Saturday, January 20, 2007

Walkie Talkie Time in the Mexican Riviera

Since my father retired, he's become a Cruise-aholic. He loves vacationing on cruises. My father's Christmas gift to my sister and I was a family vacation to the Mexican Riviera. It was a generous offering, and naturally we were thrilled. I previously thought that taking a cruise wasn't an authentic way to travel. Afterall, this adventure would be void of the usual stresses of worrying which youth hostel to stay at, if we could really trust the person "watching"our bags, or if their directions and money exchanges were any good at all. I've traveled alone in Europe like that, and have many adventurous stories about hip escapades that almost always revolve around an unexpected, exhausting detour. In another language, I might add. But after taking a different kind of vacation with my family aboard the Carnival Spirit for an eight-day voyage to the Mexican Riviera, I've opened my mind about alternative travel. We stopped off in Acapulco, Manzanillo and Ixtapa. I traveled by Mexican taxicab and drank out of a coconut that took the bartender fifteen minutes to find. I rode a horse along the beach on a wooden saddle. When I asked what the horse's name was, the man laughed. "Mary..." he stuttered, "....Juana." True to her name, Marijuana was a little slow. A woman in our group insisted on riding a pony. The poor pony looked tired after an hour. As soon as we turned around, the pony started to pick up and run a little.

My father and his girlfriend had dinner with my sister and I every night. Five course dinners. One course for each pound I ended up gaining that week, and so worth it. On land, my sister and I spent a few pesos on strong margaritas that contained "purified" ice. We prayed it wouldn't give us food poisoning, but we weren't willing to waste a perfectly tempting pitcher of margaritas.

We communicated with my father through walkie talkies while on the ship. Sometimes it the glass elevators, the deck, the dinner room or the theatre. Places you aren't prepared to hear your father say--full blast--"HOT DOGS ON THE LIDO DECK! GIRLS? REPEAT. WEINERS ON THE LIDO DECK! OVER."

I must have been a trucker in a prior life. Or perhaps it was all that construction work I did in college. With instinct, I said, "Copy hot dogs, Dad. No can do. Already eating in the Empire room. Over."

"Okay," my Dad's voice blared, "10-4 that."

It was my idea that we all got trucker names. You know, each of us our own "handle." My Dad already calls me Jay or Jaybird, so that would probably be mine. I wanted to be something more truckerish, like "Good Buddy" or "Beefcake." We couldn't think of a good name for my Dad's girlfriend, although I thought "The Lady Friend" was a real winner. My idea was vetoed, yet I couldn't stop my trucker tendencies to use "the lingo."

A few walkie talkie malfunctions aside, we had a blast. I got to wear all my big jewelry and no one could say anything. They had 24-hour ice cream cones, waterslides and free room service. I got a head to toe massage at the spa. We had a beautiful deck view from our room. They made towel animals and put chocolate on our pillows at night. I'm telling you with certain giddiness, it's the closest thing to heaven I could imagine.

I've been served like a queen and treated like a princess for a full eight days. After the harsh 2006, I'd be a fool if I didn't admit it's a little hard getting back on land--eating Mac and cheese, paying bills, and making my bed-- and coming down to earth.

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