Saying Adios to the Last of the Nepenthe Crew

13 09 2010

I didn’t do a great deal on my last day in Playa del Carmen. I lay on the beach for a while but it was oppressively hot and I was already looking the colour of HP sauce so I chilled out at the hostel on my laptop. I arranged with Charli to swap my Lonely Planet Central America on a Shoestring for her Mexico LP. I didn’t need information on any of the other countries any more and, having been so let down by the aged guide of late, I was only using it for information on bus routes and general descriptions of destinations. Charli had mentioned that her book was a bit dishevelled — she’d ripped out pages of places she’d already been to — but everything was still there (even if it was detached) so it was fine.

After saying goodbye to Elena and somehow losing yet another towel I got on a bus to Cancún. I was watching Flight of the Conchords on my laptop on the hour bus journey and was cursing the poor performance of my new headphones. I could barely hear it. Strangely enough though the woman across the aisle was complaining that she could barely hear the in-bus film over the volume of my headphones. It took me a while to realise that I hadn’t plugged the headphone jack in fully and that I was listening to it over the computer speaker! No wonder my headphones felt more like earplugs.

I was originally going to avoid actually staying in Cancún like the plague but it was Mitch’s last night in Central America and we planned to paint the town red. Mitch and I were the last remaining passengers from Nepenthe (the yacht we took across from Colombia to Panama) still in Central America. Mitch is an avid surfer so he’d been visiting lots of different places to me and our original plan was to meet up in Mexico City before we both flew out. Unfortunately he’d managed to burst his eardrum in El Salvador and after 2 weeks of antibiotics and being told that he wasn’t allowed back in the water for a while, he decided to bring forward his trip to the States and fly there earlier.

At Cancún I opened my new guidebook to find out where Hostel Haina was and discovered that although it had been in the Shoestring book it wasn’t in the Mexico book. I guess that is the problem when they also have to include all the better hotels too. I asked a few people for directions and after a few wrong turns made it there and met up with Mitch. The evening was going to be expensive so I went to the cash point to top up my funds; only to discover that my card wasn’t working.

I Skyped the bank on the flaky WiFi but they couldn’t tell me for sure if it was because I’d already taken money out in their loosely-defined 24-hour period (I think the time-difference and the weekend had exacerbated things) or because my international access had been revoked! I sincerely hoped it was the first: I still had more than 2 weeks to go. To solve the evening’s more immediate problem I changed the last of my emergency Euros and Pounds (probably at an awful rate) at a bureau de change down the road.

In our cramped dorm room I met Alex: a cute 19-year-old from Oz. She wasn’t going to go out that evening but somehow we managed to persuade her to come with us to the hostel around the corner where they arranged trips to nightclubs in the Zona Hoteles for the princely sum of 560 pesos. This included a transfer there; VIP seating and unlimited drinks service until 4am. It was still way, way more than I was used to spending on a night out: I was glad I wasn’t spending long in Cancún! We had dinner at that hostel too: we were supposed to get two free cocktails with it but that turned out to be just one rather weak affair. We met everyone else who was coming with us at dinner and then we went upstairs to the roof terrace where Salvator, the events organiser, offered us some drinks. Mitch and I didn’t really see the point in paying for drinks now when we’d already laid out so much cash for free drinks later and got quite impatient with the wait.

A lot of the people at the hostel kept asking us why we staying at Haina and one girl was saying that she wouldn’t stay there because 2 years beforehand they’d had bedbugs. I can confirm that I wasn’t bitten by any whilst I was there  and I don’t really know why they were so down on it. Apart from the lack of air-conditioning and the sometimes noisy ceiling fans.

The funniest moment for me was when Salvator suddenly said, “No one here is older than 27, right?” I kept schtum and Mitch just grinned knowingly at me. For a horrible moment I thought he was going to say that there was an upper age restriction in the club. I was pleased when he proceeded to say, “I knew it. I’m always the eldest!” This caused Mitch and I even more amusement, he’d just taken more than a decade off my age! Finally, after we’d all paid; received our temporary wristbands for the club and waited for Salvator to titivate himself, we were in the bus on the way to Dady’O night club.

Mitch and I heading to the club (photo courtesy of Alex)

I’m not sure I’ve ever wanted a drink with more haste before in my life but I had to wait as the waiter painstakingly gave us ice, Smirnoff and cranberry juice before I could finally drink. The first few went down very quickly indeed. Our table was right at the edge of the dance floor and slightly below it, giving some of the shapely legs strutting away an even more statuesque appearance. Now that I’d actually managed to get a drink after 3 hours of waiting I felt a lot better although I think the speed with which we consumed the next few drinks was probably not the best idea in the world.


Alex and I in Dady'O's (photo courtesy of Alex)


At one point Mitch said I was standing on the dance floor with drink in hand, staring blankly into space. Alex probably overdid things too once the “free” booze was available; her memory of the evening is very patchy: even about events that she probably should have remembered! She went home quite suddenly with one of the English girls. Most of the rest of us left together and got a bus back towards our hostel. On the way to the hostel Mitch and I saw some distant golden arches and decided that a McDonald’s was in order. It must have taken us an hour to get there but once we had our goal in mind there was no turning us back. The kitchen was in complete disarray and even though it was allegedly open, it didn’t look like they were expecting much custom that night.

The walk back (burgers and fries in hand) didn’t seem to take us anywhere near as long: in fact Mitch suddenly said “Here’s our hostel” when I was still thinking we were completely lost. Safely ensconced back at the hostel it was time for bed.