Working Cabo's Timeshare System

We walked down the beach, worldly possessions on back, shoes dangling from hands, ever so southbound. We'd just spent the past couple nights camped on the beaches near Los Barriles, a small town in Southern Baja, in sight now was Cabo San Lucas, the very bottom of the peninsula.

We'd heard Cabo was a tourist town of the spring break variety, Mexico's other Cancun. Being that our travel style had been one of few pesos and beach camping, we weren't expecting much more than a quick exploration by day to see the place and an exit before nightfall, get back to our desert camping more modest roaming about.


We kept moving down the beach, eventually making our way back up the embankment making our own trails to get up to the highway again where we could catch a ride. It didn't take long once we hit the highway, a Canadian was heading to the airport south of town and gave us a ride to the junction. From there we contemplated where the hell we actually were, figured it out, stuck our thumbs out and caught a ride from a sort of shuttle van which got us to San Jose del Cabo and into some busy inner city streets.

We lucked out next, thinking we'd have to walk a ways to get to a more wide open hitchable spot, instead getting scooped up quickly by a couple young Mexican girls who managed to pull over and make room for us in the backseat alongside their little son. They were headed to their home in Cabo San Lucas just a short drive away at this point.

They'd done some hitchhiking and traveling around Mexico themselves, we got along straight away. Bridget and I began inquiring about beaches, really about anywhere in or around town suitable for tucking away and camping on the stealth. They made some suggestions to this end, but ultimately made a much better suggestion.

They had recently moved into a new house, the old one was about a week away from being rented out, therefore currently unoccupied. They offered it up to us as a crash pad while in town. Blown away, grateful, right on beat - this is the rhythm of the traveling life.

They had some things to take care of, but dropped us off in town so we could get a good wander in before heading back with them. Being travelers themselves they were aware of the simple favors that make big differences, like holding on to our packs in the car so we could wander without the weigh down. We took down a phone number and determined a rendezvous spot and time, then we were off.

Cabo was full of clubs, bars, fancy hotels and people strolling around without definitive destinations, lingering and laughing, drinking and dancing. We walked along the marina, constantly being pitched for sales from timeshares to cigars, cigar boxes opened to false bottoms for marijuana, fishing trips, snorkeling adventures, everything a sales pitch.

A beer was in order, this much was certain. Our wander became a mission, finding the perfect spot to sip a beer without burning up too many pesos. We found a little outdoor spot where we could take care of this need for beer while also satisfying the taco craving that had bubbled up in our meandering. The place had the added bonus of wifi, all at once we caught up on messages and remedying our empty stomachs in the relaxing Cabo air.

We got to talking to a couple next to us at the bar, they'd been coming down for years. They were interested in hearing of our journey down, we were excitedly listening to there experiences in Cabo. By the end of their drinks, plus the shots of tequila they shared with us, they left us with a "Welcome to Cabo!", as they got the bartenders attention one last time and insisted on covering our taco and beer bill.

Continually amazed, and now slightly buzzed, we further settled into the bliss as we sipped down the remainder of our pint glasses. A next door frozen yogurt spot had been in our view from the bar, developing a new craving of it's own. Having been spared the pesos on the beer and tacos, we decided we could shift it to a cool treat to cap it all before meeting up with the girls.

The frozen yogurt shop yielded the same sort of magic that had been weaved into the day, the friendly guy let us load up about three or four times as much goodness than our pesos were worth after swapping some stories with him, once again leaving us with the parting words, "Welcome to Cabo!"

We made our way back to the meeting point, same as where they dropped us off, next to an information booth. We got to talking to the information guys, timeshare sellers really. The girls who'd picked us up, Danny and Jessica, used to work for the timeshare industry and had given us the rundown. Essentially you sat through a presentation, then got free stuff. We got signed up for one that would be the next morning.

We waited a while and eventually the girls turned up, we hopped in and headed back to the house they were currently living in. We talked and talked while they loaded us up with chips and salsa they'd made themselves, quesidillas, fruit, coffee and baloney sandwiches, just everything. The chips and salsa was part of their new gig, they sold them down by the marina where they were working at a little outdoor bar by the cruise liner port of entry.

It got a little later and they drove us over to the empty house, showed us what was what and said they be there in the morning to take us to the resort for our timeshare tomfoolery. Soon Bridget and I were alone, a house to ourselves in Cabo San Lucas with grand plans of tomorrows. This would not be the couple hour pass through and split we'd anticipated.

