“G’morning ladies and gents, this is your favorite buddy Stu speaking—letting ya know at this fine, balmy hour of seven o’clock in the morning it’s time for ya to pick your heads up off your pillows and mosey on up to the main deck, for we’ve just arrived in lovely Cabo San Lucas!”
As far as abrasively head-splitting New Zealander accents over PA system at such ungodly hours go, this one wasn’t such a bad wakeup call.
The promise of sun-kissed Mexican beaches and lobster-roasted sunburns is what raised Lazarus from the dead—it had no problem motivating a kid running on four hours of sleep after some frenzied cruise ship clubbing the night before. I was on my feet in an instant, smashing my head against the bunk above and stumbling in the dark onto my Mormon cabin mate. He hit me with a Bible and then we both lurched around the room searching for our swim trunks and towels.
I had learned, upon actually boarding the Carnival Spirit back in San Diego, that the majority of the crew I would be vacationing with was…Mormon. In fact, I was the only one, out of everybody I was with, who wasn’t Mormon. Oh joy!
You see, I’m working a sales job over the summer in North Carolina—part of a highly successful company selling pest control, of all things. In order to get me psyched up for selling what essentially amounts to cockroach and bedbug extermination for random strangers, the sales crew decided to send me on a company cruise to Cabo. Slightly overkill, if you’ll let that pun slide, but I wasn’t about to turn that opportunity down at all.
The thing I should’ve factored in is that nobody is better at playing the door-to-door game than a bunch of Mormons. They’ve built up a monopoly doing it.
My first response upon learning this LDS-saturated situation: “We’re really still doing pest control sales right? You’re not about to slap a bicycle helmet, black tie and Good Book on me are you?”
“Oh don’t worry, this is definitely still pest control,” said one of my sales friends, with a wonderfully religious twinkle in his eye. “But never fear, we’ll make sure to spring a baptism on you before we get back to the States!”
And so this was how we arrived at Cabo San Lucas on the second day of the cruise—199 Mormons and Me.
We subsequently took that place by storm. Having never been out of the country before, I was in nirvana the moment I stepped onto the dock. Everything was flip-flops and sunglasses and amazingly short summer dresses. The sun was making vigorous love to my pale ass Alaskan skin. Mexican hagglers were running around and shouting and waving signs with a fervor that would make most Cash 4 Gold sign wielders collapse in epileptic fits.
And our crew came rolling through this shimmering madness, shunting hagglers aside in a basic Flying V formation. Mormons are master negotiators, I’ve learned, and don’t take any sort of BS from motor-mouthed Spanglish speaking salesmen shoving second-rate snorkeling gear in their faces. These guys can grab great deals like none other.
“No, Eduardo, I’d like a breathing apparatus that won’t have me ingesting large amounts of salt water if I don’t have to. And the guy back there said he could get me a boat shuttle over to Lover’s Beach for tres dinero, not nueve.”
We had to our advantage (somewhat) a guy who served his mission in Chile a few years back. That added a Level Up to our negotiation tactics with the locals. He hadn’t had to bust out the español in quite a while, though, and garbled words that sound close to the same cause problems in any language. (English example: “public” and “pubic” and “general” and “genital.”)
After a couple confused mix-ups, in which I’m pretty sure we almost purchased a caged puma from a shopkeeper, a small group of us were on a dingy motorboat headed off to the beach, top rate snorkeling gear in hand.
And man was that beach fantastic. Snorkeling, at least initially, felt like we were attempting to drown ourselves in the surface ten inches of water. There’s no getting over the psychological barrier attached to breathing in underwater—and then you realize that no, that’s not just your brain playing tricks, Eduardo really did sell you crappy snorkeling equipment. I swallowed so much ocean water that day I’ll probably never need to get salt around the rim of a margarita ever again.
But deep sea diving ensued after that, and cliff jumping, and beach side races, and rock climbing, and flea market madness and some of the best damn fish tacos I’ve ever consumed. The next two days were a blur of Wonderful, and by the time our cruise ship set sail for Stateside waters my skin was peeling like some sort of liver cancer across the shoulders. I could not have imagined a more fantastic way to embrace the beginning of my spring break—let me tell you, that Mormon sales company sure knows how to wine and dine a guy before taking him into the fold!
Now I get to look forward to a summer spent dodging kamikaze baptisms.