Lucy and Mick's World Wide Wed

Sunday, June 18, 2006

real estate adventure, part 1

Okay, here it is, folks, a gen-u-wine adventure from our honeymoon home on Ambergris Caye (that's "key" to y'all) on the beautiful Antilles, off the coast of the mainland of Belize.

I think this one starts "So there we were, walking down the beach, minding our own business…"

It was our first full day.

Lucy and I had slept the sleep of a thousand sleeps after the amazing weeks of wedding prep, finally somewhat alcohol-free blood, and fatigue as crusty as french bread. After some general fiddle-faddling around, we decided to finally walk some ways down the beach to the center of the main town on Ambergris Caye, the fishing village-cum-tourist mecca San Pedro. Along the way—nearly there—a beach fella changed our day with the words: "Are you enjoying your holiday?"

Innocent enough, especially in this world of delightfully genial people Still we were—not surprising—at least a bit wise to the (possible) con. This handsome 20-something corn-rowed black man righted himself off of a leaning perch and walked over to us. He smiled, we told him it was a wonderful day and that our vacation was equally so, and he went into some spiel that was hard to exactly understand. The Belizian accent is drenched in leisure and goodwill but takes a bit of getting used to—it's almost a jamaican brogue. The upshot was that he produced a manilla envelope and said that we might win a prize if we reached in and pulled out a piece of paper. Nothing so wrong with that, I know, I know, How could it be true?

Anyway, we both reached in and pulled out these tiny manilla envelopes, about the size of a business card. Like a fortune cookie, Lucy opened hers and read it: "$25 off of lunch at the Banyan Bay Resort!" I can't remember what the reaction was from the guy or from Lucy, I think some general congratulations. I couldn't hear them because I was reading every inch of mine, trying to make an assessment of the validity of this message: "7 day all-expense paid vacation to Belize"

Which, of course, had to be complete bullshit.

Lucy and he looked at me, like ya do when everybody at the table is sharing fortune cookies. I handed the card to the guy and said "I'm not sure what this means…" and he looked at it and his eyes widened a bit and he exclaimed "No way! You got the first prize! That's awesome!" Right buddy… then he added: "Please—you gotta make sure to tell them that I gave that to you, because I get a commission!" Huhhhh... I'm thinking. But—no way. It's not possible, right? Well, possible or not, after some brief commisserating, Lucy and I decided to accompany the guy—Moses, it turns out—by the local preferred method of transport, the golf cart, to Banyan Bay Hotel, where he said some people would talk to us. Lucy assured me that we were in some sort of real estate scheme and that we were about to be sold something, but the guy insisted that we had actually won this thing, and that, if we could spare an hour and a half, that the prize was ours, regardless of our intent to buy.

Lucy was basically right, but what followed was the most delightfully surreal couple of hours that we could hope for on our honeymoon.

With Moses, we then took our first careening ride through the "streets" of San Pedro (which really are more of rutted sand trails filled with puddles of skim milk). He was friendly and talkative, the whole time, explaining that he worked for Royal Crown International (RCI), a time-share business, and that it benefitted them to give away vacations because it was the best use of empty units. Furthermore, even if we didn't want to stay in Belize, they had other properties in the Caribbean where we could also choose to go as our prize. That all seemed quite likely, but I was absolutely pre-occupied with the essential question of whether or not we could have possibly actually won a 7 day vacation. According to Lucy, I spent probably the next half hour in a kind of visible skepticality, described by her as "dropped jaw, vaguely head shaking, raised-eyebrow" demeanor which for me was a physical manifestation of "okay. so this can't be true, but you say it is, but will you please just tell me that it's not unless of course it is."

A few minutes and many pothole jolts later, we were, in fact, deposited at the front steps of Banyan Bay Hotel, a quite regal palace of a place, marble floors and giant entrance way, where we were promptly greeted by a number of chipper and crisp hotel employees. A courteous young lady congratulated us, Moses' name was duly noted—also, we found out that he's a boxer—then he shook our hands and hit the door. The woman remained warm to us and waved over this somewhat hulking, gallumphing Guatamalan fellow named Alphonso, who also seemed happy to make our distinguished acquaintance. Couldn't any of these people tell we were just a couple of lovebirds from Kentucky, on a package tour?

