4/29/10

Mexico: Part VI - Please let us out of your country.

OK, so this is it. My last vacation post, until I go on vacation again. I can hear the cheering from here. I always think "I'll try to make this quick," but it never is. You all know that by now.

On our first night in Mexico, I turned to my wife and said, "I want to get up really early one day this week and watch the sun come up down on the beach." My wife agreed. I think she had the same thought I did -- that it would be romantic to watch the sun come up together. Just the two of us, a gentle breeze, the waves crashing onto a deserted beach, watching the sun rise and thinking about how great it is to be alive. It sounded wonderful.

On our last night in Mexico, we still hadn't gotten around to it. I swore that nothing would prevent me from getting to see the sunrise the next morning. "We *have* to do it," I said, "How often do you get to see the sun come up over a beautiful white-sand beach in the tropics?"

Not often enough, that's for sure.

When the birds woke me up, for once I was glad of it. It was 5:40 am and still mostly dark. In all my other attempts that week to get up before the sun, I had been spectacularly unsuccessful due to my lack of ambition and overall hatred of mornings in general.

Here is the reason for my hatred: During a normal work-week, I am at my desk by 6 am every day. This sad state of affairs necessitates that I actually get out of bed at precisely 4:17 am so that I can be barreling down a pothole-blasted highway shortly thereafter, surrounded by dangerously weaving 18-wheelers driven by meth-addled Canadian truckers who haven't slept in 48 hours. Most of the time, I can't remember how I got to work. I think it's safe to say I hate morning like Batman hates injustice, or like Jessica Simpson hates having clean teeth.

The upshot of this early morning hatred is that If I'm on vacation for any length of time, I tend to "drift" until I am consistently going to bed at 2:00 or 3:00 am and waking up around 11. So basically, every day of my existence that I am not on vacation is a fight against my normal circadian rhythms. To fight these rhythms while on vacation took an extreme force of will, however I was determined to get at least one sunrise picture for posterity.

I knew sunrise was at 6:05 am, so I stumbled out of bed and threw on my shorts and sandals. I leaned over and said to my wife, "I'm going down to the beach to watch the sunrise. Are you coming?" She answered me with with a low groan and a muffled string of words that I think may have been, "No....and kill those fucking birds." When she put the pillow over her head, I figured I was on my own.

I grabbed my camera and my room key and let myself out quietly, and walked toward the beach. Other than the birds and the occasional dropping coconut, I had the resort to myself.

The beach, however, was a different story. When I walked up and over the last dune, I saw something like that scene in "City of Angels" where all the angels come out to see the sunrise:


It turns out that watching a sunrise is a pretty popular thing to do.

I sat down on the edge of a chair, and got my camera ready. I scoped out some possible shots that I wanted to get, and figured I'd have to wait for the sun to come fully off the water, since there weren't many clouds in the sky.

I wasn't really paying attention to anything except the time and the sun and my camera equipment -- when suddenly, I had a very surreal moment.

There were probably 5 couples on the beach near me, and my sleep addled brain suddenly put the entire picture together. It finally dawned on me that every single one of them were male.

I mean, I don't care one way or another what someones sexual preference is, but right at that moment, I realized how very much I was not a gay couple. I felt a little awkward, like I didn't get the memo that Monday morning sunrises are the gay ones. Everyone around me was snuggling under beach towels or holding hands, and here I was, standing by myself with my camera. I felt like everyone was looking at me and thinking, "Camera-geek-with-sleepy-wife sunrises are on Thursday, you moron." I know that in reality they weren't giving me a second thought, but that's the way my brain works, even before coffee. Most everyone ignored me, except for one guy who had an awesome gray pompadour and about two-dozen different-sized blue circle tattoos all over his body. We had noticed him and his significant other a few times at breakfast, and wondered whether there was meaning behind his tattoos, or whether he just liked circles. We nodded recognition at each other as I walked toward the water to get my picture.

When I let myself back into the room, my wife was almost fully awake and packing our suitcases. "How was it?" she asked. "It was really pretty. And kinda gay," I said. "It was me and about a dozen gay guys." I told her the story and she laughed at me in disbelief. She wasn't laughing because she didn't believe my story. She was laughing because she didn't believe I could have been so completely oblivious all week. "You didn't notice that there are tons of gay guys staying here this week?" she asked. I honestly hadn't noticed, but it did sort of explain the inordinate number of neon-yellow banana hammocks I had seen. And here I thought they were all just French and in really good shape.

