Beach Bar Bums: A Drink With Friends, Double Vision and Something About the Karate Kid

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It’s been too long since we’ve heard from guest autho James Greer and his beach bar adventures. Part of that is my fault, party of that is COVID hell and part of that is, well, you’ll have to read his article to discover the rest. Either way, I’m glad he’s back with us, painting pictures with words in a manner far superior to my own. Next stop – Cozumel!

We lived in a significantly different world the last time Pat and I chatted over drinks at a beach bar. Then, it was a restaurant in the Old San Juan area of Puerto Rico. I had a margarita and fish tacos, she a rum runner to accompany seafood mofongo. We would get on a plane the next day, flying home into the maelstrom of COVID.

Four years later – four years of trailer-camping with our beloved dogs – and we were dipping our toes, both literally and figuratively, back into the beach bar scene. We’d booked a week at an all-inclusive on the outskirts of Playa del Carmen, Mexico, concurrent with good friends who were staying at a dierent resort in town. “Let’s get together for a quiet drink on the beach,” we said, nearly in unison.

We ended up at Señor Frog’s, next to the ferry pier.

I know what you are asking yourself. You are saying, “An experienced beach bar aficionado and you chose Señor Frogs?” I suppose in an imperfect world, you might have a point. It’s a chain joint, it’s loud. It’s, so ….

It wasn’t the first time we’d stopped there for a drink. We were staying on Cozumel, concluding a day touring the ruins in Tulum, swimming in Xel-Ha and we wanted a boat drink before catching the boat from Playa. We were young, we were at … Well, younger and we’d yet to have a doctor bear bad news. But, I digress.

We knew SF’s. We knew this one particularly, remembered the heady and carefree days of yore. Why not see if the magic was still there? The greeter showed us to a table by the railing that separated the deck from the beach. The ladies ordered modest drinks. We guys, we went big (since going home from paradise was never an option … you got that one, right?). A side of guacamole and chips, which were fabulous.

We were in Mexico, having a drink with two very special friends. They are people with whom we’ve shared a hundred beers sitting under our front-yard maple tree in the summer, at our favorite brew pub (truck food included) in the dead of winter. We’ve endured a pandemic together, mourned the passing of parents and celebrated becoming grandparents. Now, life took us to a beach bar in Playa del Carmen.

Then, the drinks arrived. The girls’ beers were regulation sized, but ours… They were “Yards.” Well, mini-yards, anyway. Four total feet of adult beverage bliss when stacked one on top of the other, which is how they were brought to our table. The server, a degree of panic in his voice, invited me to take my marg on the top of the stack. That’s when things went badly awry.

Three and a half years ago I was diagnosed with ocular melanoma – eye cancer. The treatment was not straightforward, but I got as much as I gave. I got to live to see the day we met our friends in Quintano Roo. I also got double vision and unpredictable depth perception. I look fine, especially to an employee at Señor Frogs. I’m not.

The server spoke with increasing urgency, the angular physics of the moment threatening our beverages. I was now implored to take the top plastic container. There was not a second to hesitate.

There were two distinct “top” shapes from which to choose. One was more vivid, my first usual clue that the object is, in fact, real. But, would I grasp thin air in my attempt to defeat gravity’s malicious grasp, or would I drive my hand through the object like a move from Karate Kid? “Paint the fence…”

Never underestimate the ability of a margarita drinker to seize the moment. Or, the glass within which tropical bliss is contained. Got it, first try!

We had a wonderful time, my friend somehow winning a free shot for answering a trivia question – something in an unmarked bottle poured directly into his mouth. He said it was good, he seemed no worse for wear….

If you are ever in Playa, give this place a try. Bring friends, hopefully ones without double vision.

About the Author
James Greer is a freelance writer who lives in Lakewood, CO with his wife Pat, two Portuguese Water Dogs and a cat of uncertain lineage. He and his wife travel extensively, believing that if there is not a beach bar nearby, it is not a destination. It is merely a way point.

Find more articles from James Greer.

Guest Authors
If you’d like to contribute to a blog post, please send me an email at info (at) beachbarbums (dot) com. You can write it yourself of just send me a synopsis and I’ll write it. Probably not as well as you would write it but hey, it’s guaranteed to get posted. Either way, I’d love to feature your story!

Find out more about Cozumel and its beach bars.

Author: Tom W.

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