Well, of course they could, and we knew that, too, but nonetheless, they were nice as nice could be. Lucy and I hadn't much time to talk between us, but the whole time I'd been looking at her funny. Ironically, she was almost more up for this highly-calculated adventure and while I was, too, I was still trying to process what I thought the odds were that this wasn't total BS, and trying to figure out what the "catch" was and and also, and most importantly, wondering if we went and looked at some real estate, what the odds were that we might in fact, have actually won a 7-day all expense paid vacation.

Could it be? It sure seemed unlikely. My mom didn't raise no dummies. But when you're walking the beach in Belize, on your honeymoon, anything can happen, right? And maybe the bird of paradise, could, in fact, fly up your nose.

So I guess you could say, we bit.

Alphonso was a genteel fellow if ever there was one, who's English was a work in progress. He was about to whisk us off on this mysterious 90 minutes of salemanship, when we interrupted with: "We're hungry, though. Can we get lunch fiirst?"

"Of course!" Alphonso roared, through his 6 foot 300 lb frame, looking a little like SNL's Horacio Mendes. Rubbing his belly, he said, "I'm hungry, too!" We then walked with him down the beach and got a table at Rico's, the breezy and posh outdoor restaurant at Banyan Bay, clutching our Bel$25 certificate and wondering if the entrees were going to be Bel$100 each. The whole time, Lucy and I kept looking at each other and vaguely shaking our heads, silently sharing the sentiment: "What the F&*ck is going to come of this?"

It was our first adventure. And while Belize is clearly best known for snorkeling, eco-tours into Mayan ruins and so forth, we had certainly found our first amazing experience. It was Alphonso, who I quickly became convinced had recently been promoted and was good and green at this sales thing. Lucy was actually wilier than I and retorted: "sure it seems like that. Sure it does… You feel very comfortable…don't cha?"

Which was true.

We had a delicious lunch, which was actually quite affordable, and we seemed to be treated like royalty, if only as minor officials from a tiny obscure country. Everyone knew Alphonso, and our waiter came up, took our order, pointed to Alphonso and said: "It's on him." and Alphonso was instantly flushed with good-natured embarrassment and blurted out "No! no!" waving his arms to undo our waiter's jibe.

Of course, this tipped us off a little bit. Who gives somebody a 7-day vacation and won't buy them lunch? Still, the guy was a treat. When we worried that our table was a little more in the sun that we would like, he galumphed off and came back a few minutes later to move us to "his table," which was actually off the proper patio and down on the beach. As we finally sat, he wiped the sweat off his brow for the umpteenth time and said, "I'm so glad you guys wanted lunch, because I wouldn't have gotten to eat otherwise!" He rubbed his enormous belly with gusto and all of us ordered Pina Coladas, and Alphonso tried to undo the waiter's joke by buying Lucy's drink, which was sweet. We were actually coming to like the guy at this point; he began talking to us about really anything from his preference in rice (coconut vs. plain white) to his Guatamalan heritage to the crazy little philosophical chats that we love to have all the time anyway ("what makes you mad?" he said, which inspired a fun little profound discussion, which then we turned on Alphonso who thought as long and solomnly as we each had and replied "Lying. Unjustice.(sic)" I don't know if that was out of the handbook, but I feel certain that we had somewhat inadvertently tapped into the heart of this fellow. Which benefitted us two-fold: first, I felt that the hard-sell was going to be much harder for hiim to accomplish, and second, the guy was maybe too sweet for this gig.

-- to be continued! --


  • i like your description of your fellow vacationers. RCI is owned by the company wehre I worked for the chairman in the glitzy office with the few of Central Park -- more on that offline.

    Hope you guys continue to have fun and use your bullfrog sunscreen.

    By Blogger saras, at 1:25 PM  

  • i know!! I think we had a hand-up when we realized that this was a C*&^@&t company! We actually tossed in that "board room" reference!!

    By Blogger Mick, at 4:52 AM  

  • My ex and I got sucked in to an RCI 'freebie' in Florida, I think we got 4 free passes to Universal Studios. Fortunately we were already X'd, and he bought a timeshare unit and I thought, "Thank God we're no longer married!". BUT I want to read the rest of the story!!!

    By Blogger whyamihere, at 9:15 AM  

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