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Cruise Day 4: Mazatlan Beaching

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

Quote of the Day: “I took a speed reading course and read ‘War and Peace’ in twenty minutes. It involves Russia.”

- Woody Allen

So much to get to today because when we woke up, we were in Mazatlan.

And the joke of the day: “Smiles, everybody, smiles!!!.”

That is a reference, of course, to the old Fantasy Island line from Mr. Rourke (Ricardo Montalban who was the best as Khan,

but I digress…).

For some reason, I kept saying this but now that I think of it, I kind of mixed up Fantasy Island with The Love Boat. See, they went to Mazatlan all the time but it was Fantasy Island that had the line and I totally punted it into the stands.

But it was funny.

To me.

We didn’t even wake up until 1000 because we had so much fun yesterday and our cabin is pretty much a big coffin with no light so with the white noise of the ship, the rocking of the boat, and the inky black, our sleep went off the scale. We woke up in a mental fog.

We got ready and what was different today was that we didn’t have to be tendered off the ship. We could just walk right off and since we didn’t book a tour, we had to wait for all the other bastards guests who purchased a tour to get off the damn boat before we were let off. Kind of like another family yesterday.

As we left the ship, we were shuttled to a taxi area.

Yes, SHUTTLED to a TAXI area. When I asked how much this shuttle was going to cost us, I was given the cheesiest of cheesy lines by a perky cruise rep: just a smile.

I glared at her but we still got it for free.

The “Taxi Area” was actually another shopping area where us American sheep were herded to be fleeced.

Baaaaaaaaa……

We took a look around…OK, Carrie and Steph looked around while I sat at a table and sipped a Corona. Alex sat next to me looking monumentally bored.

When the fleecing was complete, we got in a taxi and decided to head to the beach nearby. Specifically, El Cid and not only because it was $2 more than the beach we first considered and the driver insisted it was the best place to go in the entire world. OK, maybe that was the reason but whatever, off to El Cid we went.

Here is where it gets really interesting. Our cab driver, like any good cab driver, decided to take the road less travelled which meant through the heart of the city.

I’m not going to say that all of Mazatlan is a slum but the large portion of what we saw looked like the American version of a ghetto. I was glad that the kids got to see it because they could better appreciate the quality of life they enjoy in the states.

As we sped through the less-than-spotless streets in a little pseudo-car, we got to see the third-worldness of a Mexican city.

One of the things we noticed was that all the signs were hand-painted whether it be a local grocer or a “professional” business like a dentist office. EVERYTHING was hand-painted and nothing seemed professionally manufactured.

Another thing we noticed was that all their power lines were strung up above ground on poles and it made me realize how much power lines are now buried in the ground in the states.

Everyone was just taking in the scenery and it was silent except for the wild sounds of the street, horns, etc. coming through the open windows. I looked in the back seat and everyone was just mesmerized.

There was one point where there were a lot of people along the side of the road and when I asked the cabbie what it was all about, he explained to me in broken English that they were protesting against the military. Seems some soldiers got drunk and shot 6 innocent people.

Oops.

Probably not a good time to inform the general public that I was military, American or otherwise.

In hindsight, maybe I shouldn’t have even made that joke out loud to the cab driver.

Once we got to the beach, the cab driver pulled up right to the round-about in a luxury hotel. He gave me directions to just walk right through the lobby and out the back to the beach. He said they would try to stop me and sell me stuff but to just ignore them and keep going.

So that’s just what we did; right through the gorgeous lobby, past the incredible pool full of people, and down to the beach.

Once down there, we really weren’t sure if we were supposed to use their beach chairs, canopy, and roped off area of the beach they had since we were not technically paying customers but then a waiter saw our confusion and invited us to sit in the shade and enjoy.

Then he took my order for a bucket of iced beer (6 for $10) and I knew everything was going to be good.

The first thing that Steph did was decided she wanted to go parasailing.

Personally, I was not crazy about going myself and 16 tranq darts wouldn’t have got Alex up there.

116 couldn’t have got Carrie to do it.

But my little girl was all about being hoisted into the Mexican sky over the beach being pulled by a boat. So of course like any good father, I let a bunch of Mexican men take my daughter and take her a couple of hundred of feet in the air for about 20 minutes.

Please come back…

Everything turned out fine and she had a blast. Leave it to the youngest of the group to be the most daring.

We spent the rest of the time sunning, napping, reading, watching the ocean, and even at one point, the kids got me out in the water. Not that I was thrilled to go but it means so much to them. I don’t know exactly the point where I went from loving the ocean like they do to being satisfied with sitting under a bamboo canopy and sipping beer but at some point, yeah, I got old.

When we had enough fun, it was time to get back to the ship and we caught a ride back with another cab. This guy took the more direct route so we didn’t get to see as much of the slums as before but we saw enough to be thankful we are big fat spoiled Americans.

When we got back to the pier, we did some more shopping and other than a burn/tan, I acquired maybe my only souvenir I will be taking home: a silver ring.

I had been looking at all the offerings they had and all the vendors had pretty much the same thing.

Now I’m not a big jewelry guy and normally only sport my wedding ring so this was an unusual consideration for me. I don’t know, I guess I just got caught up in all the shopping frenzy.

Here is what I ended up with:

(Do you realize how hard it is to take a good picture of your own hand, especially when it’s your weak hand that has to take the pic with the shudder button on the other side?)

We got back to the ship and cleaned up before dinner which was something disgusting and thus I opted for the burger and fries.

Hey, I can only keep up the thin veneer of sophistication for so long before something gives, people.

The show that I was dragged to we attended was Big Band.

Big Fat Boring Band.

But I went with Carrie and plastered a Valium-like trance-smile while clapping at the appropriate parts.

OK, maybe it wasn’t all that bad but still, it was no Simpson’s episode.

Once again, we ended the night by going back to the cabin, doing a bit of reading before crashing.

This trip is going entirely too fast…

Free Advice for Today: “Purchase one piece of original art each year, even if it’s just a small painting by a high school student.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

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