Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

American Penis

You may or may not be aware of my desire to participate in the World Naked Bike Ride in Portland.  I was shocked to discover it’s existence less than a year ago from a girl I’d met online.   Honestly, if I’d had the money I would have gone to this year’s event.

My best friend was a little confused by this concept.   “Would you really do that?”

“YES.”  The words ran from my mouth almost before he could finish his.   There isn’t a doubt in my mind that I would be willing to disrobe in front of others.

“Why do you want to?”

“An overwhelming desire to show the world my genitals?”

“WHAT?”

“–nothing.”  Admittedly, I’m not in it to spread awareness of bike riders like the hippies out there.   I’m just trying to spread awareness about my cock.

In essence, it is like climbing a mountain to me.  You do it “Because it’s there.”   Because you can.  I mean, why not??   I’m not ashamed of my body.  It’s just nudity.   Sexuality doesn’t have to be scary.   It’s natural.   It is a natural thing for a human being to want to feel the wind and the sun on their naked skin.   To deny it is to deny ourselves.  –okay I made that part up.   But it’s true.

Cock Sock

Lets be honest.  It’s only a penis.  What’s so scary about that?  Its not as though I have the words “this machine kills pussy” tattooed on it.   It’s screwed up American Sexual Politics that govern our lives, spreading teen pregnancy and venereal diseases in it’s wake.    Maybe if we all got naked a little more often, we would be mentally, physically and emotionally better off.

“This machine kills sexual hang ups.”

“and fucks your mouth.”

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Up Shit Creek

Monday

I didn’t sleep much the night before we landed in Progresso.  I stayed up a few extra hours so my snoring wouldn’t keep Josh up all night long.  Sadly, we were both still exhausted when we rose at 6:30 in the Mexican sun.   We ran for a quick breakfast and made our way down the ship to the Port of Progresso.

You know those Sally Struthers commercials that used to come on all day long, where she would show you kids in shanty towns in Africa, then she would unhinge her jaw and just eat one of the fucking kids whole?  Well this was sort of like that, but in Mexico.   Progresso’s port looked like it had been built just the night before, held together with duct tape, silly putty and dried up shit.  These people are fucking poor, and they are forced to live their lives trying to shill crappy glass figurines, ugly hats and cheap cheap fucking beer and beg money off our fat asses just so their fucking kids can get fed  (and presumably be well nourished when it’s their turn to jump the border).  I feel really goddamn bad for the people of Progresso.   Josh and I scheduled a kayaking excursion.  The description promised education and adventure.  Well not so much.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Our tour guide put us on a bus hobbled together with sticks, rubber and superglue.  His name was… fuck… Pablo or Tico…  I don’t know, something Mexican.  All I know is he kept making bizarre monkey noises intermixed with broken Spanglish.  So I’ll call him Tarzan.   Tarzan spent the majority of the ride… well, making said monkey noises… but in between he assured us repeatedly that Progresso is the most important port in Mexico, and that is why there were dozens of armed military men stationed everywhere.  (Because apparently the real Pirates of the Carribean couldn’t give a shit about Incan gold, preferring instead to steal burritos and “I love McDonald’s!” tshirts from fucking dirt farmers in the middle of a wasteland.)  We asked what made Progresso so important.

“Progresso is de moooost im-por-tahnt port in Me-hee-co.”

“Yes, we got that, but why?”

“Progresso is de moooost im-por-tahnt port in Me-hee-co.”

That’s all we were getting out of  him.  And I don’t think its that his English was bad.  I think he just didn’t fucking know.  I think he was just like “Look, I have to tell you this or that big monkey looking guy with the k-mart brand AK-47 is going to fuck me like an exra in Oz.” Meanwhile the bus driver apparently plays way too much Grand Theft Auto, because he was gunning for those kids in the street like he got extra points for each hit.

Seriously, the people of Progresso live in squalor.  I grew up in New Orleans my whole life, so I know what poor as shit looks like, and these people are… like, poor as fuck-all.  It seems every building was in various drastic states of disrepair, and many seemed impossibly uninhabitable, despite the obvious residency.  Every building– except one.   There was this big pink goddamn mansion in the middle of town, like a flower blooming in a wasteland.  It was the oddest thing.

They took us to their encampment where our adventure would begin.  Curiously, there were no real safety instructions or tutorials.  They just passed us a life jacket and paddle and pushed us in.

The kayaks were different than the ones I’d seen in Tennessee. There were old, and lacked the covering to keep out water.  Being especially heavy, this was not a good thing as I started taking on water a few seconds in. There was an overcast sky and a breeze pushing past the brush that surrounded us, so it felt good to be alive and on the water.   I enjoyed paddling around in my little boat, right up until I realized that I would have to paddle harder than anyone else there because my weight sunk my deeper in the water, pushing me more upstream.  Paddling became a bitch.

Even trying to tread water during breaks became a chore, since the constant pull of the stream made my paddle useless even when anchored deep into the ground.  The worst part though were the tunnels.   The majority of our tour took us through these tiny forest crevices barely large enough for the kayaks to pass and just small enough to get our oars caught in their branches.  In some spots the water was so shallow that we’d get stuck in the mud and have to fight to get out.  The breeze and current were non-existant there.  All that were present were the sweat upon my brow, the strain on my muscles and back and the terrible, terrible stench.  The forest’s odor was a disturbing mix of red beans and shit.  The water’s color did little to assuade that assessment.

