Sometimes things don't go as planned – and those moments often make for the best stories. Tripping columns offer readers a chance to share their wild adventures from the road.
It was hot and windless in town, so I was looking forward to a swim in the ocean. But the beach near the small Mexican town I was visiting was hardly the paradise I had envisioned. It was littered with garbage, and every square foot was occupied by people. Vendors were everywhere, calling out the "best price" for their trinkets. The sea looked dangerous with huge crashing waves.
I walked on and then saw a sign: "Las Palmas luxury resort – Private." I stopped, looking beyond the palm trees that fringed the beach, and glimpsed an oasis of calm, a Shangri-la. Delicious blue pools glinted through the orange blossoms. There was no one around, but I paused for a moment when I saw yet another sign: "Residents only beyond this point."
The temptation was too strong. How would they know? I could surely slip in unnoticed. Hot and tired, I figured it was worth the risk.
I sauntered casually into the poolside area where I smiled around with a feigned air of entitlement. "Buenos dias!" I called out loftily to a passing waiter, who smiled and nodded politely. I quickly headed toward an empty lounger. Trying to look insouciant, I cast off my shorts and top, which I was wearing over my swimsuit, and plunged into the water. It was heavenly! Almost alone in that expanse of calm blue, I swam up and down, savouring the perfect temperature. I gazed around at the palm trees and bougainvillea riffling in the soft perfumed breeze. Faint strains of Latin music drifted across from the hotel. Wonderful! How hard was this?
Eventually, I emerged and towelled off. Refreshed, and feeling bolder, I ordered a cool beer to complete the experience. I clicked my fingers regally at a passing waiter.
"Una cerveza por favor, Senor?"
"Si, claro! Senora," he replied.
He returned with beer in a frosted glass, a slice of lime adorning the rim. Then he asked for my room number.
Uh oh. I told him I preferred to pay up front in pesos. He hesitated, staring at the back of my reclining chair.
"Un momento, Senora," he said politely, depositing the beer, and disappearing. I began to feel uneasy, and gulped down my beer.
I pulled the towel off the back of my lounger and finished drying myself. It was then that I noticed that all the other guests were sporting thick blue towels, embroidered with palm trees. My towel was a threadbare green, embroidered with nothing.
I began to sense that the gig was up.
Sure enough the waiter returned, accompanied by a burly man wearing a suit and a badge.
"Senora," he said sternly "Are you a guest in the hotel?"
By now several people were staring disapprovingly at me. It had become obvious I was a stranger in Paradise.
"I will escort you out," said the security man.
"Gracias," I replied. After all, I had enjoyed the illicit thrill of crossing a forbidden border between one world and another. Head held high, I walked the gauntlet of perhaps a hundred eyes (mercifully masked behind high-end sun glasses).
Out I went onto the crowded public beach. At least here my dingy towel was not out of place, and the sun shone on everyone.
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