“Just one. What’s the matter with you?” The maitre de said as I went for my first meal in Cancun. I was stunned and incapable of thinking of a smart comeback. Of course I thought of many later.
I had never been to Cancun** before and had never thought of it as “real Mexico.” Mexico the land where I learned to say “no” as a lifestyle when I spent high school summers there. The first, the summer I turned sixteen in 1966 in Oaxaca, the most beautiful and mystifying place I have been to. Fourteen girls were “selected” to live in a villa with the widow of a famed anthropologist, and we got to know it in all its glory and sadness.
The second summer I spent three weeks in Guanajuato, on a teen tour, where we “taught” English to young kids and then traveled to Mexico City, Oaxaca, Acapulco, Merida in the Yucatan and Isla de Mujeres. If you want to know more about my life in Mexico, read my memoir because Mexico is where the story of me really began.
“AFTER YOU CHECK IN, ALL YOUR TROUBLES WILL DISAPEAR. AS OUR PAMPERED GUEST YOU WILL BE SO HAPPY. LET US RELAX YOU. NO OTHER HOTEL WILL TREAT YOU SO WELL. IN OUR INCLUSIVE RESORT YOU WILL FIND JOY. WE WILL MAKE ALL YOUR WISHES COME TRUE. NO OTHER RESORT HAS OUR QUALITY OF SERVICE, YOU WILL EAT IN ONE OF OUR MANY WONDERFUL RESTAURANTS AND THE FOOD AND SERVICE WILL BE BEYOND YOUR MOST EXPECTATIONS.
WE WORK HARD TO MAKE YOU BE HAPPY
RELAX IN OUR MANY BARS. LET US BRING FABULOUS DRINKS TO YOUR DIVINE LOUNGE CHAIRS. YOU WILL BE ASSURED TO RELAX IN OUR HAMMOCKS. OUR BEACH IS UNSURPASSED. OUR POOLS ARE INCREDIBLE. NO OTHER RESORT HAS SO GOOD WONDERFUL ACTIVITIES. LET US SHOW AMAZING ENTERTAINMENT.
YOUR STAY WILL BE THE BEST IN YOUR LIFE. YOU WILL NEVER WANT TO LEAVE AND ALWAYS HAVE A SMILE ON YOUR FACE. WHEN YOUR REMEMBER YOUR VACATION, YOU WILL MAKE NEW RESERVATIONS TO COME BACK TO THE MOST LOVELY VACATION YOU HAD.”
Oh, Cancun**, land of superlatives and mangled English, where the drinking begins before breakfast and you can get anything you want except respect if you’re a single woman. I have been to many countries by myself and have always found people to reach out if I just smiled. I didn’t expect or want everybody to speak English, at least not the way they did.
My smile in Cancun became so forced it felt as if I were undergoing massive dental work and more surgery. I had been up for 30 hours when the maitre de asked me that question. I thought I might have looked tired and old. But I was too find out that I looked like a woman who was cared for, or the type of woman who should always have a man at her side.
The next day, as I was leaving for the beach, I received a call to see a travel agent in the lobby. Apparently, when you make reservations through an agency, as most people do, for the lower prices, they are responsible for arranging your shuttle back to the airport and other things. It was then that I found out my reservation ended a day before my airplane ride home. After an hour and forty minutes, it was fixed by the travel agent, or so I thought.
I finally made it to the beach. I knew that Cancun had been ravished by Katrina or the one before or after, but had been assured and assured that the beach was walkable. I walked about ten feet when the tide came in. I couldn’t see the sandbags and fell into the water. That would have been great but I hadn’t planned to go swimming and had my camera with me. Bye beloved camera, you will be missed and replaced. Oh I didn’t lose the camera. It just died. Somehow everything else in my day pack survived intact. That was my fault. No it wasn’t. There should have been rope or signs around the area saying it could be dangerous to walk there.
I changed and began to walk to town.
“MISS DO YOU WANT?” “SENORA SPEAK TO ME.” “SENORITA DO YOU WANT A CAB RIDE, ARTIFICATS, CLOTHES, DRUGS?”
That last was from all the same man at the same time. I quickly went from “no, muchas gracias,” to “no, gracias” to “NO,” smiling all the while.
“LADY, YOU ARE RUDE. YOU OWE ME THE RESPECT OF SPEAKING TO ME. YOU ARE NASTY.”
“LADY, SENORA, SENORITA, LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING. WHEN A PERSON SPEAKS TO YOU, YOU MUST LISTEN. I’M NOT TRYING TO SELL YOU ANYTHING,” the man said as he unlocked the door to the time share office. Cancun is famed for its high pressured time share sales tactics.
All the guidebooks say that a woman alone should never answer. The hotel, itself, had a warning about people who approach you on the street. Maybe this did affect me more because I was alone and from New York where I find nothing exotic or interesting about being approached on the street. People in the hotel would laughingly complain about the rude people but they were with groups and not from Manhattan where personal space, on the street, is a luxury.
The drinks in the hotel were watered down. I could tell because I had two tequilas straight up and they did nothing.
