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   good, polite behavior among Mexican street dogs
Thursday, June 21 2018

location: Room 2342, The Reef Coco Beach, Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico

I spent all day poolside, cranking out resumes and cover letters, punctuating my efforts with occasional sallies up to the poolside bar. Somewhat early in the day, I'd popped a recreational Mexican ritalin, and I was surprised at how great it worked. I'd been so spoiled on adderall that I'd assumed ritalin would seem like weak tea. But no, it's great for the sort of applications I need esoteric stimulants for. And it's effects are pretty long-lasting. They also pair well with cheap tutto-incluso resort alcohol. I should note that the ritalin had been marketed by the shady pharmacia cashier as "generic adderall," which was clearly nonsense, since the stimulants in adderall and ritalin are both different and characteristic.

I should mention a few things about the resort (The Reef Coco Beach) before forgetting. While most things there are included in the room charge, there are a number of things that are not. This included, for example, WiFi (perhaps to discourage people doing work). There was also a bar where one could pay, presumably for a much better drinking experience. Then there were a number of upsells. The other day, for example, there was a water-balloon-tossing contest one could participate in if one paid (staff tried to recruit me and the kids for this while we were in a hot tub). There were also members of staff walking around with various unfortunate animals so that one could have one's picture taken with them. The most spectacular of these was some sort of falconry raptor (it looked like small member of the genus Buteo). Periodically that guy was allowed to fly around freely, though that wasn't much fun, since he was continually hassled by the resort's many grackles and songbirds. There was also a captive monkey and at least two macaws with presumably clipped wings.

For lunch, Gretchen and I went with her parents to the Pitted Date for yet another meal. Not having liked the sandwich I'd had here a few days before, I ordered the black bean lentil soup. And yet again I had the experience of there being something in the flavor profile that did not appeal to me. Everyone else in our entourage seems to love the Pitted Date though.
At the end of the meal, Gretchen and I befriended a pair of very well-behaved street dogs who had come to the Pitted Date's porch for water. I can understand why good, polite behavior would be a common trait among street dogs, as aggressiveness and begging will soon put you on the bad side of humans with the power to shorten your life. The dogs were initially encouraged by our enthusiastic affection, and followed us for a half block or so back towards the resort. But they were canny enough to see that this relationship wasn't going anywhere, so they split off to spend the day some other way.

This evening Gretchen and I went with her parents to one of the resort's other restaurants, one on higher floor directly above the buffet restaurant. (By this point my brother-in-law and nephew were both so ill that they were bedridden and occasionally even vomitting, greatly reducing the range of all-family activities.) It was difficult figuring out how to get Gretchen's mother there in a wheelchair, but there was a way.
There are actually several restaurants up on that higher floor: Japanese, Italian, and Mexican. We decided on Italian. These restaurants all aimed to seem fancier; they had actual decor, and the paradigm was one of sitting down and placing an order. The head waiter seemed very confidant as he negotiated a vegan meal for us, but the results were a bit of a head scratcher. The appetizer was an oil al-dente linguine with a smattering of vegetables. With a little salt and pepper, it actually tasted pretty good. But there was a shrimpy flavor in there that had Gretchen giving most of hers to me.
What followed was two different main courses: one a unnecessarily-watery risotto with a little asparagus. That was pretty disappointing, but not as bad as the other main course: a spaghetti al pomodoro. Its flavor profile was so wrong as to render it practically inedible. Indeed, the spaghetti with red sauce in the buffet in the restaurant downstairs was much better. A competent job had been made of frying some slices of eggplant, but that wasn't something Gretchen could eat. This was possibly the worst Italian meal either of us had ever eaten, and Gretchen has had the experience of eating pasta with ketchup sauce in the Amazon.
At least the red wine was good. Once he'd had a little, Gretchen's Dad regaled us with the story of his life as a boy in Louisville. It was full of the sorts of Game-of-Thrones details one wouldn't normally share with children. It might've been interesting, but my head was not in a good space for listening, so eventually I excused myself and went back to the room.

Gretchen (right) with the two friendly polite street dogs we met. This is on the front porch of the Pitted Date.

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