Club Med



"I'm down here in Mexico,sick as a dog.

My head is pounding in this border town fog.

Down to my last dime and coming apart at the seams.

I'm messed up in Mexico, living on re-fried dreams."

-Tim McGraw


If you haven't read the story, "Tequila Night," you may want to. It takes place before, during and after this one, and has a lot of background information on the whole Club Med thing, too. I'm trying to piece the events from Club Med together by content rather than by time frame. If I had done them chronologically, it would be one hell of a long story. So these stories didn't exactly happen in this order; this is more of a medley of things that went on during the month or so I was there.

My roommate Jason and I decided to make a rule about use of the room for...uh...carnal investigations. We obviously didn't want to walk in on each other, so we agreed that if there was a patio chair in front of the door, that meant that the room was occupied. Since I tended to stay at the disco until I got thrown out and then had to stumble home to sleep, I spent a few nights now and then sleeping in the patio chair or on the beach because my roommate would rush back to the room with a girl and claim the place for the night much earlier in the evening.

Soon it was beginning to become a problem. He would be in the room by midnight while I'm still wandering around drinking. So we needed a new plan. We had to find a way to let the other person know earlier that the room was going to be in use. I wanted to make sure that the other person could make earlier arrangements for a place to stay. I also didn't want other people to know what we were saying. Since we never knew when we'd bump into each other, it could be a bit embarrassing for all parties involved to say, "Hey, I need the room tonight," while the girl is standing right there. So, we came up with a code.

"Hey, Slap," he would say. "I think there's going to be a full moon tonight."

And that would mean that he needed the place. We would still put the chair out as a reminder. And also for a place for the other guy to sit while waiting. It wasn't the most comfortable way to sleep, but it was better than being attacked by iguanas and crabs all night on the beach.

So one day, Jason hooks up with this girl from New York. He leaves the disco early with her, and later in the night, her brother comes up to me looking for them. My first thought was that the guy was going to kill Jason for being with his sister, but then I remembered that Jason had told me how the night before, the brother had walked in on the two of them together, apologized, and walked out. So he's not the protective type. He explained that she had his key, and he wanted to get some sleep. So I take this guy for a walk to see if we can find them.

We're across the street from mine and Jason's room. I look over towards the room and tell the guy that they're not there. He asks how I can be sure, and I tell him, "Easy, no chair."

I explain the chair rule to him, and we keep walking. About a half hour later, we bump into Jason and the girl walking on the beach. The brother gets his key, and I head back to the disco to continue my buzz.

The next day I bumped into Jason on the beach. He was with the girl again, and I decided to test out the code. We had actually only used it once before, and I wanted to make sure he still remembered it.

I walked up to the two of them, and looked up to see if I could find the moon. Before Jason or I could say anything, the girl says, "Is there going to be a full moon tonight, Slap?"

I was speechless. I looked at Jason expecting him to be as shocked as I was that she figured out our code, but he just looked guilty. He gave the code out. I was pissed. Traitor.

I tell her no, or at least not that I know of, and tell Jason we'll be talking about this later. I leave, and see a girl that I had been flirting with for a few days now. I talk to her for a few minutes, and agree to meet her at the disco at about 1 a.m.

That night I met an English family and spent the night drinking with them. After about an hour or so, the parents decided to go for a walk, and left me with their son and daughter. We drank. Seriously drank.

I learned one rule while I was at Club Med Cancun, actually, two rules.

1) Never drink with the English and Australians. They can drink like fish, and will ply you with drinks until you are completely wasted.

2) Always drink with the English and Australians. They can drink like fish, and will ply you with drinks until you are completely wasted.

You usually won't be able to tell which rule applies until the next morning.

I stumbled home bombed at about 3 a.m. only to find about a dozen patio chairs piled up in front of my door. My first thought was that Jason was in there having an orgy. My second thought was that he was joking around. I debated for a moment, and knocked furtively. No answer. I quietly opened the door and peeked in. Empty. Oh well, it was a joke. So I went in and went to sleep, without moving the chairs.