A bartender and a waiter in one of the hotel’s restaurants took a liking to me.
“SISTER YOU ARE MUCHO BONITA.” (“Very pretty”, not really at the age where I want that kind of compliment from a waiter who kept trying to put his arms around my breasts.) When I asked for a strawberry margarita, I could immediately feel the affect of the liquor. It was the good stuff that wasn’t watered down. Unfortunately for the waiter and the bartender I stopped at one, no matter how much they tried to get me drunk.
I couldn’t relax. I like to get into a pool and swim not play games. I hate lying around a pool or the fake beach with hammocks, lounge chairs and Nikki beds, or beds on a platform with four posters and a canopy. The mattresses were beyond soft. The hammocks were cool. I relaxed despite myself.
I did meet some nice people but, and this is probably my problem, I didn’t find them interesting enough to want to share a meal with them. There were other single people at the hotel who had looks of quiet desperation or were too eager. Good golly Miss Molly, I’m picky when I’m alone, but I have made the mistake of getting friendly with people I just didn’t like that much, at hotels, and then I couldn’t get rid of them.
I did meet one truly nice man and we did eat together, until he had to go home. I’m a snob, yes, and picked the one place to vacation that’s all about “being happy.” Happiness doesn’t come from a bottle.
I did find much happiness in Mexico walking on the beach, sitting in my ocean front room and going on two tours where again the people, Mexican and US American were very nice.
I wasn’t on this vacation to meet people, or for the night life. I wanted to walk the beaches and to write. One day I walked six miles, past three feet wide rubber tubing, I had to jump over, past other grit. There was so much new construction and reconstruction that it was dizzying. I hit my toe on a rock I couldn’t see outside one of the best hotels. I tried washing it, in the hotel’s outdoor shower, and it wouldn’t stop bleeding. I went into the hotel grounds and a porter found the lifeguard who was very concerned and very sweet. He applied some tropical antiobitics, bandaged it and made me promise to take a cab or bus back to my hotel and stay off my foot.
The lifeguard wouldn’t accept my tip. I felt so happy because I realized that I was right to think that my hotel was faux-classy.
I tried making a reservation at the “good” restaurant in my hotel. First the concierge said that it was all booked, then she tried giving me a six o’clock one. I refused and insisted on eight PM. No Savage settles for the crumbs. She told me the restaurant was over-booked and they would put a special but good table for me. While I was in the restaurant there were always at least two tables for two open. It was an excellent meal, but give me tuna capriccio (sic, I think) and I’m happy. The service was excellent.
Little things kept going wrong.
On Monday I had three messages, on my land line, from my health insurance company. When I called it was for something that I had already done. But I had an overwhelming sense of something being wrong at home. Couldn’t be as they had my land line number and three numbers for Lucia. I make sure that all bases are covered. Lucia and I were in constant email touch.
I took my morning beach walk. I’m a quick healer and the cut which almost needed a stitch was almost healed. I’m the only adult I know to always bring triple antibiotic cream and a huge supply of different type band aids with me, where ever I go.
That afternoon I washed my hair and let it dry as I walked into town. It dried in soft curls. For some reason I was wearing a tiered skirt that ended just above my knees and a nice tee. I tried walking into a nice hotel just to see it. I wasn’t allowed in. I heard the security guard tell another one that I was a puta (whore). There’s nothing sadder than an old puta and I felt sad.
But then: “SENORITA WOULD YOU LIKE TO COME WITH ME FOR SOME NICE DRUGS.” A few minutes later a car blared its horn at me and the man in it wolf whistled. I began to feel flattered. How I have fallen. Would have hated it a few years ago. Not that I really liked it or showed that I was slightly flattered.
Wednesday was my last full day. I had it all planned. I went to my door and saw a notice thanking me for stay and telling me that I was checking out that day. “Patricia,” I thought, she will straighten this out. She was the travel person who had straightened out my reservation.
I went downstairs. Patricia had resigned the day before. Two and a half hours later, after I told the travel company to check their computer records, it was straightened out.
That night I went into a hotel restaurant that didn’t have the waiter who kept calling me “sister.” As I went to the buffet, they gave my table away. It was kind of embarrassing.
I wrote this in an email: The way things have been going, the planes will almost crash, I will almost be arrested by both the Mexican authorities and American whoever. My cell, which I can’t use here and can’t access messages from except from the phone will be over laden with messages. I forgot the charger. Something will almost happen because of that. I will get home and almost have major catastrophes.
Nothing really bad happened. I had hours to kill in Atlanta, and bought a charger for my phone. Waiting for it to charge was like watching water boil. Finally, it worked. I had numerous messages from my building. On Monday, the day I had the sense of things going wrong at home, a steam riser burst. My apartment, on the ninth floor, caused floods up to the twelfth floor. I had no idea what a steam riser was, but felt almost good that my sense of something happening was correct.
I made it home. The steam riser is on a wall near the radiator. I had no idea that the wall had a pipe let alone heat or a steam riser. Still it was good to be home.
Really I hadn’t wanted to leave. The water was amazing shades of blue. Not that I have pictures. I had a great time despite all the complaints. They’re just easier to write about.
