The Honeymooners

Well, I’ve been back from my wedding and honeymoon for a month now, and I must say, it’s not good to be back. After a week of non-stop, euphoric fun, I somehow managed to forget how lackluster regular life is in comparison. Sadly, the only rays I’m soaking up now are in the form of radiation from my computer monitor.

First, is there a better location to decompress than Mexico? It’s one of the few places on earth where you can walk around in a Hawaiian shirt completely unbuttoned and yet still feel overdressed. The reason? Loosely translated, the word “Mexico” is derived from “Mex,” meaning “blistering” and “ico,” meaning “inferno,” and that pretty much sums up the everyday experience. True to form, as the country’s tourism slogan promises, “If you love saunas, you’ll love Mexico!!”

For this reason, it bothered me that Jeannette brought a jean jacket on our honeymoon. Why do women do this? I still can’t understand this one. My god, if there were ever a place you wouldn’t need a jean jacket; it would be Cancun in July. Thankfully, it didn’t end there, because once I criticized this packing decision, Jeannette now had to actually wear it, just to prove to me that she was justified in bringing it. So, there we were on a late-night dinner cruise, she pulls out the jacket and remarks, “See, I knew it would cool down at night.” For starters, she was correct. At this point, it had cooled down to a mere 102 degrees. For the rest of the night, she put forth the illusion that the jean jacket was all that was keeping her from freezing to death.

Our second day there, we took a guided tour of Chichén Itzá, the ruins of an ancient Mayan city in the dense Yucatan jungle. As you may know, Mexico is far less protective of her national treasures than the United States. This is evidenced by the fact that they basically have turned these ancient ruins into an Indiana Jones Fantasy Camp. Tourists are free to climb directly on the ruins, and are generally encouraged to not bother with being respectful of their religious or cultural significance. I must say, this “laid back” approach to preserving sacred landmarks is truly refreshing.

Of course, this method has its drawbacks. While the Mexican authorities are pretty lax on the security of the ruins, they are even more indifferent when it comes to the safety of the tourists climbing on these ruins (not as refreshing.) For instance, while nobody will stop you from scaling the giant pyramid, they also won’t lift a finger to build a rail to prevent you from falling off the edge once you get to the top.

Anyway, as I alluded to earlier, the main attraction at Chichén Itzá is the pyramid. Rising from the center of the ruins, it is a giant structure with steps, ramps and tunnels ascending almost 10 stories. Surprisingly, Mexico has resisted the urge to convert it into a giant skateboarding park. After scaling the pyramid, and suffering multiple heat strokes in the process, we desperately needed a way to cool off. Unfortunately, the Mayans had lacked the foresight to build waterslides or Splash Mountain into their city. Completing our descent, we found a shady trail that we hoped would lead to a nice place to lie down and die.

Instead, we found a beacon of thirst-quenching salvation in the form of a refreshment stand. Money was no object, as I was fully prepared to rollover my 401k into Popsicles at this point. I walked up to the refreshment stand and was amazed at what I saw. Popsicles for a buck. Gatorade for a dollar fifty. How could this be? We’re in the middle of nowhere… You can’t even get a Popsicle at 7-11 for a buck, much less in the Yucatan Jungle. I was anticipating movie theater prices for some ice-cold beverages, yet I found an oasis of refreshment bargains. Honestly, that was far more impressive than the actual ruins.

On our various Mexican excursions, the tour guides would attempt to familiarize us with the indigenous wildlife. Multiple times, we were warned about the dangerous “Jawas” living in the nearby jungle. While I’m no zoologist, I do happen to possess a glaringly nerdy expertise of the various alien races from the Star Wars movies. Of course, even the most benign Star Wars geek knows that “Jawas” are the race of sand-people scavengers found on the planet Tatooine. But since the tour guides never made mention of Tusken Raiders, Womp Rats or Banthas I had my suspicions that perhaps there might be some kind of misunderstanding taking place here. It wasn’t until the fourth or fifth day that we finally encountered a tour guide that could enunciate the word “jaguars” properly enough for me to realize I no longer needed to fear having my droids and power converters stolen in the night.

