Sex, drugs, and reggaeton.
So I mentioned changing plans. Last Saturday night I planned on hanging around the hostel on Bastimentos Island talking to P1, the super-awesome French Canadian guy who lives in Costa Rica. When entreated by a Russian-and-Australian couple to share a boat to the nightclub near Bocas Town to lower the price, we looked at each other, shrugged, and agreed with minimal enthusiasm to head over.
P2, an American world citizen who is temporarily living in the hostel got us a ride with his local friends, so P’s 1 and 2 and I found ourselves (the Austrussians dropped out of course) drifting around offshore with the local Rasta guys, smoke billowing out behind us, whether the engine was on or not.
We finally headed over and I suddenly found myself in another transcendent moment. The dark waters of the Caribbean rushing past, perfectly warm wind wrapping everything, flickers of heat lightning on the horizon, Mosquito Coast Creole language in my ears, a bottle of rum being passed around, stars so bright overhead they must have already been drunk. (And no, not that much of the smoke was mine.)
In the dark no one could see my smile.
We were headed to “Aqua Lounge” which is even worse than it sounds. It’s supposedly the most renowned club in Panama, and draws locals and tourists from far away to take water taxis to its dock, drink its alcohol, dance to its Billboard Top 40, swing on its rope swings and jump into its ocean pools.
And did I mention Saturday (and Tuesday?) is Ladies’ Night? P1 and I got our beers and went to sit outside and people watch. It is amazing how Life can give you just the perfect company at the precise time; I enjoyed going around and talking to others too, but without P1 I would have been quickly bored. Hanging out in a meat market when you’re not shopping is more fun if you have a like-minded soul beside you, and after 12 years with his girl, P1 is clearly still besotted with her. (And I accidentally offended a little tourist chicky when I mentioned that I was not trying to sleep with her…I didn’t mean it as an insult! Dang, those scenes are tricky!)
My favorite was the tourist lass who would be considered overweight in Barbie’s America, but down here had a devoted dog pack following her around, and was clearly enjoying the situation. Of course it may have had something to do with her substantial butt cheeks hanging out the bottom of her cutoff shorts.
I have never been to Ibiza, and now I don’t have to. Excellent.
It was generally a nice night, I ended up spending the last chunk talking to a roaming mandolin player/journalist and P1, and dancing whenever they played songs in the range of decent to good. (I do enjoy me some Collie Buddz.)
Riding with the locals added a couple interesting…wrinkles. First, we spent the last hour before we left watching them do lines of cocaine. I tried to see if the driver was refraining, but lost track of him for awhile. It was one guy’s 20th birthday and he perhaps overindulged, and rode home hiding in the bottom of the boat.
The second one was the phenomenon of the white girls and the Rasta guys. Common enough scene around here. And I’ve heard objectification of women before, but every time I hear it, I startle a bit. It wasn’t “I want to find someone to f— tonight” it was “I want to find something to f— tonight.” (Does the objectification go both ways?)
They sat in the corner, creases of coke disappearing off their thumbs, and by the end of the night had a few little white girls in short shorts sprinkled around them.
Let me be perfectly clear, I have no problem whatsoever with the racial aspect. If anything, I encourage that part, although mostly I just couldn’t care less.
I just want to interview the girls for their motivation and comprehension. Maybe it’s just an exotic fling, maybe at some level they’re convincing themselves they’re not racist, and maybe they just want to piss off their internal father’s voice. I don’t know, but if it’s any of those: more power to ya.
But, as usual in those scenes, I just pray that everyone’s aware of the reality. I spent a fair amount of time around these dudes, and even taking into account “guy-talk” and its stupefying linguistics, these guys could not care less about the girls. They are free party favors. No emotional cost or value. No respect. No future, they are a momentary diversion to be left behind on the dock and forgotten. If everyone knows this: go for it. If not…
P1’s town in Costa Rica has the same phenomenon and he has lots of experience with it. He said that comprehension is all too often not there. “This is different.” “He cares about me.” “I’ll change him.” “We will have a future together.” And having a baby doesn’t make a lick of difference.
The next morning at breakfast with the mandolin player I noticed one of my local volleyball friends sitting at the table next to us, listening to our conversation. I stated my opinion that their town is going to get devoured by development in a brutal way, unless the people, particularly the youth, do something to stop it. Organize. Give a shit. And if all they do is snort cocaine and screw tourists, that’s never going to happen.
I looked over a minute later and she met my eyes for a moment, then looked away. I will be a little scared to go back to Bastimentos in 5 years.