Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Resorts are stupid

Cancún. Famous for being a resort town. The stunning 25km-long narrow isthmus separating the lagoon from the sea is named the Hotel Zone, for the blatant reason that one resort abutting another claims its ocean frontage there as far as the beach will stretch. It must have once been a place of incredible natural beauty before it was so exploited. 

Did you know that there are no bodies of water on the entire Yucatán peninsula? No rivers, no lakes, only cenotes—deep limestone sinkholes full of water that are unique to Yucatán (thought to be a geological result of the Chicxulub meteor that struck what is today the neighbouring Gulf of Mexico, wiping out the dinosaurs). Cenotes were sufficient for the original population of Maya but can't sustain all these luxury resorts. I believe water is piped into the peninsula and that water shortages are common. Teeming throngs of tourists flock here to sit on their fat arses and be pampered. It's not travel. It's barely tourism, and it's frankly tasteless.

I'm on a layover to Costa Rica from Oaxaca. What a contrast it is with that poorest of Mexican states second only to Chiapas. I figured I'd try a resort for one night en route, but it's hard for the Solonaut to enjoy it.

My first experience here is one of lost luggage. My second is price gouging. Getting out of the airport and to—well, anywhere—is subject to the taxi monopoly. Numerous companies compete with one another for the business, but conspire to keep the price extortionate—MX$850 (about US$50) for a 10km trip, down from MX$950 when I complained it was ridiculous. Hey, stupid gringos, right? They all give the same answer: "It's because it's so busy!" Bullshit. This gringo is no greenhorn.

At the resort, there is pumping music at the pool area facing the beach. This shortly mutates into a kind of lame name-that-tune pub quiz for old morons. There are four or five teams soaking in the pool while the MC plays the first five seconds of hit songs you need to identify. Whitney Houston, Queen, AC/DC—nothing strenuous or beyond the 1980s.

Over at the towel bar is a billboard promoting the program of events, like a cruise ship needing to entertain its trapped passengers. Rising cynicism keeps me from reading it. Walking to my room I receive a look from a young pretty thing I haven't had since sitting at a pick-up bar. Is this part of the resort appeal? Hook-ups for singles? This really is a foreign place.

Everywhere it's nothing but coddling and pampering. Spoiled indulgence. Drinks served to your beach lounge chair. Massages. Spa. Whatever service you need.

For readers who haven't twigged, I have an active dislike of this. Opulence and luxury. Don't baby me. I want to take some responsibility for the things I do. Of course I don't deny help and I appreciate assistance for the culturally ignorant traveller that one always tends to be, but I want to deflect touts, fend off pickpockets, and make mistakes. I want to muddle my way through the language, get lost and do as a local does. I want to get my hands dirty. 

Here in Cancún, they'll bloody well wash your hands for you.

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