Thursday, February 24, 2005

Where I Went On Holiday - Playa Del Carmen, Part 8

[Originally posted on]

Day 6 or thereabouts

We woke at dawn again. If we thought it was pretty off the deck of the Freud, it was awe-inspiring off the deck of this place, coming up right out of the sea.

The first day we did a little exploring, up and down the beach, and noticed a couple of enormous falling-down buildings, with caved-in palm roofs, rotting beams, and birds swooping in and out. We discovered that they formerly belonged to Pablo Escobar, the notorious Columbian drug lord who was killed by the CIA a while back, and now belong to the government. We soon discovered that the government was protecting their investment with real live soldiers, Federales suited up for war head to toe, with automatic weapons in their arms (along with their lunches, and on at least one occasion a pretty senorita) as they walked up and down the beach.

We also saw fishermen walk past once or twice a day with their spear guns and strings of fish; we even saw a guy walk up to the surf, put on this mask and snorkel, grab his spear gun from his buddy, and head off swimming to the reef, a good 200 yards or more away. Intrepid!

I discovered that it doesn't matter how much sunscreen you use, it only matters how much you DON'T use in just one moment of forgetfulness. I was doing really well -- my fair skin burns like flash paper -- but on the 6th or 7th day I left it off for just a half hour and roasted like a pig under a broiler. (I'm still itching and peeling as I type this. My cow-orkers are enjoying the sight of me with a network cable wrapped around my back trying to scratch that ONE PLACE I can't quite reach.)

Now, on a beach with no people, one's opportunities to admire that one particularly lovely form of the beauty of nature that gets so much attention here are limited. But while I was despairing of this, and plotting a way to get back up to Mamita's (because I was as yet unaware of closer opportunities), a couple of sweethearts strode up and dragged two lounges directly into my field of view. "Wouldn't it be nice if they", and then they did. Oh, I love humanity, really I do.

WHAP. "I know what you're looking at".

"I'm not looking, honey, really I'm not; I'm just working over in my mind the design for my new patented zoom-lens sunglasses".

Speaking of sunglasses, I recently splurged on a fancy-schmantzy pair of spectacles, because I am incredibly blind and even more incredibly vain, which included a smashing set of clip-on sunglasses, made especially to fit. With a whatchamacallit, a Croakie, to hold my glasses on while swimming in the surf (I mean it, I am really blind without, about 20-500), I thought I was all set. Until I caught a big wave smack in the face (which was actually my objective at the time), and came up sans clipons. Every other thing in the bleedin' ocean washed to shore around us (the nearby beaches that were not swept clean every morning were covered in plastic flotsam, or is it jetsam?), but not my sunglasses. This trip is getting expensive!

And yet, I can't stop grinning. I have photographic proof, from Nancy's camera: I look like a complete idiot, a total subnormal -- but a happy one.

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