Holy rhythm method, Batman.

If I had a vagina, it would be tired just looking at that. It's your body, not a clown car, for god's sake.


Mexico 2011 - Part V

The next day our big plan consisted of eating, drinking, sitting on the beach and then, before dinner, getting massages at the "massage palapa" at the front of the resort:

They also have an indoor spa, but we figured it would be more memorable on the beach. I can get a massage in a small, stuffy room that smells like lavender and sweat right here in the States.

This beach option can be hit or miss, because you are still within a coconut's throw of the pool, and if the pinky-ponkey-donkey sisters were in, you'd have very little chance of experiencing anything approaching relaxation. We stopped in and spoke to the masseuse about scheduling, and she said that she was the only one working today, so we wouldn't be able to get them at the same time. There wasn't a waiting list so we decided to head to the beach and told her we'd catch up with her later.

My wife was still having trouble sitting and walking, so breakfast was short, since the wooden chairs were tough even on a non-boiled ass. You can't beat the view from the breakfast table though:

After breakfast we went back to the room and slathered up with 50 SPF sunblock, making doubly sure to get all the exposed but hard to reach spots. I had been doing pretty good with the sunscreen and was basically just as white as I had been before we left the snow and ice.

I think I scared the housekeeper one day because I walked out on the deck and she ran away screaming "Blanco Fantasma! Blanco Fantasma!" I thought she was saying I was fantastic, but it turns out that it meant something else entirely.

Rare sighting: Ghost of the Mahekal Beach Resort

We made some drinks and sat on the beach until it was almost too late to grab lunch, but we forced ourselves to eat some tacos (fish and chicken) and way too much guacamole. After lunch, we went for a little walk just so we didn't feel like total manatees, and when we got back, we decided it was time for the last little treat of the vacation: our massages.

My wife went over and talked to the masseuse, and she said she could take us right then. My wife decided to go first, and I grabbed a beach chair and read for a bit. It was a 40 minute massage, so I had some time to kill. I was pretty relaxed already, so I must have dozed off, because it seemed like only ten minutes had passed and she was back.

"How was it?" I asked.

"Amazing," my wife replied. "She said she's ready for you now. She didn't do much on my legs because they were so burned, but she was really good and the oils she used smelled great."

Now I have to tell you something about me and massages. I don't generally get them. One, I think they're kind of a waste of money, and two, I'm always a little uncomfortable with being rubbed down like I just won the Kentucky derby.

So this massage on the beach was going to be my second. Not my second on the beach, but my second ever.

The first was on a little anniversary getaway about five years earlier, and it was an "in room" massage at a hotel, and we were both there at the same time. It was OK, and nothing to write home about, but it turned out to be pretty relaxing. So I figured this one would be no different; some battle axe would pound on my back for 40 minutes and that would be that.

I walked up the beach and into the palapa and said hello, and she asked me if I wanted the same massage that my wife had -- the relaxation massage, I think it was called. I said yes and she pulled the sheets down over the doorways, handed me a towel and said, "OK. Please to remove everything, then lie down on the table under the towel."

"Everything?" I asked.

"Everything," she replied. "Your watch and ring, too. I will wait outside."

"Uh...what about my underwear?" I asked, just to be sure I wasn't misinterpreting anything. I didn't want to be the unexpected gringo penis she talked about at dinner that night.

"Everything," she said emphatically, then left the tent.

So I was standing in a building with two walls made of sticks in the sand, and the other two walls were made of sheets tied in the middle with ribbons. There were gaps between the sticks large enough to throw baseballs through, and the sheets were flapping madly in the breeze, opening themselves up to the beach and the pool in alternate flaps.

I quickly stripped down to my just my underwear, and waited for a break where nobody was walking by and the flaps were relatively calm and I dropped trou and climbed up on the exam -- er, massage table and lay face-down. I tried a few times to toss the towel over my ass, but failed miserably. I finally had to stand up, wrap the towel around my waist, then lie down again.

Finally, she asked me if I were ready for her, and I said "Yes, but this towel might not be." She laughed and came back in the tent. The first thing she did was untuck the towel and change its orientation -- she wanted it lengthwise, covering my legs from my waist to my feet. Then she put on some soft music, then adjusted the "face holder" in the table so it was comfortable. When I was situated, she got the warm oil and drizzled it on my back. She stood at the head of the table, and started working on my shoulders and upper arms, then moved to the side and started on my triceps and biceps, all the way out to my finger tips. When I was too tense, she'd shake my arm lightly, trying to get me to loosen up.

After a while, the hot oil and her strong hands put me into kind of a trance -- I was finally starting to relax. She hit the middle of my back, then my lower back, then walked around to my feet. She put oil on them too, and massaged the soles. Then she moved up my calf, and suddenly there was a blast of cold air on half my ass as she flipped the blanket over and started massaging my upper-inner thigh. She was getting right in there, too, and I must have tensed up because the next thing I know she's jiggling my butt cheek just like she did my arm earlier, however in this case her little universal signal for "loosen up" didn't work. Probably because I was lying there with a strange woman's hand on my ass and I knew she was staring directly at some pretty major back-ball and (oddly) I wasn't completely comfortable with that.