Spending time in Mexico gave me countless opportunities to show off my command of the Spanish language to my new bride. Of course, Jeannette had no idea that most of my time in Spanish class was spent watching Solo draw obscene pictures on Mrs. Bugni’s dry erase boards. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop me from going out of my way to choose selective, often unnecessary times to integrate the handful of Spanish words I knew into everyday conversation.

Me: “So, I can put my zapatoes and camisetta in the locker while I snorkel?”
Tour guide: “Yes, shoes, shirts… personal belongings… whatever.”
Me: “Ok, and the boat leaves a las tres y media?”
Tour guide (rolls eyes): “Yes sir, the boat leaves at 3:30.”
Me: “Excellent. Muy buen. Gracias.”
Tour guide: “De nada.”
Me: “Huh?”

Of course, it wasn’t just speaking the language, I also had to interpret it. Thankfully, Jeannette didn’t know the difference between what was actually said, and whatever nonsensical translation I arrived at. Sometimes we’d catch sitcoms or the local news in Spanish. Truthfully, I’d understand about two words in the entire telecast, yet I’d immediately turn to Jeannette to fabricate a perfect translation. (“That’s ‘El Nino.’ Spanish for, ‘The Nino.”)

Some artists work with clay, some use canvas. I prefer to use my epidermis. For those familiar with my work, you know that I have elevated the act of getting violently sunburned to an art form. For instance, here’s a recent example…

About a year ago, July 2oo3, I had burned my forehead so badly that my skin actually took a liquid form. My skin literally oozed off my forehead as a greasy yellow pus. Naturally, all of this occurred when I was meeting some of Jeannette’s extended family for the first time. The following conversation actually took place…

Jeannette’s Aunt Tammy: “Is that egg yolk on your forehead?”
Me: “No, actually it’s dried pus. Much more disgusting.”

So, it should come as no surprise that I managed to produce yet another masterpiece while on our honeymoon. Being married, you’d think that I’d have help applying suntan lotion, but Jeannette failed to realize that I have the sun-sensitivity of an albino. She came prepared with only SPF 15, which might have been sufficient if we were honeymooning on the dark side of the moon. Anyway, the results speak for themselves…

I keep the Aloe Vera people in business.

True artists generally don’t reveal their secrets, but in this case I’ll make an exception. This particular work of art was created using a lifejacket during an all day snorkeling trip. Normally to get these rich maroon hues of burnt flesh, it would take several hours in the sun. But thankfully, since Mexico is essentially one gigantic tanning booth, results like this can be had in a mere 45 minutes. Speaking as a sunburn-artist, there is no better place to honeymoon…

4 thoughts on “The Honeymooners”

  1. After the trip to Cancun I now keep spf 2000 in my purse to have on hand at all times for every and all situations. Keeping Matt in sunblock 24/7 is actually getting pretty expensive for us. I’ve recently resorted to stealing tubes left poolside by unsuspecting tourists. I’m not proud, just trying to protect the husband from the harmful rays of the sun.

  2. MR, it’s good to have you back and writing these kinds of things on zillionaire. Having taken a little spanish myself, your fluency is quite impressive. There are only a few places where one can learn the ability to switch from language to language with such a casual ease, yet I know you didn’t grow up on the Texas-Mexico border. I guess that just leaves the Taco Bell menu. But what I would’ve given to see the look on the tour guide’s face as your eyes lit up when they repeated the words back in English that you had said to them in Spanish! All those hours in the Spanish lab perfecting your accent over pre-recorded tapes, suffering the humiliation and hot, bright-red ears that accompanied those bulky, 1960’s, unadjustable, headache-inducing headphones we had to wear. All, in that sweet moment, humored by a native-speaker. That, my friend, has the makings of a Mastercard commercial because it is priceless.

  3. it’s a relief to know that the 44th degree burn lines are due to a PFD, and not some ill-fitting sleeveless tiny tee like one would assume from the picture…

  4. First I don’t buy the weak story of a PFD tan. We all know to well that the tiny little girls tank top, with Mexico written across the front in pink letters was the only souvenir MR would cough up money for. The plastic fruit hat was well out of his price range at twenty five cents. Now that we cleared that up I would like to say that this weekends upcoming river float should be an excellent chance for you to finally have the sun block created likeness of yoda on your back that I have been hoping for years.

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