Posts Tagged ‘caribbean

22
Jan
09

I’m baaack (in Jamaica mon)

And like *poof*, I  disappeared.

And like that, I am back. Not just on the blog, but also in Jamaica. And it is nice to be here, I must say. I’ve missed the good times that we’ve all shared: me, you, the 80 year old rasta pepaw with the missing teeth and the parrot on his shoulder…oh wait, I took that picture down didn’t I?  Never mind, I can take another tomorrow. I’m going to Negril and I just know that  the man, or at least several snaggletoothed replicas of him, will be there.

So I took a redeye into Montego Bay and arrived at 7:45AM Monday to discover my reservation was lost. It took a full  two hours to find it and get to my hotel, and by the time I finally was allowed in my room I was just exhausted. Which really does not explain how I got into a drinking contest 45 minutes later.

I swear, I do not seek these things out. They find me.  Or maybe we are drawn together like magnets to iron maidens or something. I was walking back from a quick  lunch, nose in a trashy detective novel, when I heard a loudspeakered emcee enthusiastically cajoling/encouraging/ordering the holiday-makers to come to the front of some bar and join in a competitive beer-drinking event. I looked around to see where the voice was coming from, but couldn’t–it was omnipresent. Carefully, I sidled past a cluster of about six people, into what I thought was a courtyard…and instead found  a lineup of 12 sunburned people, looking at me challengingly. Then I glanced back. Beach bar. Shite. Beer drinkers. Right in front of me. Oh, and my stupid ass. Right in the middle of the competition floor. Nicely done, Lena!

“I’m sorry, very sorry,” I said, backing away and smiling, shaking my head no no no with great emphasis.

 “OH LOOK, WE’VE GOT A SHY ONE!” bellowed the emcee. 

I decided to try the “Ignore him; he’ll go away” tactic. It’s often effective. Pretending I couldn’t hear him, I backed up a small flight of stairs and  hid in a corner.

“COME HERE, MI’LADY.”

Nooo, I mouthed, hands up in the universal sign for “I give up, can’t help you; please leave me alone.”

“YOU SHY GIRL WITH THE BLOND  HAIR, COME TO CRAZY CHRIS. RIGHT NOW. DON’T BE SCARED, I AIN’T GON BITE YOU.”

Oh jeez. This wasn’t going to end. People were beginning to stare. I shuffled up to the bossy mic-wielding madman at the podium.

“Come and have a drink with us,” he said, suddenly  no longer a tormenter but merely an exuberant host. One who happened to have a microphone and an avid audience….but I mean on the bright side I was much bigger thah him. I felt sure I could overpower him if I could get his damn mic off for a minute.

“I really can’t,” I told him. “I mean, I can’t.”

“You in Jamaica now mon, you haf’ to.”

“Ya mon. You in Jamaica,” echoed back several of the bar patrons, as though they were in some sort of weird call-and-response church service.

Oh dear. Chris didn’t have an audience, he had acolytes. And they seemed in a mood to resent anyone who might  prefer sleeping over boozing, or prefer anything over boozing, or even admit to having slept at all in the past week. I know this mindset; it is common in the vacationer nearing the end of their holiday, who knows deep in their heart that that good times will soon be over and bad-weather suckiness will begin. I have been that person. Thus, I understood that  I didn’t want to fight them.

I took a seat next to my fellow beer-drinkers. Now that I was safely roped in, the audience became swiftly bored of me and began to catcall at a Jet Li lookalike in tight black biker short/swim trunk/underwear thingies. His friend got up and launched into a Kriss-Kross Humpty squaredance routine. People cheered. It was all incredibly stupid. But, okay I admit it, I was starting to have fun. There’s something heartwarming about seeing a man make a fool of himself on the dance floor and know it. (Mostly they think they’re hella sexy.)

Anyway. The beer was proffered. It was a small cup, really. This was fortunate, because–and here’s the thing I haven’t yet shared with you–I had already had two at lunch time. No, three. Something like that?  You can’t drink anything with jerk chicken except Red Stripe; it goes without saying. So I had ’em, thinking I was going to go straight to the room and to sleep…and instead here I was looking like a sweaty pale mess in last nite’s clothes, staring into a foaming cup of Red Stripe that according to CRAZY CHRIS’ latest instructions I would need to either drink or pour over my own head. The good news is, I would be doing this with nine other chicks. The bad: I would have to do it center-stage, standing up, while being photographed.  (If you read my Cabo blog, you know why I might have reason to worry about foreign drinking contests featuring insane emcees and video cameras.)

But the really good news followed a moment later: For the first round I would only have to drink one beer, not 3 or 10 as I had feared, and if I lost, I wouldn’t progress to the next round. And could go back to room, sweet room. Yay!

(At this point, a fiercely and perversely competitive voice began to speak up in my head, telling me ‘You can win this…and dammit you must.‘)

Shut up, I said to the voice.

Do it for California. Do it for yourself, the voice continued.