She flipped the towel over to the other side, and then did the same thing to my other butt cheek. It was this sliding, pressing motion that started at my knee and ended just shy of my prostate exam. I tried to go with it, but I felt a little like I had been abducted by aliens and was being prepped for my probe.

After she covered my butt with the towel again, she did a little percussion solo on my back again, and then she was done. She didn't actually tell me she was done -- she just stopped. I lay there for a few minutes waiting for her to say something but she didn't. Finally, I just looked up and she smiled and said, "You have a lot of tension in your shoulders." I think the tension probably came from somewhere a little farther south, but I didn't say anything. I thanked her, tipped her and walked back to my beach chair.

"How was it?" my wife asked.

"Um, pretty good, " I said. "Very relaxing, except for the part where she told me to get completely naked and then used my grundle as a stop block."

So then it was all over but dinner at our favorite pizza place one last time, and the trip home the next day. That will be my final installment, probably tomorrow if I can get to it. Don't worry, it'll be short because nothing major happened, other than they apparently give free plane tickets to homeless deadheads now.


Mexico 2011 - Part IV

We swam single file, then ducked behind a large group of stalactites that were touching the water, and into a tunnel. There wasn't much head clearance, and I was in front of my wife, trying to keep her from whacking her head on something. All you could hear was the Canadian lady hyperventilating through her snorkel and splashing like a wounded seal. I was worried my wife was going to flip out in the confined space, but she was doing great. Afterward, she said she wasn't nervous at all.

I, however, wasn't doing so great for two reasons. The first was that my snorkeling vest was too small for me. I tend to sink like a stone since I don't have much in the way of body fat, and in fresh water this vest didn't hold enough air to actually keep my head out of the drink. Hector kept stopping to make sure everyone was still with him and to tell us what was coming up, but whenever he did that, I'd sink to the level of my eyeballs. That was OK unless I was actually trying to talk. So that was the first reason. The second reason was because during his first stop, as I was kicking my feet to keep my ears out of the water so I could hear him, I inadvertently connected with some very rough limestone and took the first layer of skin off my foot. I'm pretty sure I tossed a choice word or two up through my snorkel, but I don't think anyone heard me over the sounds of the Canadian woman who was still trying desperately to use up all the air we had.

The second cave was very cool, and it made me wish I had sprung for that underwater camera housing I was looking at before we left home. There was a light in this cave too, but it wasn't very bright. Hector turned to us and said, "There is a giant spider in this cave. Do you want to see him?"

My wife is deathly afraid of spiders. There is no reason why, she just is. She immediately tensed up and looked like she was trying to figure out how to run, even though she was currently floating in ten feet of water in a dark cave. Hector started pointing his flashlight at the low ceiling, hunting for something. Finally, he found it. "There! There is the spider! Do you see?" he asked. Luckily for everyone involved, it was only a limestone formation that looked like a giant spider, and that was good because it meant that I wouldn't be dragging an unconscious woman back through the cave passageways.

Hector had been dragging around an orange rescue ring, presumably in case someone needed rescuing. After we looked at the spider, Hector told us the last cave didn't have lights, but not to worry, because we had the flashlights. He said if anyone got tired or scared, they could hold onto the ring. We started moving again, this time into a passageway that was so dark you couldn't even see the walls. It was at this point that I wished I was one of the flashlight guys because the guy in the back who actually had the damned thing was pointing it everywhere except in the direction we were heading. At one point the light just disappeared completely and it took me a second to realize that the guy was ten feet below me, looking at some kind of rock formation or something. When we were all finally in the last cave, we moved to the center and Hector told us to take our masks and snorkels off. I wasn't sure exactly why, so I was a little hesitant since when I did that it was difficult for me to keep my face out of the water. Everyone was sort of gathered around the orange ring, holding onto it with one hand. I stuck my hand out there too, and that helped with my buoyancy. I took my mask and snorkel off, and so did everyone else.

Hector said, "Now turn off the flashlights." The lights went out, and the darkness folded over us. You couldn't tell if your eyes were open or closed. Suddenly, it was a little harder to breathe. I think because the Canadian lady was still doing all the air.

Hector told us to be quiet and still, and to listen. He said, "Think about this. You are five miles into the jungle, in a cave twenty feet under the ground. You might be able to find your way out, but... you might not." I didn't realize right away that he was trying to set a mood, so I said, "So what you're saying is, we should tip you really, really well." He laughed and continued. "The Mayans would come in here with nothing. No lights. No snorkels. Nothing but their sacred beliefs, and the knowledge that they were approaching the entrance to their underworld. So take a moment, and be silent, and think of these people and their sacred cenotes, which you now share."

We sat there in silence for a few minutes, and it was an interesting experience. I've been in a few caves before, but never floating in water. It was a little claustrophobic, like I imagine being in a sensory deprivation tank might be. After a bit, he told the flashlight holders to turn the lights back on, and we swam back to the platform. I don't think we swam back the same way, but it's entirely possible. All the passageways looked kind of alike.

After we climbed back out of the cave, Hector broke open the cooler, and we had some drinks. The sun was incredibly bright, and the warm air felt amazing. I was starving at this point, so I passed on the beer, since I didn't want to be drunk for the brutal ass-pounding we were sure to receive on the ride out. The cenote owner had a large screen house there with a whole line of Mexican hammocks inside. We all grabbed a hammock and relaxed for a bit before we stuffed ourselves back in the van and headed out of the jungle. Next stop: Akumal.

