Euro white trash beats US white trash any day of the week. When the former group holidays, they go to Tropical Islands on the German/Polish border--an indoor holiday resort subsidized by the European Union so poor people can afford to get out of town. This is a tale about 24 hours in this sultry land.
The European Union has dumped the guts of 50 million Euro into the construction of this sultry holiday simulation for the work-shy. The Tropical Islands complex is situated inside the largest freestanding hall in the world.
It rises out of the earth like a giant silver weight-loss pill. The area it’s built on was once a training ground for Nazi pilots to run dummy bombing missions of London. People can fuck, puke, and pass out on lovely beaches made of imported sand.
Apart from the slides, balloon rides, ice cream bars, and dance floors, Tropical Islands is home to the largest indoor rain forest in the world. Ingas, Annaltos, and Macarangas as tall as 15 meters shoot bravely up towards the diluted light slipping through clear sections of the shell.
The bars in Tropical Islands stay open 24 hours, and in the evening everyone congregates on top of one another down at the beach. It’s not the kind of place you’d want to let your teenage daughter out of sight for as much as a second. Fights break out in the water, afternoon drunks collapse into castles on the beach, and the howls and moans coming from the mangrove trees are not being made by monkeys.
The Islands work upon an ethically dubious system of wristband currency. While inside you don’t actually pay for anything, you just flick a wristband over a detector and clear the bill on your exit. Checking out of Tropical Islands and running through your itemized bill is like going to confession where the priest can read your mind.
The balmy climes are controlled by a series of chambers, pipes, and gauges that maintain an average temperature of 26 degrees that sometimes reaches all the way up to 40 degrees Celsius.
The brains of Tropical Islands are based in a high-tech room called the F-Matz. From this room, highly trained technicians observe and monitor the shell from a series of cameras and security posts. That said, they wouldn’t let us in the room, so all we can assume is the highly-trained technicians are no more than avid masturbators with lenses trained on camel toes and cleavage.
This is Frank. He and and Yvonne are visiting Tropical Islands on a come-down from a five-day techno festival. They only came because it was cheaper than a flight to Turkey and they don’t know how long they’ll stay. Maybe until the money runs out. Frank didn’t smuggle any booze through with him, but he did take in a half sheet of acid. He's fucked on a couple of rolling stones.
Steffi works night shifts cleaning the beachfront. “We find all kinds of things on the beaches. People shit in the water and they shit in the plants,” she whispers looking all around like the giant grey shell above her were listening. And it probably is.
It used to be free to sleep on the fake beach. Now every night you’re in the building at all costs ten bucks. That’s probably because of couples like Frank and Yvonne who, if given the option and enough LSD, might just stay for a month. It’s been known to happen. There’s a rumor going 'round the building that a homeless man once spent five months inside Tropical Islands. He survived on people’s leftovers and avoided detection by switching clothes, shaving with a peacock claw and laying low, curled up in a giant banana tree leaf most of the day.
We ran into a bunch of ladies in a bachelorette party from Krakow who, including the bride-to-be in the veil bejewelled with mini-penises, all claimed to be married. German body builders and a group of waylaid Dubai businessmen in tartan Speedos who go around telling everyone the same joke were harassing these girls nonstop.
Q: “Why is the sky so high?”
A: “So the skyscrapers don’t touch it.”
The funniest part of the joke is the Speedos.
Two 15-year-olds in bikinis wrestle on the beachfront. Then they give each other a rub-down to clean off the sand. And then they hose each other off in the showers. All male eyes stare at them like they’re a paid attraction and everyone in Speedos makes a run for the water.
Yet the right people who go to Tropical Islands really enjoy themselves. We meet a family at the exit. Daddy’s got "BITCH" tattooed across his belly. Mummy’s got a green dragon on her tit. And the apple of their eye is covered in Batman transfers. Last night Daddy fell asleep on a bar stool and had to be carried out by security, while Junior was still up playing alone in the water at 3 AM when we were crashing. “Will you come back again?” we ask. “Almost definitely,” they say.
Going abroad just doesn’t suit some people. Foreign food, mosquitoes, working your tongue around a new language – it can be a nasty, unforgiving business. Some people want to holiday and know that sitting in the next deck chair over is a like-minded character who won’t look down on you for taking a shit in a plant and will appreciate the sexiness of your teenage daughter.
It was for people like this that Tropical Islands was conceived, and they did a good job meeting their requirements. So what if the women wear heels on the beach and the men take dips in their y-fronts? And, so what if European taxes are being spent to promote a rainforest whose primary function is to shield young copulaters? Tropical Islands is as important to the disenfranchised as free health care and paternity testing. "Go Broaden Your Mind Elsewhere," should read a banner across the entrance.CONOR CREIGHTON
(Photos by Steve Ryan)