I’ve never really got to grips with how I should handle myself when I return to a hotel room and the maid is in there. A cheery hello, a polite smile, and the overacting of I’m-just-getting-something. I exit the room and do something for ten minutes or so, aimless wandering or sitting and waiting somewhere. All the time, though, all I can think about is getting back into the room and dropping the kids off at the pool, which, well, it’d be rude to destroy her sterling work while she’s in the room, wouldn’t it?
Sitting in the hammock in the palapa at the end of the pier. There are two hammocks and a two-seated wooden swingy thing there. Whenever I’ve seen people using one of the loungin’ options, I’ve put on hold my desire to go out there. It just seems a bit weird to encroach on someone’s relaxation. Like in a small hotel pool; if someone else is using it, I don’t really want to bug them by working on my cannonballs. Not so, though, with an older American gent, who harshed my mellow by standing at the edge of the palapa and dropping a fish hook attached to a small reel of line into the sea. I’ve swum around the end of the pier before. It’s knee depth at best. He caught nothing. And with another man present (me), by catching nothing he announced to the world that he is useless at fishing. Thus useless at providing for his woman. And he’d be too weak to defend his family. And not able to defend his position as leader of his tribe and village. I can therefore go to his town and take over. I will assume the role of alpha male. And I will institute laws allowing me to do what the fuck I want. (My reign will be based on the reign of King Mswati III of Swaziland: loads of wives and cars for me, while my people live in poverty and die of AIDS.) He’ll soon wish he never walked onto MY pier. The funniest thing, though, was when he dropped the reel and it rolled all the way across the pier floor and plopped into the water. Holding the thread in his hand, he started to try and pull the reel out of the water, all the time just pulling more and more line off of the reel, which was more than likely stuck in the sand on the sea bed. (Sea bed seems like too dramatic a name for sand that’s a foot or so beneath the surface, though, right?)
I did work on my cannonballs in the pool, though. The hotel emptied out on Sunday, so at 10am there was virtually no-one around. Got some good height and big splashes going on.
Some bobbing around was in order. Bob bob bob. I backed into a corner, supported myself with my hands on the side of the pool and hummed “Also sprach Zarathustra” to myself and pretended my feet were monoliths (duoliths?) rising from the ocean. Nice to feel the change in temperature, from cool to warm as the sun hits the feet.
“Club Tropicana” by Wham! A song that my childhood self thought of as the epitome of what being an adult on holiday abroad was like. At the age of twelve, some 28 years ago, the farthest afield I’d even been was a school trip to a small town on the northern coast of France called Le Portel. (It was a trip for us to practice our French. I remember being amazed that morning coffee came in a big big cup with no handle, and mostly that there were topless sunbathers on the beach.) And I remember thinking the “Club Tropicana” 7″ single had a nice sleeve of a tropical palm tree beach scene. Even though the chorus clearly states that “all that’s missing is the sea.” Of course, the second verse does mention that one can “watch the waves break on the bay” and that there is “soft white sands” and “a blue lagoon.” Really, that song needed a fact checker. Still love it, though.
For a change of scenery I moved from the pool that is nearest to my room, to the pool near the bar. Dripping on the sand for the 30 second walk.
Stood at one end of the pool, opening the top of my shorts to let it fill up, the squeezing the crotch to let the bubbles float out.
Again I was alone in the pool so I waded around in the bouyant way one can do in a pool, pretending I was walking on the moon.
I spent some time zoning out, enjoying the light refracted in the water. And quite some time trying to be as still as possible so my feet looked normal under the water.
Strode around some more, this time pretending I was evolution occurring, from a blobby thing to a tadpole-y thing to a fish, to a frog, and leaping out of the pool, missing a few steps in the evolutionary chain, to being a short-sighted English human groping for a towel and his glasses.
Got back in and did some laps. Breast stroke, of course. The lazy man’s swimming style. Wondered which freak ever invented butterfly. Fucking idiot. And more than that, how in the hell such a style of swimming became an Olympic sport.
Out in the kayak for a change of pace. I had no plans for a specific journey; just fancied paddling around in the sunshine. I got about 50 metres from the shore and noticed something floating. It couldn’t be what I think it is, could it? That looks like… a piece of poo. (Or as the iPod just autocorrected: a piece of pop.) I paddled away, and saw another. And then another. And soon enough I was surrounded on all sides by chod. And slowly, the poops started coming up through the little holes in the bottom of the kayak. The craft was filling up with faeces. And as it filled up, the kayak started to sink. The stench was unbearable, but I was powerless. Down and down I went until all that was above the crap stew was my head. A sudden, swift feeling around my ankles and I was dragged under. I had just enough time for one last gasp of air, and held my breath. My eyes were closed, but I could sense the darkness above me, as a canopy of plops blocked the sunlight. I was dragged down and down until I became aware that I was no longer in water. There was air. I opened my eyes and saw I was inside a hut. It had clay walls. A tiny man—about the size of a Tickle-me Elmo— beckoned me to follow him through a door that was big enough for a human. I entered a big hall. Lining the walls were gold-framed oil paintings of turds. We kept on walking, towards a door at the other end of the hall. The tiny man smiled, and beckoned me excitedly. He looked like he knew what I was getting for Christmas, and that I would love it, and he was dying to tell me. Through the second door, we entered a short corridor, and through a third door, into a room that looked not unlike one of the weirdly fake-looking bedrooms they have in IKEA. Lounging on the bed was another small man. He was wearing a crown, though. The first man shook my hand and left. The man in the crown cleared his throat.
“Mr. Robinson, I’m glad you could join me. I’ve been wanting to talk to you for quite some time,” he said.
