It’s paradise here where the sun meets the sea
There’s nothing to fear and so much to be
But soon I must go, say goodbye to it all
That homeland of mine is beginning to call
Return to Paradise, (c) 1978 Big Pig Music
The Way Way Back
If you get the chance to see The Way Way Back, see it. It’s a fun movie. It’s notable to me because Steve Carell plays the villain. He has the same charming demeanor, but underneath he’s a jerk. He was way too good at it. Creepy, yet adorable at the same time. Not many guys can pass this off.
The movie revolves around a dorky teenager named Duncan (perfect name for a dork) who goes to a beach town in Cape Cod with his mother and his mother’s boyfriend (Carell).
Most of the action takes place at the “Water Wizz”, a decrepit water park run by group of fun-loving but sketchy guys (led by the irrepressible Sam Rockwell) who take Duncan under their wing. The first thing the guys show Duncan is how to man the water slide, which mostly consists of making young girls wait while the boys/men stare at their bikini-clad butts.
“Wait,” one says while a cute girl in a thong stands facing away from them, totally unaware of the game the boys are playing. “Waiting, we’re waiting, and . . . we’re still waiting.”
It’s a cute coming of age movie. It also has a great line apropos of my recent trip. Duncan’s next door neighbor describes the scene: “It’s like Spring Break for adults.” Yes, it is.
Beaches Turks and Caicos
I thought about the movie as I climbed to the top of the waterslide at the Beaches Resort in Turks and Caicos in my size 14 bathing suit. Not surprisingly, the guys working the waterslide did not make me wait so they could stare at my butt. I did notice a lot of guys staring at my breasts, however, even at my age. Go figure.
This was my first experience at an all-inclusive beach resort. We went with a group of Collegiate parents and their senior kids for the kids’ final Spring Break. Turks and Caicos is an attractive island in the Caribbean, though not nearly as pretty as Costa Rica.
Beaches was like a cruise on land. They had lots of entertainment (most of which I missed), plenty of food, activities like a chocolate dessert buffet (which I did not miss) and a Sesame Street parade for the kids. The weather was perfect—sunny with cooling breezes and not too hot (mid-80’s during the day). At night it would not cool down very much but the breezes would continue.
The place was gorgeous and impeccably clean. The landscaping was lush and the buildings were painted in bright Caribbean colors. The ocean water was a gorgeous blue-green and the beaches were wide and clean with lots of lounge chairs and waiters ready and willing to bring whatever drink you wanted.
The rooms were beautiful. We stayed in the original part of the resort called the “Caribbean Village,” which one guest called “the slums.” Compared to the newer buildings, I suppose it was, but what a slum! Our room had a cushy four poster king size bed, a trundle bed for Guido, a small balcony with a table and chairs where I could watch the drunks dodge the sprinklers at night, and a tile bathroom that was much larger than the bathrooms on a cruise ship, I must say. Our room was kept stocked with bottled water, soft drinks and coffee.
Beaches has 19 restaurants and bars; in the five days we were there, Billy and I managed to eat at 16 of them. The food ranged from pizza to sushi to French cuisine to a 50’s themed diner. The food was good; not gourmet, but good.
We have gone on many Caribbean cruises, which are also billed as “all inclusive,” but they do not include alcoholic drinks. Our shipboard bill for a week-long cruise was typically $1,000. This included excursions and trinkets, but mostly alcohol. Billy doesn’t drink and the kids were too young, so all of the drinks were consumed by me. I may have a problem.
At Beaches, the drinks are included, and they were fantastic—lots of fruity, rum-spiked concoctions called things like “Another day in Paradise.” Our group’s favorite drink seemed to be the “Miami Vice” – half pina colada, half strawberry daiquiri. The bartenders were friendly and eager to serve. We decided, however, that during the day the drinks were probably not very strong. Even at night, at the bars where the young kids hung out, the bartenders often stopped putting alcohol in the drinks, at least according to some of the kids. That is just as well, since many of the kids did nothing but drink and party on the beach. After five days of drinking at Beaches, awesome as the drinks were, I was more than ready to stop.
There were also water sports like snorkeling, scuba diving and banana boat rides. This is a family resort, so there were plenty of planned activities for children and tweens. The place was awesome.
For our kids, of course, there was just one activity—or two if you count sitting on the beach while drinking.
Some time during the week, Billy asked Guido if he was having a good time.
“Dad,” he said. “When I picture paradise, I picture this place.”
We liked it too, Billy less so than me because he does not drink. According to Billy, drunks are not nearly as funny as they think they are. I wouldn’t know because I’m usually one of the drunks.
It is a great resort if you like to sit on the beach or at a pool. I counted eight pools. One had a waterfall, another had a volleyball net. Most had swim up bars. At first I thought there was no way I could sit on the beach or at the pool and do nothing but read and talk to the other parents. By the end of the week, I couldn’t wait to find my friends and sit with them. It took me a couple of days to relax into the routine, but I managed to do it.
As much as I loved it, and I did, Beaches had an artificial feel to it. It was as authentic as Bush Gardens. I felt like I was in a bubble. A safe, clean, fun bubble. I guess that’s what most visitors are going for.
Costa Rica is Paradise
Compared to Costa Rica, Beaches seemed rather sterile. Costa Rica has beaches and mountains, plus volcanoes, rain forests teeming with wildlife, river rafting, zip lines, and hiking. If you like an active vacation, like we do, Costa Rica is the bomb.
At the first hotel we stayed at in Costa Rica, our balcony faced the rain forest. Each morning we watched a different species of monkey swing through the trees as they ate their breakfast. The towns we drove through in Costa Rica were poor, but not poverty-stricken. The houses were small, but well-kept. Driving between the beaches and the mountains in Costa Rica was like riding a real-life roller coaster.
By comparison, we never left the resort in Turks and Caicos except to travel to and from the airport. The rest of the island looked dry, windy and desolate. The same type of concrete building that looked festive at the resort looked lonely on the rest of the island. I half expected to see John Wayne on horseback and tumbleweeds rolling along the streets.
If I had to choose between Costa Rica and Beaches, I would choose Costa Rica. Unless, of course, my brother decides to go to Beaches to celebrate his and his wife’s 60th birthdays. For that, I could manage another trip to Beaches.