yeah, yeah, lose ten pounds and get out of debt - but the real 2010 challenge is to be less misanthropic, more generous, less pissy, more forgiving, less impatient, and more indulgent.
and i'm going to start by liking cruise ship people.
i have a ways to go. cozumel, it turns out, is the second most popular cruise ship destination in the world. not that that came up in any of the research i did before coming here. "hotel people" and "cruise people" are separate species. we all use the www, but don't frequent the same sites. it's like the other side of facebook. (don't believe me? go explore hard christianity in fb.)
cruise ship people walk down the san miguel seafront wearing balloon animals on their heads. they give strip restaurants high reviews in trip advisor. they carry ginormous drinks in ginormous receptacles from places called "fat tuesdays." they use words like "ginormous." cruise people move like a swarm of goatfish from recommended activity to recommended activity. they like activities to be cheap and predictable, thrilling yet safe. cruise people like senor frog's and carlosncharlie's.
or so i grumble, mashing my way down avenida melgar after a big boat disgorges.
but that kind of misanthropy is easy. the harder task is to imagine why people would go on a cruise in the first place. and a good place to begin that project is with the unsettling admission that the largest concentration of locals we've seen has not been in the town square or on the windward coast or at a devotional meeting, but at mcdonald's.
money matters. cruises offer you 15 nights for $1800. you can't be an "independent traveler" for that.
then there's the family aspect. several of the families we've seen around the cruise ships are multi-generational. how else can you travel with built-in childcare?
then there's the ease factor. you get on the boat and for the next two weeks someone else makes all your decisions. you move from bed to buffet waylaid only by the pleasures of kingston, cozumel, miami beach. the older i become, the more attractive such not having to think about it sounds.
plus, people are different. not everybody is like me. some actively like disney, seek out casinos, prefer large groups, feel safer in herds. see cultural studies 101.
to appreciate people who are just like me is easy (not that i've accomplished that either). the real task is to throw my imagination across the widest cultural gulf i can imagine, and smile indulgently at the white folks with a three-hour jet-ski rental on my quiet playa.
i'll let you know how it goes.