Unfortunately, our flight was leaving Cancun at a little after noon, and our shuttle was picking us up at 9, so we had about two and a half hours to finish packing, grab some breakfast and get our bags out to the lobby. We were sad to be leaving. We actually got the lobby early, and I dropped off a tip and a bottle of rum for the concierge, and thanked him for setting the dolphin thing up for us. I got more pesos and ran back to the room to leave the housekeeper a tip and met her as she was coming down the stairs. I thanked her for the cool towel animals and tipped her for all the crappy toilet paper she had to deal with during the week.

I got back to the lobby just in time for the fight. There was a crazy southern lady with big, hard blonde hair screaming at the concierge and a taxi driver, because she wanted to go to 5th avenue and the cabbie was telling her it was 50 pesos. "IT'S NOT 50 PESOS!" she screamed. "IT'S 35 PESOS! YOU'RE A CROOK! YOU'RE TRYING TO RIP ME OFF! She then turned toward everyone else in the lobby, as if for moral support. "HE'S A CROOK, EVERYONE! HE'S TRYING TO OVERCHARGE ME! Her poor husband was just looking at the ground, and her teenage children were walking down the street just to get away from her as she went into a full blown tirade. "THAT'S WHAT THEY DO DOWN HERE! THAT'S WHAT THEY ALLLLLL DO! THEY STEAL FROM YOU! THEY OVERCHARGE YOU FOR EVERYTHING!" The cabbie was trying to talk her down, but she was already in the street waving down another cab. She stuck her head inside the window of the new cab for a second, and then triumphantly screamed, "HE'S ONLY CHARGING 35 PESOS! HE'S NOT TRYING TO RIP ME OFF LIKE YOU! KIDS? KIDS! GET OVER HERE. GET IN THIS CAB THIS INSTANT!" I hate to think of the thousands of dollars of therapy her kids are going to need later in their lives.

She finally left, and I just looked at the concierge and shook my head. "Wow," I said. He laughed and said, "Nice way to start a relaxing vacation, right?" It takes all kinds, I guess. I wish there were more of some kinds and less of others, but there's not much I can do as just one guy.

I still don't get what her big issue was. She was willing to look like a total ass in front of half a dozen people, all over approximately 2 bucks. I figure that if you know it's 35 pesos and the cabbie is over-charging you and telling you it's 50, you take the ride, and just give him his 50. If he charges you 35, you're going to tip him and most likely give him 50 pesos anyway, so what's the big deal? Either way, you're out the same amount of cash, you get a nice ride in a spotless, air-conditioned car, and you don't have to walk to your destination or look like a crazy douchenozzle. Totally worth it.

Our shuttle ride to the airport was uneventful, however when we got there, the lines were out of control. If we thought flying into Cancun was bad, it was nothing compared to flying out. We stood ourselves in the USAir line, and after about 30 minutes we had moved about ten feet. People in line were were talking to newly arrived folks and other people were making cellphone calls trying to figure out what might be going on. Eventually, it was determined that there might be a "slight problem" with our flight out of Cancun. After checking around, we discovered that the plane we were supposed to be boarding in an hour was still sitting in Philly, because it was - to use an aeronautical engineering term - fucked up somehow. They weren't really sure what was wrong with it, however they assured us that they would have a plane there soon. On the screen, our flight went from DELAYED to CLOSED. Nobody seemed to know what "CLOSED" meant. We knew it wasn't the same as "CANCELED" and it certainly wasn't the same as "DELAYED" or even "FUCKED UP" and we didn't know how to interpret it. "Great," I thought. "I hope we don't miss our connecting flight." We finally got to the front of the line, and by then all hell had broken loose. We were soon to find out why.

"There are not flights," the nice lady said, looking at our boarding passes.

"Excuse me?" I replied. "What do you mean? Are you saying we're stuck here forever?"

"No, there ees no planes here to where you are going," she said. "There are not flights."

"Can't you get us on a different flight? A different airline, maybe? Fly us into a different hub? Something?"

"No. There ees no planes from Feely to Albeeny. No planes in Bostone, no planes in Boofeelo. First flight is at 10 am tomorrow morning from Feely." She paused, then said, "Do you want to go to Boofeelo?"

