Hello Luxury, Goodbye Paradise Part 1

A stone's throw from the allure of Sayulita, there is an unspoiled 33-acre peninsula of lush and tranquil shoreline. Upon this romantic sweep of coast, amidst a tropical jungle thick with wild orchids, mangoes, tamarindos and pelicans soaring overhead, a new ocean sanctuary is set to rise. --Brochure for Punta Sayulita, a development in Mexico on the Nayarit Coast

The speed with which our taxi driver raced into the complex to drive us to the airport was contradictory to all our other experiences in Sayulita, Mexico. Certainly it was contrary to our experience with the same driver only seven days earlier, who picked us up in a Chevy Suburban with a cooler of Tecate which we swilled with impish delight on the winding highway through the jungle to Sayulita. We drank with some part "fuck you" to the rules and regulations of the United States, and some part ablutions to the lords of vacation.

But upon vacation's end, the driver Antonio was in a frenzy. He threw our bags in the back while being verbally assaulted by the source of his excitement, an overgrown walrus of an American telling Antonio there wasn't room for our family, that he needed the taxi for himself. Antonio was trying to explain to him through obvious strain and his thick Spanish accent that my family had arranged for the taxi days before; the walrus was an interloper injecting himself into a car that wasn't available. The walrus neither heard nor cared, and harrumphed into the seat in front of the other object of Antonio's distress, the walrus's girlfriend.

Having come late to the party, we were confused. We had arranged with Antonio for a round trip to and from the airport; sharing the taxi was not a part of negotiations so we were similarly miffed. Plus I had no idea we were to share a taxi with Princess Grace's lesser sibling. Through her Midwestern twang she barked at Antonio, "There's not enough room for them, we need this taxi FOR US." Antonio got in the Suburban and started to drive. He called someone on his cell while navigating the potholes and crevasses that opened up in Sayulita's completely unimproved streets, speaking frantically while avoiding skinny dogs and surfers clogging up the road. "He wants to talk to you," Antonio said to Princess Walrus, handing her his cell phone.

She berated the voice on the other end. "We need to be at the airport AT FIVE; I want YOU to PICK ME UP. We're in a van with other people; there's no room for other people. You meet me and drive me YOURSELF. We're going to our hotel NOW. Twenty-five minutes, I want you THERE." She handed the phone back to Antonio who was quietly seething in the driver's seat. "Just take us to our fucking hotel," Princess Walrus complained. Over staggering potholes of dirt road we jumbled together, our six-year-old the only one laughing at the absurdity of the thing, the van's shocks failing us over every bump, making it better than any amusement park ride.

I turned to my husband. "This is like the West Bank," I explained. I've always tried to describe it to him--the Middle East Relations major who never got the chance to visit the Middle East--and this was it: bad roads, insane Americans bitching at people, taxis bottoming out every five feet, dust covering everything. Sometimes the Third World seems universal: one dusty road populated by a bitchy American woman assaulting a local is as good as another. Princess and Master Walrus tumbled out of the van at their swank hotel on the spectacular Nayarit shore, apparently more inclined to miss their plane than to share a taxi they were never welcome to in the first place. The last I saw of the Walrus Tribe was Princess Walrus yelling at anyone who would listen how unfairly she had been treated.

Antonio was puce with fury as he drove back down the impassable narrow dirt path to the main highway. "Pendejo" featured prominently in the tumble of Spanish that fell from his spluttering lips as we pulled away. He spat out words to explain what had happened, between gesticulations at the truck that almost backed into us, which we pieced together however we could: The Walruses had jumped in his taxi when he dropped another fare, and he, both because they were too stupid to listen and too belligerent to care, couldn't eject them. They wanted his taxi, and damn it, they were going to take it. That there were other arrangements did not enter the equation, even when he picked us up, the totally mystified family who had scheduled ahead of time.

"They had another taxi, but they didn't wait for it--they just took this one. No pay, no nada! And she's yelling at me! I drive them to their hotel, I call the other company for them..." He dissolved into a tirade of Spanglish so thick we couldn't parse any more, other than that his hatred for the Walruses knew no bounds. I was completely sympathetic. She was the stereotype of horrific American tourist: nasal, bitchy, entitled. We hated her even before she humiliated Antonio, with her insouciant freshly-fucked hair-style, expensive yoga pants and high heeled flip flops. It was all façade; the small blunderbuss rammed up her ass was evidence of no true human contact in more than a decade. Though I despised him, I also pitied Mr. Walrus; it was an unbearable trip to go across an idyllic village in Mexico with this piece of work; a trip across the country in a plane with her would qualify as torture under Geneva.

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