Arrive at night, and the morning view is a happy revelation.

Some context for this tale:

X marks our spot. The other notable places are labeled. The orange portion on the upper left is the Village, where the restaurants and bars are located. The beach is upper right, next to Lunch. Although of course that's not what the signs say.

I awoke in the middle of the night to use the loo, and was aware of where I was. That’s a good start. This room is a double-mirror-flip of the last one we occupied, so it’s a good thing I didn’t head for the balcony. Alas, I had forgotten how to open the door to the loo. There had to be a way. Perhaps if I push against the glass here along the wall, it will swing open . . . no. Perhaps if I feel along the seam, I will find a handle . . . no. Well, perhaps if I turn on a light -

But that might turn on all the lights. The controls in this place are absolutely inscrutable. You touch one switch and everything comes on; you press it again and everything but one goes out; you press the one next to it and the balcony goes on, and so forth. I had one shot to avoid waking my wife, and I decided to take it.


ALL the lights went on. NO no no. Next one, fast on-off - Ah. I was able to see where the door handle was, and that would guide me through the rest of this adventure. I should note that the bathroom seats here are oddly square, as if SpongeBob designed them.

In the morning it was Isla Blanca, for the big breakfast. This is about 1/10th of the restaurant.

From this angle it appears as if some alien construct is forcing its way into the dining room. If so, I hope they brought fresh bread.

Various stations where the fresh items are prepared to order. Designed for high traffic and vast capacity.

Below, on the right, the Omelette Station. The main point of waking is to find yourself here, and if all goes well there will be no more than three people in front of you.

Everything is generally awful except the freshly-made items. Same man at the omelette station as last time. This is his life. A big beefy guy, perpetually bent, looking up with big dark eyes as he asks the important question: queso? Short line, although of course everyone in front is irritating me by their existence. The croissant gave evidence that it had been baked within the last year, and there’s now a self-service fancy-pants coffee machine with 12 options. Espresso, americano, etc. The addition of instantly-available coffee - and from the flavor of it, it truly puts the "instant" in instantly-available - is quite welcome. Now I truly want for nothing.

Oh, there’s coffee in the room, but you have to ask for extra supplies, and the fulfillment of such requests is performed at a pace one associates with one-hour baggage carousel waits.













After the breakfast, the pool.

I had the same chair I had last time, and thought: well, that was yesterday, wasn’t it?

No. There was three and a half months of cold, and here we are on the other end of that. I read an entire book today. It was not a long book. Obviously. It was a mystery set in ancient Rome, first in a series. There are about 528 such series these days, Rome being a subject of keen interest; distant mirror, and all that. The mystery was solved with more alacrity than you would suspect possible, as people responded promptly to official summons, records were easily located, and so on. It’s possible that civil society was much more efficient than we might think in the reign of Antonious Pius.

Who? The guy before Marcus Aurelius. Fourth of the Five Good Guys. It was not a time of great war or political upheaval, so perhaps everyone had the space to improve preexisting things. As usual, though, the hero’s wife is smart and sarcastic and insightful and independent-minded, which seems to be a prerequisite for the Roman Wives of these novels. It’s preferable to them being in the shadows, of course, but it seems as if every Wife in these books will start talking about the necessity of admitting women to the Senate. For that matter, one should be consul. Don't give me that look, you know Claudia Mertullus tells her husband what to do about everything, the man couldn't find his own nose with his hand if she didn't guide him.

What to do now that the book's done? Begin another? No. just meditate on the shapes and meanings of the clouds. The day had been quite windy - strange pterodactyl-like birds with long beaks hung high in the breeze, motionless. Gauzy white moved across the big blue sky, and I listened to the music I discovered a few months ago and had swore to be the soundtrack for this trip. A group called Kinobe, which does throwback "easy listening" that never gets around to changing keys.

So here you are.

At the moment I'm at the bar in the lobby bar - see the big banner picture above. A guy banging out show tunes on a grand piano. People are taking a painting class.

I’m down here for an Americano while Sara naps. There is a nice plate of lurid sausage and pliable cheese laid out to forestall hunger. We ate at noon at Poseidon, as is the custom. There was a pan of hamburgers, which made me wish for a real hamburger, not these fossilized divots. I’ve never had a good hamburger outside of the
United States. Has anyone?

It’s odd: I never think about food as much as when I’m on vacation. Then it is central organizing idea.

Anyway. The main problem of the meal was helping Sara send a text to an English number of a tennis player who wanted to set up a match the next day. The number made no sense, as transcribed, and we had to figure out how to use the country code, or NOT (it’s complicated), and how many numbers there were in English phones, and so on. Nothing worked. So while she was at the pool doing water aerobics I went back to the room, and discovered what I will now call the Northwest Passage.

The clerk who checked us assured us there was a way to get from our Edificio to the Village, but we saw no such way over the canal through the jungle. In daylight it was plain, and I explored.

It takes you to the back of the church, where some saturnine lizards sunned themselves. The massive stones gave the view an ancient look, and it wasn’t Rome.

LATER: Every time we’re here, there’s an Indian wedding. Really. They last for days. Huge parties that last all night. There was also a conference for a company that does metallurgy of some sort, with corporate banners flying and everyone in identical grey shirts. All men, all about the same height and hair color, cloned over and over again.

Drink at the Aqua bar, but no one we knew was here - the couple we met last time was supposed to be here this week, but alas - and so no long conversation into the night. No one seemed up for a conversational sally from strangers. Early night, and that was fine.



Now two ways to chip in!


Tomorrow: the Great Baths of Cancun!




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