After a while we came to open area for our final break.  They served water and bananas for lunch.  I declined since paddling to their boat would have required more energy than the banana was worth.  My patience was pretty much at an end by this point.  The adventure I was promised was just me struggling through the Mayan jungle at low tide.   I wanted off the ride.  By then my kayak was nearly sub mersed and each time I moved, I nearly flipped the boat.  My shoes were soaked.   Josh took this time to laugh at me, which is fine.  But  he also felt the need to give me advice on how to maneuver and paddle.  Which was not so fine.  I knew perfectly well how to paddle, but my weight combined with a flooded boat meant I wasn’t getting anywhere and his unwanted (yet, as always, insistant) advice wasn’t helping my mood.  Finally as I was in the throes of just giving up and waiting for the sweet hands of death  to take me down, he came up with a useful suggestion.  Ask them to let me ride in the motorboat.

Which they did.  And that was the best part of the whole damn time.  Fortunately for my ego, I wasn’t the only one who’d had it, and a couple had to hitch a ride.

Not long after we got back to the dock, they sent us back to the port.   I was soaked, tired and hungry, so we skipped out on looking around the port and went straight back to the ship.   As soon as we got back to the room, I tore my clothes off and ran in the shower.

After we ate, I went back to the room and ended up taking a long nap.  about 3 hours.  My left shoulder was killing me by then.   So when I woke from my nap, I put on my bathing suit, headed up to the spa and scheduled a massage.

With and hour and a half to kill before my appointment, I went to find Josh out on the pool deck. He was down in the hot tub talking to a girl.  When I got there, they weren’t alone.  Besides the hot girl, there was a middle aged couple and two kids.  The lanky kid was apparently trying to get with the just recently collegiate hot girl, but mostly he was just getting on her nerves.   Josh was the one with her ear, so lanky kid decides to show off by doing a flip off the hot tub into the pool.  When he was gone, the middle aged man asked if he was with us.  When we said no, he beathed relief.  I hadn’t noticed, but lanky kid had some sort of whistle and was apparently aggravating everyone in the hot tub.  Apparently I just completely tune teenagers out, because I never heard the damn thing.  When he got back in, he started in with the whistle again, and this time I did hear.

I’m not certain whether Josh was truly irritated by the whistle, or didn’t like the kid, or if it was just a case of male hormones pushing him to show off in front of the girl, but he kind of went off.

“Hey!  You see that whistle thing??  You’re pissing off everyone here!”   Cue stupid kid’s need to push authority.  He whistles again.  “You know I could punch your teeth down your throat.  Or he could. {me}  Or him. {middle-aged man}  You need to cut that shit out right now.”

I was fucking shocked.   The whole hot tub was silent.  I can’t speak for them, but I felt like it was over-kill. It was a fucking whistle.  And the kid looked like he was going to cry.  So I kind of stepped in.     “Don’t worry, he isn’t going to hit you.  But you are annoying everyone.  Seriously… STOP IT.”  The kid felt threatened and scared, so he bailed into the pool again.   I made a comment about him never getting an erection again after being emasculated so thoroughly in public.  Everyone laughed, but I really felt bad.  Still, I guess it worked because Josh and Hot Tub Girl took off to… well, that’s private.

I went up to get my massage.  My masseuse was a Welsh girl named Rachel.   She was skinny and tall with deep black hair cut shoulder length. Cute is definitely a good word for her, but it’s true what they say about teeth in the UK.  Seriously, these people need affordable orthodontia like flowers need sunshine.

She told me to strip down and said I could leave my underwear on if I wished.   Two problems with that.  One: all I had on was a damn bathing suit.  And two:  I was on vacation. It’s naked time.   Her hands were divine.  Which presented a problem.  When I was face down, all I could think about was her sticking her finger in my ass.  No, only kidding, but I did want her to rub my butt.  And then when I was face up… well… let’s just say I would have made a very effective sun dial.  And more I really really hoped this was going to go all 70’s porn on me.   Sure my arm felt better, but by the time I left I was so horny that I was more wound up than when I started.

I got dressed and headed down to dinner.   As we ate, Hot Tub Girl passed by with her family, not so discreetly giving Josh those eyes.  Fucker.

When dinner was done I went off to get my suit back on for late night hot tub action.   I saw HTG on the way to the room.  When I was leaving, Josh was walking in and I told him I’d seen her.  He told me he’d meet me at the pool soon.   I was up there for about an hour by myself and it was getting really really cold.  I went back down to the room to get some clothes on and go singing.  I opened the door to silence and pitch darkness, but there was something off.   Specifically HTG’s panties on the floor.  From the darkness, Josh asked if I could come back later.

This presented a problem.  On the one hand, guy code demands that I leave immediately.   Cock blocks are specifically un-dude like.   But on the other hand, I wearing nothing but a wet bathing suit, a bathrobe and some flip flops.   Which is bullshit.   So I decided to be a dude.

I went back up to the pool deck and tried to wait it out.   That lasted about a half an hour.   Having no other alternative, I went to the karaoke bar in my bathrobe.  I could hear the snickers and hoots of “Hey Hugh Hefner” as I found a seat.  I ordered a smirnoff ice, because this is the sort of occasion that requires alcohol.   I sang two songs; one of them being Wave on Wave by Pat Green.  What’s cool is that it’s a fun song, and it actually brought a few new people in.  The legend of the swimsuit swinger began to spread far and wide.  Soon my reputation would preceed me.

After I did my second song, I left.  By then the rules of dude-hood meant jack shit to me.  I needed clothes. Josh was there alone when I went in.   Unfortunately before I could be thankful for my good luck, he informed me that she was coming right back.   I dried off the leftover dampness and put on some underwear when suddenly there was a knock at the door.  Needless to say I could barely get my pants zipped before I was booted out the door.

Mostly what I did was wander around for the rest of the hour.  By the time I got back she was gone.   He told me about his own personal three ring sexual circus, which mostly made me sleepy.  Then I told him what I did all night while he was out banging the Pink Power Ranger. It was mutually agreed upon that I am the greatest Dude ever and that Josh owes me a debt which is either beyond recompense or only satisfiable by providing pussy.  And then I passed the fuck out.