"No," I said. "Buffalo is over 5 hours from Albany. So is Philly. Either way, I'd have to rent a car and basically drive until morning."

"The flight to Feely leaves in 3 hours, you want?"

I said yes.

She wasn't done. She had more good news.

"Your bag ees 6 pounds overweight. That weel be fifty-two dollars U.S., please. Which credit card weel you be using?"

By this time, my sense of humor was almost gone. "Let me get this straight," I said. "You're telling me that you can't get me home until Tuesday afternoon, I have to take an extra day off from work, and you're going to charge me fifty two bucks for the privilege of this screwing?"

"Yes. Or you can take some tings out of your bags." And it was exactly at this moment that I overheard the guy working the next counter say to the gentleman at the front of his line, "Your bag is five pounds overweight, but don't worry about it" as he tossed it on the conveyor behind him.

Our girl heard him too, but she wasn't backing down. In retrospect I should have just taken all my dirty underwear and socks out of the suitcase and dumped them on the counter, and even though it wouldn't have been even close to seven pounds, it would have made me feel better. But I remembered where I was, and I'm too pretty for Mexican prison, so I pulled out the plastic and took my corn cob reaming like a man.

Next came security. I sailed right through, but my wife's purse got snagged for some extra lovin'. A sour looking, 5 foot tall Mexican gentleman grabbed it and dumped it all over the counter and proceeded to paw through the contents. He opened lipsticks and creams, felt up tampons and finally, in triumph, as if he had found a 9mm Glock sewed into a secret compartment, held up her deadly crochet hook. He confiscated it, then looked at her and yelled "FIRE!" She had no idea why he was yelling "Fire" at her, and he continued to get more agitated when she didn't understand. "FIRE! FIRE!" he yelled. Then, to make sure his point was well understood, he yelled "FIRE!," once more. Then he started rubbing one latex-gloved index finger furiously over the other. My wife was getting flustered, because she still had no idea what he wanted her to do. Should she start a fire? She didn't know. Finally, it dawned on me. "He wants to know if you have a lighter or matches on you." I said. "Or maybe two sticks that you plan to rub together," I added.

She told him no, she didn't have a lighter, and he picked up her stuff and jammed it all back into her purse. He pushed it down the line and dismissively waved her away. He was not a man who enjoyed his job.

Finally, we reached our gate. While we were waiting for our flight, we were treated to a constant barrage of F-bombs from a corn-rowed, bleach-blonde, white trash chick. Maybe it's not PC for me to say so, but in my experience, if you see bleached cornrows and Lee press-on nails on a white chick, 9 times out of ten you know what to expect. She would not shut up with her bitching, and all she could talk about was how she wanted to get home to her "fucking kid." Then she had a phone conversation with someone I can only presume to be either the father of her child, or more likely, her current boyfriend whereupon she called him a "fucking asshole" no less than 20 times. I weep for her child. I really do.

After sitting there through two more delays, we were finally loaded onto a ginormous plane around 7 pm. With the daylight savings time change thrown in, we'd hit Philly around 11pm. It turns out that the reason the plane was so large was because it was hijacked from another flight that was supposed to go to St. Maarten, but was subsequently canceled. I have no idea why. Probably to avoid the impending riot of pissed off Philly residents.

Luckily for us, F-Bomb Cornrow sat right behind us on the plane, because the gods of aviation like to screw with me whenever they can. Since she wasn't with anyone else, she thankfully didn't say much, although she really should learn how to cough and sneeze with her mouth covered.

We landed in Philly at 11pm. By chance, I happened to notice someone sitting at a card table in the hallway, a bunch of what looked like boarding passes spread out in front of her. This was the voucher lady, although there were no signs to indicate that. I walked up to the table, and she asked me my name. I gave it to her and she handed us two food vouchers good for ten dollars, and the phone number of the shuttle that picks up every 30 minutes and brings you to the shitty airport motel. We had just missed it. We waited in another line to try to get some sweaty faced, pedophile-looking mole man to approve an extra ten dollars for food because we were not planning on eating out of the vending machine. There were 3 people in front of us in line, and the group he was dealing with when we first got there was trying to get upgraded to the Hilton. It was taking forever, not only because the airline didn't want to upgrade him, but also because he typed with one finger. Not one finger on each hand, but one fucking finger. I wanted to kill everyone. At that moment, I fully understood the mindset of the guy who flew his airplane into the side of the IRS building.

