in time to arrive two weeks after the World Trade Organization left
town in a huff,
a RED staff member rolled into the Mexican city of Cancun. This
arrival in no way related to the opening of Cancun’s Freedom
Paradise, the first resort in the world designed exclusively for
obese people. However, extra-strength hammocks are an idea whose
time has come.
Why would RED go to Cancun? For one, to see if any of the kids featured
in MTV’s Cancun excursion remained in town, turning tricks
for kamikaze shooters. Also, we were pretty sure that any riots
from the WTO wingding would end up on the next Rage Against the
Machine video and we wanted to be able to say to our grandkids,
“That’s me throwing a chair through the front window
The jewel of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Cancun entices travelers
with sand that looks and feels like powdered sugar, rolling turquoise
waves and the opportunity to order a fucking cheeseburger in yet
another exotic locale.
staff writer Craig Froehlich takes a break from the touristic
side of Cancun to pass out...er, rest in the sun, free of its
evil skin-burning rays.
a sleepy, unspoiled fishing village, Cancun’s exotic marine
life began flourishing just a little too much. Sea turtles swaggered
through town in flashy clothing and demanded money from helpless
artisans and shopkeepers. To combat this menace, a Mexican freedom
fighter known only as Señor Frog built countless resort hotels
on Cancun’s immaculate stretch of beaches. These hotels decimated
the habitat where the turtles laid their fragile eggs. Fertile turtles
of yesterday now face extinction (a serious blow to their intimidation
factor). Many of Cancun’s grandest shot glasses and T-shirts
now bear the name of the heroic frog.
A glimpse at the region’s many diverse and beautiful T-shirts
offers a glimpse into the complex culture of a Mexican resort town.
Especially telling are the shirts favored by American tourists.
After milling through bustling markets and soaking in the local
art and cuisine and their distinct Mayan flavor, many Americans
find the need to tell the world: “I’m shy…but
my cock is huge.” However, American fancies almost immediately
wander to more pressing matters, namely: “Where’s the
booze?” and “Give it to me.” The hospitable locals
appear more than happy to appease and offer countless museums/stores
dedicated to tequila while showcasing a small rooms worth of ancient
Mayan treasure in a back room of Daffy’s Den of Daiquiris.
But if one must soak in the local culture (i.e., you’re trying
to impress a girl), many affordable tours are available to nearby
Mayan ruins. If you’re lucky, your tour bus might take a detour
off the main route. If you’re unlucky, your tour bus might
also take a detour off the main route. However, the latter scenario
involves more submachine guns and white slavery then the former.
The bus driver can open up a whole new world to you, and I don’t
mean sexually, by cruising through one of many small villages interspersed
throughout the Yucatan jungle. Before you know it, you’re
on something of a safari with human beings serving as spectacle.
For the sake of political correctness, the people seem generally
less bored and host fewer clouds of flies than the lions at Busch
Gardens. This brings to mind a little quiz. Which do you consider
a worst-case scenario? (a) It’s time to do laundry again.
(b) The closest thing you have to a washing machine are strong arms
and a sturdy bucket. (c) Although you are the most beautiful and
promising girl in your village, you end up marrying locally and
now toil the day away by washing the clothing for your entire extended
family and in-laws after a raven carries away one-half of your only
pair of fourth-hand socks. (d) All of the above, plus a tour bus
full of people slows to a crawl and leers and points as if you’re
the strangest sight they have ever seen. They cement your humility
by documenting your labor on a camera that costs more than the entire
annual income of your village.
A good tour guide not only doesn’t sell you into white slavery,
but can offer a new perspective into the cultures you encounter
during your vacation. He might even speak so passionately about
the plight of his native people and centuries of decimation at the
hands of European imperialists that you feel like kicking the ass
of the first Spaniard you see. Please note that local officials
might be more sympathetic to your case if your Spanish victim resembles
Hernan Cortez and isn’t a 20-year-old girl from Barcelona
with trendy shoes and purple-tinted glasses.
Novice travelers to Mexico might get caught up in false rumors about
the ready availability of morphine for over-the-counter purchases
and this foreign land’s strange, exotic McDonald’s ad
campaigns. But try to venture off the beaten path of other tourists
and take in the real Cancun—a Cancun rich in culture and spirit
and not a place to not get a tan and to crawl into a tequila bottle
and never come out. However, when leaving the beaten path, take
precautions. Don’t wear your “Mr. Moneybags” ball
cap and dollar-sign belt buckle in Cancun’s shadier neighborhoods,
for many Mexican criminals lack a sense of irony.