The Second Day

Sunday: Water Bored-ing

The problem with Carnival Cruise lines is that its designed for two groups of people.  Families with kids and really old people.  That isn’t to say there’s nothing to appeal to those of us outside those demographics, but let’s face it no one pays 600 bucks for Spring Break so they can spend their days playing bridge, doing Scavenger Hunts and learning to Cha Cha. But since your first and last days are usually at Sea and that’s what’s available, you are left with few options; those being sun tanning, massages, hot tubs and girl watching.   Fortunately for me, as those options happen to be my favorites, I’m sitting pretty.

I loooooove laying out on the deck with my head phones on.  It just puts me at peace in ways I cannot describe to you.  The world goes away and all my problems, all my fears and hate disappear as Kieth Urban and Peter Gabriel sing me lullaby’s and the ship gently rocks me to sleep under a sunny sky.
Oh yeah, and there are breasts involved.
Ms. Linda (aka Josh’a Aunt, Maria’s Mom and our host of sorts) asked me to video tape the Swing Dance lessons that everyone was participating in but me.  Mistake.   Half the video is me zooming in on the dance instructors’ asses, and the other half that actually does feature them dancing is consumed by my patented humorous narration.  I’m pretty sure she hasn’t checked the tape.
Shortly after asked that we attend a group picture.  We all had to wear bright green shirts that said ‘Dancing With Linda’ to the shoot.
me: Umm… shouldn’t yours just say ‘Dancing’
Ms. Linda:  what?
me: well… you ARE Linda, but your shirt says ‘Dancing With Linda’.  People are going to think you have multiple personalities.
Yeah. I have to put my two cents in everywhere I go.   The one good thing about the t-shirts was that it clearly identified all the people in our group and made it easier to avoid them all day.
The picture was supposed to take 15 minutes tops, after which we were running for cover before the geriatrics started line dancing.   It took about an hour, and technically we didn’t make it all the way through.  We stood on the stair case as the photographer moved us about like chess pieces for half an hour.  The old women were getting PISSED with Ms. Linda, rumbling and grumbling.  Finally they got two of the five photos, when suddenly one of the old men took a header onto the marble floor and started convulsing.  Not to worry, he’s fine.  he’s 70.  Thats what old people do.   What’s sad is that all the old women were happy as shit not to have to stand there and take anymore pictures.   And once they got him off the staircase five minutes later, they assumed he was fine and all went line dancing.
After which, I went back to the hot tub.
Later that night was the Captain’s Reception.  This is wher eyou get dressed up and go down to the main theater to listen to music, dance and meet the head crew.   This is pretty much my favorite night.  It feels like Prom.   We passed Ashley Landry (previously mentioned in the first days blog) on the way up, and as beautiful as she was in regular clothes, I have to say she was pretty much stunning in that dress.  Since we hadn’t really been introduced, Josh did all the talking.   Upon seperation, I suggested he needed to ask her to dance. He said she had a boyfriend, but honestly, who gives a shit?  When it came time to ask the ladies to dance, he opted to dance with Maria.   Frankly, if he wasn’t jumping on that, I was.
I strolled over to her casually as she sat by her mother.   “Excuse me, I’m Adam.  My friend Josh informed me that you have a boyfriend.  If I promise to behave myself, would you dance with me?”   She smiled and giggled and said yes as I took her hand and led her to the stage.  Don’t be impressed.  I was wearing a suit.  I can do pretty much anything when I’m in a suit.  Possibly even take over the world.  Clothes don’t necessarily make the man, but more often than not, they’ll tell you most of what you need to know about him.  And I am a slick fuck in a suit.  So yeah, I danced with one of the hottest girls on the ship.
After that we went to dinner.
There was nothing to do that night besides go singing, but fortunately I dig that.   I got up and did Black Sabbath’s War Pigs.   And by the way, I can rock me some War Pigs apparently.   Kicked ass.  There was a comedy show at midnight, but we had an 8 am shore excusion in Progresso the next morning so we went to sleep.

Me-Hee-Co: Day 1

I suppose if you were to give me credit for one thing, it’s that I’m never boring.   Or maybe it would be how fucking sexy I am.  But that would definitely be in the top two.

No, where I go hi-jinks and general hilarity are sure to ensue. So I had to break up the break down of my cruise to Mexico into 5 parts.  Some of it will be funny.  Some of it a little depressing.  But it damn sure won’t be boring.
Around May I was invited by my best friend Josh to go on a cruise.  The catch was that it was with his Aunt and Uncle and her line dancing club which consisted of people from ages 60 to fucking ancient.  Some of these women fucked Moses.  I think at least two of them may have run the train on Ben Franklin.  Not sure.   There were exactly 4 people under the age of 40: myself, Josh, his cousin Maria and a beautiful girl named Ashley who sort of knew them from around the neighborhood.  Those odds didn’t bother me much because I had my own plans once we got the ship.
Saturday Morning:
I got to his Aunt and Uncle’s house with a fresh Smirnoff Ice ready to kick start my vacation.  Yes, Smirnoff Ice.  Fuck you.  I am a real man and drinking beer is like paying someone to take a piss in your mouth after they spent all night fucking (think about that morning’s piss and the head on a beer glass.  Got it?)  Anyway, Josh’s Grandfather took us to the port and we were on the ship by noon.  Being chronic over-eaters on an all-night floating smorgasbord (“orgasbord, orgasbord”), we availed ourselves of the lunchtime buffet.  Ice cream and chicken a doughnut rings, these are a few of my fay-vo-right things!  They may as well have strapped feed bags to our mouths.  It was a vicious cycle that has yet to be broken for the last five days.  Fuuck.  Two more days on that damn boat and I would have my own fucking competitive gravitational field.
Our ship was the Carnival Fantasy, which sounds bit like pornography for clowns.  Because it’s stationed in New Orleans, its pretty much the smallest and cheapest ship in the fleet.  It’s the K-Mart of cruise ships.  Which essentially makes me trailer trash in any language.
I’d been on the Fantasy before, so I mostly knew what to expect.  What I didn’t consider was the timing.  Apparently very few young people go on cruises in Winter and Fall.   The ship smelled like an old folks home most of the time.  That weird mix of linoleum, socks, ovaltine and ass hung in the air.   And nothing will rob you of your ability to sustain an erection like the sight of someone’s bra-less grandmother shaking her kibbles and bits to the sounds of 50 Cent.
But there were a small percentage of reasonably attractive women.  And a few of them were even unattached.   Granted, I didn’t really meet any of these mythical women, but I did get a look at them.
Okay, I have to confess, that first days on a cruise ship are a little boring to read about.   Not much happens.  You familiarize yourself with the ship, check out the “Welcome Aboard” show and then you go to bed.  We did try to do a couple of things.   My nightly ritual on cruises is to go to the karaoke lounge, crank it up and live out loud.  Singing is just about the only thing in the world that makes me feel good about me.  I turned out my favorite Gary Allan tune to poor results, and we left.  There was supposed to be a singles night for people between 22 and 35 in the ship’s nightclub, but when we got there all we saw was the Golden Girls busting a move/hip.
That night I went to sleep with visions of sagging, wrinkled tits swinging back and forth like pendulums dancing in my head.

