Front Street is composed of wall-to-wall jewlery shops, selling diamonds, emeralds and Rolex watches, which cost thousands of dollars. On the side streets, you could buy t-shirts, beachwear and fake Rolex watches, which cost 25 dollars.
I was amused by all of the jewelery stores, in furious competition with each other. They were staffed by professional salespeople, all wearing suits and ties. All I could think about was how much it must suck to live in a tropical paradise and have to wear a tie to work.
We entered one knick-knack shop on a side street, and a salesperson approached me while my wife picked through the merchandise. "May I help you, sir?" she asked. "No thanks, I'm waiting for my wife," I replied. "Can I get you something to drink? she asked. "Water? Coca-cola? Heineken?" I was taken aback, thinking it was some kind of retailing trap. I declined, and eventually, we returned to our resort, and decided to cool off at the beach.
On the beach at our resort, there's a small thatch-roofed bar staffed by laid-back islanders. They're cool and friendly. I walked across the hot sand at one point, and put my Visa card on the bar. "We don't take credit cards, mon," he told me. "But if you want a beer, I'll give you one."
I couldn't believe what I was hearing, but he reached into the cooler and handed me an ice-cold Presidente. I stammered my thanks, and headed back to my wife, unable to imagine what kind of heaven I must be in, with uncrowded, clean beaches, clear water and free beer.
While sipping the beer, I noticed a guy in his sixties walking down to the water. He had the largest, most perfectly-formed set of man-boobs (moobs) I've ever seen. They had to be at least 40DD.
Shortly after the guy with perfect moobs left the beach, another local guy with a shaved head came down with a large plastic bucket full of hermit crabs. He runs a crab race on the beach every evening at sunset. Each crab shell is marked with a number, and he wandered up and down the beach soliciting bets. "These crabs are on steroids!" he declares. "Viagra! Red Bull!" At sunset, he draws a large circle, and dumps the crabs in the center. People scream and shout as the crabs scuttle for the edge of the circle. The winner gets a t-shirt or a bottle of cheap wine.
I wonder if it's possible that this guy actually makes a living doing this. I like to think that he makes a couple hundred thousand a year. Some stuffed-shirt businessman wearing wing-tip shoes and a power tie sits next to him in first class on a flight to New York, and strikes up a conversation, proudly declaring himself to be the East Coast regional manager of a business supply company. "What do you do?" he asks. "I run crab races on the beach," he says, then plugs in his iPod and smiles all the way to New York for a meeting with his broker.
The next day, I walked down to the beach to settle up with the bartender who had given me a free beer. He wasn't there, so I asked the Rastafarian behind the bar how much a Presidente was. He said, "They're 2 for 4 dollars, but if you only want one, I'll give it to you." I have to get the hell out of here.