Our third day at the resort, we met a couple on their honeymoon. Let’s call them Corvette and Carrot*, because their real names are Castle and Garrit, which are just as ridiculous. Corvette and Carrot were from D.C. and had the look of young Republicans. By and large, these were the kind of people who stayed at our resort – not Republicans, but young couples in love.
And since this was an all-inclusive resort, every night we sat down to dinner surrounded by the same people. It became something of an awkward ritual: If you didn’t speak to a couple the first time you saw them, it was harder and harder to introduce yourself every subsequent encounter. (There was one couple we never introduced ourselves to the entire time we were there out of sheer mounting awkwardness. I’m convinced they still trash talk Brooke and I before bed.) But it’s a double-edged sword of discomfort because once you did introduce yourself, you had to go through all the pleasantries every time you saw them. “What did you do today? Oh, we did that yesterday. Isn’t the food delicious? I know, I ate both mine and Brooke’s dessert last night. I’m so bad sometimes!”
Plus, the resort was staffed by some of the nicest people I’ve ever met – literally tripping over themselves to accommodate and inform you. So of course they wanted to engage in pleasant conversation as much as possible. Although like with most relationships that aspire to an unusual level intimacy between strangers divided by cultural and linguistic divides, it sometimes got weird. Example:
a) The resort had two on-site massage therapists. Brooke and I had bought a package where we got a massage every single day, which, let me tell you, is the best. It’s like turndown service for your body. But the first two days we were there, there was only one masseuse available. The concierge explained the second therapist’s absence by saying, “Tatiana is sick right now. She’s on her period.” (gesturing to Brooke) “You know.”
b) Since the only available masseuse there was male, I got a massage from a man for the first time ever. And maybe Marco just so happened to have the hands of a big, Spanish teddy bear, or maybe it’s because he was foreign so it doesn’t count, but it wasn’t weird at all. That is, until the very end of the massage when he gently pat me on the head twice and whispered, “Good morning, mi amigo,” and I opened my eyes to see his face hovering over mine. (FULL DISCLOSURE: He did this every time he gave me a massage the entire time I was there, and by the third and fourth time I came to think it was adorable. But that first time? I wouldn’t have been surprised if he’d smothered me with a massage pillow.)
c) Every morning we woke up to a loud howling noise coming from the surrounding mountains. It sounded like a cross between a hungry wolf and a broken-hearted Bigfoot. One day I asked Javier what the noise was. “It is called a Howler Monkey,” he said. “Have you ever seen one? He is all black with big white balls.” Bonus awkwardness when I didn’t understand him the first time and asked, “Big white what?”
But hands down, the most awkward moment came on our fifth day there. It rained the entire day, so Brooke and I stayed in the room drinking wine and reading. (Full Disclosure #2: We were also a little high on codeine. I had gone into the local farmacia to buy some medicine for a headache. The guy behind the counter didn’t speak a lick of English, so I mimed like my head was exploding and said “mal cabeza,” or “bad head”. He gave me some pills and I took two when I got back to the room. Turns out they’re like Costa Rican vicodin. Whoops!)
Anyway, we’re just hanging out in our room, which it should be mentioned has no windows. Because of the miracles of geography and climatology, the mountains where we were staying had high temperatures in the low 80s and lows in the mid 60s. Always. So the rooms (being designed with a get-back-in-touch-with-nature vibe) had no shades and only screen windows. All the rooms, however, face out off the side of the mountain cliff, so no one could see in your windows, unless they were hang gliding by or rappelling the rocky face – and if you’re going to that trouble just to see my junk while I’m showering, well you’ve earned it.
As we sat there a bit stoned (suddenly Brooke had a "headache" too) reading magazines, we suddenly hear a noise. At first we think it is an animal outside our window, but soon it is clear that that’s no animal – it is two humans going at it like animals. Two very vocal humans, their moans of pleasure echoing off the canyon walls like a PA system. Brooke and I run over to the screen to listen more closely. And then we hear it.
“Yes. Yes! Oh, Steve!”
Steve? we mouth to each other. We hadn’t met a Steve. A Carrot, sure – but no Steve. Intrigued, we listened for more clues. All we got though was more of the same: Steve, Steve, Steve. (Apparently she wasn’t that good or he couldn’t remember her name.)
The next morning at breakfast, we examined the couples around us, trying to find Steve. There was the one couple we hadn’t met yet: an unassuming husband and wife in their early 30’s. He could surely be a Steve, and she could easily be a closet sex-kitten. We call our waiter over.
Me: “Marvin,” (I always called our waiter by his name because Marvin just rolls off the tongue), “Marvin, I forgot the names of that couple over there. What are they again?”
Marvin: “That’s Katie and Mark.”
The mystery would remain unsolved the entire time we were there. Brooke and I decided that it was probably the Asian-American girl and her Indian husband role playing. (It seemed to fit.) But it’s probably for the better, because the best part about the openly awkward, au natural feel of the resort was that after a few days there was nothing left to be embarrassed about. You walked around in your robe and undressed for your massage in an open cabana looking out over a mountain. No need to be ashamed, and no need for us to make the sex-happy honeymooners feel as though they had to hold anything back.
Especially because they had their own privacy issues to worry about. You see in keeping with the get-back-in-touch-with-nature vibe, all the rooms were designed with less of a private feel and more of a no-doors-on-the-bathroom feel. Seriously.
Because there’s no better way to start your journey of eternal love than by listening to your spouse pee.
* Brooke continued calling Castle Corvette the entire vacation. When I asked her how she got Corvette from Castle, she said, "They're both nouns. And luxury items."