To Florida and Back

Yeah.  I’m back in New Orleans.

Can’t you tell how happy I am?
*sigh*
So I guess this is where I’ll recap.
The weekend had it’s ups an downs. The downs: I had listen to a lot of pissing and moaning from the other two.  I slept in the tub as a courtesy to them bc I was snoring.  We spent more money than I had planed.  ANd it was over far too soon.
But then there’s the good. The tub wasn’t entirely uncomfortable. We had a good time.  I finally got to take my little brother on a vacation with me.   I met the lovely Alexandra.  I bought a new brown Fedora.  And I ate like a fucking king for four days.
I love Disney.  It rebuilds and recharges me.   Just stepping off the plane I feel better.  Sure, I still went off on rants on occasion, but things just don’t bother me as much there.  I’m almost happy.   Content it the word.  Belonging.  
Then coming back to this hell tears me just as quick.
To answer your questions:
Loree: Yes, dear I had a great time. Thank you for asking.
Misty:  Everyone else knew about it.  Maybe you just weren’t listening to me.
Jo:  No, I did not turn Astra into a filthy, sex-craving zombie.
Dew(ey):  Nope, still not telling ya.
Astra met us on Sunday and spent most of the day with me.  We had breakfast at Ohana’s which is one of my favorite breakfasts of all time.  I did pop her water-slide cherry at Typhoon Lagoon.  And yes, I’m glad i was your first too.  ; b  Plenty of pics from that.  Also video of her telling me who she likes best!  (that would be me of course.)  I did leave her briefly to go pick up a rental car, but we met up at the Virgin Megastore at Downtown Disney where I had to scold her for not liking One Tree Hill.  (For SHAME Alexandra.)   She told me all about her life as a gypsy soul.  I taught her how to handle the taint.  (KIDDING!!!)  We ended the night at The Rainforest Cafe with my brother, Josh and his friend Billie who had got us into the parks the day before.   The Rainforest Cafe is kind of insane because the whole place is designed to look like a jungle.   Every twenty minutes there is a thunderstorm inside the restaurant and electronic monkeys go electric- ape- shit.  It got kind of annoying by the third time.  And then we took her home.  Sadly we only got to hang out that one day, but there’ll be other times.  And I am pleased to report that dear Alexandra (who I have decided should change her name to Alexandra Astra Proudheart) is among the coolest 19 year old girls of all time.  And I truly hope she moves to New York so she can change the world.
Beyond that, I’m not sure there’s much to tell.  I did the normal things I do at Disney… well, except for sleeping in the tub.  That’s new.   My brother came along.  I get jealous sometimes when I see families together doing things.  Like the families I saw whitewater rafting and especially at Disney. Why can’t my family be like that?  Why am I the only one who wants to see and do and experience the world? I want so badly to share with them the magic that I feel just being there. And it just hurts to know that they are so resistant.  But yeah, I did manage to get my brother Aaron to go this time.  And then only bc he found out about the Test Track ride.
At times it seemed like he was having fun.  Laughing and smiling.  At other times… I don’t know.  I can’t really get inside his head.  And as much as I try to talk to him, it seems he just can’t or won’t relate to me.  I really hope he had fun.  I just wish he could have seen it all the way I see it.
I did a lot of thinking while I was there.  That isn’t unusual, but being in Florida lifts a lot of the fog that I experience here.  I see things clearer.  I had an idea for a new sci fi book.  And also, I think I might try and write a children’s book.   There are other things, but those are just for me.
As I said, it all went by so quickly.  Getting off that plane was no easy task.  And really, I just want to go back.  

Life is a Carnival

I’m itching at the heels to go back to Mexico.  That got me thinking about my one and only previous cruise vacation.  This is technically a repost, but it’ll be new to most people.

Carnival Time

To say I wasn’t excited was an understatement. I was glad to be off work and to be getting the hell out of Louisiana, but the truth is, I wasn’t sure I would enjoy being on a cruise to Mexico. I had heard plenty of good things about Carnival Cruise Line, but there were just other things I wanted to do first. When my Mother, who had paid for my experience, asked if I was excited, I responded with an underwhelming “yeah…” hoping she wouldn’t notice my lack of enthusiasm. My brother Aaron and his friends Blake and Whitney were meeting me on the ship. Mom dropped me off, reminiscing about her cruise experiences all the while. I’d expected the three of them to arrive late, so I was surprised to see Aaron already in line when I got there. I’d heard the check- in process was a pain in the ass, but it went very quickly, and before I knew it we were on the ship.

