Just Bill and the Mister

February 18, 2010

REVENGE OF THE TUITION BANKRUPTS #6: TRISTE TROPIQUES MARGARITAVILLE

Filed under: Uncategorized — bknister @ 11:27 am
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Your one shore excursion is at Cozumel, the last port of call.  The only reason you and your wife bother with it has to do with a Mexican friend back home: he might take offense if neither of you could provide some convincing details.

You wave off cabbies and walk the two miles into town.  After three days, it feels good.  The sun is hot, the water emerald and sapphire.  Dive shops and beach bars line the road.  Cool hotel entrances form stereoscopic views of the ocean at the opposite end.

But when you and your wife get to town, something is melancholy about the pastel-painted buildings.  All the people are very small, almost like children.  That, you decide, is why it’s sad to see them peddling onyx bookends, black coral and silver jewelry in the shops, leather and snakeskin junk, tee shirts.  They seem orphaned, out of place in their own place.

But that’s part of the package, why be hypocritical?  Dependence on tourism in subsistence economies is the given on which cruise ships operate.  Alvarez and the hundreds of other staff on board the Britanis do better shipping out than they ever could at home.  All the traveler can do is to tip with this is mind.

In perfect tourist fashion you end up in one of Cozumel’s seaside dives, the redundantly named franchise Carlos and Charlie’s. Open on all sides, its ceiling is a patchwork of shirts people lost or donated.  The juke box blasts, waiters who don’t look Mayan hustle drinks, including an infamous concoction made with Everclear, grain alcohol at near 200 proof. 

You drink, sweating through the afternoon with college kids from the ship.  You buy a round, they buy one.  And so forth. The day ends with a tequila sunset, in a haze of inter-generational gemutlicheit.  All of you share a cab back to the ship, singing a medley of songs, simultaneously, in several languages. 

Your wife—by no means for the first time or in all probability the last—saves the day by knowing where the two of you live on the ship.  Do you make it to dinner before coming asymmetrically to rest on some bed or other?  All such questions will need to be referred to your wife.

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