They swarm the beach at sunset, lingering among the waves, buzzing unmistakably about the sand. Like a plague of locusts from a foreign land, we would have done well to have been forewarned. For now, I fear, it’s much too late.
They feed on the blood of ‘cool’, modern empire aspirations in near sight. Tourist dollars their currency, doe-eyed dreamers their every deal. They keep mostly to themselves, quickly preying on these sacred gifts of land and sea as if they’d stumbled upon someone else’s buried treasure; X marks the spot.
They’ve set up shop as the self-appointed arbiters of culture, fashion, food and wonder. As if they’ve forgotten they’re playing house in someone else’s home, grabbing all that isn’t theirs with little mind for neighbors, histories, resources, wild intrepid jungles in their midst.
They’re blindingly beautiful in youth and lucky genes. They paint the seaside postcard in board shorts and teeny bikinis, as if suntanned skin and a practiced arrogance were commodities never out of style. They’re looking, and watching, and ogling, and eyeing, and really, they’re just fighting to be seen. They’re so predictable in similarity, like $8-dollar Barbie dolls in a beach party scene. They don’t notice that in their desperate attempt to sweat hip and embody cool, they’ve become nothing more than an empty dime a dozen – a plain donut at the corner bakery in New York City - you’ve had one you’ve had them all. Like the tasty sugar coating on that ball of extra-fried dough, beauty, in their case, is almost always only skin deep.
Still, in the span of no more than five years’ time, they’ve conquered with sheer numbers, a place that now suffers their heavy toll. Chasing the dream of living paradise, a tropical wonderland to call their own. How can they not see that now, thanks to them, paradise itself has up and gone, leaving an ‘expensive ghetto’ (as I’ve heard it called by locals), in their wake? If you listen closely, you might hear the monkeys in the trees lament their living nightmare - too many dreamers, too asleep to notice they’re living a dying, tired old dream.
Meanwhile, they’re filthying the rivers with their excrement and polluting the earth with their trash, guzzling all the water until only the rich can afford it, to hell with the rest of us. Buying land and selling land and throwing parties and running businesses and staking unwarranted claim to waves, landscapes and cultures they’ve overrun and now call their own. Pilgrims with surfboards and sunglasses, producing their own innocence, parading across coasts they own enough of now to camouflage their presence as inevitable, valuable, even somehow desirable.
Because who’s to tell them any different?
Today I overheard one say to another: ‘go back home to your country where you belong’, splashing water in his opponent’s face to assert ownership over a place he himself has lived only a few months and counting. At first, it’s laughable; ironic, even. And then, it makes me sick.
As I sit on a driftwood log, toes in the sand, as I’ve done for nearly half my life in a place I’d never stomach the audacity to consider my own, I can’t look at one more of their gorgeous little bobble-head bodies, because all I can think about every time I paddle out into that godawful swarm loitering beneath another impossibly beautiful sunset, is what it tastes like to be swimming in their shit, pretending I’m still somehow living the paradise life I, too, once dared to dream.