The last days of autumn 2010.
(This post, like a few others, was written in the Dominican Republic and not posted because Jonas drowned the USB stick.)
Yesterday we met this charming young fellow at the beach. His name is Mr. Crabby. Mr. Crabby lives in a narrow, deep tunnel on the beach, just under the tideline. His tunnel has a charming sea view and runnning warm saltwater twice a day. He spends his time sitting just outside his hole and occasionally darting down the beach to nibble at an interesting piece of driftwood. When questioned he refused to state what he was doing during the night. I wonder what Mrs. Crabby would have to say to that.
In the beginning I was afraid that these rather frequent holes would be snake dwellings which would mean that our hotel has been built in a rather shabby neighborhood, but Mr. Crabby has put my mind to rest on that count. Charming young man, really.
Here they are. They look almost pretty on the picture, don’t they? Innocent. Alluring. Put me on, they whisper. Very quietly, soothingly, waves sing in the background. We are harmless. Just a yellow wristband. Pretty yellow. Nice yellow. We will provide food and shelter.
The truth is that more than my green hat they proclaim me to be a tourist. One of the worst kind, I suspect. An AI-tourist. Just one step above a colonial overlord returned to the island to once again subjugate the peaceful natives.
As a punishement I have to wear these yellow markings. They mark me as a victim for all to see, a victim with a fat purse ripe for the money harvest. The bracelet says: Offer her cigarettes, day trips, your granny in a wheelchair, her granny in a wheelchair, it doesn’t matter, she will buy.
There is a secret language to these markings. Yellow means German. Red means French. White and green American, I think. Green? Spanish? It has gotten to the point were we try to speak to shopkeepers in English and they answer back in German. Jonas has no discernible accent. How do they know? The yellow whispers to them, that is how they know.
The overall effect is that the two of us dive for cover whenever we see a native come towards us with that friendly talking-to-the-tourist-grin. Surely that is not the intended effect.
I am fascinated by the profusion of “caution: wet floor” signs that litter the grounds of the hotel. One can hardly take two steps without falling over one of them. Now that’s what I call a safety hazard.
One of my law teachers at university once patiently explained to the class that supermarkets, hotels and the like often put these signs up just in case. If anything happens, anything at all, banana peel, bird shit, alien invasion, the institution in question can always blame the customer.
“What? You saw a Martian war cruiser and slipped? Didn’t you see the sign? It’s really not our fault if your continent has been incinerated, you didn’t pay attention to the sign.”
Charming. But I can’t help but think that it is a bit silly to keep them in the hotel hallways at any time of day. They can only pretend to clean the floors so often, after all. I’m still waiting for the night when I leave our room to go to the imaginary ice dispenser at the end of the hall at three in the morning and see an underpaid maid scrubbing away at an already immaculate tile off in the far hazy distance…