(The chair collection)

About an hour later, Jason came home and carefully knocked on the door. He peeked his head in and asked if I was alone. It then occurred to me that he didn't do it. He probably thought it was my joke. So I answered, "No, I'm not alone. I've got twelve girls in here right now. But if you want, you can work the cam-corder and bubble machine."

He laughed, came in and went to sleep.

The next day we went looking for the brother of the girl that Jason was seeing. He was the only one who could have done it. On the way, we got complaints from everyone in the rooms around us that someone had stolen their chairs.

That night was sports night. They warned us in the afternoon that tonight all G.O.'s were required to come to the after dinner party dressed up for their favorite sporting activity. Now, all the other G.O.'s had been at the club for a while, or else had come from other clubs that also had this kind of night. They also were involved in real sports, and therefore had sport outfits with them that they could wear. Jason and I were stumped. We had nothing to wear. Before dinner, I came up with a plan.

We showed up at sports night in boxer shorts, with a string tied around our necks with a condom clipped to it (still in the wrapper), and each of us carried a pillow over our shoulder. Someone actually needed to ask what our favorite sport was.

Can you believe that we were considered too vulgar for Club Med. We were actually asked to put clothes on and leave the pillows home. So, we threw on shirts and dropped off the pillows (but kept the condoms because hey, you never know...).

The next morning the "Alarm Clock" actually woke me up. Oh!! Let me explain about alarm clocks in Cancun. There are none. When you ask for a wake-up call, they can't call you. No phones. So, they send a Mexican guy with a list of all the wake-ups around, and he knocks on your door at the appropriate time. He won't stop knocking until you sign this sheet of paper saying that he woke you up. These two New Yorkers actually threw an "Alarm Clock" (that's what we called the guys that tried to wake you up) into the water when he wouldn't go away. I guess they didn't quite get the concept.

(Jason in the morning)

Anyway, I made it to work on time for once, and while napping in my chair on the beach I heard all these people screaming and running out of the water. Now, I've seen "Jaws" a million times (I had it on laser disk for a while), so I can usually tell when something is not as it should be on the beach.

My first thought was not that there was a shark in the water, actually it was that the 'gator from the lagoon had somehow found his way to the beach. Yes, there really was a 'gator living in the lagoon. He would usually sit under the bridge that connected one side of the club from the other, and at night drunk people would feed him and pour beer on his head and in his mouth.

(The Gator)

Back to the point. I ran to the water to see where he was, but people were running out from everywhere. It wasn't like there was one 'gator in the water they were running from; people were fleeing the water all the way down the beach as far as I could see. Now I'm thinking it could be a school of barracuda. But I didn't think 'cuda swam in schools.

Now I see people shaking things off their bodies, so I figure it must be jellyfish. I finally reach someone, but all I see are what look like little spiders all over his feet. I look around a little more, and I can see them all over the beach, and this huge mass of them blackening the water as it rolls in. It was like a little tiny monster invasion force. There were literally millions of them.

Everyone got out of the water and my uncle came up to me and explained what the hell was going on.

"They're little baby crabs," he told me. "Once a year all the eggs hatch and all the babies come to shore to eat. Now go in the water and get the boards."

So into the crab-encrusted water I go. I grab the first windsurf board, and can feel the little crabs crawling all over me. I'm getting itchy just thinking about it now.

I pulled the board onto the sand and looked down at myself. I had little white bulbous crabs ranging from dime to quarter size all stuck in my chest hair, in the pockets of my shorts, crawling all up and down my legs, they were everywhere. I guess they thought I was the free buffet. I tried wiping them off me, but they wouldn't let go. I hate to say it, but they actually tickled a little.

I started to swat at them harder, in a desperate attempt to get them off, but then I looked into the water and noticed that I had about six more boards to go get. So I went back in the water, got out the rest of the boards, and by the time I was finished I was literally thick with this blind, pustulent, putrid mass of wriggling legs and nibbling mouths.

I lost it.