It’s funny how I don’t realize how overly critical I am. I’ve spent so much time at Walt Disney World in the last five years that I have taken to comparing all other vacation experiences to them. Looking back now, I have to say it’s a drawback. There are so many things that Disney does better than Carnival, but the cruise is a different animal; a different experience. As I walked into the main lobby for the first time, I should have appreciated it for what it was instead of comparing it to a Holiday Inn. But that’s what it seemed like to me, as I looked at the rooms, pools and general facilities, a three star hotel, when I had been used to a five star vacation.

I walked around a lot on that first day. As I sat out at the pool, listening to Dierks Bentley on my MP3 and staring at girls in bikinis, I couldn’t help but think “Is this all there is?” Later on I watched two home-grown game shows they put on with the guests as their contestants; their versions of Jeopardy and Deal or No Deal. It was entertaining, and the hosts were funny, but I still wasn’t impressed. Still, I had intended to make the most of my time, so I wandered around the ship looking for things to do. We had the latest seating for dinner, 8pm. When we arrived, the line was around the block, but it was disorganized, so we accident ended up cutting almost everyone in line. They sat us at an 8 top table, which was confusing because there were four of us. I just assumed they had given us each a seat to put our feet up. Just then a family of four came over, and our head waiter informed us that we would all be sitting together. It was a little uncomfortable at first, but I introduced myself, and they turned out to be great people. The father, Jason, sold pharmaceuticals out of Tex-Arkana. The mother, who’s name escapes me (but she was hot) was interested in photography and had the same camera as me. They had two children. The eldest was around ten and was clearly the responsible one, minding his father and doting upon his mother. The youngest was four and seemed to be the adventuresome one, the one who would get into things as he got older. They were a really nice family, exactly what I want some day.

The food is my one real complaint about Carnival. It was by far the biggest disappointment. I had heard that each meal was spectacular and endless. Endless it was; you could get as much as you want and there was always something available 24 hours a day. The quality however, was another matter entirely. It was edible, but bland. They clearly spent more time worrying about the presentation than the flavor. Some have pointed out that my taste buds are used to New Orleans cooking. Be that as it may, the head chef was clearly trained at a high class restaurant and culinary arts school; no one ever told him about spices? Still, I never went hungry.

Dinner took about an hour and a half. Later, I decided to go for a late night hot tub dip. Normally the hot tubs were always full, but very few people were up on the deck at night. There were only two guys there. I had hoped for bikini-clad women, but I was just happy to have access to the hot tub. Of course, as soon as I sat down they started talking to me, which always aggravates me. They turned out to be really nice guys, but of course they have to ask about New Orleans. I told them the truth that no one ever hears about on CNN. To my surprise, they listened and understood, and told me about Missouri where they were from. After that I went to bed.

Tuesday was a full day at sea. I awoke at 7 am to find the ship rocking back and forth. To tell the truth, I was unprepared for that. It never occurred to me that the currents were so strong that they could make a ship that size rock so much. With Whitney still asleep, Aaron, Blake and I went to the buffet for breakfast. It wasn’t bad. Most of Tuesday was more of the same. I went out to the deck for some hot tub time, then laid out with my MP3 (one of my favorite personal items ever) to take in the scenery. Then I explored some more in order to familiarize myself with the ship. I got Aaron and I a pair of watches to keep us on schedule since our cell phones didn’t work. When I went back to the room, I found the daily newspaper which Carnival used to inform their guests of the daily events and schedule. I noticed that the first of two Captain’s Receptions (one before each dinner seating) was about to begin. I had no idea what it was, but I figured it was better than sitting in my room. When I got upstairs to the Universe Lounge (the main stage and meeting room) I noticed everyone was dressed up. I was aware that Tuesday night was formal night, but had assumed that was primarily for dinner. I asked what was going on, and was informed that this was a cocktail party hosted by the Captain. I immediately went down stairs to shower, shave and put on formal attire. I arrived during the last half of the party.

I’m not vain. I’m well aware of my physical appearance, but I love dressing up. I know a lot about style, and I’m a great dresser. More to the point, I look sharp in a suit. Sure, everything I put on was from Target, but I looked better than almost every guy there. Yeah, I get the irony. It sounds vain. But it isn’t clothes that make the man; it’s the way he feels in his clothes. When I put on a coat and tie, I feel like I could take on the world. Most guys turn into ten year old boys when they put on a tie. They hate it and it shows. But I digress.

When I got there, the band was playing and a young woman was singing a Sinatra song while several couple danced on stage. I stood there, watching them dance and taking in the music; you couldn’t help but feel the magic and romance of the moment. When the song ended, they began the Captain and crew introductions. I only half listened, because I really didn’t care who my Purser was or who yelled at my cabin steward. I sat there by myself, feeling lonely and thinking about those couples, thinking about how I had no one. “Not tonight” I thought, “tonight I’m going to dance.” I surveyed the audience and chose my target, a pretty brunette, sitting with her friend. Shortly thereafter, the Captain finished his introductions and the band started the final dance, playing Fools Rush In. I gathered my wits about me and walked over to her. I leaned over from behind her, tapped her on the shoulder and looked her in the eyes. “Excuse me, Miss,” I said, “I’m a horrible dancer, but I’m all dressed up. Would you do me the honor?” And she looked at me and smiled. “Sure.” And just like that I was up on stage with a girl from Michigan. When it was over I thanked her for the dance, and went back down stairs. I got the other three dressed and showered, then we all went and found a booth for the next reception. It wasn’t really the kind of thing they enjoyed. I suppose I should have figured that. The thing is, I was born and raised white trash, and typically, I love it, but I’ve always had a taste for the finer things in life. I think it’s good to be raised in the dirt, it gives you strong roots; but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t fly from time to time. I enjoyed the whole party this time. And when the Captain got up, I looked again for another girl. I handed my brother the camera and told him if it worked, that I wanted pictures. I used the same line and approach. Amy, the girl, informed me that she had a fiancé’, but she would be happy to dance with me. And there I was again.