On the way out, Hector stopped and picked some cotton from a bush, and handed it around, and told us about a certain kind of tree that was very important because of the sap inside. I didn't quite get what the sap was used for. It was kind of like a 5th grade field trip, only without the quiz. I should have been paying more attention.

By the time we got to the bay, Hector had my wife convinced she was going to be swimming with the sharks. Luckily, that wasn't the case. I asked Hector if we were going to eat first, and he said no, we were going to eat after we went snorkeling. I asked him why and he said, "We tried it, but many people, they get sick and feed the fishes." On the one hand, I didn't want to feed the fishes, but on the other I was hungry as hell and willing to chance it.

The snorkeling itself was amazing, and it was my wife's first time. She felt comfortable because the water wasn't deep, and hey, we weren't in the dark under 16 tons of rock. We were out there for a couple hours, and saw a giant red crab, an eagle ray, a stingray, about 4 or 5 turtles (which is what I wanted to see) and a bunch of smaller fish. The reef has a lot of sand all over it, maybe from the rough water, I'm not sure. After we were done, we finally got to eat lunch.

As part of the deal, we each had a wristband that allowed us into the buffet at the Akumal Beach Resort. The only kicker is, they don't let you go into the restaurant if you're wet. Since nobody told us to bring a change of clothes, I didn't have a dry shirt. Luckily, Hector had a spare shirt in the van and he loaned it to me. The buffet wasn't great, but at that point I would have eaten just about anything. After lunch we were allowed to hang around on the beach for a few hours, and then we were ready to head back to the hotel.

We were the first ones back at the van and Hector was already there, just hanging around and waiting. I dug 200 pesos out of my pocket and gave it to him. "Thanks for not leaving us in the cave," I said. He laughed. "Do you like Bon Jovi?" he asked, holding up a CD. "Uh, no. Not really," I replied. "Yeah, I do not either," he said, putting it away. I think he thought all Americans liked Bon Jovi. He dug around in his bag for a moment, then pulled out some kind of crazy Mexican dance music by someone I think he said was named Mia or Maria. He said she was a huge star in Mexico, but that this CD was "something else that she didn't normally sound like." It took him a while to explain it. "It is her, but not really, just her voice, and different music." It suddenly occurred to me what he was talking about. He didn't have the english word for "remix." I didn't have the heart to tell him I liked dance music even less than Bon Jovi. He asked what kind of music I liked and I rattled off a half-dozen prog bands from the 70's that he'd never heard of, and he laughed, shaking his head. "I'm old," I told him.

By that time, everyone was wandering back to the van and we piled in for the return to the hotels. Since we were farthest away, we were dropped off last. We got the tour of Playacar, a giant resort and then two other places in town. The weird thing is, I don't think anyone tipped Hector. They got out, thanked him for the trip, sometimes shook his hand and sometimes not, but that was it -- unless they had given it to him at another time, as I did. I felt bad so when he dropped us off, I slipped him another 100 when I gave him his shirt back and told him it was a "shirt rental fee." My wife hugged him, and I think he liked that. He was a really good guide, and I thought it was totally worth 300 pesos to come back in one piece.

When we got back to the hotel, and my wife got out of the car, she winced a little. I asked her what was wrong, and she said her legs hurt. I looked at them, and said, "Um, I think you got a little sunburn." Her entire body looked like this:

Apparently, she had forgotten to put sunscreen on her legs and ass. She had a perfectly straight delineation between the front of her body, which was pasty white, and the back, which was the color of an angry plum, if plums had emotions and were capable of rage. It was not good, and she knew it was only going to get worse as the night wore on.

By the time we had gone to dinner and made it back to the room, she could barely bend her legs. She will kill me for putting her ass on the internet, but some things have to be seen:

I could feel the heat coming off her ass from six inches away. I made Family Guy jokes which were not appreciated, then I went and got the aloe. I dug around in the first aid kit and came up with some swabs with benzocaine on them. So I swabbed her ass with those first, then tried ice, but she said it was too cold.

Thanks to US Airways, we only had a 3oz. bottle of aloe. I told her to lie down on the bed, and I used the entire bottle. She wanted me to put it on thick, and let it sit there since everything was too sore to rub it in, so I did. She looked like one of those guys who slather themselves with Vaseline in preparation for swimming across the English channel. Since she didn't want to lie there with her ass hanging out, she covered it with her nightgown. I started reading, and the next thing I know we were both asleep.

A few hours later, we woke up. She woke up first, and when she got up to brush her teeth and wash her face, she discovered she had a problem. The aloe had dried, and her nightgown was now stiff as cardboard and stuck to her ass like a coat of paint.

I have to admit, I laughed. Call me a bad husband or whatever, but holy crap it was funny. I told her to get in the shower until it loosened up, but she decided to go with the more painful "peel it slowly like a band-aid" method for some reason. Ten minutes later, after we had carefully and painfully separated her buttcheeks from her nightgown, we went back to bed.

The next day was our last day -- and we had planned to just relax, lie on the beach and maybe get massages at the resort spa.

