Three years ago I took part in a manifesting class. Although the focus of the course was attracting physical gifts, the purpose was to display proof of both our personal power and our connection with divine source. I asked the all-knowing universe for a vacation on a cruise. I’d been on a hundred planes and on ferries and smaller boats, but never experienced a cruise. Nothing happened by the end of the course. I gave up and completely forgot about it. Fast forward to 12 months later and I’m walking on board a mountainous Royal Caribbean ship with destinations to the Cayman Islands and Cozumel, Mexico. I’m normally not a fan of resort style travel; so, to keep things interesting, I invited Gavin. If you missed my previous adventure with Gavin, you can find it here: Mystery Train.
It came at the perfect time. A super generous friend of mine got a fancy new job and purchased tickets for a small group of us. I was working on a story for a local paper and was looking forward to having five days to relax and write. Once aboard, I was impressed by the sheer size of the ship but more in awe at the genus making up the majority of the population. Maybe I’d gotten on the wrong ship. Was I on a floating nursing home? Regardless, I was going to enjoy my time with my friends and our elderly companions. Without uttering a word, our group marched in unison like a flock of geese flying with perfect, harmonious synchronization toward what would become a common destination: the bar.
I quickly found that there is not much else to do on a cruise. You eat and drink a lot. You can only go to trivia and play darts so much before reaching for a refreshing adult beverage from one of the countless watering holes. Gavin and I quickly found our favorite spot. It was within close proximity of our room, had live music during the day and evening and, most importantly, our newest friend Julien worked there. He was an extraordinary bartender. He even created a drink just for us that we called a “Spicy Julien.” However, I found something a bit disturbing about these cruise goers and their bars. Once we reached our destinations, everyone would patronize the touristy bar at port! Some never left the ship! The leader of our group wanted to do this very thing.
To be immersed in foreign culture with locals when traveling to any foreign country is what traveling is about. These other passengers not even leaving port, hanging with other Americans, to do exactly what they did on the ship the entire time, posting on social media they are “In Mexico!,” are posers. That’s not traveling. It’s like staying at a resort with the same comfort and amenities that you receive at home and calling it travel. Yes a vacation. But you might as well book a luxury hotel room for a week at home and have the EXACT same experience.
It took a little convincing to get my group to avoid Señor Frog’s but instead actually venture into Mexico and explore the Mayan ruins. Before getting dropped back off at port I asked the guide where we should go get drinks. He insisted Señor Frog’s. I refused. I asked him where he and other locals would go after work. I had to break down and speak to him in Spanish in order to get him to reveal his favorite spot in the city.
I gave the name of the location to the cab driver. I had the advantage of being our translator so when our driver urged us to go to a touristy bar instead I pushed forward.
“No, queremos andar en la ciudad.” No, we want to walk around the city.
“Es un poco peligroso!” the cab driver exclaimed. It’s a bit dangerous!
Pickpockets are a real issue and violent crime is on the rise in the city. Noticing the concern in his voice, my friends ask what he’s saying. I reassure them by explaining that he also frequents the spot. It wasn’t a lie. As we get into the part of the city away from all tourists, I hear one of my friend’s speak up, “this place is ghetto.”
“No, this is what developing countries look like,” I try again to comfort.
Reluctantly, our taxi driver drops us off. I asked him to return in an hour. As he pulls away, my gang of gringos stand in disbelief at this small, run down cantina. From the exterior it looked abandoned. As I walk past Gavin to lead the way I see a look of satisfaction on his face. Most likely a mirror of my own expression.
We walk in and immediately all eyes are on us. Dead silence. We are probably the very rare if not the only tourists to ever walk into this place. My group’s discomfort level is rising. Rapidly. I find us a table in the very center of the room and immediately we are greeted by a friendly waiter.
“Cinqo caballitos de tequila con cervezas,” I ordered. Five shots of tequila with beers.
After we sucked those down, we ordered another round and quickly everyone became cozy. The warmth and fuzziness was beginning to set in and it was like a flip had been switched. The waiter kept bringing out finger foods for us to try, he kept the tequilas coming, we were laughing, becoming loud and soon a mariachi band came to our table to play the song “Chinga Tu Madre.”(I’ll let you Google that translation.) It was quite the spectacle and we were having an excellent time. Our driver came and we asked him to return in another hour. On the ride back to port everyone agreed that was the best experience we’d had so far.
Back on board the large vessel we continued with the fancy dress-up dinners, the pools and hot tubs. Then came the darts, trivia, and bars again. On the final night, our group wore our nicest outfits. After several Spicy Juliens at our favorite location, Gavin and I were feeling a bit bored and decide to add a little extra spice to the evening. We figured we’d test out our acting skills with the ancient patrons of the cruise. Accents and all. The next morning before leaving the ship, police were knocking at our door. To not digress from the theme, I’ll tell that story at a later date. This trip ended up being a very different but, nonetheless, an unexpectedly thrilling experience.
You can ask for what you want. Some people call it praying. Some people think we just figure out a way to unlock a part of our brain we don’t normally use. I just wholeheartedly believe we are constantly projecting what’s going on internally. That’s what we experience. We are way more powerful than we realize. There is so much excitement in figuring that out. So why not test it out? What will you ask for?