John M. Edwards invades Islas Mujeres in search of copper-skinned beachcombers who shake like Shakira. A male intruder on the Island of Women, just off Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula at Playa del Carmen, he tries to pick up a dream dolphin instead!
Out the plane window, listening to the throb and hum of the supersonic jet-fuel-propulsioned twin engines, I descried a long strip of white sand dotted like a Monopoly board with boxy luxury resort hotels. Upon landing with a skid, a bump, and a halt, the step ladder was attached, and then we exited the plane while a dude resembling Bruce Chatwin, blond hair tucked under a fancy Panama Hat, said “Sorry” and gave me the thumbs-up.
“Cancun! Cancun! Cancun!” the unsavory taxi drivers unisoned until a portly pair of a man named Esteban, wearing a white undershirt singlet and sweating profusely beneath the Mayan-inflected sunshine, manhandled my Luggage (also the nickname of my galpal) like Cantinflas from Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days.
Arriving at the jetty near world-famous Playa del Carmen, we stepped into a pleasure craft and zoomed across the light waves. No Cozumel for us. Instead we landed at Mexico’s discreet “Islas Mujeres” (Island of Women), which sure did live up to its name.
Dumped outside a sleeping estab resembling a stuccoed Grateful Dead hotel, I noticed that the statuesque desk sergeant, tanned even in winter, was just a little bit of a knockout herself.
We then slipped into our swimming cozzies and loaded our beach gear into our Jansport daypacks and meandered over to the beach almost at our doorstep—one of the nicest sandtraps in the Caribbean, with blue-green waters as clear as a sloe-gin fizz.
Here all the sunbathers were topless (including the lifeguardy beefcakes). Also, I swear I saw good travel writers Rolf Potts and Tony Horowitz (who resemble each other) lasciviously layering expensively imported Hawaiian Tropic ™ suncream on the backs of their harmless slags.
I mentioned to a Hungarian backpacker, who resembled my high-school German friend Klaus Zieler, a mean soccer-ball kicker, that I vaguely knew Sarah Driver, who was the main squeeze of Magyar-American film director Jim Jarmusch (“Stranger Than Paradise”). He showed me an ancient dice game to improve my mathematical skills. Much later, expatriated in the Zocalo and under the shadow of a cathedral clock and clippety-cloppity burros loaded down with Mexican Indian blankets and tourist knickknacks, we tried authentic fried empanadas, which here are more like fluffy omellettes than flattened tortillas. Also herewith we met a strangely odd Canadian couple, one of whom resembled a Playboy model with plastic surgery; the other, a shrimpy “Tim” with a vaguely doofy smile like that of unfinished-novellette-writer David Van Vactor or world-famous novelist Ian McKewan.
Also much later in the day we peeled ourselves off of our sarongs and ambled over to the beach-front café, where we ordered egregiously bad Instant Nescafé ™, which along with Pringles, Bosco, and Instant Reincarnation Breakfast, is available in any Mexican bodega (family groc).
No Mayan ruins here, except for an unimpressive few resembling worn-out dinosaur dentures, but this was surely a stronghold of Native American magic and supernatural delights. One night, for example, I was talking to the friendly Canuck, an expat “Import-Export” artist who showed me a neat alienesque trick. Maybe it was the Tequila talking or even the Mezcal refusing to wear off, but I imagined a delusion that the Canadian’s arm jumped out of its socket in an explosion of Silly String ™. Was this AmerIndian Mojo at work?
Idling again like sitting somnambulists at the beachside café, “Luggage” almost threw up when she drank a tepid glass full of Nescafé ™ swimming with coffee grinds. She jumped up to complain to the manager and get all of our money back. I got up to prevent her from causing an international incident, involving taking me into a back room for a life-threatening drubbing, all because boyfriends usually bear the brunt of disputes over la quenta.
Anyway, according to Skindiver (a mag I’ve never seen), the beach here was top ten. And I could see why, with all the beautiful copper-colored buttocks moving with desire under the spiked Mexican sun. Little Sally Rides ready to drop out of the Nasa Space Program and put out.
Out the plane window, listening to the throb and hum of the supersonic jet-fuel-propulsioned twin engines, I said “Hasta Luega” to the strip of white blow-like sand cut by an Amex Centurion Card ™.
With my too-tan flaky portrait pokerfaced into a birdy grimace in the reflecting opaque window, I felt a little like a downward-dog impostor and grinning sun god–one mugging for the invisible cameras hidden in the reading lights, with a copy of Incidents of Travel in the Yucatan (1843), by John Lloyd Stephans, cracked open on my lapster. . . .
Of course, the highlight of my trip was the clandestine daytrip to see the molten “Little Astronaut,” discreetly hidden in one of the Mayan ziggurats and curled into foetal position in fear of crashlanding.
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