Somehow, I didn't think a massage was in the cards for her, but she proved me wrong.


Lunch Lady.

Sometimes, if there's a lot of leftovers from dinner I'll bring my lunch to work the next day. Normally, I'll just grab a "recycled" Starbucks paper bag out of the cabinet, since we tend to save and reuse. This morning, however, these were my only choices:

Bath and Body Works was too bright, the LOFT handles were too ribbony and weird, and Miss Scarlett...well, let's just say the last time I had this dilemma, I tried crossing out the "Miss" with a Sharpie and writing "Mr." but I still got laughed at.

The obvious thing to do? I bought lunch at the cafeteria.

No, actually, I took "The Spa at Mirror Lake Inn."

I wasn't very manly, but at least I was upscale.


Mexico 2011 - Part III

When we got back to our room, we weren't entirely sure what animal we were looking at. The first three days were easy. First we had whales and a stingray, then an octopus, then what I am pretty sure was a mother monkey and her child...but then we got this:

I wasn't sure what to make of it. At first I thought it was a really bad crab, but then I decided that it was just a pile of folded towels with a face. If this had been an actual animal, I think its latin genus would be Noetiphucthis.

I think we got this one as a warning, because I didn't realize until after our trip that it's considered standard protocol to tip your housekeeper daily. Instead, what I did was wait until our second-to-last day, and then give her a lump sum in person. Little did I know that by day three she was probably cleaning the toilet with our pillow cases. I think we were cool after that because this was what we got on our last day:

I still wasn't sure what they were supposed to be, but at least they had recognizable body parts.

Anyway, by that time we had amassed a fairly large quantity of "eyes and mouth" stickers. Needless to say, they were stuck on some pretty hilarious body parts. Which is not to say that (as a middle-sized white boy) my body parts are hilarious, because they are no laughing matter.

This particular variation was named Antonio, and coincidentally enough, he sounded exactly like Antonio Bandaras:

Then this happened:

The funniest thing about that last picture (other than the fact that it reminds me of this) is that I completely forgot that I had stuck those there and I put my shirt on. We went out for drinks, and then for dinner, then more drinks, and by the time we got back to the room it was about 11 pm. They had been stuck to my nipples for over five hours, and I had forgotten about them until I took my shirt off to go to bed. At first we laughed and laughed. Then I tried to take one of them off, and the laughing stopped. Mine, anyway.

You know how they get those to stick to something as porous and rough as a towel? I'm going to tell you. My educated guess is that they use some sort of glue that is very close in chemical composition to Liquid Nails construction adhesive. Seriously, I almost tore my own nipples off. I swear they were stretched out two inches before the adhesive even thought about letting go. I immediately made a mental note to cancel my nipple wax appointment for the following week.

At that point, my tender nipples and I were ready for bed. Speaking of bed, I think there was something fairly large living in our palapa roof, because every day when we got back to the room, there were one or two little turds on the coverlet. They were either insect, mammal or reptile, but I'm no expert so I was hoping for reptile. The closest thing I could compare them to were caterpillar turds. Last year I had a "kissing bug" drop down on me and latch onto my face, so this year I came prepared. I bought this before we left:

No blood sucking bastard was going to give me Chagas disease if I could help it. The next morning I could tell that my purchase had been worthwhile because there was a cucaracha the size of my thumb on the wall above the bed. I have no idea what roach crap looks like, but in retrospect, perhaps he was the culprit. It also protected us from (in no particular order) three beetles, two centipedes, another smaller roach, a spider, and some kind of black and white creature with a face like a praying mantis. This is all a good thing since I tend to fall asleep on my back with my mouth hanging open. Incredibly attractive mental image, I know. I was thinking of asking for a different room, but I figured we were pushing our luck already with the first switch. I took the net down every day and put it in the closet so that housekeeping could do their thing, then put it back up every night.

The next morning we got up bright and early for our excursion to Akumal and the cave. We were supposed to get picked up at 8:00, but at 8:15 we were still waiting. Our resort is sort of on the north end, so it's usually either the first or last pickup, depending on where you're going, and where the other people in your group are staying. At about 8:20, a car pulled up and a guy got out, walked up to us and asked us if we were waiting for the trip to Akumal and the cave. We said we were, and he informed us that the van would be along shortly. He took our paperwork and disappeared.

A minute or so later, a white van pulled up with a bunch of people in it. There were no markings on the van. It looked rented. A young guy with a chin beard and soul patch got out of the van and said his name was Hector, and that he'd be our guide. The only two seats in the van that were still free were in the front, so we got in next to Hector and strapped on our seat belts. We drove out through town, and got on the highway. A few minutes later, Hector pulled over to the side of the road and put his hazard lights on. He then unbuckled his seat belt and turned around so he was facing everyone in the van.

"Hello," he said. "My name is Hector, and I am sorry to say that you will be stuck with me all day today. This is my first time doing this tour. I am sorry we are late, but I was in jail last night. I'm still a little drunk." He pronounced it "yail."

He then outlined what was going to happen. First we were going to go to a cenote and cave system that was on private property. After that we'd head to Akumal and snorkel, then have a late lunch at the Akumal resort restaurant on the beach, then we'd have a couple hours to hang out on the beach and then we'd head back to the resort.