“Really?” I said.
“Really. You see, I’ve been paying attention to you for many years. And you use the word ‘shit’ way too much. And ‘crap.’ And ‘poo.’ And ‘turds.’ And sometimes ‘ploppy.’ You use these words like they are bad things. And you seem to be amused by them, too.”
“Well, they are kinda gross. And funny.”
“But to us in the Fecalworld, it is offensive when you say ‘poo.’”
He kept on talking for a while, but I didn’t really notice much of what he was saying; all I could think about was trying not to laugh at him saying “poo.”
“… so if you could try to keep the toilet talk to a minimum in future, we’d greatly appreciate it. We don’t expect you to stop altogether, but, an effort would be appreciated.”
“Er, okay. I’ll do my best.”
“Goodbye, Mr. Robinson.”
And with that, the first man re-entered the room and lead me back through the doors to the hut. He smiled a last smile, shook my hand, and jerked his hand towards the roof, and I was instantly back in my kayak on the surface of the sea. Not a poo in sight.
Coming back to shore, Dean, the Virginian gentleman I spoke to the other day, shouted and asked if there were any fish out there. He called me Clive. I didn’t have the heart to correct him. (I once vaguely knew a guy in Lincoln, and the first time he got my name wrong, calling me Carl, I didn’t correct him. He called me Carl for three years before I left town and have never seen him since.)
Back to the pool. Even at its deepest, you couldn’t drown, so I walked the whole length in the style of John Cleese. You know the walk I mean.
Off by the steps up to the pool there was an iguana. I got out to get my camera and he scampered off. Iguanas look funny from behind when they run.
I spent a not insignificant amount of time pondering my finger nails under the water.
I inched along the edge of the pool, looking at the grains of sand around the edge. At the right angle, and focussing right up close, the grains look like cars on a vast open landscape, like an architectural model.
And then, oh no, the Chuck Palahniuk short story, “Guts” popped into my head. I tried to empty my mind. Stood in the pool. Tried to think of nothing at all. Specifically not “Guts.”
Empty the head. Think of nothing. Don’t think about thinking about nothing. I would’ve gotten further had the thought of lunch not popped into my mind. So it was time for a burger and a couple of beers.
Lunch, and a nice wee chat with a couple from Toronto, and I was back to the grindstone. After watching the dude fishing earlier, I had some interest in fishing myself. So I went to the end of the pier, sat down, and watched pelicans flying around and diving into the sea to grab a fish. Several of them did it while I was there, the closest dove into the water just ten feet or so away from me. It was nice to watch him lift his head and swallow his lunch, before flap flap flap and away he went for a second helping. A tiny school of fish were swimming under my dangling feet. There must’ve been about 30 fish there. Each one silvery in colour, and about two centimetres in length. They weren’t making much headway, though; the waves were bashing them backwards all the time. I decided to have a closer look, and slipped into the sea as stealthily as a horse trying to sneak out of fifth floor hotel room at the National Horse-Spotting Convention. And the fish darted off, showing that they were jet being lazy before.
Time for a shower. The shower cubicle and indeed, the whole bathroom, has a horrible tile. It’s got a brown to tan gradient, and has relief splodges that are supposed to look like water drops on the tile, with highlights and shadows. Except, the master craftsman who tiled the bathroom put them on upside down. It makes me chuckle to imagine at what point he realised that he had messed up.
Back to the bar for a late afternoon beer. I’ve been playing a game with myself, thinking of which famous people could be the parents of the bar staff. One dude looks like his folks would be Forest Whitaker and Martin Lawrence. Another looks like they are Jamie Foxx and Pookie off “The Wire,” and another looks like Eddie Murphy and New York Yankees player Curtis Granderson would be his parents.
Into Placencia for an ice cream. Kraig and Barbara mentioned they wanted to check out a crafts store, and did I want to come along. Yep, cool; I need something to scoff at. And as we walked along I was lucky enough to hear some Nickelback while I was there. That’s real music. None of your poncey electronic disco music. Good, solid, chunky, stodgy rock music. Canada is like Germany like that. With Germany it’s easy to jokingly assume they all like David Hasselhof and the Scorpions. And with Canada, the brain just flicks to Nickelback, Bryan Adams, and Celine Dion. Stupid, really. Especially seeing as though I’ve got ten Neil Young albums on my iPod.
Could’ve bought all kinds of shite at the craft shop. Seashell necklaces, a woven wallet, a keyring in the shape of a flip flop with a sunset on it, or a baseball cap in Rasta colours. Or a CD of a Belizean musician called Titiman. Snigger. They didn’t have them here, but you know those seaside joke gifts that are like an empty jar with a sticker on that says Real Seaside Air or something. I think I should set up an Etsy store selling them, just with a sticker saying The Breath of Authentic Misanthropic Scoffing.
Stopped off on the way back to the hotel to buy a couple of big bars of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, the best chocolate in the world—suck it, Switzerland!—a brand that I’ve never seen on sale in Mexico.
One last swim to cool off a little. An beautifully executed cannonball, too. Laps. Twenty of them. I guess the pool is about seven metres long, so however you look at it, it was quite a meagre amount of swimming. But, as dusk turned to night, a fitting way to end a hot hot hot day.
After dinner, a stroll along the beach. The sky has been clear here, and the stars are really bright. You can see beyond the constellations, and, for example, the hundreds of stars framed by the corners of Orion. It’s pretty darn cool.
And the day was finished off with a nice pink Benadryl to help with the still slightly swollen after effects of the doctor fly bite on my hand. Combined with a couple of beers: nice and drowsy snoozey time.