Foreign Dispatch: A Most Distracting Venue

By FOX News Radio Senior National Correspondent Rich Johnson at the G20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico

When you cover the President of the United States, you tend to get ‘in the weeds’ – so focused on the events, the intrigue and the ceremony you don’t see anything else. But when you cover the President in a place like Los Cabos, Mexico, things change. Such was the case for my three days covering the G20 Summit, starting with the ride from the airport.

Security was very, very tight for the gathering of leaders from all over the world. Checkpoints where positioned all along the road to the resort area. But once I arrived at the resort…

…things got a lot more hospitable.

There are some two dozen resorts in Los Cabos, most of them American-friendly, family-friendly all inclusive facilities. One daily price gets you a room, every meal, every drink (including alcohol) and access to the beach, the pools, the exercise rooms and more.

This is great if you’re on vacation. This is not so great if you’re trying to pay attention to every subtle nuance uttered by the President, his people and the other world leaders.

Adding to the distraction for some of my colleagues: rooms literally in the pools.

The ground floor rooms at the Barcello Resort open to a patio, which leads to a ‘water patio’: lounge chairs sitting in six inches of water, which then drops off into four feet of pool along the wing.

However, my job is not to wade in the pool, but to monitor developments at the Summit…

…which I do next to Fox Business News Correspondent Rich Edson. We’re sitting in a conference room with our network radio and TV colleagues awaiting words from our President.

But there is some time for socializing…

…Like the off-the-record dinner with White House press folks at a very good (and very expensive, I found out after the fact) restaurant in nearby Cabo San Lucas. I would tell you what we talked about…

…but it was OFF THE RECORD!

Back at the filing center, we ate very well… including this interesting take on sushi:

That’s a hunk of pineapple surrounded by nori and rice, with a thin slice of strawberry on top. Very, very tasty!

By now you’ve notice that I’ve shared everything about the Summit, except the Summit. That was the big challenge for me in my first overseas White House assignment since leaving the beat two years ago. The last time I was in Mexico was with President Bush, but it was just a one-night stay with a busy day complicated by actual news.

This G20 Summit contained very little news, just a lot of positive-sounding statements about taking ‘bolder steps’ to right the world’s ailing economies.

Our most exciting news-related event was noting the body language of Presidents Obama and Putin in their joint statement event.

That’s Fox News Channel producer Sarah Courtney preserving Putin’s scowl for her own permanent record.

Despite the lack of news, there was no lack of reporting, which can be exhausting!

NBC’s Chuck Todd grabbed a nap, but he had a good excuse. Chuck brought his family along for a post-Summit vacation. His two young children certainly brought their own high energy to the room. But the Todd family may be on to something.

Unlike many of the very nice places we get to visit, Los Cabos might be worth my own money some day. And there are plenty of places to stay in the area, but not all of them are family-friendly… unless you’re trying to make a family.

‘Desire’ is the resort right next to ours, advertising ‘Couples Only – Clothing Optional’. I was unable to personally verify those claims, thanks to the opaque fences and high walls around the facility.

Thanks to its location, Los Cabos has not been touched by the violence that has plagued so many other parts of Mexico. Tourism is THE business, and security is a big part of maintaining that business.

There are non-stop flights to Los Cabos from Los Angeles, Houston, and even Newark, New Jersey. Of course, you’ll need a passport, but Mexico offers visa-free tourism entry. Outside the resorts, there are all the Western amenities you could ask for, including Wal-Mart, huge grocery stores and even a decent cappuccino.

If you’re looking for a place to really unplug for a few days, then this is it. But if you’re trying to do your job, this is NOT it. I and many of my colleagues tried for three days to resist the temptation to unplug when our job required just the opposite.

LISTEN to some of Rich Johnson’s reporting from the G20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico: