The All-inclusive Diary of Samuel Pepys (Book 1)

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic


I’ve been reading the Diary of Samuel Pepys for the past three years. For those unfamiliar with Mr Pepys, and his place in English history, he was the Secretary to the Admiralty at the time of
Charles II. His diaries cover the years 1660-1669, with a lengthy entry for each day. Starting the book, I wondered if I would keep at it, but resolved to read three days’ worth each morning and
was soon gripped. Pepys covers a broad range of subjects: people-watching; diplomacy; maritime strategy; government finance; fashion; food; theatre; corruption; social commentary; servant problems;
misconduct in public office; rampant debauchery; and much, much more. And reading all that comment made me think that Pepys might well have had his strengths but judged by modern standards he would
be sent to prison and/or exposed by one of the Sunday papers. I came to that conclusion on holiday in the Caribbean and found, to my alarm, that I was beginning to think like him. And I then
wondered what he would have made of an ‘all-inclusive’ trip to Cancun. Suitable for mid-teens and older.

Submitted: June 03, 2018

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Submitted: June 03, 2018

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THURSDAY

Up betimes, after a worrisome night.  I dreamt I was the pilot of one of the monarch’s ships, approaching Gibraltar of all places.  The Rock was in view but I had done nothing in drawing up a plan for the entry into harbour and had no charts to hand.  I would soon have to give account of my error to the captain and he would then be justified in beating me as soundly as I beat my maids or boy when they fail in their duties.  I keep having this dream, despite my not having served at sea, having only ever been a passenger.  Perhaps that’s why I keep forgetting to prepare for the passage.  And why Gibraltar, which has no value for the Navy?I am vexed by this worry.

By my new carriage to Gatwick Airport, from where I will fly.  A pretty drive through the South Downs countryside, which is wonderful pleasant, for I have been about business in our dockyard at Portsmouth, and I find that driving contents me mightily.  So much so, that I might miss it when my notice for a coachman eventually yields results.  Entering the car park a most ingenious machine immediately recognises me and greets me by name - another indication of the esteem in which I am held across the land.  Despite this, there are no porters around to help me with my baggage, so I must struggle like the common folk.

Inside the terminal, I wait long to check-in and find little to commend the practise.  Then, through ‘Security’ where many toil to guard us against the fanatiques, who seem to be in every land.  I find, to my dismay, that I have forgotten to bring my sword with me – but think better of mentioning it to the guards, who seem to be too busy to show any interest in either civilities or personal dramas.  I am made to partially undress and put my belongings through what looks like an oven.  Once through, I find that I am left me with insufficient time to eat or drink anything before my flight - the latter being mostly the fashion, it seems.

My first flight, and what an adventure!  We were late taking off due to some delay or other in the loading of our baggage – though it seemed that everyone had more than enough with them to last a week, with too much being forced into the overhead bins.  In the air, the trolley-maids soon offered us wine and other drinks, that I was glad of, and we then had a tasty lunch of chicken, which filled my rumbling belly.  I missed not the choice a food, but some did complain mildly, leading me to pity the trolley-maids.  But my pity for them soon turned to pity for myself as the flight lasted hour upon hours and my seat seemed to shrink with each passing one.  I can’t see this flying catching on – though maybe it might if it could become a more elegant form of travel.

After a snooze, I find myself in the New World, in Mexico – a Spanish possession I think.  No sooner than we were released from our coop than we were herded into more lines.  Then we were subject to ‘Immigration’.  I think here the aim was to keep out the undesirables and Lord how many there were.  But why detain me?  A full hour of my life wasted.  And when they found out who I was, there was no great welcome – just a wave in the direction of a coach, to take us to our inn.  And another hour cooped up, with travelling companions who were drunk, though Lord knows how they managed to get into that state, with only two sorties having been made by the in-flight drinks trollies.  I was fain to engage in some friendly discourse with one fellow traveller while another did talk at extreme length, and large cost, with a friend already waiting at their inn.  I hope that she had not exhausted all conversation before their holiday.  I wonder, also, if these ‘mobiles’ will catch on since their sole use seems to be the speeding of drivel towards people whom one will be seeing later. 

At my inn, set in a vast estate, more delay, more paperwork and a tax for ‘eco’ purposes.  From what I saw on my trip, the area is already awash with ‘eco’.  I should have been very much troubled by this taxation but, rather, find myself in admiration for the government’s ability to extract taxes for the purpose of the public good.  Lord! how I wish that we were half as efficient during the Anglo-Dutch Wars!  God knows how we needed the money then.  While waiting, I notice that the flight crew has arrived.  The trolley-maids all look fine in their trim uniforms, of Navy blue, and have pulled-off a difficult trick in looking as smart and as fresh at the end of our flight as they did at the beginning.  I, on the other hand, look a mess and am melting into my creased clothes.

To my ‘suite’ which do please me much, being large, cool and well equipped to meet my needs.  There being no maid to hand, I helped myself to beer, in a small larder, having been assured that I may drink as many of the two small cans as I am desirous of.  After a nap, and a shower, I head off in search of supper.  The estate is, indeed, enormous and would suit either an earl or a duke if there were but a little space to keep sheep and cattle.  A long, winding road stretches from Reception to the beach and on either side are large blocks in which us guests are lodged.  The gardens are most pleasant and will be a joy in the week ahead, as will be the variety of restaurants.  Being in Mexico, I choose an Italian restaurant – as I have not been to that country - or many others if truth be told.  I like both the food, which is rich, and the honour done to me by the staff, which is obsequious.  I do not linger though, as my body suffers mightily from the ‘jet-lag’ and commands me to sleep.  So, to bed.

FRIDAY

A restless night in a room chilled enough to preserve fish.  There must be an ice-box somewhere and I must remedy the problem.  The ‘jet-lag’ added to my troubles, so awake betimes with little to do but watch the in-room theatre cabinet.  So many choices but I settled on switching between two colonial channels.  They differ in that one thinks that a Mr Trump is knave and one that thinks he is saint.  They are similar in that both feature very pretty ladies who present their masters’ opposing opinions as fact.  The ladies all seem to be blonde, long of limb and with teeth nicer than any I ever saw in London.  Their fine dresses also follow a common design: showing much skin – especially their legs - and be in simple block colours.  No lace, so they might well be poor!  At the end of four hours of watching them perform, or ‘present’, I can scarcely remember a word any of them have said – but I liked the experience much. 

Unable to delay the day’s start any more, I to breakfast in a nearby restaurant that serves food ‘buffet style’ – something that is new to me but which, I gather, excites the colonials mightily.  The ‘buffet’ is indeed a delight, with much food of different types to match the nationalities of this band.  I am surprised to see champagne on offer and even more so to be offered tequila by a waiter who seems to be aware that I drink occasionally.  But no-one else is drinking so I shrink from setting a trend and thereby being thought a common drunkard.  I feel over-dressed in my shorts and polo-shirt – but will not succumb to appearing in public having dressed like some tattooed ruffian.  I briefly wondered how the ladies must feel sat opposite such people but think they must be content as so many of them have tattoos as well, which do not please me.  Perhaps they are all seamen, for we be by the sea-side. 

Back to my room to change into something more appropriate for the beach, which I be merry for, and then off to it.I walked along the road and was passed by many in silent carriages; they must all be ill, eschewing the opportunity to walk a modest distance in this fine weather.I pity them for their illnesses, whatever they may be, but, judging by their girths, they must have the solace of being rich.  At the beach, I find a ‘lounger’, under a parasol of twigs, and settle down to read from my e-book, which is ingenious enough to contain all of my library but does deprive me of the immense fun I once had re-binding my collection.  The e-book merchant seems to have over-looked this important feature.  The beach is fine and clean.  Some fellow tourists do promenade along the beach – and some even run.  A great many local women tout for people to avail themselves of a massage.  Looking to seaward, I can see the island of Cozumel in the distance, shimmering in the heat haze.  I gather that this be nearly nice enough for me to want to visit.  Some more locals come by and try to sell me tours of one description or another but I fear some of these may be rogues so buy nothing.  By nine o’clock, and though I be taking shelter, the sun beats mightily down on my lily-white belly, to my great discomfort.  An hour or two later and I am driven from the beach to a nearby tavern and, being unable ever to relax from my great duties of state, do tackle some paperwork and then read some nautical journals that I never seem to have time for when working.  A maid appears miraculously and offers me beer, praise the Lord!  I usually have to ask. Then to Reception to call on a representative of the holiday company, for a briefing.  But I am late!  My automatic watch, another ingenious invention, clearly isn’t automatic enough to cope with the sloth I exhibited on my flight and then on the beach.  It can only do so much.  I curse to myself and agree to come back tomorrow.  Then to the restaurant where I succumb to the offer of a tequila, because I be on holiday – the justification for much evil done, I hear. 

Back to the beach bar, where I read a magazine about science, and I am filled with wonder on what can be achieved these days – but I think I will take the modern route of reading on my e-reader because I want to keep up with the fashion.  Then to walk along the beach, to explore and I find it all much the same, with large estates everywhere, pretty to see.  Then back to my lounger for more reading until forced off – this time not by the beating sun but by angry clouds and heavy rain, for it is Hurricane Season in the New World and I do much fear it. Then to pass some time, back to my room for a nap and a change into finer clothes.  Then supper at my new-found favourite restaurant, and early to bed.

SATURDAY

Up betimes, to watch some more pretty ladies talking financial matters and politics – brave things - and after breakfast again to the beach, where I read while observing the comings and goings.  Already, I notice patterns – such as the slim and youthful ladies taking a brisk morning walk, and the more comely ones who do not.  Again, the sun beats down and I resolve to protect myself from the rays – for fear of looking like a panda.  At ten o’clock, I to the tavern for my morning draught and thence back to Reception for my late briefing.  As is my usual way, I arrive early and sit in the foyer to check my e-mail, which arrives, on my command, to my laptop.  I push the power button and wait for it to burst into life.  Within seconds, a middle-aged lady arrives by my side and seems there to talk.  She rattles on quickly, telling me that she is a colonial, from beyond the Appalachians, and has been here for a week already.  Very quickly she is showering me with compliments.  ‘Why, Mr Pepys, you are so polished,’ she says, which is a tribute to the care that I take with maintaining my supple deck-shoes.  Then I cannot help but notice that her hand is resting on my upper thigh – and this while my laptop is trying to burst into life, which distracts me with its beeps and ditties.  It dawns on me that this lady is bold, in a way that colonial women have a reputation for.  Indeed, it has been only some two minutes since we met, without benefit of introduction.  But then she is gone and I to the brief.

The representative is a local man and he speaks with a heavy Spanish accent.  I suspect that he has given this brief many times before as he needs no script.  He talks long about the tours we can do, but at some great expense.  I stay behind afterwards to make a booking for the two tours I want to do.  I pay by means of some sorcery and again wonder why everybody seems so much more capable of gaining money than our government does.  The tours, unfortunately, mean very early starts.  I also ask about learning to become an aquanaut but the man shrinks from giving a recommendation for the aquanautical school on the beach.  Perhaps he fears lawyers more than I fear the bull sharks that do come here to nurse, which says much about the lawyers.  Then to lunch and back down to the beach, where I read long.  For supper I try the inn’s Japanese restaurant, where we were all seated around a place where a man from the Orient puts on a show while preparing our food.  This I like mightily as the Japanese evidently make more of an art of their food than we English ever will.  After supper there is some ‘Karaoke’ entertainment at the inn’s plaza, which I am tempted to join in with as I am mighty fond of music.  But the jet-lag kicks in again and I go back to my room.  On the theatre-box there is a tale of an important man in trouble over his making advances on many ladies who came to him for help.  He is being stripped of his honours for his misconduct.  My initial reaction is to think he gets the punishment he deserves but, later, I think that he has done not much more than I can remember doing to my shame.  Lord’s Day tomorrow: I must find the inn’s chapel and repent - twice.

SUNDAY

Up betimes, after another poor night’s sleep.  The entertainment on the theatre-box is poor, with my favourite ladies seemingly all gone to church.  I look for the one here but against expectations, in this very Catholic land, there is none!  What will I do?  Already my days conform to a common design.  I breakfast with the tattooed, change and then walk to the beach where I spy the morning promenaders.  I am much taken by one fine lady, who has brown hair, wears very little and is lissom.  She looks my way and I feel discovered, though without any offence done.  I resolve to attract her eye more and to resume my press-ups, aiming to do a full three dozen each day.  I fear ladies have no idea what we gentlemen have to go through to get ready for the beach and to look ripped.  Shame on them! After a few hours in the sun I again retreat to the tavern, to read my journals.  It seems wasteful to fly all this way for sun and then to hide from the sun.  A righteous maid looks after me well and I tip her fifty pesos, which sounds much but is, I believe, both the going rate, pleasing her, and a pittance, pleasing me.  The people here must be poor but seem happy enough.

To lunch at the usual place but service today is poor and I suspect that everyone there also wants their fifty pesos, but already I am running out of the smaller notes.  Back to the beach where I have trouble finding a place after many of my tourists have reserved loungers by the knavish device of leaving towels everywhere.  I find a place but linger not, being disturbed by loud music, of little merit and being dispensed by tourists with no compassion for their fellow men, so I do no more care for them.  I find another place but soon leave there too – disturbed by someone taking tobacco.  I am vexed.  Another local tries to sell me a snorkelling trip for the sum of eighty dollars.  It surprises me that he not wants the pesos.  I decline his offer, thinking it too expensive for a short boat-ride and some breaths through a plastic tube.  If the commissioners could see the care I exercise over my own money they might demand less of my time explaining how I spend the monarch’s.  Later, I read another nautical journal, to expand my knowledge of the sea and ships – but the journal is duller than the conversations I enjoy on such matters.  Later, to dinner, at my favourite Italian restaurant.  Another fine meal but disturbed by some colonials who are loud and bawdy in their behaviour, so I staid not long.  Then to my room, to watch a game of football from the American colonies.  The players look fearsome but this is as much to do with their armour as with their demeanour.  Lord!  They wear more than the monarchs’s guard.  Then, to bed.

MONDAY

Up betimes, waking at four o’clock, cursing this ‘jet lag’.  Some hours watching the theatre-box, with my favourite actresses back at the desks and talking mightily of money to excite this Secretary of the Navy.  What pleasantries we could exchange and what modern practices they could tell me of.  Then to an early breakfast where I spy a pretty lady, newly come to town, I think, wearing a ‘sun-suit’, little more than a petticoat, which things are very pretty and I like mightily.  She has unusual silver hair but is not old – some strange genetic trick that I must discuss with my Society friends when I next see them.  She smiles at me, I think, by the buffet, or maybe it is a leftover from a smile at someone else, or maybe just at the thought of a buffet.  Not knowing which, I lack the opportunity to show her respect.  I eat well and then head to the beach, settle down on my lounger and start to read.  But my reading is much disturbed by a gaggle of Chinese, who are far from home.  The menfolk swim noisily while their ladies take an exercise they call yoga.  Then they meet together and converse noisily so I cannot concentrate.  I find I do not like the Chinese, who lack self-awareness.  But I resolve to learn more about China.

Soon the silver-haired lady arrives to frolic in the surf, with another.  But they are too distant, so I continue with my reading, both while ‘lounging’ on the beach and in my refuge from the sun.  Having been better at dispensing tips to the staff, I find that they are now ready to replenish my glass even as I am draining it.  So convenient is this service, as it saves me a tiring walk of half-a-dozen paces to the counter.  At noon, I head for the restaurant but feel a weary come over me and opt to use the silent-carriage.  Lord! Where does this laziness come from?  Is it contagious?  At lunch, I observe that many of the men seem to favour wearing hats indoors, which is ill-mannered of them.  But my worrying about fashion is superseded by an onset of cramps in my stomach, which troubles me very much, so I head for my room to take some medicine, which I had the good sense to bring with me. Back to the beach where it again proves difficult to find a sun-lounger upwind of smoke and beyond range of loud and base talk.  So I take another walk along the beach, resplendent in shorts that a serving-girl at my tailor’s has assured me will make me look like a Life Guard.  I am not so sure but they are undoubtedly red, a colour favoured by the monarch’s Life Guards.  I am rewarded by an admiring glance from the prettiest of the trolley-maids who are lazing on the beach, which pleases me much.  But returning, later, I attract the prolonged gaze of two of her trolley-boys, which worries me much.  I feel that I am wearing too little and resolve to consider eschewing my shorts in favour of my usual lace-trimmed, purple breeches and stockings, which would prevent a recurrence of this unhappy event.  I further resolve to return the shorts, for they seem to have a defect in being ambiguous.

Off the beach at four o’clock and later to a ‘steak-house’ for my supper.  This colonial innovation pleases me much.  Afterwards I consider attending a rendition of a musical but jet-lag again stymies me.  To bed, after setting a number of alarms for an early start – safer that than expecting a chamber-maid to come.

TUESDAY

Up very betimes in preparation for a departure at half past six o’clock, sadly before the restaurant opens, so I miss a good breakfast, having to settle for a quick coffee.  The coach soon comes and we start a tour of nearby inns to collect others.  Then we head south west, for two hours at great speed, through countryside to the ruins at Coba, an ancient Mayan city, where we spend some three hours.  The ruins are in jungle but there are paths between the main buildings.  We are shown many things by our knowledgeable guide: some small temples; public buildings; a section of road, built by slaves; and a ‘ballgame court’ that is about the same size as a tennis court and constructed with care and skill.  We are told that the game involved two teams, each of six men, who had to propel a ball through a vertical hoop – but the ball was made of solid rubber, the hoop was high and the players could not use either their hands or feet.  At the end of the game the captain of the losing side had his head cut off - better than being quartered but still harsh.  Our own punishment is to be bitten by many mosquitoes, which do carry diseases.  We all profess to have sprayed ourselves with repellent – but the mosquitoes are not repelled!  One of our band is most strangely dressed.  He wears a black and white pixelated sun-suit, which works better on a lady than a man.  One commented that he might be able to scan himself through check-in, security and boarding gate.  All laugh but I have seen such patterns work this magic in these places so perhaps he could.  Or maybe he is just a Quaker who works in eye-tee.  Then to the main attraction here: the Nohoch Mul Pyramid.  We are allowed to climb this and I think that the one hundred and thirty steps will prove but little exercise.  How I am wrong!  The steps are each so high, the sun so hot, and my sack heavier by the minute so that I have to pause, long, twice on the way up.  Atop the pyramid, we are treated to a magnificent view, with jungle all around, as far as the eye can see.  Then the descent, which is even harder than going up!  I am so ready to quit Coba but before we do I have a mean lunch, in a mean restaurant, with mean company at table.Then we by coach to the Ceueta cenote - a freshwater pool.  This looks nice but I decline the offer of a swim, not wishing to have a damp trip back to the inn.  Then to a souvenir shop where I did not buy anything though was somewhat tempted by Agate, a stone much favoured for the cutting off the heads of losing ballgame captains.  Then back to the inn, arriving late in the afternoon.  For supper, to a Mexican restaurant in the hotel grounds and this native food pleases me much, making up for my poor lunch.  Surprisingly, the restaurant is not busy – which I attribute to the colonials all being Mexican-restauranted out at home.  Over my meal, I reflect on my fear of the damp and conclude that I would make a bad aquanaut.  Early to bed.

WEDNESDAY

Up very pretty betimes, ready for a departure at twenty minutes past five o’clock.  The feeling of being on holiday has passed.  The coach collects me and then goes to other inns where more and more join our band.  Pulling out from the last inn, with me wedged into a window-seat and already in much pain, I momentarily consider abandoning the trip.  But it has cost much and that abandonment would be showing little of the grit expected of a British seaman, so I resolve to bear it out.  How hard can that be?

Our coach wends its way deep into the Yucatan, while we eat a fair breakfast, served by our guide and his non-flying trolley-maid.  The trees lack height but the jungle is so dense that I doubt I could cover much more than a couple of hundred yards each hour if I had to machete my way through it.  The road is good: as straight as ancient Rome’s best, having little reason to diverge.  Around me in the coach are Scots who are, nevertheless, friendly folk and willing to converse with the English.  Their little band has spent more on excursions than I have spent on my entire holiday!  But the journey drags – and painfully so.

Mid-morning, we arrive at Chichen Itza, a large Mayan city and Lord! how large it is.  Our guide offers many warnings about the viciousness of the mosquitoes, so there is much slapping on of various creams.  Inside the compound, I am struck by the size of it all.  We marvel at El Castillo, the temple of Kukulkan, which is well preserved and looks more impressive than what we saw yesterday at Coba.The guide apologises that we are not permitted to climb on it and I am graceful enough to forgive him readily.  We are surprised to hear that exploration of the temple’s innards have not been done with any great diligence.  The site, like Coba, has its own ballgame court but this one is much bigger.  At Coba, one might contemplate a game of tennis on the court, but here, a game of football would be possible.  The rules were the same and the team sizes too.  But we learn from our guide that it is the captain of the winning side that loses his head.  One of the guides is wrong but I can reluctantly accept that whoever it was receiving the ‘prize’ might have thought it an honour.  Then we see a place where the poor unfortunates were commemorated with a stone carving, capturing their facial expression after a stake had been driven through their lopped skulls.  Despite the honour, none seemed to wear smiles.  Onwards to the rest of the site and to learn more of the Mayans.  They liked pain – whether inflicting it on themselves or on savages they had captured.  Much as I like a good execution, they seem to have overdone things.  Of the buildings, it was the observatory that fascinated me the most – a building that stands in favourable comparison with our own.  Then back to our coach for a short journey to another cenote, a swim in which I eschew in favour of diving into a very large Margarita drink and a relaxed lunch.  Then on to Valladolid, a town with the oldest church in Mexico, I think, but this is closed, for reasons I know not what, so again my worship is frustrated.  Instead, our guide encourages us to buy ice-creams from his friend in the town square.  Good though these ices are, the accountant in me cannot help but calculate that he seems to be making more in an hour than my chamber-maid is making in a week.  This seems a little unfair.  We stay for but an hour and then head back to Cancun.  Lord! how I am hating this renewal of discomfort.  But our guide eases my pain, and the others’ boredom, with an instant party: no food but the local spirit, tequila – in a vast, coach-party-sized-party-bottle!  The contents are dispensed and we make merry with our ‘two fingers’.  Initial protestations of ‘Just a small one, please,’ are superseded with, ‘Oh, alright, then – as I’m on holiday.’  And we have to drink everything for the excursion company has lost its contract.  A young lady in the seat behind me leans over and asks her beau to remind her of how a song, appropriate to the antics, goes.  After some thought, he stumbles upon lyrics that involve a great many ‘ders’ and a solitary ‘tequila.’  Not as worthy as my own ‘It is decreed’ but this catchy song then punctuates our party for the rest of the trip.  Then back to our inns.  How I am happy to get out of my seat.It is late so I shower and then search out a new restaurant.  I settle for one that is described as ‘romantic’ and promise the maid at the door that I can be romantic if necessary to secure a table.  She smiles but not enough to mask alarm.  Inside, I see that I am the only one alone.  Every other table has a couple at it – busy tapping away on their mobiles and ignoring each other.  I eat well and leave, convinced that I have had a more romantic meal than they.  So, to bed.

THURSDAY

Up at a more normal time, my jet-lag having been cured in time for me to - fly home!  A good breakfast and then to the beach where I spend two hours in a final attempt to acquire a tan, which I am assured will confer some great advantage to me, even though I can only see that it will cause people to think of me as a farmer.  But disaster!  My e-book shows sign of terminal decay with the electronic ink making patterns strange enough to defy de-coding.  I try mightily to force it back into service but each attempt fails and after thirty minutes I give up.  This leaves me with no means of reading, for my magazines have been discarded, and my life on the beach quickly fades into boredom.  Mid-morning, eschewing a draught, I head to my room and pack – this not being a part of my maid’s duties, it seems.  Despite this, I leave her a generous tip.  I then check-out and am delighted to see that I have nothing to pay.  Then back to the beach where I have my last Mexican meal and I am disappointed to find that the tavern serves the best meals at the inn and I really didn’t need to have left the beach at all during the days gone past.  Then back to Reception to wait a while.  And she pounces again, with much excitement!  Amid light talk she offers to show me pictures she has taken over her longer stay here – some one thousand or so, at a rate of some seventy a day methinks.  And a great many are of the water-closet plumbing arrangements in a restaurant she frequented.  Soon time to say goodbye and she says that she wants me to ‘take her home.’  But her colony is out of my way and my wife would have many questions to ask if I brought her to my London home.  Though, with proof to hand, I could claim she was a plumber come for an estimate – a far better excuse than I usually manage when discovered!  At one o’clock I catch a large coach for the transfer to the airport, via other inns to pick up my fellow travelling companions.  Within the hour we arrive at the airport but not before our ‘rep’ has sought a tip.  And then the porters do seek a tip as well.  They all seem to want for having done not very much the same amount that my chamber-maid gets paid for a full day’s labour.  I recoil at this injustice and carry my own bags – demeaning though that is.  My punishment from God is to be met with a lengthy queue at check-in.  Though there be a separate and shorter queue for fine people, my ticket is not fine enough so that I can join them.  The others are bound for various parts of the kingdom and accept their lot with varying degrees of grace.  One woman, unable to face a wait of some moments without food, disappears and returns with her catch – a cheese-burger and chips.  While waiting, we are all taxed again – far too much for it to be ‘eco’ – and I begin to curse the tax-raising efficiency of this damned government.  Lord! how I am brought to the point of revolution!  If there is one thing that will stop me coming here again it is taxes.  It takes forty-five minutes for me to get to the check-in desk, where, being the very model of efficiency, not having ten bags, and being happy with seating, I am dispensed with inside sixty seconds.  What on earth were the others doing to have delayed progress?  Then to Security for more precautions against the fanatiques.  Besides me is the large woman with her cheese-burger and chips.  She puts them through the machine!  So I was right – the machine is some form of oven!  But why then does everything else need to be put through?  I am still confused.

We leave on time and are informed by the aircraft captain that we can expect a strong tail-wind.  This cheers some of my travelling companions but I, with more experience of nautical affairs, am afeared that we will end up in Denmark!  Our flight starts with drinks, a good supper and then the trolley-maids do everything they can to make us sleep, while a young child at the back of the cabin seeks to frustrate their design by crying – something he manages to do for the next four thousand miles.  I am concerned that he will exhaust all of our meagre ration of air but then remember that in this event oxygen masks fall from the ceiling and then we can do our own screaming and crying.  And it’s not as if he had to pay any of the taxes!  I soon tire of his tantrums and am bold enough to think that others might be as well.  But I have no option but to stay awake and watch some entertainment on the theatre-box secreted, ingeniously, in my arm-rest.  The selection of plays is quite small but I decide on one that has been much commended to me but which I have not yet seen.  This features a famous actor who has many adventures in the wild woods of America including fighting a bear!  But the most amazing thing – at one point he falls into a river and he is plunged into a fight for life in rapids.  Up and down he bobs – and as he does so our aircraft starts doing the same, and our captain warns us that we are to strap ourselves in.  This I do but knowing that this is a ‘special effect’ my fear is only that I might spill my drink.  No sooner have we secured ourselves than the actor completes his passage of the rapids and he meets calmer waters.  And our aircraft stops shaking and we are allowed to un-strap ourselves.  I am amazed at the ingenuity of the theatre-box but do contemplate how difficult it must be to organise this with so many passengers watching different plays.  Missing my e-book, I try to doze through the incessant screaming but without success.  I think I would prefer for the babies to be screened off the flight and for the fanatiques to be allowed on. To sleep?  God knows how!

FRIDAY

It becomes light outside and our trolley-maids quickly serve a modest breakfast but it is commendably tasty and I feel that I could get used to these meals so early in the day.  But it is difficult eating in an airliner’s seat.  One always seems to run out of room on one’s tray.  I note that despite the ‘strong tail-wind’ we land on time.  So where?  Gatwick?  Denmark?  Russia?  Gatwick it be so I thank the Lord!  Everyone else is filled with a mighty urge to disembark as quickly as possible but I stay put, content to think that I will beat my baggage to the carousel.  How many people pass me!  Hundreds of them.  It seems that far more are getting off than got on – and that some are dishonest.  A trolley-maid soon has to ask one traveller to leave his blanket behind.  But I see two pillows secreted by another and spirited from the plane.  The magistrate in me ponders what punishment might be suitable for such thieves.  I settle on transportation – immediately, back to Cancun, on this plane and with that crying baby.  Off the plane, I follow two passengers who are full of malice towards that child.  Their speech is littered with effing and blinding, so I am quickly vexed with them.  Their concern seems to be the discomfort caused to other passengers but the woman is so large that I can only imagine that she must have spilled over into the seats of people adjacent to her.  I quickly pass through Immigration and baggage-reclaim, and am then soon on my way to home and early to bed.  I must try this all-inclusive travel again.


 


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