Finally, after waiting another 45 minutes for the shuttle, we were in our hotel. We checked in, and asked the guy at the front desk about using the food vouchers. "We don't have a restaurant or room service at this hotel," he said. I laughed. Apparently, our only option was to walk across the parking lot in the rain, and eat at the bar in the other hotel before it closed in 15 minutes. So we did. We sat down and immediately ordered two grey goose dirty martinis, and a couple of chicken burgers. When we got the bill, we found out that the martinis were $19 dollars each, and we didn't even care. Oh, and it turns out that you can't use vouchers for alcohol.

We slept. We got bit by tiny things. We woke. We scratched. We flew to Albany.

When we got off the plane at the Albany Airport, my wife immediately ran to the bathroom because her bladder was about to burst.

Unfortunately, the bathroom she ran to was the men's bathroom, and she was inadvertently treated to some early morning Albany penis.

And with that, my friends, our vacation was officially over. Thanks for hanging in there with me.


4/23/10

Not exactly what I expected.



This article surprised me. Mostly because they're introducing a new character.

My money would have been on Jughead coming out of the closet. Although come to think of it, I probably wasn't the only kid out there hoping for Betty and Veronica to hook up.

The whole article reminded me of this old Betty and Me comic:



Ah, simpler times. Have a great weekend, everyone!


4/19/10

Mexico: Part V: Day of the Dolphins

On the 4th day of our vacation, the rocket birds woke us up at dawn, as usual. This time we had the added bonus of coconuts falling from the trees onto the sidewalk and busting open. When they hit, they made a sound like someone popping a paper bag. It took us a while to figure out what it was --we kept hearing this THOCK! sound, but until we actually saw one fall and hit, we had no idea. I thought we had picked up some douchebag neighbors who were cleaning their sandals by slapping them together or something.

Since we were already awake, we decided on the spur of the moment to see if we could arrange a dolphin swim for later in the day. After being emboldened by snorkeling in a cenote the day before, my wife figured that she would probably be OK swimming with the dolphins as long as she had a life preserver, and as long as there was nothing in the water that could eat her.

We went to the lobby and looked at some brochures, and there was one dolphin swim at a place called Delphinus World at XCaret that looked really nice. The water in the brochure was sapphire blue, the dolphins in the photos were clearly chosen for their movie-star good looks, and everything about the place looked new. When we brought the flyer over to our concierge, he pulled out his activities book, and started giving us available days and times for Dolphin Discovery, which was a completely different place. Apparently, the Dolphin Discovery shuttle picked up at our hotel and the other place didn't have one, so if we went to Dolphin Discovery, there would be no taxis required. The price was about the same, maybe even a little cheaper, and we figured that dolphins were dolphins, so how bad could it be? Plus, we had seen a friend's pictures when she went to Dolphin Discovery in the British Isles and the place looked nice.

We booked our trip for later that afternoon, and went and had some breakfast, then hung out on the beach. After lunch, we went down to the lobby to wait for our transportation. When the shuttle bus finally showed up, it was full of people who had already been riding around for an hour, since our hotel was at the end of the line. They were all complaining because they had to cover all the same ground twice, since our hotel was in the complete opposite direction from where we all needed to be. I immediately knew that our ride home was going to suck, because we had to drop all those other people off first. On the plus side, we'd get to see about 5 different resorts.

The other folks on the bus were all from either the US or Canada, and everyone was actually really friendly. Nobody on board had ever done a dolphin swim before and we were all excited. It was the first visit to Mexico for all of us, and my wife and I were the only ones not staying at one of the "All Inclusive" resorts. We got on the subject of how it seemed like the hotels went out of their way to avoid serving Mexican food, and how we all thought that was weird. Even at our hotel, which wasn't strictly considered AI, they had "Italian Night." We decide to try it, and it was every bit as bad as it had sounded like it would be. Asking a Mexican chef to cook Italian dishes is like asking Matthew McConaughey to leave his shirt on for an entire movie. He'll try to do it, and his intentions will be good - but he will most likely fail.

