ya llega la temporada
“puedo ordenar tostadas?”
“un jugo de naranja y cafe con leche.”
“me puedes dar menos hielo?”
“puedo pedir un sanduche con jamon y queso, pero sin el pan y jamon?”
each of the above sentences should be said with a sing songy cadence at the end. the speakers are argentines. argentinians? lo que sea. my high season nemesi.
they occupy my hammocks, they fill the tv room, they hang out of their half thong bikinis (which i don’t mind so much), and they fill my brain with ridiculous menu questions and requests. they are the worst kind of tourist: helpless, wasteful, clueless, and entitled. they are not alone, but they are their own breed.
throughout the fall in santa marta locals and business folk would talk about “la temporada,” high season, like it was the second coming. so many things would supposedly happen during this time; aguardiente and spanish gold would flow through the streets like poo water. it finally came and went. it didn’t seem to make anyone any richer or poorer.
the transformation this city undertook was a sight to see, though. wintertime brought with it la brisa loca; a blustering wind that swept up skirts and blew away the beautiful thunderclouds that gathered over the sierras with the promise of refreshing rain and nightly lightning storms. it also carried with it actual tourists. dready backapckers were replaced by pale skinned folks in funny hats and sensible sandals, and the whirlwind began. new bars and restaurants popped up everywhere (and by everywhere i mean there were three), old establishments created new menus with higher prices, cabbies padded their going rates, as did lancha and moto dudes, and the beaches swelled to capacity. samarios live for this time of year, dreaming of all the opportunity and pesos. if you don’t make money during temporada, you likely won’t survive the rest of the year.
this being a working class town, most bars, clubs, and restaurants are only open on weekends because locals don’t frequent them often enough and when they do, they don’t spend enough to make it worth anyone’s while. it’s cheaper to buy a bottle of aguardiente or some beer and hang in a tienda, a plaza, or the beach. if you ask a costeño, “where can we go dancing?” they’ll smirk and say, “pues… aqui.” and so, nightclubs are wholly unnecessary and primarily for extranjero use.
i usually wouldn’t walk around by myself after 9pm as the streets are vacant and you become lone prey. but during high season, everywhere is lit up with fairly ridiculous carribean christmas decorations -which included bird of paradise flowers and tuscans- and folks spending their temporada winnings. people are also forced out into the streets because the wind and the increase in electrical usage causes more regular power outages, or painfully slow fans. painfully. slow.
and just as quickly la brisa settles, the tacky decorations go away, and everyone’s pockets are just as empty. pero ya casi llega carnaval…