After the details were ironed out, we got driving again. I wasn't sure what the purpose was of pulling over on the highway rather than just give us the spiel in the parking lot of the resort. Maybe it was to keep us from running away.

A few minutes after we passed the signs for Akumal, we pulled off to the side of the road in front of what looked to be an abandoned building with a 4-wheel-drive pickup truck parked out in front of it. We drove behind the building and then stopped in front of a dirt road.

Hector turned to my wife. "Have you ever had a Mayan massage?"

"No, not yet," she replied. "We're supposed to be getting massages tomorrow."

"Ah," Hector said. "You are about to get one right now. How about the rest of you? Have you ever had a Mayan massage?" Apparently, my wife wasn't the only one who hadn't.

Hector started the van moving again. "Here we go," he said. "One Mayan massage coming up."

We hit the first pothole and I almost crapped my own liver. "Is good, no?" Hector asked, a big grin on his face. Only 4,325 more potholes to go.

After about fifteen minutes of riding on this bumpy, narrow, one-lane road, we were pretty deep in the jungle. I kept thinking that we could all disappear and nobody would ever know. Every time we rounded a corner and I thought we were going to be there, it was nothing but more jungle and single-lane road. Once in a while, we'd cross another intersecting dirt road, usually marked with a rusty metal fence accompanied by a wrecked truck or a pile of debris.

Just about the time I thought none of us were going to live to see breakfast, Hector turned to my wife and said, "Tell me. Does anyone know you are here?"

"No, nobody knows we're here," my wife replied. Hector laughed and said, "Ah, good." He nodded and said, "You will be the sacrifice."

"Well, the resort. The resort knows we are here," she added quickly. "And our friends and family, of course. Everybody knows we are here."

"Everybody, ay? Ah, that is too bad," he said. "You would have made a good sacrifice. Now we will have to pick someone from Canada. Or Germany." He looked looked in the rear view mirror at the others in the van, and there were a few nervous laughs. "What are you laughing at?" Hector said. "I am not kidding." Then he smiled. That Hector. What a joker.

Eventually we came up on a small house in the middle of nowhere, with a few goats and chickens outside in a fenced in area. There was a chain across the road. Hector beeped his horn and a guy came out and they spoke to each other in Spanish. They laughed a lot and I was pretty sure they were negotiating as to who was going to get what part of the ransom money. After the guy opened the back of the van and took a beer out of the cooler, he dropped the chain and we drove on. A few minutes later, we came upon this:

(I still don't know much about this place, other than this "tour company" was the only one allowed in here. If anyone reading this knows what the name of this place is, let me know.)

Hector got everyone out of the van and pointed out the bathrooms, which he euphamistically referred to as "composting toilets" but were in reality just your standard issue smelly outhouses. He said that once we got in the cave, we'd be in there for about an hour, so he recommended that if we had to use the bathroom, that we do it now. He handed out snorkels, vests and masks and said we wouldn't be using flippers in the caves. He then said he had to run around the back of the building to turn on the generator so we'd have lights.

Being the sort of guy that I am, my thought process upon hearing this was: Generator. Cave. Water. 120 volts. Mexico. Fuck. I didn't share my thoughts with my wife, however. I'm dumb, but not that dumb. Once he came back, he led us to the cave entrance and we descended. There was a set of stone steps, then a really steep section of wooden steps that led to a platform in the main cave. Here's a couple of pictures from the platform:

Hector then told us some of the history of the cenotes, how they were formed, the significance of the underground rivers to the people of Mexico both today and in the past. He also told us about how the Mayans believed that the cenotes were the entrance to the afterlife. He wasn't kidding about that sacrifice thing, though. They seriously used to do that shit. He was actually quite knowledgeable, and it totally exposed his lie about this being his first tour. He was clearly a seasoned pro with a lot of historic knowledge about his culture. After he was done, he said that he needed volunteers to hold the flashlights. I was screwing around at the other end of the platform looking a dive line down in the water, so I wasn't paying attention. In retrospect, I wish I had been, because having one of the flashlights would have been helpful. He only had three, so he wanted one in the front of the snorkel group, one in the middle and one at the end, since we'd be going in single file, with him in the lead. He had a headlamp, and while everyone was taking pictures, Hector was putting new batteries into the flashlights.

My wife was a little nervous getting into the water, so I got in first. She sat on the edge of the platform and dropped in feet first. Unfortunately, she didn't push off, so she almost wrenched her shoulder out of its socket when her arm decided to stay on the platform while the rest of her was well on the way to the water. She was immediately in pain, but after a minute or two, she shook it off.

"We will be going through a tunnel into another cave," Hector said. "So do not hit your head on the stalactites. Your head, I do not care about so much, but the stalactites take over a hundred years to grow an inch."

"When we get to the second cave, I will count you again before we go on to the last cave," he said. "If you are still nine, that is good. If you are eight, oh well." He smiled, shrugged his shoulders and pulled his mask down over his face.

We headed into the dark.


Mystery Solved.

Remember a few posts ago, I told you that I received a strange but interesting package from someone in the military who is apparently stationed in Israel? Well, it turns out it was actually intended for me after all.