I got the heebie jeebies.

I started swatting, smacking, plucking, pulling, tugging, yanking, doing anything possible to get these things off. They were now in my shorts, not just in the pockets. For the next fifteen minutes I clawed these critters off my body before turning my attention to their friends crawling along the beach. I was temporarily insane. Completely out of control. I started stomping along the beach killing these things at a phenomenal rate. Their crushed lifeless corpses littering the beach as far as I could see. My feet covered in bits of little baby crabs. Even as I was doing it, I could see more and more of them rolling in with the tide, more flies to the slaughter. I didn't care. There was no reason to go back to work, no one was going to be windsurfing today. Why not just spend the afternoon killing crabs? It was technically self defense-they attacked me first.

I turned around and started to head back down the beach to kill the second wave of killer crabs when someone finally stopped me. She told me that while the crabs aren't endangered, they are protected by Mexico because they do something for the coral or some crap like that. I thanked her, and turned to walk away from the beach. When she was pretty far off in the other direction I ran back to the shore and continued my stomping. A minute later I started feeling bad and decided to head back to work. Along the way I looked down at all the dead crabs scattered along the beach, and couldn't help but think that maybe this might be partially my fault in some small way.

I must have wiped out a few thousand crabs in just under a half an hour. Talk about a killing machine.

By the next morning almost all the crab corpses were gone. Either washed away, or eaten. It really freaked me out having those things on me. And I'm not the kind of person that gets easily freaked. So I decided to place all the blame on my uncle. HE made me go in the water, so it was HIS fault.

Gosh, it feels so much better to lay blame elsewhere.

We were informed that there was going to be a G.O. sailing Regatta next week, and that every department needed to build their own boat to race. They wanted outrageous stuff, with the crew wearing costumes and everything. The sailing team had won the last two or three regatta's (obviously), but this year, we in windsurfing vowed to take that prize away from them.

We began construction one morning, of what was to be the greatest sailing vessel ever built. We decided to go with a pirate motif. Lots of Jolly Rogers, skulls everywhere, and we would all wear eye patches on the day of the race.

First we designed the oars. I took a piece of plywood and sketched two skulls on it. We took it to the workshop and jig-sawed it out. Uncle Charlie screwed them to these long poles we found, and set them aside.

Next we needed a ship. A truly majestic sailing vessel that would strike fear in the hearts of all men, and lust in the loins of all women (that was sort of our unofficial motto).

We found two beaten to hell windsurf boards behind the shack. They had big holes in them, and would never see service with someone standing on them, but were perfect for our needs. We just needed the buoyancy. We strapped them side by side and fashioned a small wooden deck for the pilots to sit on.

Next, Charlie built the oar mounts on each side, and as a joke, he even installed a mount in the middle of the deck so that we could put up a windsurf sail if we needed to.

Now came my job. I had to paint the whole thing.

They gave me some white and some black paint, a few strips of cloth and towels to use as flags, a big fat house-painting brush, and a pen to sketch out what I was going to paint.

Re-read the last paragraph, and tell me what they forgot. No fine brushes with which to paint the details of the skulls, or to paint the ships name on the side. There just weren't any in all of Club Med apparently.

(Painting the flags)

I painted the deck and oar mounts black using the fat brush, then painted four pirate flags (double sided), the heads of the oars, the oar mounts, and the tips of the boards with skulls and crossed bones (fourteen skulls in all) with nothing but a pen cap. It took three days. All day spent bent over the boat painting.

(Still using a pen cap)

I had actually gathered a little cheering section. Each department had groupies. Guests that would hang out in a particular shack a lot because they liked the people that worked there, or liked the sport that went on there. Now the groups did extra duties. They would go out and spy on the construction of the other teams boats, would give advice, or lend a hand in the construction of your boat, and they were expected to cheer you on during the big race.


One of the other team's spies saw what we were doing, mentioned it to the sailing team, and the sailing team complained to the judges.

