Looking back at my week out of the country, I realize that, of all the uppers and downers that passed through my body, the most effective drug I took during my spring break was the Snake’s Nest itself, a place unlike any other on the planet, or at least the parts of the planet I’ve seen. I ingested it, I inhaled it, and, most of all, I drank it, and, as I realized during a volleyball game just two hours after my arrival, Tropical C was more effective than any other drug I’d ever tried.
With neon plastic in each hand and a smile on my face, Akil “The Hyena” Alleyne, Matt “Mister Taciturn” Weiss, and I watched as nude people traveled down a water slide into the lagoon on my first night away. After Mister T decided to go home early, as is his M.O., Biz Markie, doing most of his DJing from his computer, eventually broke into “Just A Friend,” and at that moment my voice vanished, not fully to return for more than a week. The intentionally tone-deaf song suited my mood perfectly, and I screamed its heartsick lyrics to the detriment of my vocal cords and of the people standing nearby.
The Hyena and I were full of ideas about adventures we could undertake. I once learned how to scuba dive in the very same place, but Hyenas are unskilled underwater, and so snorkeling became a substitute possibility. The area had once been home to several Mayan cities (Cancun is Mayan for Snake’s Nest, in case you’re wondering), and so, many visitors flocked to the nearby ruins to satisfy their curiosity.
I had seen all of these on previous trips, but they remained an option, since my two compatriots were new to the area. There was also the Jungle Tour, which would allow Mister T to drive a speedboat for much of the day, and if that wouldn’t make him speak, I don’t know what would. Unfortunately, all of these adventures required not drinking in the pool all day. Hence our failure to accomplish any of these goals.
Billed as “The Largest Club in Latin America” – a claim I cannot verify, but would not necessarily contest – The City is essentially a windowless stadium filled to the brim, and then some, with writhing, half-naked students. Our young tour guide managed to find us a table near one of the stages, and we all downed one giant glass before deciding we needed to join the fray. I worried for a moment that it was irresponsible to leave our new friend, seventeen-year-old Cody, alone in such a feeding frenzy, but the next time I saw him, it was clear that he was a predator and not prey. The small woman upon whom he was noshing looked twenty-five, but said she was twenty. In turn, Cody told her that he was eighteen. These are the types of honest matches made in the Snake’s Nest.
There isn’t anything remarkable about being high, in the sense that is such a common occurrence in the lives of many college students. But there is something to be said for being stoned above a pristine blue sea while watching Charlie Murphy detail an encounter with Rick James on a tiny DVD player.
By the time we burst into Mister T’s dark cave an hour later, the Hyena and I must have added five pounds of weed-induced munching to each of our frames. Speaking of the cave, it appeared as though Mister T had contracted the same disease as the poor children in “The Others,” as he had chosen to spend his afternoon with the shades drawn and the lights off, augmented, of course, by his dark sunglasses. I remain befuddled by this behavior, yet on that afternoon the Hyena and I jumped onto the two beds on either side of him, and engaged in an hour-long tête-à-tête about absolutely nothing, frequently interrupting ourselves, and each other, with high-pitched giggles. At one point, Mister T appeared to laugh, but one can never be sure.
That evening, Cody’s parents had issued an edict that the young Alaskan return to the hotel by 1 a.m., and so he planned to condense his consumption into three hours at Basic, a club known for “wet parties.” As we all prepared to down some Tequila, the waiter provided us with salt and limes. All of the cups were opaque, and, in his haste to bludgeon his liver into submission, poor Cody drank a triple-shot of salt. Or, ate, I suppose. This was the night’s only blemish, as the wetness of which we’d been warned was water flowing from the ceiling and up from holes in the floor to soak all of us. Though I worried about the state of my watch and disposable camera, it was indeed a glorious evening under the water.
Later that week, the three of us returned to the hotel after the best meal I’ve had in 2006, full and ready to retrieve Cody. Mister T bid us farewell, preparing, I assume, to reach new heights of manual pleasure, and the Hyena, young Cody and I set off in the direction of Fat Tuesday, where we were practically the first people to enter the beach area. This part of the club was framed by two open bars, two stages, and the booth where DJ Kid Capri would soon be holding court. And with no new people we needed to meet, there was rum to drink. First a shot, then a rum and coke, then another shot, then another rum and coke, then another shot, then a break…. Not surprisingly, our communication quickly broke down. Cody’s old woman arrived to whisk him away into statutory heaven, and Akil and I found ourselves with some dance partners. Many random women had been a part of our evenings to this point, but although they weren’t nameless, I couldn’t identify them in a police lineup if my livelihood depended on it. No numbers were ever exchanged, nothing was ever written down, and I noticed how strange this was, not being able to contact people through the use of cell phones. But it also meant that some of the other nights’ misadventures wouldn’t be able to track me down. (In Cancun, at least; damn you, Facebook.)
The next afternoon, we found Mister T sitting on our balcony, quietly serenading himself with “Afternoon Delight,” although he didn’t have a baby to find and hold tight. I thought it was the perfect snapshot of his week, and I asked him why he had been so upset. Correcting me, he said that he most certainly was not, but didn’t specify a reason for his perpetual Mattness. He did, however, declare that he was going out that night, and from the moment we left the Flamingo to see “V for Vendetta,” I could tell that this night was going to be different for Mister Taciturn. Perhaps he wouldn’t even be, well, taciturn.
Though we were retracing our steps, the prospect of world-famous DJ Skribble and an official wet T-shirt contest made a return to Basic quite necessary. Our usual friends from the Flamingo were with us, but what was unusual about the night was Mister T’s enthusiasm. As a matter of fact, for just a few hours, he wasn’t Mister T, but just Matt Weiss. When our waiter poured us shots, Matt had one too. When the Hyena and I smoked some tasty Cohiba cigars, Matt smoked one too, although he foolishly inhaled deeply at one point, and, as a result, suffered a two-minute coughing fit. He also did this after we saw “Brokeback Mountain.” I have no explanation for this. He knows better.
The Hyena and I had a fun evening dancing and getting soaked while Skribble worked the wheels of steel, but what was more remarkable was Matt’s extroversion. He had a pleasant conversation with Natasha, one of the girls from our hotel, and ushered her to the dance floor, hand in hand. The water came from the floor, and the water came from the ceiling; the T-shirts were wet, the music was blasting, and Matt was dancing. The Hyena and I toasted to a successful week, and, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Matt swoop in for the kiss. For the first time in months, he succeeded, and we cheered, as his week seemed not to have been a complete waste. The Hyena and I had made every effort to enjoy our week, and finally, the night before I left, Matt was momentarily content.
All of these liberating feelings should not have been so unexpected, as this was my fifth trip to the Snake’s Nest, but as I get older and acquire more and more annoying obligations in my daily life, these trips become fresher and more exciting each time. I’m sure there are crazier party locations, more pristine waters, and more fun people to meet in some places on this planet, but, for young Cody, Mister T, the Hyena, and for me, nothing compares to being under the influence of Tropical C.