I'm in Mexico hoping that the edge of Hurricane Sandy will not give us a Mischief Night visit. It looks as if we are the only area of the Caribbean that it won't throw eggs at, but I'm still wary. Anyhow, I've got other problems to deal with. Every evening, somebody sneaks into my room and leaves me a peculiar object. On the first night, it was a dog made of towels. Yesterday, it was a hybrid rabbit/Ku Klux Klan member made of towels. This evening, I found two swans … made of towels. What does it mean?
My wife is convinced that it is just the hotel staff attempting to do something "delightful" every day, but I think there might be more sinister work afoot. Perhaps it's a precursor to a visit from the Grim Reaper himself on the Dia del los Muertos, which happens to coincide with my visit here. This is the Mexican Day of the Dead, in which they commemorate the dead they have known. It's way spookier than Halloween and I'm looking forward to having to explain to my kids what is going on when the dead start visiting. If there's a dead body made of towels in my room tomorrow, then I'm getting out of here... and fast.
The world of the international hotel is a peculiar beast. Here, the clientele is half American and half Brit. Even clad in swimwear, they are easy to tell apart, It helps that a lot of Brits favour Union Jack shorts, but there are other signs.
First, it appears that I am the only Brit in the whole of Mexico not sporting a tattoo: I must have missed the meeting that made this compulsory. Americans tend to have fewer tattoos, and are either hugely corpulent or stick thin – there seems to be no medium ground. You can also spot Americans as they seem to think it crucial to carry a garish-coloured cocktail wherever they go, especially in the pool. I actually saw one jump into the water yesterday holding his rainbow beverage high above his head. To his credit, he managed not to spill any and he celebrated the fact by swimming back to the side of the pool where he cracked open an enormo-pack of nachos. The Brits tend to group-drink and congregate around the swim-up bars, downing beer.
It's a little like being on safari, and I have started to play a game with my kids where we try to spot the "big five". In any given period of one hour, we have to spot: (1) An American woman in sun visor and shades sipping a blue cocktail; (2) A British man with more than two tattoos asleep in full football garb; (3) An American man wearing Speedos and sporting a mullet; (4) A British woman with the words "Welcome to Hull" tattooed above her buttocks; (5) A huge American man calling a small Mexican waiter "bro" and ordering a pitcher of Margaritas. My daughter got a perfect five on the first attempt.
In the evening, I watch US versions of British shows. Dragons' Den is called Shark Tank. The Dragons become Sharks, which is far more apt, as they are a similarly unpleasant bunch of loaded bastards trying to rip off desperate hopefuls. In the end, I found it too depressing and switched over to VH1, which was showing a programme called Celebrity Rehab....