The Shambala is a sheep.
A sheep in ship’s clothing.
And on that sheep is a good looking dude (you can call him Lester) who speaks broken English and super fast Spanish. Lester is an excursion director by trade and a merchanary by design.
Lester´s job is to herd foreign and domestic peso filled wallets toward fish dung filled waters and to encourage those sheep captive wallets to jump FAST (okie dokie?) into brownish foamed waters near some remote, rocky shore.
For the next twenty-five minutes Lester’s charges will be periodically breathing through skunge infested, somebody else’s mouth been on ’em, leaky snorkel tubes and then Lester will vamanos the wallets under his control back toward the acrid cloud of Shambala diesel exhaust in order to scale the sheep´s boarding ladder.
Dude Lester the director´s hair will look just as spectacular after snorkeling as it did before, it’s bleached blond tints gleaming fashionably through the fish dropping drippings.
Once sheepboard, Lester will then vamanos you an hour away toward a mountainous harbor where you will be encouraged to step off the kinda stable sheep into a horribly unstable (can’t you pull the mooring rope a little tighter Manuel?) open, motorized rowboat which will drop you calf deep into the wet, wavy lap of many hungry vendors – vendors with lazy lizards draped over their shoulders, lizards who survive only to pose for touristo photos, like the plethora of pie vendors with too much pie, and bobble vendors with too many bobbles.
“Mucho importanto,” Lester will say in his nighttime disc jockey lingo, “that you ask HOW MUCH?” before taking photos of Charlie the Donkey with roses on his back or De Lizards growing out of many local’s necks.
“I recommend that you choose a horse to take you up the mountain to the beautiful… sooo beautiful, waterfall at the top of the climb,” Lester will say.
“It´s only twenty dollars American,” (just short of one thousand of anyone else’s dollars) “and twenty bucks saves you from walking in horse shit.”
Lester forgets to say that second part…
During the upside of your mountainous trek, you will run the gauntlet of twenty hungry, un-unique selling proposition vendors, displaying their trinkets at various locations and you will politely grow so very tired of telling these persistent entrepreneurs “no, thank you.”
At the top of the mountainous touristo trap exists the “real” Shambala, a smart entrepreneur who will sell you a cold Corona for twenty-five pesos.
Tip him, please.
He deserves it for his ungouging entrepreneurship because at the bottom of your trek the price of Corona doubles. (uh, because… the sand, your Oasis server will tell you)
Maybe have two or three Coronas at Sir Fairness’s restaurant / lounge, you’ll need them to stiffen your upper lip for the return trip back through Gouger’s Gauntlet. Maybe Mexicans are not good at remembering pasty-white frugal faces or maybe they’re just persistent but whatever the reason, you will need the extra don’t caredness on account of your arse will be up-sold by every vendor who harassed you on the way up as they genuinely ask with pleading dark eyes “why you not buy senior, you are on vacation…?!”
Plus, hanging up-top for those additional brew-skis will allow the horse shit sweeper to get ahead of you with her donkey dung bucket and while the odor will remind you that for twenty American dollars you could be with the donkeys at the bottom by now, the absence of slickery brown ice will allow for more focus on the environment rather than the malodorous cobblestone path.
Now, once you make it back down, go directly though the donkey corral to the Oasis Restaurant (very importanto, Lester has already warned you on the sheep, remember that name: Oasis) because should you stray from the frontage sand of the Oasis onto another restaurant’s hallowed sand, you will be reminded by agents from competing restaurateurs that the sand you are attempting to occupy is reserved for open wallets only.
Is yours open?
During the Oasis “water’s extra” meal (included in the cost of the snorkeling excursion), you will be once again non-remembered for not wanting a photo with de lizard men, not wanting pie, not wanting bracelets, necklaces or silver anything.
Soon, Lester will shout “vamanos amigos, follow me to the pier!” where you will be laddered down into the Open Boat Wobbly to return you to the sheep.
Once back upon the sheep, after waiting for other wallets to be brought aboard, you will drink dark ale on decks soon to be swelling several feet starboard to port-side while perched precariously on plastic, made-for-land lawn chairs.
On the two hour return trip, get ready for some simple sheep games.
These games will first ask younger wallet purveyors to imbibe precarious amounts of dark ale during a who-can-down-ale-the-fastest contest and then squeal in lecherous anticipation as couples break balloons between themselves. The purpose of this maneuver escapes most wallets but ‘ol Lester The Handsome wasn’t born yesterday.
Excursion director Lester knows that right after the smile inducing ale downing and balloon breaking comes the passing of the tip bottle, where Lester’s crew comes around to shake every wallet’s hand while proffering an empty two litre Coke bottle in which they are peer pressured into depositing whatever the lizard / bobble vendors didn’t guilt out of you.
Then, the pièce de résistance…
Didn’t you wonder why Lester lined you up in groups (single file please) before you boarded the sheep? Didn’t it strike you as odd that prior to boarding the Shambala a stranger plopped a Captain’s hat on your spouse’s head then took two photos of the event, even though you were already tired of being hassled by the on-site walrus photo taking vendor?
This is where everything becomes all too clear.
See, Lester was setting you up for one last wallet wringing on the sheep’s boardwalk because there they are as you disembark… strangers selling already printed photos of you during happier times.
Wonder what they’re going to do with the unsold photos…?
Anyway, you´re safe now. Back in the place of land lubbing salespeople who know that just because you’re temporarily out of cash, you likely have not reached your credit card limit and you probably still have a few “no thank yous” left in you.
Because as you now know, in Shambala, you’ll need ’em…