About 3 months ago, I stumbled on an old action figure in my basement. The figure was called "Erik the Viking." I can't remember if he belonged to me or The Snitch, but I had no emotional attachment to him, since I was more of a Major Matt Mason / GI Joe kind of guy. Unfortunately for Erik, for reasons that are known only to the long-dead executives at Marx Toys, he was sort of an unmanly teal color, so I never played with him much. I didn't have any of the rest of the set, and he really didn't go with the Johnny West and his Indian sidekick. Never bring a viking sword to a gun fight, I always say. And never fight wearing teal.

Here he is on my kitchen counter with his (and I quote) Mighty Viking Horse {tm}:

The other thing that made Erik sort of unappealing to me was his Mighty Viking Haircut. He rocked a pretty serious pageboy:

We did sort of have that haircut in common, now that I think about it:

Anyway, to make a long story boring, I posted Erik up on e-Bay, where he sat, neglected for six days. On the seventh day, he received a bid. He was now worth approximately $3.00. And that was with his horse. So the auction ended, and I contacted the winner because the shipping was going to be twice as much as the merchandise, and I wanted to make sure he was OK with that. The address was to a military base, and so I asked him which branch he was in. He didn't really tell me specifically I don't think -- he just said he had a collection of Marx action figures back at home, and wanted to have a couple with him as a little reminder that real life was waiting out there somewhere.

I thought that was awesome, so I told him that I was sending Erik out as a gift, and throwing in a copy of my book as well, just to thank him for his service. Then I promptly forgot about it -- until today, when I logged into e-bay and saw his name on my list of shipped items and recognized it.

Since there was no note inside the package I received, I am assuming it was sort of a "thank you" for sending the stuff out. That's pretty cool, if you ask me.

Also, when I was looking for that pageboy picture of me, I found another picture of The Snitch, Houdini and me when we were in that whiteboy rap group that one time:

The next Mexico post is about half way done... hopefully I'll finish it up Friday if I don't have a dirty martini and fall asleep.



Mexico 2011 - Part II

After our drinks, we headed to our room to check it out. It was nice, but it wasn't in the section we had last year, so we were sort of bummed. It was more expensive because it was a "single" in that there was no second floor, so you didn't have someone stomping around upstairs. The downside was that it was on the busy path leading toward the restaurant, and since it was single, it was on the ground floor. I'm not sure if the structure had settled since it had been built, or if they didn't level the ground first, but when you walked into the room the entire floor was tilted from left to right. Over the space of about 20 feet it must have been a difference of six inches. My wife kept running into things. You always felt like you were drunk even when you weren't, which really cut down on your bar tab, but you had to stay in the room a lot.

We slept there for the first night but the following day we asked to be moved to a room on the second floor and more toward the back of the resort. It was a cheaper room by 30 bucks a night, and they made us sign something that said we accepted the fact that they wouldn't be refunding us the difference. It was still worth doing from our perspective, since we liked to use the hammocks on the porch and it's much more relaxing and private when you're not on a main thoroughfare. I'm not a people person to begin with, and saying hi to everyone who walked by got old pretty fast. I started doing things like this, so they would just avert their eyes and walk by extra quickly:

The first couple of days we didn't do much of anything. We sat on the beach, walked in the sun, read books and basically just relaxed and tried to forget about the rest of the world for a while. Especially our little section of that world, which was still 20 degrees and covered in three feet of snow. I felt like all I did was eat, drink and read because, well, that is pretty much all I did. In fact, for the first three days, we considered the day a success if we managed to get up off the beach chairs long enough to eat lunch before we were too drunk.

After three days on the beach, you start to notice things. And people. For instance, every day, like clockwork, this guy would come out and stand there like this for about ten minutes:

Every time I'd see him standing there, I'd hear this music in my head. I'm not really sure what his super power was, but if I were a betting man, I'd say it was most likely the power to undress women with his eyes.

I guess I wasn't the only one who was wondering just what the hell he was looking at, because then this happened:

I was going to go stand next to them so my wife could get a picture of all three of us, but she wouldn't let me.

He might have been one of the yoga people. Our resort was hosting some sort of famous yoga guy program for the week. I saw one guy laying on his back outside his room doing jazz hands (and feet) over and over. I'm not sure what yoga position that is, (upward facing cockroach?) but he looked like he was trying to levitate but didn't quite have the specifics down yet.

There were a lot of crunchy people on display, and when I say "on display," I mean that literally.

In other words, there was a lot of the topless happening, even more so than last year. And again, it was really, really bad. This just confirms my suspicion that it's never the 25 year old hot chicks with the perfect bodies who are topless. It's always women like the ropey looking granny with orange hair, a face like Geddy Lee and boobs that are two feet long that are walking around all comfortable in their skin. I guess after a while you just get used to it, but I'm not sure. I knew it was bad when the wind actually caused her tits to flap a little. I kept waiting for her to toss one over each shoulder, catch some air, and take off like a flying squirrel. I made my wife promise that she'd never walk around topless on the beach, and in turn she made me promise that I'd never wear a banana hammock.*

On the third day, we also decided we wanted to Do Something. We didn't exactly know what, but we wanted to ease into it. Nothing too strenuous. We decided our first excursion was going to be to X-Caret the next day, just because it was close, the weather report was looking a bit iffy and we figured there'd be more places there to get out of the rain. Turns out that a 40% chance of rain in the forecast means absolutely nothing in PDC. The next day was crazy hot. Once you got away from the sea breeze, it was like you had a burning cinderblock sitting on top of your head.