There was an Indian guy on the shuttle sitting behind us with his wife and daughter. They were from Canada, but he still had a pretty heavy accent and she was wearing a traditional head scarf and not saying much. He was friendly and talkative though, and after the "no Mexican food" conversation, he asked us if we had any good restaurant recommendations. My wife piped up and said, "If you like steak, there's a really great steak house right down the street from our hotel. We ate there last night and it was awesome." He did a little head-shake and said, "Ummmm, I am...not so much into steak." Even before the last syllable of the word "steak" hit her ears, she remembered the whole "I try not to eat animals that are sacred to me" thing. Oops.

He was telling us all about how he not only got suckered into attending a time-share presentation at his resort, but he got badgered into actually buying one. They had somehow managed to get him to cough up close to 20 grand, and he had a serious case of buyer's remorse itching in his trousers. He was asking everyone on the bus what their opinions were of the whole timeshare concept. He told us that he always got ripped off no matter what he tried to buy, and he seemed resigned to the high probability that the whole thing would turn out to be a complete clusterfuck. "I will probably lose all my money," he said a little wistfully, as if in his head it was already gone.

When we finally pulled up to the Dolphin Discovery place, it was kind of...well, how do I put this delicately? It was a shit hole. It was very run down, and there was a lot of half-finished construction going on. Or rather, not going on, because there didn't seem to be any actual workers. Just piles of bricks and cinderblocks and plywood. I wasn't even off the bus and I already felt sorry for the ghetto dolphins that lived there.

Inside it wasn't actually that horrible. It wasn't exactly nice, but compared to the parking lot and entrance, it was fairly well kept. They have it planned out for maximum tourist consumption. First, they make you walk past all the shops and restaurants to get your tickets. Once you get your tickets, you walk almost all the way back to the parking lot to where the lockers are, once more passing all the shops and restaurants and bars. You go into the "changing shack" and put your suit on, and then stuff everything else into a locker. When you're good to go, they size you up for a life preserver. The life preservers had seen better days, and looked like they had been gnawed on by sea beavers. My wife's was shredded so badly I could see the layers of foam inside.

After you're fitted up, they escort you past all the shops (one more time) to the prep area. The first thing you have to do is watch a video. The video is supposed to tell you what a fun time you are going to have, and it goes through all of the hand signals you have to remember in order to maximize your interactive experience. Since I have the attention span of a weasel on meth, the whole time the video was running, I was busy looking around for dolphins. From where I was sitting I could see two of them through an opening in the brush, just hanging out in this little pool. They were just sitting there next to each other, puffing out of their blowholes and treading water in one spot. They looked like two bus boys who had ducked out behind the restaurant to share a quick joint and talk about how much the customers suck.

After the video, we got ushered out to the actual "Dolphin Area," and we could see 3 dolphins swimming around, chasing each other in the water. Speaking of the water -- it wasn't what I expected. In the brochure, it's clear pale blue and it looks like you're in a natural cove. This was not a natural cove by any stretch of the imagination. I assumed it would be more or less open to the ocean, since -- hey, it's right there, but no. Instead it more closely resembled an algae covered wharf in Jersey. I had been spoiled by the clear aquamarine surf and white sand beach next to our hotel, and this water was greenish and smelled like dead fish. The trainer was already in the water, standing waist deep on a ledge, and she clearly wanted to get the show on the road. She beckoned to us, so we bit the bullet and walked down the stairs and onto the slimy submerged walkway.

This was the first part of our "interaction" and since there were only four of us in our group, it went pretty quickly. There were three dolphins -- one 4 year old, one 12 year old, and one baby. The baby wasn't trained yet, so it wasn't involved much. The dolphins swam by and you got to run your hands over their backs and stomachs. They feel very smooth, but not really slimy at all, which surprised me. It felt kind of like an inner tube full of meat.

First on the list was the "Dolphin Kiss." They don't really have much in the way of lips, so it was more of a "Dolphin Face Nudge." Basically, you had to cross your hands over each other palms up, the dolphin would put her head in your hands and lean up to your cheek while you hammed it up for the camera.

I was making up Prince lyrics in my head:

U don't have 2 be bottlenose 2 turn me on

I just need your blowhole, baby, from dusk till dawn 

U don't need sardines 2 turn me out 

U just leave it 2 me, I'm gonna show U what it's all about



U don't have 2 eat fish 2 be my girl 

U don't have 2 be cool 2 rule seaworld
Ain't no particular fin I'm more compatible with
I just want your extra fish and your . . . . . kiss

Of course, like we all do, the dolphins expect to be rewarded for doing things right. The reward, in this case, came out of a disgusting fanny pack full of dead fish that the instructor had strapped to her waist. You know how wonderful spring lilacs smell when you get a whiff of them unexpectedly? This was the opposite of that. There was a greasy sheen on the water around the fanny pack, and every once in a while, you'd catch a whiff and it would remind you of what you were swimming around in.