This is how I ended up taking my damn bikini top off in Cabo. GO AWAY, I said to myself.

And thankfully this time I listened. I came in third. My top stayed on. I did not progress to the finals, did not do disgusting watermelon shots out of the Squeezee bottle that was on offer, and went off to my room to take a nap.

I am sorry to let you down–and I know I did–but I had to. Better things were to come, like that nite, when a man named Sexy Bubba cooked my dinner, tossed my salad and flipped my eggs (I know how that sounds but…it was actually completely culinary). And the next nite when my dear old friend Donahue arrived in a chariot to take me to some cool bar furnished entirely with found objects and shoes. And today when my new BFF Marcia led me to a giant chessboard by the sea,  where I fully plan to play human chess as soon as I can rope 24 people in…and learn that damn game b/c I’ve never figured it out. And also tonite, when my van driver turned out to be a deejay who will return bearing a CD of up-and-coming dancehall artists, just for me. And tomorrow when…I go to Negril. Yay, hooray! I shall be back to tell you all about it. But for now…good night mon, and stay irie.

05
Nov
07

Love Boat? Well, sort of.

I just got the seasonal schedule from Singles Travel International, and there are like a zillion cruises on it.

Okay, exaggeration. There are five, departing from now through the end of February. But still, that’s rather a lot.

Cruises have traditionally been the favored lazy vacation option for families or couples. My friend Nadia just went on a Carnival cruise with eight friends, and hated it. (In fact, her exact description was, “boring, full of Mid-Westerners, and the best thing about it was the 24-hour buffet.”) I couldn’t agree more. The only agenda on value cruise lines, in my opinion,  is to eat and eat, buy souvenirs, and then eat some more.

Singles Travel International cruises are a different story–mostly for the obvious reason that not everyone on the ship is married with kids. The way they work, to the best of my knowledge, is that the company reserves their singles a certain number of cabins aboard a Royal Caribbean ship, and also organizes a bunch of special singles’ events. The cruises are usually organized by age bracket, which is awesome unless you’re a dirty old perv looking to score with someone 20 years younger. Guests can share a cabin or book their own for slightly more $$.

 I can  kinda-sorta understand the appeal of this. The only downside is, if you decide early on that you don’t like anyone on the ship, then you’re out of luck for the duration. It’s back to the originally scheduled programming: food, food, sunbathing, souvenirs, self-hatred, more food…

Then there are the booze cruises that depart from Cabo, the Bahamas and every other touristy port in the Northern Hemisphere. These hardly count as cruises; they’re really just two- to six-hour forays into ocean-tossed madness. The whole point is to get really wasted, which makes no sense because there’s nothing worse than being really wasted and stuck on a freaking boat. I would know. I’ve done it twice–the first time I passed out on a speaker, and the second, my sister stripped down to a thong in the breakfast room at 8AM.

I absolutely despise booze cruises, but would never try to stop you from discovering their glory for yourself. It’s a rite of passage. And Dramamine will not help.

Because I receive about 30 nightlife emails every day, I recently discovered the next evolution in singles cruising–something I might actually want to attend, although it’s three days long and therefore a MAJOR commitment in Lena-cruise terms. It’s called the Kandy Kruise, and it offers 10 times more eye candy than Singles Travel and 10 times better entertainment than the average booze cruise. It’s brought to us by the Los Angeles promoters who throw the Kandyland parties at the Playboy Mansion.

These boys not only understand the importance of an amazing sound system and really plushy soft furnishings, they also have a truly winning formula for drawing beautiful women to a party: Let them in for free. They apply this very same theory to the Kandy Kruise, God bless ’em. Girls who want to try to hook up a free room send in their hottest photos, and a select number (approximately 10%) get free berth (two to a cabin) in exchange for dressing up in little outfits and parading around the ship, promo model-style. Apparently cabin size is irrelevant, since you only use them to pass out for an hour or two in between club-hopping, suntanning, massages, etc.

I got all these details from Michael Fuller, who runs marketing for the Palms in Las Vegas, and also helped promote the first-ever Kandy Kruise.

“”It was crazy,” he told me. “Really fun.” Coming from the guy who runs events at the Palms, this means a lot. Mike reports a 3:1 girl-to-guy ratio, great food, “clubs going every minute of the day” and all kinds of delights that I don’t want to mention because you’ll get all over-excited and the next cruise isn’t till March, 2008.

So start saving your money. Because boys, boys, boys have to pay, pay, pay. Not as much as for the Playboy Mansion parties, but still a hefty chunk of change for the average Joe–probably $800 minimum per person. Not sure whether girls have the option of paying their way in and not parading around in little outfits–I will check.

Disclaimer: Yes, I realize this scene isn’t for everyone. It typifies all things shallow and hateful about Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Unless you can go–in which case it’s really rather fun. So I’m just putting it out there.

In the meantime, go here to look at pictures from past Kandyland parties including the Kandy Kruise…because it’s Monday and you need a treat.




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