Spring break: A little common sense needed if you know someone with some

Hey, it’s party time!

Those words once made my ears perk up and had my mouth already tasting the keg beer before it ever got tapped. I still like parties, but I prefer ones in which a little sanity prevails. Even though my friends and I talk a good game about it, I am afraid the days are over of our sitting on the roof and watching the sofa — shot to hell with semi-automatic gunfire — burn in a big blaze of bonfire glory.

The big Spring Break destinations were never really my shot of tequila. About the closest I ever came to that was sharing a room with about eight or nine other guys and girls in a room we named “Motel Hell” during a 4th of July weekend in Galveston. I suppose  it was a fun outing with the exception of the incident in which a comment I made about a friend’s then-girlfriend that was not for public consumption apparently was consumed by said friend’s then-girlfriend. To this day, from what I gather, she still won’t talk to me. I don’t know why. I just happened to make the remark while another friend and I were driving off to the store in his Blazer that the aforementioned girl was beginning to get a bit of a large tush. Ah, youthful indiscretions — at almost the age of 30.

Not visiting the Spring Break hot spots then, some 25 years ago, such as Daytona, Padre Island and even Galveston, could be chalked up to my status as a “non-traditional” college student. Spending four years in the Navy and a year only working put me in university classes at age 25. I worked full-time and attended classes full-time. I also had received the GI Bill and had something many college students did not — a salary. I would usually take off work as a firefighter during Spring Break and go somewhere, but I would prefer going to visit out-of-town friends and staying with them. We still spent money and partied like it was 1999, which didn’t come for another 14 years or so. None of the vacations really stood out. They were all good.

College students today face a lot “buzz kills” we didn’t back then. The drinking age during most of my time in school was 18, until they raised it to 21 once again and forever. That doesn’t mean college students will go drink-less in places like Padre Island or Galveston. But all kinds of police enforce all kinds of laws today. If you are under 21 you might not go to jail for being caught with a brew but could get a ticket  — and a ride to jail if you are drunk and/or sass the LEOs. You can’t even drink on the beaches in Galveston except for East Beach. That is why the Bolivar beaches have flourished with the exception of  when Hurricane Ike hit and up until the time that the area recently began to rebuild.

Then there is that whole “Mexico thing.” I refer to the violence, the majority of which is blamed on drug cartels. The U.S. State Department issued a warning to travelers last year. Just recently the Texas Department of Public Safety issued their own warning.

“Our safety message is simple,” said DPS Director Stephen C. McCraw, “Avoid traveling to Mexico during Spring Break and stay alive.”

Didn’t I say “buzz kill?” But with good reason, at least according to authorities. More than 30,000 people have died in drug violence since 2006. More than 2,600 were killed in  Ciudad Juarez during 2009 alone. Also, while most of the violence has occurred in northern Mexico, there have been instances of serious crime elsewhere.

Mexico’s tourism agency says come on in, the water’s fine. Many of the more tourist-bound destinations are safe, the Consejo de Promocion Turistica Web site infers. One can link on that page to a number of flight and hotel packages to locations across Mexico. Four days in Cozumel beginning at $1,000 or Puerto Vallarta for as low as $840.

On the other hand, the Texas DPS said 65

A Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission agent writes a citation for something or other during Spring Break at South Padre Island

Americans were killed in drug violence last year in Mexico. However, an analysis of overseas traffic accidents that was compiled by USA Today shows almost 690 Americans were killed in Mexico car crashes and more than 20,000 injured between 2003 and 2010.  Divided among those years that would account for almost 90 U.S. deaths per year.

Not to belabor the point but there are areas of Mexico clearly dangerous and driving in Mexico has always been a dicey situation. It is unfair to generalize, especially for a culture you only know snippets of relatively speaking, but the expression !si dios quiere ! which roughly means “If God wills it” is embedded in the minds of  more than one Mexican driver. Then combine that with the American expression “get the hell out of my way” and you can have a major culture clash if not a nasty and perhaps fatal car crash.

One may also say there are a number of places where one should exercise caution visiting  in the United States. At the very least there are sections of places in the United States that one should perhaps avoid. Fortunately, most of those places don’t have a beach and a bunch of half nekkid, hormone-charged kids swilling beer like it was the night before prohibition began.

Common sense should rule Spring Break decisions before and after. And I should have a million dollars. But those decisions don’t always involve common sense and I am short by just about a million. I don’t know who I am saying it to, myself being a 55-year-old man who crackles when he walks from arthritis but I was a young college student once and thus can spill more useless information than one would ever care to know. So if any college age folks are out there, I just say be careful, have a good time and stay clear of all known hazards.

If you have found a spelling error, please, notify us by selecting that text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.