Saturday, August 27, 2011

All-Inclusive Social Butterflies

Today Ed and I spent the day at Club Med. We purchased a day pass for $85 per person to use all of their facilities from 11am to 6pm. The main reason, as I mentioned in another post, was to take the Hobie Cat out on the water. Another place on the island charges $50 for the first hour, $35 for each additional hour, or $150 for the entire day.

At Club Med, for the $170, we get to use the Hobie Cat, their windsurfing equipment and they'll even take you out to the reef to snorkel. Plus, all the drinks you can pour down your throat and all the food you can stuff in your gizzard is free. So we decided to just buy the day pass because it was such a deal.

We got there around eleven and checked in at the front desk. They gave us a little armband and we went on our way. My first stop was the bar for a virgin PiƱa Colada, a quick look at the shops (selling crap and costume jewelry from China) and then a walk around the pool. It was blazing hot standing there in the sun, so we put our drinks down and went for a swim.

The dining room didn't open for lunch until 12:30, so we decided to go out on the Hobie Cat in the meantime and float around the ocean for a while. Ed was beyond excited. The French guy (from San Diego) who helped us on the watercraft looked like Anthony Bourdain. Ed had sailed a Hobie before, so I knew I was in good hands. And he knew that I wasn't going to do a thing - I just wanted to sit, float, get some sun and look at the scenery. The water was pretty choppy and the wind was intermittent so in addition to actually "sailing", we were doing a lot of floating.

They don't let you get more than a mile from shore, which is a ridiculously far distance considering there's not anything to see but water. We didn't go nearly that far out. After about an hour or so, we went back in for lunch; buffet style, sort of like what you'd get at a cruise ship's three-meal-a-day restaurant. The food was pretty good and since we didn't have breakfast we went back for seconds.

After lunch we wanted to go on their snorkeling trip to the reef, but when we got to the snorkel shop, the guy told us because of the choppy water, they weren't going out to the reef and on top of that, the water was very cloudy, which is what we encountered when we went out yesterday, so we decided not to go. On top of that, the wind had died completely down and Ed couldn't go windsurfing - he was disappointed. So we just went to the pool.

Earlier at the pool I saw two women who just looked fun and I wanted to talk to them. So when I spied them at the bar, I sidled up next to one of them, tapped her on the arm and said "Where are you girls from?"

Turns out they were from Westchester County in New York - Mount Vernon, to be exact. Fairly familiar stomping grounds for me. Anita and Caren, sisters on their annual vacation. How cool is that? I would love to go on an annual vacation with a sister - or, Anita and Caren, since I don't have a sister!

We eventually all made our way into the pool and while there, two other women joined our circle - they were from San Francisco - Eva and Ann, also sisters on vacation. Ed was now surrounded by five chatty women. And I think he was quite fine with it.

A little while after that, we were joined by Steve, a single guy who had been on the same flight as Anita and Caren - they did the introductions. Everyone was super-freaking friendly and I don't usually like talking to just any old strangers. I have to get a vibe and they all had a little vibe I liked.

To me, this was one of the best social days of our vacation. We met a few people at the pool at our hotel, but they were very clique-ish and stayed to themselves, even after we tried to engage them. We did meet a great British couple and spent some time talking to them, but haven't seen them around again yet.

Everyone in the Club Med group was great; they talked about family, where they were from, other places they'd been on vacation. Ann (who is Chinese) told a cute story about not being adept at using chopsticks and how her grandfather used to tell her that she'd never be able to find a man who would marry her if she didn't know how to use chopsticks. That's just the kind of story I love.

Eventually, the conversation turned to what we did for a living. Doesn't it always? When us girls were talking earlier, we sort of covered it, but now that Steve joined the group, we had to find out what he did also. Caren was in advertising, Anita worked at large medical facility in Westchester, Eva was in public relations and Ann was an EMT. Then someone asked Steve what he did.

He spoke slowly and deliberately, which caused us all to be fixated on what was coming out of his mouth. "I," he said slowly, "am a United States Congressman." He may as well have said, " an alien." That's how off-guard it caught me.

We all, almost at the same time, said, "No you're not!" There were a few, "Really - just tell us what you do!", a "C'mon, seriously?" and a "Are you lying to us??" That was me.

"No, I'm not lying. I'm really a congressman."

Ed said, "What's your last name?" He didn't answer.

"OK, then. What party?" I said.

"I'm a Democrat." said Steve.

We collectively said, “Oh, good.” and “Thank God." I think I might have had to swim away if he was a Republican.

We didn't talk politics but I did ask how and why he got into the job. He's been in office for fifteen years and prior to that was a mayor, a judge and a lawyer. He got into politics because he had a desire to help in his small town, by becoming its mayor. Oh - and he's also been on one of my favorite politically themed television shows!

He was so nice, very handsome and had on a killer pair of Ray-Ban's. When he first got into the pool, I thought he looked very debonair, a little old-school Hollywood. Not only was he interesting, but he was interested in all of us. He's just the kind of person I love to talk to; the kind who ask pertinent questions and really appear to be interested in what you're saying. Whether they are or not isn't really relevant, because their social skills set them apart just by acting in the manner they do.

He asked many questions about our industry, seemed interested in the fact that our truck had a shower in it, wanted to know how many gears our tractor had, what our favorite restaurant in the country was - which of course, as much as we eat, was an impossible question to answer.

I do recall shaming my Italian heritage by saying Maggiano's, but I did try to throw a few others in there. We go to so many places, often holes in the wall, that it's really hard to say. Ed brought up the Italian restaurant we went to in Montreal one year (in the heart of winter), which I had forgotten about. That was a much better choice than a chain restaurant (even if it is pretty good!).

So meeting Steve was probably the highlight of my trip, people-wise. And the girls were awesome too - I can see visiting Anita and Karen in NY and being totally welcomed by them, they even let me hug them goodbye. I love that. Ed and I are actually considering walking down to their beachfront tomorrow to hang out with them for part of the afternoon.

I wasn't at all impressed with Club Med, but I can definitely see how hanging out with the same people for a week or two can turn into friendships or people you may keep in contact with later in life. Hell, I've met people through my blog who are now friends. I'm so thrilled with all these opportunities to interact with great people - especially since I'm usually so aggravated by the idiots in our society - that finding people like this is the one redeeming aspect of socializing with strangers.

Overall, the day was great. I think I got a little too much sun, but I did break out my Hollywood glamour, wide-brimmed straw hat and my sunglasses. My shoulders are a little red, but at least my forehead didn't burn.

It's now the wee hours of the morning and I need to hit the sack. We have five more days on the island and I need my rest...I have more stingrays to encounter! Yes, I said stingray! More on that later.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
1 YEAR AGO: The $7 Date Night
2 YEARS AGO: Them’s Fighting Words!
3 YEARS AGO: Skulls And Hot Chocolate In The French Quarter
4 YEARS AGO: Once As High As An Elephant’s Eye
5 YEARS AGO: Trouser Snakes On A Plane
6 YEARS AGO: Big Honkin’ Truck Makeover


Gil said...

Hi, we need bikini pictures not palm trees!!!!

Belledog said...

"So meeting Steve was probably the highlight of my trip, people-wise."

I would bet Steve is thinking the same thing about Eddie and you. Neither of you is the average bear.

Mainly, he's probably glad to be away from Town Halls and Tea Partiers.