto Vallarta. (Where my "all inclusive" resort charges a peso per minute for the internet, so I´ve got to type fast.)

Travel tip for Puerto Vallarta -- and, honestly, why this isn´t in Wikipedia I´ll never know -- the little weasels who try to sell you time shares are IN THE FREAKIN AIRPORT. They are, in fact, licensed by the freakin airport.

I explain: We get off the plane. We go through immigration. We go through customs (where, due to an amusing miscommunication, the agent thought my friend was smuggling a chicken in her luggage), and then "Welcome to Puerto Vallarta!"

I pre-booked transportation to the hotel. I had a receipt that told me to look for "Timon Tours." Once we exit customs, there´s guys standing there, wearing airport badges, asking you what tour company you are looking for. I say Timon Tours. He says "This way" and takes us over to a lady at the counter. She asks to see my reservation. I give it to her. She says the bus will come in 20 minutes and will be a 45 minute ride to the hotel, because it will have many stops on the way. In the meantime, she offers to give us valuable information such as where to get money exchanged, and what tours to take.

I eventually notice that she is wearing a badge that says "Paradise Village" on it (not "Timon Tours.") I also am very concerned that she has taken custody of my reservation. My friend (who was not wearing her glasses) did not catch on to this as quickly as I did, so kept asking questions about different tours to take.

The lady is missing a brochure for one of the tours. She starts looking for a piece of paper to write the number on. I tell her to use the back of my reservation. This guarantees that she has to give it back to us. Ha.

Eventually, Paradise Village lady swoops in for the kill. All the tours we want add up to $500, but if we agree to sit through a 1-hour no pressure (right) sales presentation at Paradise Village, she´ll do it for $200. Um, no. We start to walk away (reservation now in hand).

She´ll throw in massages for each of us. Still no.

She tries wheedling instead. She´s on commission. She knows we´ll sign up with SOMEONE for a time share presentation later in our trip -- can´t we please go with her since she gave us all this valuable information? No a third time.

We leave that room and enter the actual airport. The guy from Timon Tours has been waiting there for us. With a car, that takes us directly to our hotel. (No stops. No 45 minutes.)

Apparently, we got off easy. With some of the guests, she convinces them to take her "free taxi" instead of the "45 minute bus ride" -- and, not surprisingly, the taxi just HAPPENS to deliver you to Paradise Village.

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