I didn’t have to go through Customs. The pharmacies sell all kinds of great psychotropics I would have loved to have bought, but….
Oh well, oh well, I feel so good today,
We touched ground on an international runway
Jet propelled back home, from over the seas to the u. s. a.
New york, los angeles, oh, how I yearned for you
Detroit, chicago, chattanooga, baton rouge
Let alone just to be at my home back in ol st. lou.
Did I miss the skyscrapers, did I miss the long freeway?
From the coast of california to the shores of delaware bay
You can bet your life I did, till I got back to the u. s. a.
Looking hard for a drive-in, searching for a corner caf
Where hamburgers sizzle on an open grill night and day
Yeah, and a juke-box jumping with records like in the u.s.a.
Well, Im so glad Im livin in the u.s.a.
Yes. Im so glad Im livin in the u.s.a.
Anything you want, we got right here in the u.s.a.
That’s by Chuck Berry, the closest I could get to a yeah USA song by Little Richard
The title Just one, no hon, refers to vacations I took in Wildwood with the don’t hate us because we’re beautiful smart and sorta famous soap star family. They didn’t eat breakfast. It’s my only must have meal. The waitresses would alway say “Just one, hon.” I was never insulted.
Cancun was a spit bar in 1970. It’s been over developed. It caters to American’s who add “o”s to the end of sentences and think that’s hysterical. It caters to people who want “to be happy” and have no respect for the workers or Mexican’s in general. Mexico is one of the countries next door. It’s a glorious country with much much amazing history.
The live picture that shows a large beach–the big part is a sand beach on hotel land. It’s not a real beach in any sense of the word. The beach is much narrower than that
As a single woman I was an enigma to them and the weakest link in the chain, they thought. We from the Unitedo Stateso have never treated Mexicans, their history and culture with the respect we should. Mexico is our problem. I strongly believe in open borders because we have helped create many problems that I haven’t explored and won’t now.
I don’t mean to denigrate the hurricane’s affect on Cancun but not even websites where people rate hotels and such don’t usually mention it. The beaches get glossed over and that’s a shame. They talked about the drinks and food.
Nobody says come to New Orleans because we’re all recovered, they say to come despite it. I’m not a big drinker though I did try, and the condition of the beach is very important to my stay. But the view was spectacular.
I admire honesty more than most virtues. I originally made reservations in Cozumel but that couldn’t work because of the lengthy ferry ride. My plane was at eight AM. I should have stayed there and spent the last night in Cancun. I learned.
I felt so guilty about the steam riser all day though Fernando, the doorman lectured me on my lack of responsiblity and how I must get them to fix the wall when it dries. The cold weather is helping immensely. I still feel guilty.
The building has insurance for floods. The super was hired because of his flood expertise. In this building it’s needed. Beginning to get my 40% apartment increase worth, I think.
The 88 year old steam riser that I never knew existed had a long and good life. I couldn’t have stopped the floods. They don’t give warnings when they die. I wouldn’t have even known until other people complained because my apartment wasn’t flooded but was the cause. Gawd did i feel guilty.
When you sell a coop in New York one of the big papers that you must sign states that the apartment hasn’t had a flood in a year. I have been told that most people lie. I would feel too guilty. Though technically my apartment wasn’t flooded. Just the four floors above me.
There was an identical flood in the other wing today. Tis the season.
I realize that this is a long post even for me, and I probably should have divided it into three parts. I’m not posting again until 3 Word Wednesday so…I used to not care about comments and a big part of me really doesn’t. But I’m going through a lack of confidence, in my writing not me, right now.
I do think being taken for a puta at my age is very sad but is very funny as I was so often taken for one when younger. It might just be a life long thing. Once taken for a ho, always…
I put in a page about the few9/11 familes href=”http://courtingdestiny.com/911-families-channel-one-mayor-bloomberg-911-memorial-maya-lin-voet-nam-memorial/”>few 9/11 families who are holding up construction of the memorial have become heartless and selfish I don’t care if people disagree or hate me for that. It’s a good page with many interesting links. I did debate putting this in or not because I don’t want Courting to be about tragedy, but they went too far when they put in TV commercials.
They made themselves fair game to be talked about not positively which is horrible for the majority of 9/11 families. These few families don’t seem to understand that most New Yorkers who lived here thn don’t want to relive 9/11 everytime we watch Channel One, nor should we have to. Nobody will forget; we don’t need daily reminders. I shed enough tears, over 9/11 without being reminded.
Was going to put in a page of personal essays I like the most, for quirky reasons. I might just like the title or the memory of writing the post. I didn’t because I put those posts in the category
I found my cab driver who thought Mein Kampf to be a great textbook for life, government and business management and truly meant it, for those people who have been clamoring for it. Had to Google myself for that.
It’s not pleasant to see yourself the object of derision in blog posts on Google. On the other hand, those who spread negativity will get negativity back. My blogging time is limited and I’m not going to waste it on answering negative posts.
According to WP’s default general category I’m nine posts away from 3,000, at least half have remained in draft. Many are being used for non blog purposes. I just find it easy to write in here.