OKAY. Now we're up. All will be explained. I did manage to get yesterday's Bleat up, so I suggest you start there. It's not overly long. Concludes with a possible shooting.

I am writing this on the last day of our stay at the Grand Palladium in the general Cancun area. What have I been doing? Reddening, I suppose. Eating, with no particular pleasure but great amusement. We had our salsa lesson, which was just us and the two enthusiastic instructors who wanted to make sure we gave them a good review, so they would continue their employment. Happy to do so. About nine hours later we were at the canal-side bar, where the loud late-night entertainment happens.

We waited until the music was less throbbin'-for-bobbin', and then hit the floor. It testifies to the quality of the tequila that I insisted we dance, instead of the other way around. Everyone was young and hammered and greatly impressed by us busting elemetary salsa moves. Low threshold, I might add. One young drunk Canadian pronounced us AMAZING and he TOTALLY had to fist bump me.

HOW'D YOU GET THE MOLLY THROUGH SECURITY I yelled but he didn't hear me.

You fall into habits - oh, it’s time for the 4 PM daiquiri Ah, the lobby bar before bed. What was unfamiliar is now comprehensible; the people just arriving are the FNGs, blinking, burdened by bags while you walk around in minimal clothing, a band around your wrist to indicate your citizenship.

I suppose I've nothing but scenery. I think you’ll agree: what in the wide world of sports is this place. Here's a generally useless overhead view.

The area on the right is The Village. In the evening you find yourself in surprising places.

I am saying "This is for the Earth. It is very important."

It was the 60+ Earth Hour Day Thing, or something. To honor the Earth and help it heal, they turned off all the lights for a while, except for the ones that kept people from topping down flights of stairs or falling into the canals. There was a procession of all the elements - Earth, Wind, Fire, and Money - and then they sorta lost the plot with a lot of dancing and balloons. The wall of one of the buildings in the Village was used as a backdrop for a huge video display, and began with the amusing announcement that the hotel group was well aware of the environmental impact of their facilities, and put on this event to demonstrate their recognition of the fact. In other words, send the SOBs the bedbug letter.





There’s a little “village” with all the destination restaurants, an outdoor theater, a coffee shop, a sports bar, an elevated cigar bar, and of course a church.

That's one of the ways you know you're in Mexico, in case you've had any doubts.

It's all modern, but it's not chilly. I prefer this to ersatz "tropical."

Here's the view en route:


There's a massive convention center, which had been rented for an interminable Indian wedding that lasted our entire visit. It was lovely at sunset.

It's all gorgeous at sunset. From our room:

We have every intention of returning. My wife loved the tennis center, which was the primary draw. And we'll go back despite the consistently mediocre food. The buffet was regrettable, if you didn't get anything fresh; the meats had been bobbing in the sauce for the better part of the week, the bread  made you realize how many gradiations are possible within the word "stale," and even the desserts were meh. But that's just the buffet - surely, you think, the destination restaurants were better.

Well. Well, no. First time at the steakhouse: wife's tuna was cooked so hard it had the texture of a paperback book, and my medium steak managed to be both raw on one end and burned on the other, with a side of graveyard-cold fries. The next night at the Thai place I had a rote curry, but wife's Pad Thai had a sauce that ws some awful cloying mixture of sugar and vinegar. She swapped it out for the ribs, and this . . . this thing that arrived was a neutron-star dense wad of bone and gristle no fork or knife could penetrate, covered in dollar-store BB sauce.

A series of managers were fetched, and I feared a reprise of the Monty Python Dirty Fork sketch. The last fellow was so wounded by the truth of the dish he commanded us to cancel our reservation for the next night and come to the place he ran. The Italian place. So we did. We were met like old friends, given a parade of appetizers served by the head waiter, treated to complimentary high-end tequilas, introduced to the chefs and the head of the buffets. You simply could not agree that everything was the best ever in the world, because they went all out and were so damned kind and helpful. By the end of it the waiter had invited us to his house - he had three, each with a wife and nine kids - and he would take us sightseeing.

It was exhausting.

From there to the Oscars Night ceremony. They'd set up a casino in the outdoor theater, and we played blackjack with scrip. The dealer was a card-handler of no small skill, used to the rubes, I think; after he shuffled and began to deal I complained that I had not blessed the deck, whereupon he reshuffled and apologized and let me give it a knuckle rap. He did some low-level but still-impressive pick-a-card tricks to let the ladies get 21 every time. We were handed champagne by a fellow in a spangly tux who turned out to be our salsa instructor.

Everyone, by the end of the night, was an old friend. In the waterfront bar the guitarist in the corner, playing cool jazz, was the same fellow who'd been rocking out in the lobby a few nights ago. We'd had a conversation about his rig, which had some interesting presets, including a pre-CBS Fender amp, and now here he is again! He remembers us! Tequila! We watched the crew set up the karaoke in the nightclub spot, chatted with some Brits from Southampton, cheered the fellows in the boats crusing the canal, and then endured the usual parade of delusional singers who flock to karaoke. It was a live band.


  Seven hundred songs. Some interesting choices.
  This, I think, was my favorite.

I was, in fact, fully prepared to do "Daciing with Miself" by Bili Idel, but they had a full slate, and we left. Last night. Great regrets. Wife had tennis in the morning; I had to do the detail work to get us checked out and off to the airport.

What followed the next day was, without question, the most remarkable day I've had in my decade of traveling the world. But that's tomorrow.



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