The Ensenada Experience - My Family Travels

I don’t travel far. My vacation destinations are usually just a few gallons of gas away ranging from a two to six hour drive. It came to my surprise, then, when I found out my family’s yearly trip was to Canada. “DUDLEY DO-RIGHT!” was my initial reaction. But in a sudden turn of events, I found out that we were actually going to Mexico, not Canada, shattering my chances of ever eating bacon with greater justification. Our summer trip would be a four day Carnival cruise from southern California to Ensenada, Mexico. Even though our plans could excite only a select few of senior citizens, I actually received an unprecedented experience which would alter my perception of my life.

My story begins with a tour. After a day of cruise ship “sailing”, my family signs up for the most exhilarating activity offered from Carnival. Kayaking down rivers? No. An exciting, three-hour bus tour around Ensenada!? Yup! Lovely. My excitement lowers to a cool simmer, but I figure that it could probably be interesting to learn about this foreign place. Besides, I can’t drown in a nice, air-conditioned bus.

After strolling through a small Californian mission at the first stop, our morning tour brings us to a small Mexican flea market. Each vendor holds a plethora of trinkets, but the merchandise all appear fake for one reason or another. Diamonds should reflect. Superman doesn’t wear a mask. Nothing here seems authentic. I wouldn’t be surprised if one salesman is just a gigantic blow-up doll. Still, these vendors insist on the incredible value of their products. I am confused as to why they would lie blatantly to our faces, but I realize that this is what they do for a living, this is how they survive.

Back on the bus, our guide prepares us for the next site. He tells our tour group “We are now coming up to downtown Ensenada..”. This, I believe, should be pretty fascinating. I’ve seen downtown LA one time, and I’m sure this place will be similarly impressive. So I sit and peer out the window to anticipate what should be the enchiladas of all enchiladas. Ten minutes pass by and we’ve already finished the show that is Downtown Ensenada. “That’s… it?” I think. The sky is not filled with skyscrapers that require back flips to totally view, no, the sky is filled with just sky; the tallest buildings hold only two stories. I am looking at a mid-sized town, not a large urban business district!

We mosey on and Mr. Tour Guide (I forget his name) throws us some facts about Ensenada via rhetorical questions: “Did you know the minimum wage is five dollars a week? Did you know gas here is really cheap?” As he adds question upon question, all I hear is “Do you realize how poor this place is? Did you know that people here are poor? POOR POOR POOR?!”. This is the solidifying bonk on the head. I am slapped across the face with realization: life outside of cozy California can be unbelievably arduous. Sure, I knew places were poor, but until someone actually shoved visual proof in my face, I was oblivious to the gravity of the whole situation.

Back on the ship, I ponder about my experience. I live quite a pampered life compared to countless parts of the world. Thus, I decide to be much more appreciative of my material possession in the future. I close my thoughts with a better grasp on life, and then dig into my delicious plate of shrimp and lobster.

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