Cuba Journal: Clubbing in Cancun a loud way to pour your way home from Cuba
FRIDAY, MARCH 1 – CANCUN, MEXICO
Am I home yet?
It’ll be nice to get back to Colorado and be warm again. It’s rainy, gray and miserable in Cancun – in more ways than one. This place is mankind’s cesspool. It’s debauchery in its filthiest form. If planet Earth had a morality scale, you could only locate Cancun with a submarine. This place makes Las Vegas look like the Vatican on Easter weekend.
Last night was my first time “out on the town” in Cancun and I’m still recovering from the ear-splitting disco music, getting hit on by a transsexual and just avoiding projectile vomit that flies here like snow in Alaska.
Fortunately, the margaritas were so weak I don’t have a savage hangover like half a dozen people I saw carried out by their friends. Then again, I only lasted 2 ½ hours. It felt like 2 ½ days.
Cancun’s famed Zona Hotelera is a nine-mile string of land between the Laguna de Nichupte and the Caribbean. It goes north about seven miles then cuts inland for a couple where it rejoins the mainland and heads toward downtown, my preferable location. The road, Boulevard Kukulcan, is lined with more high-end hotels than any place I’ve seen outside Las Vegas. The farther my airport shuttle drove, the tackier the tourist traps and souvenir shops got across from the hotels. I was going right into the heart of Cancun’s sleaze. Using a Vietnam War term, I was going straight into the shit.
My hotel, the Beachscape Kin Ha Villas, is on the modest end. In other words, no employee hack wearing a sombrero greeted me at the door. It’s a series of two-story, blinding-white buildings with patios and palm trees. It has a small, poorly lit, open-air lobby that made me think this would be one terrific dump.
No wonder the place was marked 40 percent off all the way to $100 a night. The lobby doesn’t have a single decoration. Forget a sombrero. How ‘bout a chair?
But I will admit the location is terrific. Walking to the back I passed a big, deep pool and past the crowded beach bar was a brilliant expanse of white-sand beach. The lanais chairs spoiled the pure, raw beauty of the Caribbean but for the purpose of just vegging out for two days before returning to work it was perfect.
Except for one thing: It was pouring. I hopscotched over puddles to the bar where I pounded $5 margaritas all afternoon. Joining me were two beautiful Minnesota women, one a recent graduate of Mankato State, and another a senior at Minnesota. Both were Cancunophiles. They knew every disco and had burned out on every one of them. They seemed to have stayed in half the resorts. And they know all the discounts. They went on Social Network and found a deal here for five nights for $300 each all inclusive. After last night, I’d take one night and one bullet.
Ashley and Katy had arrived Wednesday and were already on a first-name basis with all the bartenders at the hotel bar. It turned out to be the lone highlight of my day. As rain poured, I threw down margs like Gatorade, munched chips, engulfed three thinly rolled chicken tacos and thought back to a day when talking to women this young wasn’t so creepy.
They convinced me to try the Beachscape’s famed shot, a vile concoction of tequila, vermouth and vodka. It had the general color of a Mexican sewer and about the same effect. I walked up to my room to change for dinner at 7 p.m. and the next thing I knew I was face down on my bed and it was 11:30 at night. I’d passed out basically before I had a salad.
I figured it was good timing. This was what they call in Brazil a disco nap. I was refreshed, alive and ready to hang the rest of the evening, hoping to see the sun come up over the Caribbean Sea by the time I stumbled home.
I wasn’t even close.
You don’t see the clubs in Cancun. You hear them. Walking past the princely estates of the high-end resorts, they were as still as ancient monuments. But across the street and down a block, I could almost feel the pulsating beat of music. I crossed the street to see a pasty-white man in his 20s, looking all too Midwestern in a long-sleeve flannel shirt, stumbling like a punch-drunk fighter to either his hotel or a dark bush to relieve himself. I turned the corner and there was Cancun’s nightclub scene. It was one neon sign after another, all with flashing lights and some so crowded they looked like basketball arenas.
“Yoo like ooman?” said a chubby cab driver to me. “You like something else?”
These places were huge. Coco Bongo, which I heard charges a $75 U.S. cover fee, has its own souvenir store that was bigger than some discos across the street. Every bar had young Mexican women in hot pants and dominatrix boots dancing on table tops. Every bar I walked by, a burly Mexican with near perfect English followed me like a hooker.