Really, the only thing you can do at that point is get one of these:

Yep. It's exactly what it looks like. A 120 peso ice-cream headache with a face. Our lunch buffet was included in the ticket price, but drinks were not...so you guessed it. They push the drinks a little. But that was ok. This monster was like a 64 oz. Slushie except it was made with fresh fruit juices instead of syrup the flavor of blue. Yes, I know, I look like an axe murderer in that picture.

We didn't pay for any of the extras like the dolphin swim, the SNUBA or the sea-walk, but we did get to float through the "underground river" which I think was almost entirely man-made. It was a good snorkel intro for my wife, though, since she doesn't swim much and we were planning on going to Akumal the next day. Of course, they took your picture around every corner, then tried to sell them to you at the end for $13 each. I thought that was entirely reasonable, except they print them all regardless of whether you actually want to buy them, so the cost and waste is probably huge. They should just pop them up on screens like they do at the amusement parks.

As an aside, X-Caret is like a maze. The cartoon maps they hand out seem to serve no purpose other than to taunt you with things that you can't seem to get to. At every intersection, they have these stylized icon-type pictures that are supposed to tell you what is where, but they leave a bit to be desired. Maybe this is the heat stroke talking, but it shouldn't be that difficult to tell the difference between a butterfly and a freakin' BAT. We never did get to see the Bat Cave, which is a bummer. I told my wife I was looking forward to checking out the giant computer but she just looked at me like I was an idiot so I don't think she got it. On second thought, maybe she did.

Yeah, she probably did.

Eventually, we did get to see some sea turtles, although the map wasn't much help. I just kept following the shoreline and kicking giant iguanas out of my way until it looked like we were close, then we headed up toward the path again. Here's one that burped at me:

By about three pm, we were pretty much done. Everyone said that we needed to stay and "see the Mayan show" which was from six to nine, but both of us were about as dehydrated as a roadkill toad in the summer, and all we wanted to do was get back to the hotel, get some drinks and sit by the pool until it was time to shower up for dinner. So that's what we did. We took a taxi back, and got a few drinks and went to the pool.

Unfortunately, the pool had been taken over by a pack of wild 10-year-old girls, and they had all been snorting pixie stix or something, because they were hopped up. The were playing a kind of water tag where the person who is "it" has to guess what word the others in the pool were thinking of, based on category and letter, and when they guessed right, the person in the water would try to get to the other side before the person who was "it" could dive in and catch them. So needless to say, this was very loud. That's OK, though. Kids are loud. We understand that. And since we can't afford Adult Only hotels, we play the hand we're dealt.

What put us over the edge was how they determined who was to become it.

When I was a kid, a simple and quick "NOT IT!" uttered before anyone else was enough to make sure you weren't it -- whoever said it last was the one doing the chasing. Easy, right? Even a quick eeny, meeny, miny moe would do in a pinch. It appears that things have gotten a little more complicated since then, because here's the way it's done now:

Inky, Pinky, Ponky!
Daddy bought a donkey,
The donkey died, Daddy cried,
Inky, Pinky, Ponky!

The worst part? Whoever gets the last Ponky isn't "it." No. Instead, that person is "safe." The more astute among you will have immediately grasped the seriousness of this variation, in that if you have eight screaming ten-year old girls in a pool, in order to determine who is it for each game, you have to listen to that fucking rhyme at least seven times. Also, the girl doing the rhyme had a voice like she smoked a pack a day. I don't know how that's even possible, but there you go.

We decided to pack up our drinks and head back to our porch hammocks and see what sort of towel animals housekeeping had left for us. On the way, we stopped at the front desk and asked about getting a ride to Akumal. Instead, we ended up signing up for a tour to both Akumal and a cave - both in one day. That story I will save for the next post.

Also: You go, Ghandi.

*in public.


Mexico 2011 - Part I

How to even begin? I suppose, like any trip, it begins with the prep, which included packing our suitcases. We did two things differently this year -- first, my wife decided to forgo bringing every article of clothing she owns, and two, we decided to use a cooler on wheels as one of our suitcases. Yeah. We're high-class. The reason for this was two-fold -- the resort we were staying at didn't have refrigerators in the rooms, and last year we bought a styrofoam cooler when we got there, but it was kind of crappy so we turned a five-dollar bag of ice from the bar into room temperature water almost every single day. We figured we'd actually save money buying and bringing the cooler, which we kind of did. The only bummer was that when we checked in we found out that they now rented small dorm-room-type cube refrigerators for something like five bucks a day. Live and learn. On the plus side, we got asked four times whether we were carrying fish, beef, human organs or anything else that might require the cooler to be full of dry ice.

We also had the pleasure of having our cooler given the once-over by a drug sniffing German shepherd. Or maybe they used him for detecting explosives, or Cuban cigars. I'm not really sure. All I had in there was some snorkeling equipment and all of our toiletries, including a ton of over-the-counter medication, just in case we needed it. This caused me a little bit of trouble when we were checking the bags and the airline employee said, "Sir, What's in the cooler?" and I replied, "Just some snorkel equipment and a ton of drugs." I amaze myself with my own stupidity sometimes.

