Monday, December 27, 2010

Socially Irresponsible Vacation

Last week I met with a financial adviser about investing my money in socially responsible companies. As Wikipedia describes it, "socially responsible investors favor corporate practices that promote environmental stewardship, consumer protection, human rights, and diversity." It's just the sort of thing a liberal pinko commie like myself would do with his money.

It turns out that after buying a car, a house, and a divorce, I don't have a big enough nest egg to do any serious investing yet.

So instead I'm taking a socially irresponsible cruise.


I've never taken a cruise before, but I'd always wanted to. For some reason I imagined when I did take one, it would be with my family or with my significant other or with a good friend or with my cult.

But I'm going solo, which is also another first. Although I've traveled a lot by myself, I've never had an entire vacation where I wasn't meeting people I didn't already know. So that will be an adventure.

I'm not sure that a cruise-- where you get pampered, use up tons of resources, and take advantage of locals in economically depressed areas-- fits with my liberal values. Some times I'm embarrassed to tell people about it. On the other hand, I'm single, it's 20 degrees outside, I have three weeks off during the semester break, and if I don't have some sort of diversion to look forward to I might just gnaw off my own hand.


Despite my liberal white middle-class guilt, I'm really looking forward to it. It's something to plan for and get excited about. Suddenly everyone wants to tell me about the cruises they took, so it's a good conversation piece. At the very least I will get to enjoy tropical weather in January and eat my weight in free (or pre-paid-for) shrimp. I can sit in the sun, read, drink margaritas, and escape from my regular life for a few days.

So, the deets: The ship, the Carnival Triumph, departs out of the Port of New Orleans. It's a five-day cruise with two stops in Mexico on the Yucatan peninsula. Although I've lived in Europe, I've never been to Mexico. So that will be something else new.

I'll spend a "Fun Day At Sea" crossing the Gulf of Mexico. Yes, the official itinerary actually says "Fun Day At Sea," so the destination is Fun!

On day two we land in Progreso, Yucatan, Mexico. I keep forgetting the name of this port when I tell people about it. Isn't there a name of a soup called Progresso?

There's also an insurance company called Progressive, and a pasta sauce called Prego, which I thought was Protego, and which I keep mixing up with the port name.

Thus my brain goes from Progreso, a touristy port city in the Mexican Yucatan peninsula, to Prego, the brand name of a pasta sauce made by the Campbell's soup company. See, this decadent cruise is already putting consumer products in my brain.

While in port in Progreso, I'm taking a 2-hour bus ride to see Chichen Itza. It's the most famous, and most extensive, tourist site of the late Mayan empire. It's kind of like the Vegas of the Mayan world.

I'm also very excited about this because it's one of the Wonders of the World from the Civilization III game that I used to play so much. I've never visited such a famous virtual wonder before. I hope the real thing can compare to the Civ III version.

On the third day we'll visit Cozumel, which is a place that most everyone's heard of and that I don't confuse with soup or pasta or insurance. I don't have any plans for that yet, but I figure I'll wing it once I get there. It's supposed to be a happenin' place, and by then I will have made great life-long friends from having been on the boat two days, so they'll probably drag me around jet skiing and scuba diving and frolicking at the topless beach. Or something. It'll work itself out.

Then we get another Fun Day At Sea as we head up through the Gulf back to New Orleans. After that I fly home and it's back to winter, back to work, back to real life. Back to being socially responsible, shopping at the co-op, driving my Prius, and being anxious about my privileged middle class abundance.

After that my itinerary will be nothing but Fun Days At Home and Work.


We've had a lot of snow the past few weeks. This picture I took from my desk tells the perfect contrast of my real life versus my upcoming vacation. Outside it's snowing, and on my desktop is a picture of Cozumel.

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