Thursday, June 14, 2007


We went to an all-inclusive resort. We drank fruity cocktails. We lounged.

One of your correspondent's colleagues departed Guatemala for good today, and to send her off in style, a crowd of hearty diplomats rushed the Royal Decameron Resort in Salinitas, El Salvador. For your correspondent, and his faithful traveling companion, this was something of a change of pace. We're more accustomed to $20 middle-of-nowhere lodges where one prays there is hot water. Many in our traveling party raved about how great the price was at the Decameron, whereas your correspondent was suffering a bit of sticker shock. Traveling party responded to any hesitation with the irrefutable reply: "But it's all-inclusive!"

Faithful readers may recall our previous visit to a resort-style destination. But that trip was Scuba-focused. This resort is rather more for the "sit in a beach chair and drink Mai-Tais" inclined. Which suited us mostly fine, and we had a great time sitting in the pool and chatting with our friends and enjoying ridiculously named drinks like the Banana Mama and the PasiĆ³n Tropical.

Ridiculous activities were available for the more active set, such as water aerobics done to deafening 180 beat-per-minute techno music (which appeared to be mostly just an excuse to have one extremely fit "instructor" of each sex to girate rhythmically at poolside for the viewing pleasure of participants and non-participants alike (mostly non-participants)), or some game where teams of two use towels to toss volleyballs around a circle. We, despite considering ourselves "active," declined to participate.

This is apparently not a top-notch, five-star resort, as evidence by certain online reviews bemoaning the lack of "towel art" in the rooms. I would guess at the really pricey resorts of the Caribbean, you needn't leave your lounge chair to order another Makers on the rocks. That was not true here. This resort's tactical response to all-inclusivity was a three-pronged attack of cheap plastic-bottle booze, dixie cup servings, and no waiters. Here, we counter-attacked by bringing our own Big-Gulp sized cups to minimize trips to the bar and befriending the bartender so we could without hesitation ask for just a bit more vodka and tabasco in that Bloody Mary. (By Sunday, your correspondent had consumed as much rum and citrus juice and pre-mixed colada as he could handle and had to stick to vodka, perhaps a positive sign for Northeastern European days to come.)

In any case, your correspondent values the rich tapestry of personalities that makes the human experience so varied and interesting. But people who choose to go to places like this for their whole vacations leave me baffled. Though the staff photographer did enjoy the near-studio light on our balcony, as seen above, your correspondent was getting a bit itchy about all the doing nothing on day two. A whole week would be fatal.

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