Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Cruising with Dr. Grumpy, #4

(It’s Spring Break! We are taking advantage of recession rates to take our brood on a Mexican cruise. So you guys can now enjoy a week of relatively medical-free posts, with me blogging from the ship).


Today we were in Mazatlan.

The view from our cabin, surprisingly, was different today. Instead of looking straight down into water (which we'd been doing since boarding the ship) we were looking straight down onto concrete. I could only assume we were in port or had had a serious navigational mishap.

My first view of Mazatlan, out the window of the dining room at breakfast, was a giant cement dock covered with such attractive things as mountains of rotting rubber tires, rusting freight containers, and billboards that said "eat at Senior Frog's"

As we ate, a band of about 20 musicians showed up to play at the gangway. Most were obviously hung over. They were pleasantly off key and unsynchronized, and at one point a trombone player tried to do some sort of spinning dance move and fell over, knocking over 2 other musicians in the process. This only improved their playing.

There were a few small shops inside the port area, to allow tourists the pleasure of buying cheap marionettes without having to travel into the city. Mrs. Grumpy and I decided to incarcerate the kids in Camp Cruiseship, and go out there. At some point, for unclear reasons, she decided we would take an “air-conditioned comfort trolley tour” of the city. The guide said it was a 2 hour drive of the city's highlights (which turned out to be quite a lie, sort of like Gilligan's 3 hour tour).

They wanted $25 per person, so she paid the guy cash, and he said he'd come back with our tickets. He then disappeared, and I assumed that was the last we'd see of him and our $50. Surprisingly, he showed up again a few minutes later, and gave us our tickets. He also told us the tour included all the beer, pop, bottled water, and margaritas we could want. So off we went.

The "air-conditioned comfort" trolley turned out to be a diesel bus without working air conditioning. It was 97 degrees outside with 98% humidity. The comical part was how the driver and tour guide (Fernando) both kept insisting the air conditioning was working fine, in spite of remarkably obvious evidence to the contrary (like the fact it was a frigid 99 degrees inside the bus). In fact, they insisted on keeping the windows closed to help improve the efficiency of the nonexistent air conditioning.

The free drinks, as it turned out, were NOT on the bus. The bus dropped us off to "explore the local culture" (which consisted of several large diamond and silver stores), where they offered bottled water from a local municipal source, thimblefulls of beer, and margaritas made with Fresca & Tequila (I swear!). One place had Diet Coke, which I asked for. I discovered that Mexican Diet Coke has a unique flavor enhancer, namely aluminum foil, added. I left the can on the counter. I went to take a leak (I considered drinking my urine as a survival tactic, since I at least know where it came from), only to discover that the toilets were of the robust kind that can't handle toilet paper. So there's a big wastebasket full of used TP next to the potty.

Outside the store was a cart selling ice cream, with a sign listing the flavors in English. They included "cheese" and "burned milk" ice creams. Mmmmmmm.

As I'm writing this by the pool, the ship's calypso band has just started a reggae version of "Sweet Caroline". These cruise lines REALLY need a policy limiting the number of times the pool band can play "Red, Red, Wine". And perhaps banning reggae versions of ANYTHING by Juice Newton.

Anyway, then we were driven along a beach, where the locals have built monuments to all things of importance in Mazatlan. I am not joking. There was a large statue of a shrimp, another of a taxicab (I swear!), and even one of a beer-brewing tank. All they needed was a memorial to the unknown tourist, who died in a van without functioning air conditioning.

At one point we drove past a decrepit building, which looked like an earthquake trashed it, with a sign over the door "Dr. Gonzales. Neurologico". I will never criticize my tiny office again. We also saw several realty signs, advertising homes for sale by Jesus. I won't say anything more.

Oddly, there is only 1 Senor Frogs restaurant there, but 8 stores selling "eat at Senor Frogs" merchandise. WTF?

The drive back to the ship was somewhat comical, as the guide announced that while we were in the last diamond shop the van's air conditioning had suddenly broken. I am not joking. He was sorry, but not sorry enough to refund money, or even admit it had been broken all day (or possibly since 1987). To help keep us cool he opened the windows AND the large folding doors he was standing next to. So we were speeding down the highway with Fernando leaning against the open door frame and talking into the microphone. I'm sure if we hit a bump we would have heard some interesting, though brief, Spanish phrases on the intercom. From what I can tell of local driving, a traffic accident doesn't qualify unless a minimum of 1 limb is severed.

Seeing the S.S. Buffet in the distance, dwarfing all the buildings in Mazatlan, was a beautiful sight at this point. After getting off the bus Mrs. Grumpy had to restrain me from causing an international incident with the tour company. We were glad to get back to sea.

I took Marie and Frank up to mini-golf. We were in a crowded elevator, and I asked them if they wanted to stop for ice cream on the way to the course. Marie said, "no, I have a stomach ache. But it's not as bad as when I was camping with Grandma and got diarrhea." Then, trying to be helpful, she turned to the middle-aged lady behind her and explained "diarrhea is when you have to poop a lot."

Playing miniature golf with Marie is difficult, because she usually hits the ball off the course, and occasionally the ship. She often hits other passengers. I then reprimand her for hitting the ball too hard and striking someone. So she starts crying so pitiously that the wounded person will come over (still holding an ice bag on their head) and say "It's okay, honey, it didn't hurt that much" or "I'd broken that ankle before, anyway".

And that's the way it is.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Having read your blog all the way back to this point, more than a year, I think it's safe to say (please correct me if I'm wrong) that your daughter Marie is quite something! hehehe

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