Friday, June 24, 2016

Lost in a Sea of Cheer


Yes, you. Come closer. I have to whisper; someone might overhear, and I'm not really sure what I'm allowed to say around here.

Friends, we seem to have landed in a most strange and unfamiliar place. Let me explain.

We arrived a few days ago after our not-always-rainy visit to Cid Harbour. Erik had to go off for a few days to do some Erik-type things, so we decided to stay in the marina. I got my first hint that something odd was going on in the marina office.

"Have you been with us before?" asked the smiling young man at the desk. Upon receiving a 'negatory, good buddy' from our end, his smile grew even wider. "Well, then! Here is your pocket compendium." He produced it with a flourish.
I would have gone with plain old "Guide", myself.
"It will tell you everything you need to know. Free shuttle schedules, activities, there's a little map in there which you won't need because you'll be taking the shuttle ha ha ha. Of course," he attempted a serious look, but the smile quickly chased it away, "what you really need to do is rent a golf buggy. Everyone does."

He stared at me until I nodded. I was becoming a little alarmed. I'm not great with the overly-cheery at the best of times, and this kid was dancing rather close to manic for my taste. We smiled politely, asked the important questions re: showers, power and laundry, and made our escape. And I hoped someone would send our young man the nice care package of diazepam he so clearly needed.

I soon noted that our friend in the office was more the rule than the exception. Everywhere we went - the ice cream shop, the movie rental place, the ubiquitous Trader [Generic Anglo Male Name]'s Souvenir Shop - everyone was cheerful. And helpful. And cheerful some more. But not in that laid-back, chillin' through life, what comes along comes along, cruiser-and-related-boatie-industries way that I'm used to. More like a Sirius Cybernetics Happy Vertical People Transporter.* That is to say, canned and programmed. Still nice. Really nice. But not necessarily natural.

And as the world whizzed by us in their golf carts, we began to explore the island. Stop one: the beach. We were ready to hop in the water and have a splash around when Stylish found this sign:
I enjoy the phrasing in the third paragraph: "If you choose to swim at the beach - instead of one of the many pools - we recommend you wear a stinger suit, which is available at Beach Sports." Really, they might as well have said: "If you choose to swim at the beach - instead of one of the many pools - you are an idiot and deserve to die by Irukandji sting." But that wouldn't be very cheerful, and I suppose it shows why no one has asked me to write these signs.

We duly trooped off to one of the many pools. I was a little surprised that we, lowly marina patrons, were welcome over there, but I supposed the Island Association meeting went something like this:
Jason: We will now hear from the water safety committee.
Gerald: Thank you, Jason. Those damn Irukandji killed off another three tourists last week.
Bruce: We can't go on like this. That's too many jelly deaths, even for Australia.
Gerald: Agreed. I propose opening the island pools to everyone.
Jason and Bruce: Everyone!?
Bruce: Gerald, do you know what you're saying?
Gerald: I know. Boaties in the pool area. [shivers] But look at it this way. There aren't many of them. Most are over sixty--
Jason: --so they fit right in--
Gerald: --and no one is more willing to buy an overpriced alcoholic beverage at ten in the morning.
Jason: All in favor?
All: Aye.
Jason: Okay, that's box jelly deaths taken care of. Now, anyone have a solution to this funnelweb spider conundrum?

The next day, we decided to walk up to One Tree Hill. Google maps claimed it was only a kilometre away; the girls and I thought we would have a leisurely stroll up there, and take a picnic lunch along.

Our first issue was: no sidewalks. We stuck to the grassy shoulders as golf carts zoomed by. I was still mystified by these contraptions - the entire island is only 5 km2  - but I suppose not everyone likes walking uphill. Or, on reflection, walking at all. We appear to be the sole pedestrians in this place.
You get there in a golf cart, or you don't get there at all.
But, even consulting the map in my Pocket Compendium, I was having trouble gauging our progress. The landscape did not vary. Palm tree, rock, hedge, rock. Palm tree, rock, hedge, rock. It was like being in a Flintstones cartoon.

Five minutes or five hours later, we broke free of the repeating background to emerge on the hill. It comprised a 1:5:20 ratio of lookout:cafe:parking lot. And still there wasn't enough parking space - the buggies were crammed along the edge of the road higgeldy piggledy.

We ate our lunch. We took a scenic photo. We walked down again past the perfectly manicured hedges.

"Look,"said Indy. "That grass is fake."
I looked where she was pointing. There, below a palm tree, beside two rocks and a hedge, was a neat, narrow strip of artificial turf. The hair on the back of my neck stood up.

We weren't allowed to visit the resort to stop jelly deaths.

We were in the resort.

The whole island is the resort.

The whole island is the resort.

We can't escape. It's everywhere. The friendliness, the restaurant recommendations, the souvenir boomerangs... the phone call is coming from inside the house!

So here we are. Resorted. Sitting by the pool. Being cheerful. Loving the well-manicured everything.

And I'll keep this happy smile safely pasted on my face until Erik comes back and we escape to a place without hedge clippers.

*You wound me by needing this footnote. Go back and reread your Douglas Adams.


Karen said...

This is all very suspicious. What are they hiding?????

Anonymous said...

You have been transported to the Prisoner Island-no way off. Watch out for the giant rolling hamster ball.

Anonymous said...

The Prisoner?? Cool granny!

Nicolas Turcotte said...