Danny picked us up the next morning and we headed for the resort. She gave us the rundown on the way, letting us know what to expect and so forth, then dropped us off at the gate. A guard called ahead for us and we went to the office to get all checked in. We had our story all spun up: we were honeymooning rich folk thinking of getting a sweet little spot in Cabo, currently staying at the Cabo Villas (some other swank resort to give us a sort of legitimacy). We'd learn a lot in this first timeshare go around, but this was us jumping in for the first time, eager to cash in on a free sunset booze cruise for sitting through it all.

Jim came and sat down with us, our guide and salesman. Shmoozy talk to the max, we acted well to do and professional, it was a goofy scene. The pattern began like it would in the days to come. We immediately headed for the breakfast buffet while he chatted us up. This buffet alone would have been worth the trouble, we chowed plate after plate of great food while Jim questioned us and filled out some paperwork, we overlooked the beach and the water from our table in the flashy place.

After breakfast he showed us a couple different units, well beyond our means and standard, acting the whole time like it was something we'd consider. We'd learn later to be far less interested. After showing off the rooms and facilities it was into the sell room, plenty of tables with other couples sitting with salesman showing off brochures, big rounds of applause anytime a couple actually signed the paper agreeing to buy into it all. We'd be buying into nothing, the $100,000+ income he had written next to my name on the paper was far from the accurate truth, a few dozen pesos in the pocket of the only pair of shorts I had to my name.

Upon sitting down to the table we were offered a drink, margaritas arrived as Jim had gotten down into numbers and the rest of it. He talked and talked, offers and counter offers, another round of margaritas, at a certain point stone cold silence and disinterest seemed to be the only thing that could make this stop. All told it was less than an hour, he sent us off to be checked out having not made the sale.

We talked with a guy to get checked out, only to find that he was there to make yet another offer or two, but this was much more brief and we denied it quickly. We found out this was part of the pattern with all the timeshare sells as well. Finally when that guy gave up he sent us to another room to "collect our award", we went over expecting another sales pitch, but were happy that the woman quickly gave us the info on how to collect our tickets for the sunset booze cruise for later the next night.

All told we'd spent a couple hours in the ordeal, but the big breakfast, couple margaritas and the future booze cruise made it plenty worth it. It also included a free taxi ride back to "our resort", we took the ride and then walked back to the spot where Danny picked us up to take us back to the house.

She made up another good meal for us, then we all headed to the beach. We tossed the ball around for a bit, then Bridget and I hiked along the edge of the water down to the well known point that they call Lovers Beach and Divorce Beach. It was perfect around sunset, Lovers being calm and Divorce on the other side of the point with big violent waves, unswimmable to be certain, simply beautiful all the same.

We walked around the marina again at night, talking to different timeshare people to see if we could get another good deal going on, but we ran out of time and had to get back to the meeting point before we could set another one up. Danny dropped us off at the house, we all went inside and in the backyard she shouted over the fence to a shop keeper letting her know that two Americans would dropping in to pick up some food on her tab.

We thanked her and said goodnight, she was in a hurry to get back home. We made the walk around the block and got some food for quesidillas that Bridget whipped up, filled our bellies and got another good night's sleep.

In the morning it was back to the marina, our main objective was to get setup with another timeshare. We talked with one guy and he had us all setup to sit through another presentation, our reward was set to be a snorkeling dinner cruise and sixty bucks in cash. We headed to the resort to get all checked in, but were promptly denied. Problem being that we didn't have a proper credit card. Most of the places were looking for the ideal couple with certain credentials, perfect looked like this: Over 35 years old, US citizens, married with a credit card. Bridget and I however, under 35, she's Australian, no credit card for either of us not married, although we said we were for kicks.

Seems we'd just gotten lucky the day before. Either way they said we could still check out the presentation, just that we wouldn't get the rewards. The free breakfast would be enough for us, so we agreed. We met a new salesman, a pretty chill guy who talked beer and backpacking in between the sales pitch while we scarfed down as much of the buffet as possible. We went through the whole deal, he showed us some rooms and then took us back to the sales room for the big pitch.

Once at the sales table we got our drinks and let him roll through the spiel while we listened casually. We could care less really, there was no reward to get, no way we'd be buying anything, at this point it was about chilling out and soaking up some beers for as long as it would take for them to get the point and move on to whatever the day had in store next, for everybody. An Australian woman higher up the chain of command came and sat with us for a bit, at first under the guise of country kinship with Bridget, interested in our story, but also trying to sell us all the same.