“What do you want tonight? We have two-for-ones for $10. We have all you can drink for $40. You want chica?”
The Congo Bar, featuring a vague African theme, was jammed with people pointing to the stage with their arms wagging in the air to songs I’d never heard or wanted to learn. I settled into the one next door, the name of which I tried to forget. It was about half full, cheap and featured some guests who actually have had drivers licenses for more than five years. But as soon as I walked in, a Mexican in all black pushed the outside of one nostril, raised his eyebrows at me and said, “You want?”
What I wanted was something cold. The two margaritas in plastic cups were wet and freezing and weaker than my tolerance for disco music. I think it was disco. Maybe it was hip-hop. Some of it was rap. None of it was decipherable and all of it made me feel like I was 80 years old.
The bar became dead quickly and I braved the crowds in the Congo Bar which also didn’t have a cover and gave me a margarita in a yard-long, narrow glass for $10. As I stood at a small cocktail table with two locals, A deeply tanned woman in black curly hair could not negotiate the two steps from one floor to my level. She sat down, put her head between her legs and closed her eyes. Her two friends lifted her up as if she was a giant bag of lima beans. She couldn’t even shuffle her feet out the door. Security guards gave her a passive, bored look as if they’d seen these all too often.
They saw it a few moments later when a guy in his 20s moving more sideways than forward, as if caught by an invesible hurricane, was led out by the arm by his friend. I thought he was blind. He was merely blind drunk.
A Canadian woman in a tiny black mini-skirt and sweat pouring down her remarkably adequate push-up bra was girating on a table above the main stage, obviously enjoying the voyeurs who peered up at her at an advantageous angle.
A pretty blonde, about 30, caught a bar shirt tossed to the crowd and was invited up on stage. The burly Mexican with the microphone invited her to try it on. Sure enough, she did. She took off her sweater blouse, giggled shyly then purposely did a lousy job of hiding her snowy white breasts as she put on the other shirt.
I thought I hate Latin music. House music is worse. It’s the louder the better. No rhythm is best. It was just one continuous pounding of drums and shouts to words I was the only one in the club who didn’t understand. I was the only one not singing along.
It was 2 a.m. and every club was still packed. It’s not even March yet. I turned to the two locals and asked, “Habla ingles?”
“WHAT THE HELL IS THIS PLACE LIKE DURING SPRING BREAK?”
Never mind. Making small talk was hopeless. Making friends was out of the question. It’s drinking and dancing in place and shouting to an evening I couldn’t appreciate. I was wasting my time and money and brain cells. As I walked out a lumpy Mexican woman grabbed my arm and said, “You want company?”
“No,” I replied. “I want a cab.”
A cabby, seeing the need for a rescue, grabbed me and led me quickly to his back seat.
“That woman who grabbed you?” he said. “That was a man.”
“What? You’re kidding?”
“It’s a man. They’re all over Cancun now.”
While I contemplated that grotesque vision, he said, “You want chica? I have many. Here look.”
He threw in the backseat a dogeared collection of what looked like lingerie models. Most of the pictures only showed their backside.
“Here, look,” he said, pointing to a tiny, rough-looking bar across the street. “There at the bar over there.”
“No, thanks. I don’t do prostitutes.”
Even with excellent conversational English, he didn’t understand me.
“Full treatment: One hour $300.”
“Sorry. I came here to drink and read in the sun.”
He didn’t hear a word.
“I have one 14.”
“Um, isn’t that illegal?”
“Illegal? This is Mexico.”
Sure enough, my Lonely Planet guidebook says Mexico has become a big-time jump stop on the sex slave trail. It says there’s an estimated 5,000 child sex slaves in the country and, obviously, they’re going to migrate to the biggest tourist trap in Mexico. Apparently, the age of consent in some areas of Mexico is as low as 12 years old.
I said, “Fourteen? Fortunately, I prefer older women.”
Without missing a beat, he said, “No problem. I have some 18, 19.”
He dropped me off at 3 a.m. to a darkened, quiet hotel. The bar had long closed. He wrote down his number and handed it back to me. I left it on the back seat.
And I’m leaving Cancun for good.