Afterwards we all went to dinner. Aaron had been developing a headache all day from the ship’s constant rocking. Jason, our table mate, gave him some Dramamine, but it didn’t work fast enough, so I took him back to our room where he fell asleep. I felt guilty for leaving him, but there was nothing I could do but let him sleep it off. I had noticed in the paper that karaoke started at 9 pm. Anyone who knows me can tell you, I love singing. I know I suck, but nothing makes me happier, except maybe for a fast car. I was excited to find out it was a country crowd. I got up twice, singing Midnight Rider and a Dierks Bentley song. After an hour or so I went to check out the Disco down the hall. It was fairly hopping and there were plenty of hot girls, but they were playing rap, so I left. About midnight, a comedian from Tennessee (Tim something or other) was doing an R-rated show. I went and met Whitney and Blake on the balcony of the Universe lounge. The show was pretty good, but I was as aggravated as could be, because a 6 foot something frat guy (I call him Yeti) kept walking in front of us and talking loud. By the end of the show, I was ready to throw him off the boat. “If this motherfucker gets in front of us one more time,” I said to myself, “I swear to God, I’m’a whoop his ass.” (I get real southern when I’m pissed.) It didn’t come to that, though. I was tired, so I called it a night. We were due to arrive in Costa Maya around noon the next day, and I wanted to be well rested for my first time in another country.

Wednesday started off the same: breakfast, pool side, exploration. We were at port at by 11, and I went to get a lay of the land form the top deck. I’ve been in both oceans. I’ve seen the beaches of Clearwater and Santa Monica. I know what beauty is. So when I tell you that the water in Costa Maya was the most amazingly beautiful, bluest water I have ever seen in my life, I hope you understand the weight of that statement. Being from Louisiana, I’m so used to nasty water, but there I was in the Gulf of Mexico and I thought I was looking down into a pool. At 11:30 I went and ate lunch by myself. The three of them were due to go snorkeling, and I had no interest, so I booked a sightseeing tour of the beach and town. I was supposed to be at the dock for 12:30. I just barely made it. After signing a few “its okay if we kill you” forms, we were off in a military-style transport. The first stop was the beach. We were supposed to have access to kayaks, which I really wanted to try, but the water was too choppy, and they wouldn’t let us take them. Instead, I put down my gear and got in some splash time. Then I found myself a hammock, turned on some Kenny Chesney and enjoyed one of the most peaceful hours I’ve had in a long time. Next we took a tour of the area. It was interesting, but after a while, if you’ve seen one poor hut, you’ve seen them all. Curiously, some of these people had houses with straw roofs, but drove Chevy Trailblazers. I didn’t really get that. Our last stop was the Costa Mayan village. It was pretty much a giant flee market. When I got back to port, I looked around at the port shops, which were much cleaner. I got some quesadillas at one of the bars. The really cool thing was that I was right across from one of those Mexican pool bars, where the girls stand around half naked and drinking in the pool. When I was done eating, I got myself another cowboy hat and went back to the ship. I took another nap by the pool, and then went to my room to change.

The bad thing about having a late seating dinner is that there’s usually something going on at 8 o’clock. I noticed that there was a ballroom dance class going on that night. Now, I know what most guys will think when they read this, but I don’t care. I’ve always wanted to learn to be a good dancer. Someday I hope to be married, and I would actually like to dance with my bride on that day. I don’t think there’s anything effeminate about that. So I skipped dinner. It turned out to be a class on how to Cha- Cha. Not exactly what I had in mind, but I stuck it out. A very nice girl named Rene agreed to be my partner. After half an hour, I knew how to cha-cha, not very well mind you, but I have the basics down. When it was over I went back down to my room to rest. As I lay there, a girl of about nineteen walked into my room holding a disposable camera. “Ready for a picture?” she asked. I thought it was a little weird, but I agreed. As I tried to take the camera from her, she said “no.” Then she pulled me close to her and held the camera in front of us and snapped it. Then she ran down the hall giggling with her friend. “If I had known she was going to do that”, I thought “I would have kissed her as she took the picture.” And that’s when it occurred to me. I was proud of the fact that I had asked those girls to dance. It wasn’t something I would normally do; I’m just not wired that way. But I did it. I didn’t back down. That was the important part to me. Success and failure are irrelevant; all that matters is that I don’t give up. And as I went over what just happened, I realized I couldn’t stop with those successes, I couldn’t give up there. I had to top myself. Despite the condoms I had bought just in case, I didn’t expect to actually have sex. That would have been expecting a lot of me to try and sleep with someone. So instead I determined to get a kiss. Two kissed actually, from two of the prettiest girls I could find. Thursday would be spent all day in Cozumel, but Friday was another full day at sea, and that would be my chance.