Numbers thrown around, another beer here and there, we were finally getting to their last ditch offers. She threw out some number like $150 in mentioning some monthly plan, I smiled with a bit more beer in me, laughing as I pointed to the number, "I don't even have that much money in my bank account, not even sure the last time I did".

She ducked her head into her hands taking a deep breath, "Let these two get back to their vacation", she sighed, still smiling. We grabbed another beer and were passed to the exit interview guy, which of course we already knew at this point was the true last ditch sales guy. He offered some other numbers, but again this went much quicker, soon we were back out on the marina, stomachs full and little buzz of the free beers to walk with.

We wandered along until we found Juan, another guy on the boardwalk trying to sell timeshares. We figured we'd give it one more go for the next day. He maxed it out with us as far as the rewards go, we'd be set with a $100 dinner credit at some restaurant, a lobster dinner evening cruise and a snorkeling trip cruise. The timeshare deal would be in the morning, we just hoped it would actually work.

From there we headed down the beach, I relaxed in the sand watching Bridget splash around the waves. Afterwards we slipped into a resort pool area and bombed down the water slide as many times as we could take, then rested up in the big hot tub.

We started heading back towards the marina so we could get to our sunset booze cruise. On the way we encountered yet another timeshare sales guy. We explained we were all setup, but then just got to talking. It all seemed pretty corrupt, top to bottom. Of course there was Bridget and I, acting married with no intentions of buying a damn thing. There were also guys like this one, willing to provide rings to further the fake out process, even scam the timeshares by filling out old employees tickets with fishing trips that wouldn't happen, getting agreeable tourists to bring them to the resorts and complain that the trip didn't go through and therefore get hundreds of dollars compensation that would then be split with him.

With that in mind we made out way to our free booze cruise. It was awesome, Bridget and I had downed at least three margaritas before the boat even left the dock. Down they kept going, one after another, then we were offered plates of fajitas, a substantial amount. The boat went out the Lovers and Divorce beach point, past a famous rock arch, around rocks loaded with seals, past pirate party boats and generally drifted along as the sunset, music bumping and drinks flowing.

Bridget cut out on the drinks halfway through, we'd gone fast and furious. I barely remembered getting off the boat in the electric night, just coming to in the morning with a hangover in our new temporary home. Bridget explained that I'd run all around, jumping and goofing as the typical drunken night will bring, vomiting on or near a sidewalk, professing my lack of faith in the concept of monogamy and other such things that don't necessarily impress one's significant other. It was a good night.

We got a ride to the marina in the morning where we met up with Juan. We hopped in a shuttle he set up towards San Jose del Cabo, about a half hour away, where the resort was that he'd set us up with. Unfortunately, once there, we got denied on the basis of not having a credit card. We tried to sweet talk our way in, but they also weren't keen that we couldn't prove that we were married, which made sense since we weren't.

Back we went, Juan felt bad as well, but they got us set up to go to some other resort back in Cabo San Lucas. We talked our way into a basic snorkeling trip and got started on our third and final timeshare run though. Same deal, big lunch buffet, beautiful grounds and rooms, infinity pools and the rest of it, then on to the sales room for bloody marys, pina coladas while they wasted their time trying to sell, despite us warning that they were doing so. Sent to another person, last ditch attempt, then finally signing out and getting our snorkeling ticket.

We spent the rest of the day by the beach and at the same resort we'd snuck into the day before to sit by the pool. We sipped beer and talked about what might happen once we split up, it was now just a month away from Bridget's flight out of Los Angeles back to Australia. Talk of monogamy, reuniting plans and the rest of it.

We spent one last day there in Cabo, starting with a morning of redeeming our snorkeling ticket. A boat took us out to the point along with snorkeling gear, we essentially had the day to fool around. We swam around checking out the fish, it was all together a crowded spot though, others swimming and wakes from boats buzzing around. We lounged on the beach a good deal and relaxed, bouncing between that and the water.

Eventually we flagged a boat down and caught a ride back to the marina, turned in the snorkeling gear and made our way to the bar where the girls were working. We feasted on ceviche they made, ran around with their kid and did a few other wanders around the marina for one last time.

We headed back to the house we'd been staying in where the lot of us smoked a joint, but that night we headed back to the house they were living in and stayed there for the last night in town. In the morning we'd have one last little meal and the girls dropped us off just outside of town, northbound now, ready for the last stretch of the Mexican adventure looping back up towards the States.

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