Our flight from Albany to Cancun was uneventful, however we had a two-hour layover in Charlotte, North Carolina. No offense Charlotte, but y'all need to step it up and get your asses out of the 80's. I dig that decade as much as the next guy, but seriously, I never saw so many shoulder-length mullets in my life. Also, I thought the sign at the end of the moving walkway that said "Prepare to Step Off" needed a comma and "Bitch" at the end, but my wife wouldn't loan me her sharpie. If one of you could take care of that, I'd appreciate it.

For once, we didn't get stuck sitting next to someone with bad breath or body odor on the plane. We also avoided sitting next to someone huge who squeezes under the arm rest into our seats. In fact, in this case, I'm pretty sure we were the smelly ones, since we had eaten some pretty heavy garlic the night before. I think Karma paid us back on the return trip, but I'll get to that later.

When we landed in Cancun, we grabbed our bags and went outside to find our ride. He was holding up a sign with my name printed on it, and he immediately led us to his van. He wasn't as personable as the driver we had last year, and didn't offer to stop for drinks, or even tell us his name. He just drove. I tipped him anyway because I was in a good mood, and we were finally on the ground and at our hotel.

We got there just in time for happy hour, which was a fortuitous turn of events. We were thirsty, and needed some bottled water at the very least. Not drinking the tap water is kind of a given, but I always wondered about the ice. I brought a Steri-Pen with us because I have a notoriously sensitive stomach, and the last thing I wanted was a case of the trots in a place where you can't flush the toilet paper. Someone on the playa.info forum told me that if the ice is cylindrical and has a hole in it, it's made from bottled, purified water. We ordered up a couple of drinks and I was glad to see the ice in my cup was as described. It was then that I noticed the drink special:

I didn't want to tempt fate, so I refrained from ordering one. It probably wasn't the best name for a drink special in Mexico, all things considered. It reminded me of the time I was walking through the mall in Cleveland and the drink special at the coffee shop was called the "Pumpkin Spice Steamer."

Sitting at the outside bar is always good for overhearing the conversations of others. Our entertainment for the evening was a hippie-ish woman of about 60 who was regaling some people she just met at the bar with tales about her favorite subject, which turned out to be herself. She also insisted upon calling children "little people" instead of "children" or the more colloquial "kids." She would say things like, "Yes, the resort is excellent for the little people. They provide them with so many activities, like painting pottery and ping pong" and "The restaurant was very good, but the menu didn't have any options for the little people." Of course, this instantly conjured up images in my mind of leprechauns standing on boxes to reach the ping-pong table, and sitting on phonebooks while painting ceramics and ordering appetizers and rounds of green beer. About the tenth time she said "little people" I couldn't hold back anymore. "KIDS." I said to my wife, probably too loudly. "Just call them KIDS, for fuck's sake." I got shushed by my wife, and deservedly so. What can I say? I hadn't eaten since six in the morning and my drink was getting right on top of me.

Her conversation got better (and by better, I mean funnier) once she moved off the "little people" kick. Her next tale was all about how she was now retired, but finding a lot of satisfaction with what she called her "second career." I swear to you, I almost shot pina coloda out of my nose when the woman she was chatting with asked her what her second career was and she replied, (with an earnest gravitas only attainable by reaching the highest pinnacle of self-delusion), that she was now a Story Teller. I guess she went to the local library once a week and made up stories for the kids -- excuse me -- little people. I'm sure it's very rewarding, however it's probably not really what you'd consider a career. If that's the case, I'm pretty sure making fart noises with your armpits while watching wheel of fortune could also be considered a career. Oh well, it was amusing anyway, and I wish her luck. At least she wasn't a hedge fund manager.

Part II in the next few days. Same Bat channel. Now it's time to eat drink and be Mary. What? She dresses nice, and I like her style.


One of these things doesn't go with the others.

So according to the fine folks at Barnes & Noble, people who bought my book also bought:

Shit My Dad Says
I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell
Assholes Finish First
The Zombie Survival Guide


The Year of Living Biblically

I totally get the first three, and hey, who doesn't want to survive the coming Zombpocalypse? But that last one? God works in mysterious ways.


Mail from Israel. I think.

I got back late last night from spending a week in Mexico, and today I went through all the mail we had held at the post office while we were gone. There was a big envelope on the bottom of the pile, addressed to me. I opened it up, and here's what was inside:

1. A VHS tape of something called In The Footsteps of Christ.

2. A book entitled Chicken Soup for the Veteran's Soul.

3. Three coins from Israel, one with a "1/2" on it, one with a "1" and one with a "10"

4. A pin that says "Ambassador's Protective Detail" around the outside, and an official seal inside that says "United States of America - Department of State"

5. A tiny piece of a blue and gold glass plate inside of an envelope with "Roman Glass, made 2,000 years ago. Found in Israel" written on it.

It all came from someone named Robert Muha with a DPO return address. I have no idea who that is, but I'm assuming the stuff was destined for a completely different person than the one currently typing this.

I took some notes while on our trip. I'm still compiling them, but there's a Mexican adventure in your immediate future.

Now excuse me while I go scratch the living hell out of my sunburn.