The next morning Aaron and I got breakfast together. I had booked us on an off road kart excursion; basically it was a big two-seater dune buggy. Cozumel’s pier had been destroyed by hurricane Wilma, so we had to take a ferry to the port. Our tour representative put us in a Suburban cab to their business, which was several miles down on the island. Unfortunately she didn’t happen to mention two important facts. One: Mexicans drive like they learned phonetically by watching Nascar races. Two: there are no speed limits, stop signs or traffic lights in Cozumel. I have never been so scared in a vehicle in my life. We nearly hit 8 people and 12 cars. We were introduced to our tour guide, Adrian when we go there. After a short speech, we got in the karts. Aaron took the wheel first. It was… a bumpy ride… and he nearly rammed one of the tour guides. It was really fun though. Later we switched sides. It turns out the wheels on our kart were severely misaligned. When I tried to drive it, I hit it a slick patch of dirt and we went flying off to the left. The kart nearly flipped over, but I managed to stop the tires with my foot just in time. The tour guide switched karts with us, which greatly improved the steering. I let Aaron drive for the last third of the trip. When we got back to our port, we went shopping, which is pretty much all there is to do at the port. We met up with Blake and Whitney, and Aaron went off with them, while I went back to the ship to lay out by the pool. That night at dinner, Whitney surprised Aaron with a birthday cake. He was embarrassed, but he was a good sport about it.

Aaron went to bed again, while the three of us went to see Phat Kat, the comedian perform. It was actually pretty funny. Thursday night was also the night of the big party on the pool deck. I figured that was as good a time as any to start on my promise. Whitney went to sleep while Blake walked around with me. I was nervous, so I held off for a while before talking to any girls. I really didn’t want to be there, because all they were playing was c-rap, but I made a promise, and I was going to stick with it. Eventually I said screw it and walked over to one of the cuter ones. Unfortunately, when I tried to get her attention, she gave me a really dirty look and walked off. Bitch. But then I ran across a really hot girl with black hair. I gathered my nerve and walked over to her. “Excuse me,” I stuttered, “I made a promise to myself that I would kiss two of the prettiest girls on the ship; could you help me out?” “I’ll kiss you on the cheek.”, she said. Then she grabbed her friend who was dancing and they each took a cheek. Unfortunately Blake screwed up the picture. So I fulfilled my goal, but I had no evidence, which in my mind meant that I needed to start over. It had to wait until Friday though, because I was tired.

Friday I woke early, because I had a 9 am massage and I wanted breakfast first. I let Aaron sleep and went by myself. The massage was kind of rough to be honest. I’m glad I went and did it, but I prefer soft touches in a massage. I want to relax. This chick was out to inflict pain. I feel sorry for the guy that left her. I went out for a little more pool time, hoping to run across a girl I could talk to. No such luck. I met up with the three of them later for lunch at the buffet. Afterwards I went on a scavenger hunt with three strangers. We lost… badly. I went to a couple more shows in the Universe Lounge. Later I got hungry again and the four of us went to eat by the pool. While we were waiting in line for our food, Aaron disappeared. When he turned up again, he was doing the limbo with a margarita in his hand. Then he started dancing with a girl on stage. It was the most life I’d seen in him since the trip had begun. I was sort of shocked.

After that, time seemed to run out very quickly. We had one final dinner with our friends. Aaron and I dressed up again for our final night. We took pictures and talked. At 9 I went to sing for the fourth night in a row, but this time the 3 of them came with me. Whitney even sang. I looked around for a girl to ask, but I couldn’t find anyone that wasn’t with a boyfriend or a big group. There was one final R-rated show with Phat Kat at midnight, which Aaron also went to. Afterwards I walked around the ship into the wee hours of the morning. I stopped in on the Disco and ran into “Yeti”. He saw me standing there and flicked my collar for some reason. I didn’t exactly have a sense of humor about the situation. I looked him in the eyes and told him “You need to get the fuck away from me right now.” He did it, but I was already pissed and left. After a while, I decided that I just wasn’t going to meet my goal. I was disappointed, but I have to learn that it’s okay not to meet every expectation.

I had a pretty great time. To tell the truth, I could have used a few more days. As I talked to a friend about it earlier, I realized just how great it actually was. For five days I stopped worrying about all my problems, I stopped cursing, I slept well, I did things I’ve never done before and I had a good time. I can’t remember the last time that happened. I think I’ll sleep well tonight, dreaming about a beach in Mexico.

The Devil Went Down to Florida: Disney/ MGM

This is how sick I am. I found this internet radio station dedicated to the Disney parks. It literally plays all the background music at the parks. I cannot explain to you in words how fucking in love with this station I am! I cried tears of joy — no shit– when they played the monorail spiel. “Por favor, yo tangence alejandro de las puertas.” TEARS. OF. JOY.

It’s been many posts since I did the first in my series exploring the magic of Walt Disney World. (You can read it HERE.) But I felt like it was time to do Part 2. I’ve just been feeling the longing for the Mouse’s shores lately.

Normally I do Animal Kingdom (AK) first. The park has grown bigger in recent years, with more things to do. Usually though, I combine that park day with Disney/ MGM Studios, since those are the two I would likely spend the least amount of time visiting. That doesn’t mean I don’t love them. I LOVE THEM. But I just don’t dig every inch of those two parks. I just hit the big points and keep running.

But they’re still magic to me.

I have a special place in my heart for Disney/MGM (MGM, for short). Actually, I’m told it’s called Disney’s Hollywood Studios now. Forget that. I’m a purist! It’ll always be Disney/ MGM to me. Most people don’t know that it actually is a movie studio, not just a park. It’s an animation studio. In fact, while I was living there, they were producing Lilo and Stitch. Which is kinda cool if you ask me. The rest of the park is a reflection of both the studio theme and the new Hollywood name. Half of the park is covered in film sets and stunt shows. There’s even a reduced scale model of an At-AK Walker and a relica of a section of the Forest Moon of Endor in the Star Wars area. The other half represents a glamorous image of the Hollywood of old, the one that supposedly existed in the 1920’s. The theme works very well, and in fact it’s the only park of the four which presents a united theme.

The first thing you’ll notice when you get in is The Sorcerer’s Hat. A giant model of the magic hat Mickey wore in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Unlike the other Parks’ central draws, the hat doesn’t serve any function. No shows or restaurants. Just a pin trading store. It’s still kind of cool to look at though.

