Monica had given him a long look as she poured his last latté, and neglected the dollop of Rompope he was known to favor, so Seagull gathered it was about time to do his trick. He picked up his battered old fake Gibson covered with forged signatures of great pickers and nodded to Congón, who doing a little nodding himself. Four straight Americanos and the guy was ready to go to sleep, but he’d perk up quick when his hands touched skin. The two derelicts lurched up, Congón’s sleek Latino hustler look clashing with Seagull’s scuffed gringo jipi getup with sea urchin hair and hornrims so utterly Long Island Jewish that nobody ever had to guess where his nickname came from. They hoisted their respective axes (the Cuban-made drum also scrawled with bogus saludos from famed congeros) and mosied over to a partially cleared area under the fresco of Kukulkan giving Quetzacoatl the finger and started thinking seriously about playing some music.

Thing was, Café Cueva wasn’t the only coffeehouse on Isla Mujeres anymore. But it had been the first, cranked up by Delmonica when the locals idea of classy coffee service was a non-plastic cup of lukewarm water and a clean jar of freeze-dried “No-es-café”. It was still the First, Best and most favored by eurohostlers, springbreakers, and serious local coffeeheads, though. Partly because of the excellent beans selected in the highlands of Yucatan and custom-roasted by Italian craftsmen in Cancún. And being right between the Cosmicolas international abused bookstore Cool Ice Cream didn’t hurt. And the big the owners–laidback, daft cockney Del and his lovely, allegedly gypsy wife, Monica–were so popular that the new Italian and Israeli cafés weren’t that much competition.

But enough competition that they’d found it helpful to provide some sort of music, especially during off-season. And since ComoNo had swiped Chucho, the resident pianist on Isla, they tried to scrape up talent of Seagull’s caliber and pay off in coffee and snacks. Plus, Seagull’s somewhat meager vocal abilities were offset by the fact that he was a known collaborator to the Blasé Sojourner, which made him a sort of obscure star in the hospitality industry, like one of those stars that’s going dark because it’s collapsing in on itself due to excess gravity.

The BS, as it’s generally known for a variety of reasons, is frequently compared (usually sneeringly) to the fictional “Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy”, a similar, seminal user-written guide to international vagabonds and wastrels. And it’s just possible that Seagull majored in Wastrelism in college. He had written up most of the downside locations on Isla for the current distro of the BS, in typical fashion: going deeper in than most guides (Seagull and other BS contributors were smug in comparing it to scorned books they referred to as “Let’s Go Spend Daddy’s Money”, “LoanMe Planet”, and “The Butch Guide” and “Fuddors”) but in ways of interest mostly to the more disjointed and deshabille of movers and fakers. His section on Café Cueva, for instance, dealt with seamier side-events of a sexual encounter with a previous waitress and a photograph of a pyramid constructed of marijuana seeds adhered with the dark rich Mayan honey Monica insisted on providing.

The Blasé Sojourner is not, of course, an ordinary book, and actually post-Web2. It’s actually considered a “distro” like Ubuntu, available as a download, DVD, or SD Memory card from the Distro Duck website and distributed by means no so much “viral” as metastatic . Passed hand to hand like a foxy ingénue, shared on sites like Napster and Dumpster, bootlegged around on little USB flash drives and re-invented as podcasts. And the salient line from Seagull’s rave (if not raving) review was undeniable: sooner or later everybody on Isla will come through Café Cueva sooner or later if you just sit there long enough. Wait and see if they don’t.

But it was time to sing for his sustenance, so he nodded at Congón, actually a very talented pro hand drummer who could have been contender if not such a dissolute alcoholic, and aided by the driving Afro/Caribe beat, launched into an original song that hand caused him to get sacked from every tourist bar he’d ever sung it, but was a favorite at La Cueva. Because one thing about La Cueva, though very international (and if anybody who wanted to examine the coins glued on the big tip jar at the counter would have an extremely hard time coming up with a country that hadn’t chipped in) it was resolutely a local dive. He strummed a little, hitting Congón’s groove, then sang.

All you damn tourists are ruining this place
Raising the prices and jumping the pace
That’s why I’m leaving. Cause I’m no tourist. I’m a traveler.
I’ve been traveling for years
I’ll probably never get there
I’ll probably never go home
Except for money. To keep traveling

I’m staying in a cheaper place than you’ll ever go
I shop in the market, not the places you know
I see that tourist jive as a rip
And I don’t ever tip
Or if I do it’s just some rubles or yen
‘Cause I’m a traveler: not a tourist!
Hey, do I look like I live overseas?

I wear tribal clothing and some kind of robe
From Tibet!
The kind you haven’t seen yet
I wear huaraches and have a didgeridoo
Nothing made in Western factories
Well, just some sweatshirts of Marley and Che
Cause I’m a rebel, man! I’m not a tourist!
Hey, do I look like I own Nikes and T’s?

I’ve seen every ancient ruin that you’ve ever seen
And more!
And I saw them before they got ruined. By tourists
And I never, never ever take no pictures
Well, if I do I use a big Nikon lens
‘Cause I’m an artist! Not a tourist!
Hey, do I look like some damn Japanese?

Hey don’t even talk about schedules and maps
I don’t need any of that tourism crap
I speak the language. I live off the land
I can score!
And I can always get more.
Cause I’m hip. I’m not a tourist. I’m a freakin traveler!
Hey, do I look like I pay retail for ki’s?

This land ain’t your land, all lands are my land
From slums in Europe to a beach in Thailand.
I know the people, man. I’m part of the scene. Which you’ve never seen.
Cause you’re a tourist. And I’m a traveler.
Hey do I look like I pay taxes or fees?
No I’m a traveler. Not a tourist. I’m just a traveler, out traveling, doing travel.
It’s a lonely, lonely planet. When you’re a traveler.

Tags: ,