They claimed that since we were using windsurfing boards, we had broken the rule of not being allowed to use ready-made flotation devices. A huge fight ensued. Uncle Charlie ended up making a deal. He proposed that we would finish the course twice before any other boat finished it once. He had every confidence that we would win.

We named the boat "The Skull Duggery," and the night before the race there was an unveiling party. We were all in pirate gear. One guy on the team had a fake parrot strapped to his shoulder, and the rest of us had eye patches, fake tattoos and were wearing pirate type rag clothing. We stood in front of our boat for most of the night posing for pictures and letting out hearty "Aaarrggghhhs" for all the guests.

(The finished product)

The next day was race day.

Uncle Charlie and this other guy on our team were designated as the boat drivers, while I was to stay on the shore and get the crowd rooting for us.

(I think this was the SCUBA team's boat)

There were three points that they had to hit before crossing the finish line.

They were all lined up in the water. Charlie was yelling and cursing at the other teams, and they were yelling and cursing back.

(The sailing team's entry)

The whistle blew, and on the first oar stroke, Charlie's oar ripped free of the oar mount. Our boat started listing and spinning slowly in place as Charlie tried to re-position the mount so the oar would still work. About two minutes later he had finally gotten it to work enough to actually start the race. By now, all the boats had passed the first checkpoint, and a couple of boats were gaining on the second.

Quicker than anyone thought he would (even me) Charlie reached the first check point. Now a few boats had passed the second.

In another half a minute, Charlie had reached the second check point, and had started passing other boats.

The lead boat was now getting close to the third point. Charlie had finally gotten the hang of the rowing, and was now going even faster. They passed the lead boat and then crossed the third check point. Charlie and his partner really started pouring it on, crossed the finish line, looped around and crossed the first check point just as the lead boat was closing in on the finish line.

Charlie rounded the second check point and had now lapped a few boats. He passed the third check point as the lead boat crossed the finish line to win the race. We still managed to pass all the other boats and come in second place. We did two laps as compared to everyone else doing one, and still came in second. Now that's not bad at all.

We still got abuse from the winning team (sailing), but we knew we would have beaten them if it hadn't been for the oar mount. We also still felt that we did win, if only because of how we had still crossed the finish line first, we were just forced to continued on from there.

All in all, it was a really fun day.

I remember that there was a bet going between us and the sailing team, some kind of deal that we needed to fulfill if we didn't win. I just can't remember what it was right now, but it was probably really embarrassing.

Now in Club Med, you can get pretty bored. Sooner or later you'll try just about any silly thing to take some of the monotony out of the day. The nights are always wild, but sometimes the days drag. One G.O. told me that she had lightened her hair by pouring lemon juice on it and sitting out in the sun. Now, I have very black hair, so the thought of lightening it for a little while intrigued me, and as I said, I was bored. I spent a week trying to change my hair in some way using whatever I could find. I tried everything. The only things I wouldn't try were man-made things. I don't know why; it just seemed like it was cheating. It didn't matter, nothing would change the color of my hair. I tried fresh cranberries to give it a red tint, lemons and limes to lighten it, pineapple juice just because I had some. Any fruit that had its own juice was in my hair. Nothing worked. Then someone told me that if you wash your hair in fresh coconut juice, it makes your hair really soft. Well, soft I could deal with. I found a coconut by the beach, and asked my uncle if he knew how to open it. My uncle decided to show off his Islander skills by teaching me how the natives open a coconut.

It turned into a cartoon. You know that one with the squirrel that finds a coconut and tries everything to open it until he finally drops it off the Empire State Building? In a nutshell, that was what happened.

Now, remember, he's trying to show off. He wants his nephew to see how cool he is, and that he hasn't spent the last ten years just sleeping on a beach; he actually learned some things in his travels.

So he grabs the coconut in his hand, holds it up in the air and swipes at it with the machete. The coconut flies out of his hand and almost rolls into the water. He decides to try a different approach. He brings it into the shack, places it on the table, and swings down with the machete while letting out a loud yelp. The machete bounced right off. So he tried it again, yelling louder this time. This time, the coconut rolled off the table when the machete glanced off it.