The next thing they had you do was swim out about 30 feet into the middle of the pool and hold out your left arm. The dolphin then swam under you and flipped over, allowing you to grab her fins. As soon as you had a good grip, she took off across the pool, swimming upside down and towing you through the water. I kept waiting to get her fluke* smashed into my crotch, but it didn't happen. It was actually pretty amazing, and it gave you a good idea of how strong they actually are.

Last on our list of activities was something called the "boogie board foot push" which involved laying on a boogie board with your feet and knees in a locked position while the dolphin stuck her nose in your foot arch and proceeded to try to ram your foot-bones through your spine. They warned you over and over to keep your knees locked, your leg muscles tightened, and your feet pointing down. If you did this, the dolphin would push you across the pool at roughly 20 miles per hour. If you did not do this, then you ran the risk of having a dolphin nose shoved up your blowhole at roughly the same speed. Trust me, my muscles were so tight you could have bounced cinderblocks off my ass.

After that, you get to dance with the dolphins a bit, they do some additional tricks and then it's all over but the high pressure sales pitch to buy the pictures and DVD set. On the way back, they shuffle you into a room where you have to watch your video. Ours wasn't too good because we had gone later in the afternoon and the sun was getting low. This meant that most of the video was in silhouette and pretty poor quality, and they somehow managed to miss the upside-down fin-swim completely. After the video, you are shuffled off to the picture counter to look at the final prints.

Like most everything else in Mexico, there is the price and then there is "the real price." We actually did like two of the pictures, but we thought they were too expensive so we were going to just say no and leave them there. We watched the price go from $100, to $80 to $60 for the entire package, and then when we still turned that down, they started breaking things out into single items. Eventually, the deal became too good to refuse and we ended up buying a couple of 8x10's for about 25 bucks.

After that, we changed back into our clothes and met the rest of the crew for the return trip. We swapped pictures and stories, and someone brought up the variable pricing scheme that seemed to be in effect. The discounts ranged from about 35% to 70%, depending upon how hard you bargained. Of course, the only person who paid full price was the poor Indian guy. He just shook his head in disbelief and didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

After the grueling ride to five other resorts, I can honestly say that I liked ours better. The others were nice, but they had a very "corporate" feel to them. There was something a little stepford-y about them; they seemed soulless. As we were driving past all these fancy buildings, I remember thinking, "I'll bet you a month's pay that the people staying here aren't putting their crap into wastebaskets."

So that was our adventure for the day. They were beautiful, intelligent creatures and I'm glad we took advantage of the opportunity. I would highly recommend meeting a dolphin at least once in your life. But not like this. Warning: That link is probably not safe for work. Or anyone, anywhere. There are no pictures, just text, but the URL may get you into trouble. You will learn...things....that are better off remaining unlearned. Don't say I didn't warn you.

PS - I got this in my bag of chips:


It haunts me.


*I wanted to use the correct term and not say "tail" so I looked up "dolphin physiology" and ended up on the page in that link. In retrospect, I should have just said "tail."

PPS - Who has Prince stuck in their heads now?

4/13/10

Mexico: Part IV: Tulum is owned by lizards.

First, let me mention our housekeeper. She was awesome, and every day we'd come back from the beach and have a new "towel animal" on the bed. This one was a little confusing to me because it had the head of a rabbit and the body of Rosie O'Donnell:



I thought this one was actually quite impressive:



On the last day, she went all out and we came back to this:



I didn't know whether to dry myself off with it, hump it, or run away from it. I think it was supposed to be a mermaid, so the rules of mermaid/man interaction state that I am required to hump it, and it was looking at me kind of suggestively. On the other hand, I could also picture myself waking up at 3am to find it hovering over my bed, waving its towelly appendages and trying to latch itself onto my face like a giant palapa bug. It was touch and go for a while, and then I remembered I was on a romantic vacation with my wife so I did the honorable thing and just had a threesome.

