The tiny Mexican house had no finished exterior. Just bare bricks and mortar. At first I thought it was still under construction, but when a woman and a little girl stepped out, I realized that a family was living there. Through the open door, I could see a white plastic table and a couple of plastic chairs. The yard consisted of dirt and a few cacti.
We ended up in the small, dusty Mexican town on Thursday, when we took the wrong exit off the highway on our way from the airport to Cabo San Lucas. Instead of going straight to the posh resort, we witnessed poverty in Mexico.
We also witnessed death. On the highway, numerous roadside signs implored drivers to fasten their seat belts, keep their distance, drive carefully and avoid driving when tired.
As far as I could tell, there was no explicit warning about drunk driving, but the roadside was littered with empty beer bottles. It was also marked with crosses: simple, wooden crosses adorned with flowers. Later that day, the hotel concierge explained that the crosses were placed by grieving family members in memory of people who died in car accidents.
Many of these roadside crosses are lovingly maintained by family members for many years: the cross in the photo is nearly ten years old.
We saw at least 20 crosses during a 10-kilometer (6 mile) drive. This is hardly surprising. Those very long and scary ten kilometers on a Mexican highway taught us that many local drivers drive as though they have a death wish. Add to that the bad roads, no lighting and drunk driving, and the results are devastating.
Once we realized our mistake, we turned back and headed to Cabo San Lucas. It was a good weekend, filled with beautiful images of the picturesque beach, the carefree laughter of children playing in the pool, huge margaritas, great seafood and some serious pampering at the resort’s spa. But I couldn’t shake off the nagging guilt. My thoughts often wandered to the little brick house and to those awful roadside crosses. The contrast between the posh, well-manicured resort and the tough reality of the locals is absolutely mind blowing.