As you walk down the main street, you’re met with dozens of gift stores, similar to the Magic Kingdom’s (MK) Main Street. Taking that first left, you will find two of Disney’s biggest attractions. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is one of the biggies for most people. It’s really only people like me who are afraid of heights who avoid it. That being said, I would recommend going on it with your friends, even if you’re scared. The set design alone is worth the wait. The haunted hotel theme comes off like a more mature version of the Haunted Mansion in the MK. It’s nowhere near as ostentatious, and there isn’t an inch of the attraction that doesn’t feel authentic. At the end of the line, there is an exit for anyone who can’t, or doesn’t want to get on. Should you choose to go through with it, you will be asked to board an “elevator”. Once strapped into your seats, the elevator starts moving… but not in the direction you might expect. The doors close and the elevator reverses horizontally, then links onto a track and goes on a short, somewhat hallucinogenic trip through the upper level of the hotel. At the end, the elevator locks back into place and the outer window opens, displaying the entire park for a scant second before dropping you. At some point in the drop, the elevator stops, rises, and drops again. And again. And again. There are multiple drop sequences, almost ensuring a different experience every time you ride.

When you get out of the Tower of Terror, start running. Right on the other side of the street is my favorite ride in all the parks, Aerosmith’s Rockin Roller Coaster. It also has the longest wait in the Studios. But it’s worth it. Like many of Disney’s attractions, the Coaster is not content to be just another ride with an unrelated theme. Rather, you’re an Aerosmith fan granted the chance to see the band do some recording. They then invite you to meet them at the concert backstage. The coaster itself is a “super-stretch limo” which will take you to the concert across town, while blaring Aerosmith full blast, of course. Try to breathe normally as the magnetic propulsion system fires you down the line. At 60 miles an hour, it’s one of the fastest rides in the park, and since it’s a dark ride (re: lights out), the loop de loops don’t bother me. I try to ride the Aerosmith coaster at least twice before I leave, so I usually grab a fast pass for later as soon as I get to the parks. Knowing how to properly schedule fast passes is a big plus in the parks.

There’s a few more worth-while sights to see, but if I went to AK first, I’m long since ready for lunch about that time. Which is cool, because the Studios has some of the coolest themed restaurants in WDW. There’s the 50’s Prime TIme Cafe, which is designed like a house from the Donna Reed Show, pure 1950’s Americana. The waitress will be dressed as a 50s housewife, and she will insist that you call her Mom. Sure, it’s a little goofy… and even psychotic at times, but it’s a lot of fun. Except when Mom makes you eat your veggies before you can get dessert. I’m not kidding.

My favorite lunchtimes restaurant is The Scifi Dine-In Theater, which is set up like a (again) 1950’s drive thru movie theater. The tables are shaped like old 59 Chevy Belairs, so you can put your arm around your Honey while you groove… sorry, caught up in the moment. The waitresses will roller skate up to your “window” to take your orders. And while you wait, you can watch old cartoons, cartoons and trailers to a lot of really bad black and white scifi movies with names like The Day the Giant Martian Ants Reigned Terror on Mugambo. Or something. I usually get a bacon burger and the cheesecake, which comes drizzled with caramel, popcorn and M&Ms. I know how sounds, but it’s awesome.

Two seconds walk from the SciFi is both the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular and Star Tours. The Stunt Spectacular is exactly what it sounds like: a stunt show. But for first timers, it’s kind of cool, because you get to see some classic Indy scenes recreated. And if you’re really lucky, you may get called up to participate. So far I haven’t.

I always do Star Tours, but there’s really only two reasons to go on it.

  1. You’ve never done it before, in which case the dated ride (it’s over twenty years old and you feel it) will seem new and exciting. An actual licensed Star Wars ride!
  2. You’re a big Star Wars fan. And as a result, you can’t pass up the opportunity to see the very detailed replicas of Star Wars sets or to ride shotgun with R2D2 in Space.

Other than that, you might want to check out the Tatooine Cantina gift shop and the land-speeder that you can take pictures on,  then skip it. Star Tours is the only holdover from Disneyland stationed in the Studios.

Next, I close out with The Muppet 3-D Show, which is another of the staple 3-D shows I mentioned that each park has. However unlike the other 3-D shows, like It’s Tough to be a Bug, the Muppet show adds an actor in addition to the blend of anima-tronics, props and 3-D effects. Not only is it one of the funniest of the shows, but as someone who grew up in the 80s, seeing the Muppets invokes a lot of nostalgia. And at the very least, after a long summer day, you’ll appreciate getting to sit down in an air conditioned theater for a few minutes.

By that time, I usually hit the Aerosmith ride one last time and head in for the night. But for a newbie, there’s plenty more to do. I haven’t even covered to the Stunt car show. Or the Chronicles of Narnia walking tour. Or the Beauty and the Beast and the Little Mermaid musical shows. And the Animation Studio tour. Yeah, there’s a lot. Skip the Great Movie Ride, though. It sucks.

Oh… and I just about forgot. At the end of the night, 3 of the 4 parks have fireworks shows (AK is the only one without), each with a very different flavor and appeal. And while my favorite is Illuminations, many people would argue that Fantazmic is the most… fantastic. Fantazmic isn’t just fireworks. It employs dozens of actors and characters, as Mickey Mouse takes a tour through Disney’s film history. Everyone from the Lion King’s Scar to Pocahontas appears as Mickey fights to regain control of his dreams from Cinderella’s Maleficent. Yeah, it sounds cheesy, but like most of Disney’s attractions, if you’re willing to see with open eyes, you’ll feel the same magic your children do. And you won’t want to leave when it’s over.

That’s it for this installment. I hope I haven’t bored you. Sooner or later I’ll get around to my review of the next park, my favorite, EPCOT.