A half hour later he's got the coconut in a vice grip and he's hacking at it with the machete like a madman.

A few minutes go by, and he's trying to pry it open with a screwdriver.

Twenty minutes after that he's got the hacksaw out and he's basically just peeling through the layers of silt trying to get to the center.

About ten minutes later he finally got it open. He produced the halved coconut to me with a flourish and a "Ta-da!"

I thanked him, tilted his hand so the coconut juice spilled into the cup that I was holding and walked away leaving him standing there sweating, panting, and holding a half-empty coconut.

I went outside, poured the cup over my head, rubbed it in my hair, and was quite impressed at how much softer my hair was.

Later in the day someone we had told what happened showed us that there's a spot on the coconut that if you hit right with the machete splits it right open. Charlie assured me that the coconut we had was defective, and that it wasn't his fault.

A lot of strange things happen when you meet someone at Club Med. Each guest usually only stays for a week, and for some reason each week seems to last four months. So relationships blossom and flourish quickly (and sometimes crash and burn) while in the Club's strange temporal vortex.

One week (or for four months) I was dating this girl, a ballerina from 'Frisco. She was really nice (and very limber), and it was now her last night in Cancun. I had a half day off the next day, and decided to stay the night in her room. Of course, a half day only means that I don't have to be at work until noon that day. And it took me being on my best behavior for a while to get that. I didn't even bother asking for a day off, because you never get one. We worked from 9 a.m. until midnight, seven days a week.

Anyway, the next morning about 10 a.m., I awoke to the sounds of someone banging on the door. I figured it was the "Alarm Clock" coming by to wake her up so she can get to the airport. I asked if that was her wake-up, and she said, "No, it's my dad."

Uh oh. He was about to key the door open when she ran up and pushed it back closed. She told him she wasn't dressed, and that she'd meet him downstairs in ten minutes. We got dressed, and she took her bags and left. The plan was for me to wait a few minutes and then meet her downstairs.

I walk out of the room, and the heat hits me. It's about a hundred degrees with a hundred percent humidity, and of course, I'm still wearing my clothes from last night. Jeans, cowboy boots and a denim shirt. Not exactly the right clothes for the weather.

I get to the bottom of the stairs, and by now I'm drenched in sweat. I see her and her father talking about a hundred feet away from me. He turns and starts walking towards me. So I did the only thing I could think of given the situation. I jumped into the bushes and hid.

He walked to where I was hiding, stopped and turned towards me. He looked down at me and said, "Hi, Slap." Then walked away.

I gave him a tentative wave, and muttered "Hi," as I crawled out of the bushes. I walked to where the girl was, and she punched me in the arm.

"That was really smooth," she told me.

We exchanged phone numbers and addresses and said good-bye. Now I had to walk all the way back to my room, shower, change, and get to work.

Of course, her room was all the way across the property from my room, and now everyone is out walking around. Since I know everyone, and everyone knew me, I was stopped about every ten feet or so by someone's rude comment,

"Hey Slap, weren't you wearing that outfit last night?"

"Slap, don't you live in that direction?"

"Hey, where are you coming from this early in the morning?"

"Did Slap just get some?"

And on and on, the whole way home. It was worse than high school. I just nodded and smiled as I headed to my room.

We actually did keep in touch via the phone, and letters back and forth, and even got together twice over the years before I lost track of her.

Once, she called me up laughing hysterically. She told me that she got into a fight with her father an hour before, and that his closing statement to end the conversation was, "Oh yeah? Well I know what Slap was doing in the bushes in Cancun!"

Well, that was basically my free Club Med working vacation, the condensed version. Obviously there were other things that happened, but none were truly inspiring, or worth writing about. Some of you may have been expecting details about the women that were there, and other things that I really don't think you all need to know. I have to keep some secrets to myself. If I told you everything, it might ruin your impression of me, and I wouldn't want to do that.


-Spat 5/21/97


If you have any questions, E-Mail me.