January 23, 2011

The Briefing

Early morning wake-up call. Aren't we on vacation?  It's bad enough that the eyes opened promptly at 5 a.m., but now here's a call reminding us to be in the lobby at 9:30 a.m., for our briefing.  Needless to say, SF wasn't the least bit interested but you know Nosey Nelly. "They're trying to sell something."  "Naw, they want to tell us about the different tours and activities."  "They're trying to sell something."  So we're strolling up to the lobby at 9:15 a.m.  Breakfast is being served.  Guess which choice was made?

It's a feeding frenzy; a repeat of the night before.  Good grief!  Eggs, eggs, and more eggs.  What's this?  Salami?  White stewed beans (looked like pork and beans to me).  Where is the sausage and bacon?  Hmmm, the salami is not bad.  Not the deli slices we're accustomed to but chopped into french-cut slivers and steamed, or boiled, or something.  Passed on the beans.  An array of pastries, fruits, potatoes, waffles and pancakes, breads, and what's this...yuca?  Okay, I'm in.  Not bad.  Looked like a thin version of mashed potatoes; kind of pasty-tasting.

Leaving the dining room, we spot our BFF, Santos, who is clearly exasperated.  "Did you go to the briefing?"  "You must go to the briefing."  And then we hear him mumble: "I get a $20 dollar commission."  Can't let him lose the commission.  Lead on.  Through the hotel grounds, across the street, to a very modern building with a heliport.  Deposited in the lobby.  We're brought warm, fragrant towels, and given our goodie bag.  Then a handsome, personable, young man comes to retrieve us.  People are seated at tables all around us.  Junior is his name.  He's going to be our guide. SF is sending signals that we're not buying anything but we'll go on the tour. 

I'm trying to take pictures. Through the sales center to the top of the building, onto the heliport.  I really don't need to be on top of anything without railings.  I hang back but zoom in on houses nestled on the mountainside.Off to the golf cart and away we go.  Junior, his real name not a moniker, is busily explaining the different types of memberships and corresponding wristbands--ours was white; the cheap seats band-- available to us and the benefits of each level. "Not buying into a timeshare."  It is not a time share, according to Junior.  A rose by any other name is still a rose.  Anyway.  We looked at every damned accommodation available.  And they were fabulous.  Each section had numerous pools, cabanas, spas, elegantly appointed restaurants, the sports bar, the amphitheater, the disco.  You name it; we saw it.

I'm happily clicking the shutter--click, click.  What's this writing on the screen?  Pull out the trusty glasses and my finger goes right through the space where the lens should be.  Oh, no!  I can't read a thing without glasses unless the letters are at least 1 inch tall.  No memory in the memory stick?  Get the hell out of here!  I brought extra batteries; not a spare memory stick. And...I didn't bring a spare pair of glasses.

Junior to the rescue.  Into a small store tucked away on our route.  The owner assures us that he'll have a replacement in 30 minutes.  Music to Junior's ears.  More time to sell.  He's not listening to SF and ignoring that I am fading away.  I've had 3 pina coladas since the trip started.  Non-alcoholic,  folks.  Off we go.  Well looky here, we're at the hotel entrance with the magnificent columns.  Everything we've seen is located on the same grounds.  This place is humongous!  No thanks, I'll pass on this tour.  I've seen enough pools and sand and walked up and down enough flights of steps.   Back to the shop; no luck.  So we try another store, larger with a wider selection of goods.  Bingo!

Junior showing a villa with 6 bedrooms
Off to the villas.  Gorgeous! And...with this get a golf cart and a chef!  As well as transportation to and from the airport via helicopter or limousine.

Time to wind this up.  Didn't I say that I was fading?  And it is after 2 p.m.  Are you kidding me?  We've spent all day looking at property?  Back to the sales center.  Time to bring in the big gun, Miguel.  The polite, friendly, veneer is quickly replaced with an aggressive, forceful one. How can we possibly pass up this fantastic opportunity to become a "member" of this dream-of-a-lifetime, complete with chef, exclusive transportation, and financing for the next 41 years?   Miguel. Miguel. Miguel.  Did you take a look at the gray hair on both of us?  We'll be blessed if we make it through the next 5 years. 

Pull out the glasses with the one lens to read the fine print.  One lens does just fine.  We're down from a 41 year membership to a 20 week membership.  We'll think about it, okay?  Where's the goodie bag?  It's time to go and I can't miss lunch!

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