Our Tulum trip was set up by a place called Yucatreks, and our guide, Mitch, was an ex-pat from Seattle. He was a cool dude, and it was sort of like being led around Mexico by Trey Anastasio in a safari hat, only with a slightly thinner coating of bong resin. Our tour was going to include the ruins, snorkeling at two cenotes, and lunch on the beach. All in all, a full day.

We hit the road for the hour trip, and tried to buy ice at three different places. Apparently ice is hard to come by on the road to Tulum. The day was windy as hell, so it was probably a good day to wander around the ruins without passing out from the heat, but a bad day for just about anything else, including eating off paper plates on the beach. Here's a shot of a temple from one of my favorite vantage points:



It was truly beautiful, and I can totally see the Mayans' thought process here. They were probably just wandering around in the jungle, getting eaten alive by insects the size of ring-tailed lemurs, when suddenly they came out on this cliff overlooking the beach and started high-fiving each other and yelling, "FUCK, YEAH!!" Or maybe that was just me.

Apart from the ruins, the other interesting thing was that March is apparently iguana mating season. I've seen iguanas in pet stores, and these were NOT the same thing. For one, these are very, very large, and very, very angry, and they were fighting over the wimminz. Also, they seem to have decided that since the Mayans moved out, the place was up for grabs. They were on the top of the food chain and they made sure you knew it:



They didn't just sit there as Master of All They Survey, either. They'd do violent push ups on whatever they were on top of (rock, ancient temple, female iguana, etc.) and the males would get into these slow-motion fights that would involve latching onto each other's necks and pushing with their legs until one of them got flipped over. Then the winner would just keep the loser there until he cried "Uncle!" in iguana-ese or something, then he'd let him up. This would normally take upwards of five minutes, and by that time the female iguana was shaking her iguana ass in front of a different male. It was like watching two drunk guys in a bar fighting over a girl they didn't know was a hooker.

When they're not humping or fighting, they can really move. I always thought of iguanas as being slow, but they can run like a bitch if they want to.

When we got to the ruins themselves, Mitch hired a local guide who looked like Carlos Santana to give us the rundown. He knew a lot, but his English wasn't so hot, so he was hard to pay attention to. Or maybe it's just because I have a short attention span. We followed him from place to place, and I pretty much tuned him out and just looked at the ruins and the lizards. I saw one giant bastard about a hundred feet away, trying to mount this female and she was having none of it. She'd move away, he'd follow, then she'd move away again.

Finally, she had enough and took off in a full-speed, high-steppin' nose-in-the-air run, right toward our group. The giant male was right on her ass, and nobody but me noticed it because they were all listening to Carlos. We were walking slowly down this open path, and my wife and I were straggling a little bit behind the rest of the group. The female iguana tore ass across the path about ten feet in front of my wife and she didn't even notice, because she was looking the other way. The male, sensing he was going to be out-run by his conquest, just ignored our presence and continued running at full speed until it was almost too late. He didn't stop until he nearly collided with my wife's legs.

She noticed that, let me tell you. She jumped out of the way and let out a little scream, and the iguana just stood there hissing at her, mouth open and head bobbing up and down. Since my wife had never cock-blocked a horny iguana before, she decided to very quickly move in another direction. I stuck around for a second or two in order to (very carefully) take his picture:



He was not pleased.

Next on our list of things to do was to snorkel in some cenotes. Since my wife can't really swim, we weren't sure how this was going to go, but she did OK. They gave her a life preserver and we saw some freshwater fish and a shitload of bats. I tried not to think about the fact that everyone always says "don't drink the water," yet here we were snorkeling in it. I also tried not to think about the fact that I had my face in water that was filled with bat shit and the accumulated urine of thousands of foreign tourist-children, but it didn't really do any good. I just resigned myself to living with whatever festering pestilence was going to take root in my body.

The oddest thing to me was that I expected the cenotes to be off in the jungle or something. Instead, they were right off the main road, and had sort of a "roadside attraction" feel to them. The water was pretty damned cold too, so I didn't stay in long. At the second one, you could actually jump off a bit of a cliff into the water. I did this once, just to say I did. This picture captures the exact second my balls shrunk to the size of marbles and snapped up into my esophagus:


Lunch on the beach was fantastic -- the area of the beach we were on was pretty remote and we were the only ones there. The food was local takeout, and it was damn tasty. Mitch cut up fresh avocado and made some guacamole, and then unpacked roast chicken and potatoes and rice and beans, and a bunch of fresh fruit. We ate, had a couple of beers, then hit the road again. It was simple, but it hit the spot after a day of walking around and swimming.

