Barry Smith: Irrelativity
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado
BAI DOS GOLFINHOS, BRAZIL – I haven’t been on a vacation since I was a kid. Back then we’d pile into my grandparent’s station wagon and drive from Mississippi to Pensacola, Fla. – The Redneck Riviera. But since becoming an adult, I haven’t gone on a vacation. Sure, I’ve gone places, and done fun stuff, even spent long stretches of time doing nothing, but it was never a real vacation. You know, like vacation vacation. So when an opportunity came up to do some vacating with a big group of friends, my wife Christina and I were long overdue.
I didn’t choose Bai dos Golfinhos, our destination, someone else in the group did. In fact, someone else did all the research, chose the beach, the hotel, the continent, arranged the travel and reservations … we just said OK to it all and tagged along.
And who wouldn’t say OK to such a thing? Brazil!? Bai dos Golfinhos?! Cool! My Portuguese isn’t very good, but a lot of words are similar to their English equivalent. “Golfinhos,” for example, is pretty obvious. “Golf,” meaning (duh) “golf,” and “inhos,” meaning “small.” “Bai” probably means “place” or “land” or something. So, roughly translated – Place of Small Golf. Which can only mean …
Man, this is gonna be a great vacation. I’ve always thought that a town without mini golf is like a room without windows. Or windmills. But a whole town devoted to mini golf? Even named after it? This South America place really has it going on.
I probably should have looked up the actual translation, but I was too busy researching whether or not I could take my special mini-golf putter in my carry-on. Turns out you have to check it, as it could be considered a weapon. Well, good point – my mini golf skillz ARE pretty lethal! Boom! Hole in one!
Can you imagine my disappointment when I learned that “bia” means “bay” and “golfinhos” means “dolphins.”
The Bay of Dolphins. I’m going to spend a week at the Bay of Dolphins …
Yeah, apparently “Bay of Dolphins” isn’t just a marketing gimmick. This place is teeming with dolphins. It’s like dolphin central out there, everyone says, and even just a stroll down to the beach proves it. Look, there’s one now! A dolphin! Really close to the shore! Crap! And not a mini golf course to be found.
I had a bad experience with dolphins once. Or, more specifically, I had a bad experience with someone who had a good experience with dolphins. This was back in the early ’90s, when swimming with dolphins was the ultimate New Age bragging right activity. It’s since been replaced by anything Dalai Lama-related, so the dolphins are currently enjoying a nice respite from the hordes of crystal-clad neo-hippies trying to dog paddle with them.
This particular person was a co-worker with whom I was forced to spend a great deal of time, and it was all “when I swam with the dolphins” this and “since swimming with the dolphins” that and “once you’ve swam with the dolphins, you’re a little bit better than everyone else” and “how dare you eat that tuna sandwich in front of me.” I’ll admit to having my share of New Age leanings, but this girl was the ultimate New Age drag, like a human crystal suppository, and it was all because of the freakin’ dolphins.
Hey, I grew up swimming with snapping turtles and poisonous water moccasins, which is certainly a transformative experience, but you don’t hear me yammering on about it. Of course, that experience is more likely to leave you huddled in a corner crying rather than strutting around with a sparkling aura. Clearly these dolphins have some sort of magical power. And it’s annoying.
And now I’m stuck in Brazil with a ginormous group of friends, each of whom is likely to have their own mystical dolphin-swimming experience throughout this coming week, one that I’ll have to suffer for. Or, even worse, I might end up having some dolphin-swimming transformation, then I’ll be one of “those” people.
Now I know why I don’t take vacations. Too much stress.
But I’ve come all this way, so I can’t NOT go in the water. But those dolphins had better keep their distance – I’ll have my mini golfinho putter with me, just in case.
Barry Smith’s column appears on Mondays. More at barrysmith.com.
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The past sneaks up on us in the strangest of ways, and I don’t mean bounty hunters flashing those “Wanted: Dead or Alive” posters in our faces.