My next post will be about our swim with the dolphins. Well, the dolphins didn't really have much say in the matter, so whether they actually wanted to swim with us was kind of irrelevant, but they did as they were told. Also, they are little whores for dead fish.

For those of you still with me, I'll try to wrap this vacation thing up soon. Maybe one more post about the dolphins, another post about the USAir corncob reaming on the way home, and we'll be done. At this point, it's probably like being forced to watch a slide show of your uncle Mort's trip to the grand canyon or something.



Peace out.

Unfortunate.


4/6/10

Mexico: Part III - Mr. Virgil? This is your wakeup call.

Now that everyone is stuffed on Easter candy, it's time to continue on with our Mexican adventure.

As I said in my last post, we had decided to sleep in for a bit on our second day. We learned a lot on this trip. For instance, here's something I learned -- there will be no "sleeping in."

You know what they have in the jungle? Jungle birds. And these birds get up a LOT earlier than you do. I think when birds from other places are applying for jobs in Mexico, the classified ad looks kind of like this:



There was a dove-looking bird that sounded like a hoot owl. WHOO WHOO WHOO Whoooooooooo! WHOO WHOO WHOO Whoooooooooo! over and over until you wanted to cut a hole into your mattress and crawl inside. The other bird call that was especially pleasing to the ear was the one that sounded exactly like this. Unfortunately, it didn't include the explosion at the end. After about the second day, I started making the explosion sound under my breath every time I heard one - until my wife asked me what the hell I was doing. Then I just did it in my head instead of out loud. [edit: listen to the actual bird call here.]

Here's another thing we learned -- in Mexico, (at the beach resorts at least) you can't flush the toilet paper. Seriously. Instead of flushing it, you simply drop your butt-wipings into the wastepaper basket next to the toilet and the housekeeper picks it up the next day. It's a good thing that the bathroom had a door and a window, because a pail of crap isn't really conducive to indoor air quality. Luckily for both of us, Montezuma's Revenge didn't enter into the picture or things could have become interesting -- and not in a good way.

I found this a little bit revolting to be honest, and I felt bad for our housekeeper. I mean, she probably doesn't make much to begin with, and now she has to empty baskets of feces-laden paper on top of that? (I felt it was only fair for me to tip the crap out of her. So to speak.)

Our last lesson for the day occurred when we got to the beach. We learned that Playa Del Carmen beaches are a little more "European" than we knew.

We saw some things. Some things that should not be seen. Ever, by anyone, anywhere. Human breasts should not look like that. It's not normal. My first thought was, "Why does that old guy in the yellow bikini bottom have two giant brown leather satchels sitting on either side of him?" My second thought was, "Heyyyyy, leather satchels aren't supposed to have nipples." It was eye-opening, to say the least. You tried not to look, but every time she moved it was a brand-new train wreck. It reminded me of this picture. She clearly didn't give a shit what people thought, and I can certainly admire that.

We spent most of the day there, but I didn't go swimming. The wind caused the water to be quite rough and the red flags were out, which generally means you might get sucked out to sea and end up off the coast of Brazil or something. Both the water and the beach were beautiful, however, and the place wasn't very crowded because of the wind. Or maybe it was because nobody wanted to look at satchel tits. I'm not really sure, but there was no shortage of available beach chairs.

On the way back from the beach, my wife made friends with a stray kitten that was hanging around by the bar near the pool. He was all black with green eyes, and maybe 3 or 4 months old. The bar featured rope swings and as luck would have it, that's where we happened to be sitting. The kitten really seemed to like my wife. He was probably chock-full of diseases but he seemed pretty healthy overall. My wife was petting him and commenting on how cute he was and before the last word left her mouth, he squatted down and took a big dump in the sand right near her left foot. He nonchalantly covered it up and sauntered away. "Awww, he's so cute," I said.

But really when you think about it, if you're a cat, what better place could you live? It's like having 300 miles of clean litter box. You've also got great weather all the time, plenty of shelter, lots of birds, (too many frigging birds) and people feeding you scraps all the time. Pretty sweet deal. By the end of the week, we had this going on:


Don't ask. Cats just like her for some reason.

The next day we went on a tour of the ruins at Tulum, and my wife almost got ravaged by some local wildlife. More to come.