The Best Worst Trip

As we touched down in Cancun, I started to gather up my personal belongings. Laptop, check. Purse, check. Shades, check. Briefcase, check. Water Bottle, check. Extra plane peanuts, check. I had a lot to carry with me so I decided to consolidate. I shoved everything in my snap-top briefcase bag and put my purse on top so I could easily grab my travel documents. Having been to Mexico twice before, I was cautious with my passport, I zippered it into the interior pocket of my laptop bag.

We got through customs and headed to baggage claim. For the first time in my life, I grabbed one of those trolleys for my suitcases. I was going to be working in Riviera Maya for six weeks and brought a lot of luggage. I was traveling with two other travel directors and they were about to see me cry for the first time but didn’t know it yet.

When we claimed all of our bags we went outside and saw our names on a sign held by our driver. He loaded everything into the van and we were off to the Fairmont Mayakoba, an incredibly beautiful resort nestled in the heart of the Riviera Maya – my new home for the next month and a half.

As the bellman unloaded my bags, I told him to wait as I grabbed my purse to offer him a tip. I looked in my purse but my wallet wasn’t there. So I sifted through my laptop bag thinking I must have shoved it in there but I couldn’t find it. I sent the bellman away telling him I would find him later. As soon as the door slammed shut, I tore the room apart looking for my wallet. I flipped my purse inside out, dumped the contents of my laptop bag, dumped out both suitcases in complete denial that it was gone. All I found was my passport (thank goodness).

All my cash, all my credit cards, gone. Oh yeah, and my social security card, gone. Driver’s License, gone.

When I finally grasped the reality that it was indeed gone, I called my co-workers and asked them to bring their wallets to my villa. I needed the phone numbers on the back of their credit cards. They knocked on the door a few moments later and as soon as they said, “are you okay?” I burst into tears. I was in Mexico for six weeks, living at a hotel, without money, with two co-workers I had only met six hours earlier at the airport and a box of crackers I packed in my suitcase (and my one extra bag of airplane peanuts). How was I going to eat? Drink? Experience Mexico on a budget of zero dollars? For. Six. Weeks.

After I called all my credit card companies and my bank, I started to feel better. American Express would send me an emergency card and everything at the hotel would just go to my room which went to the master bill (and since we were coordinating a bulk of the meals, I would not starve). Not great but it was something.

I tried to make the most of my days, while I wasn’t working, I was at the gym and on the beach. I took my first yoga class, tasted my first ceviche, drank my first corona on the beach and had a relaxing day at the spa, slathered in Mexican chocolate and enjoyed my first massage.

~corona on the beach~

As weeks progressed and as weeks of people came and went I really started enjoying myself. After about four weeks, I decided to reorganize my clothes. I wanted to pack up my dirty clothes and clean out my closet. When I pulled my duffel bag out of the top of my closet to toss it on the bed, I felt a wispy on my hand. Like a long hair that got stuck in my sleeve. When I looked down, there was a tiny spider on my hand. Side note: I am terrified of spiders. I hate them. I hate their legs, all eight of them. They creep me out. Hate, hate, hate them.

But this was a teeny tiny spider, so I flicked it off my hand and stomped on it, cleaned the speck off of the floor with a bunch of toilet paper squares and flushed it down the toilet. I walked back over to my bag and open it up to start throwing my clothes in it. When I looked down at the bag, it was covered with teeny tiny spiders. Somehow, in the four weeks I was there, a spider laid eggs (or whatever spiders do, my knowledge of spiders  is limited to a few viewings of Charlotte’s Web) in my bag or near my bag in the closet.

I tossed everything I owned in that room out onto the patio. Shook everything out, washed all my clothes and called the front desk to switch rooms. I have never ever requested a room change but would never be able to fall asleep knowing that somewhere there were most likely an army of spiders waiting to crawl in my ears and mouth while I was sleeping. I hate spiders.

I packed up the rest of my belongings (secretly hoping to stumble across my wallet – still in denial) and got ready for the bellman to pick me up and drive me on a golf cart to my new room. I gave the room one last check to make sure I had everything and found a large gecko running across my bathroom floor. Without thinking for a second, I grabbed the ice bucket, closed my eyes, and flipped it upside down over the lizard, hoping to not cut off his tail or smush any part of him. When the bellman came to pick me up, he looked at the ice bucket on the floor and cocked his head.

“Yeah, there’s a gecko under there.” And I walked out.

I got to my new room and it was perfect. No spiders, no lizards. The next day, I got ready for my shift and to my surprise, there was another lizard in my new room. Let me just say, I am not normally a complainer. I’m more of the suffer in silence kind of girl. I’ve never sent a meal back, I’ve never asked for compensation for poor service, I’ve never, ever switched hotel rooms.  I didn’t want to cause a problem but I did need someone to get this wild beast (too dramatic?), reptile, out of my room.

I called the front desk to tell them about my little situation. About fifteen minutes later, I heard a knock on the door. I looked through the peep-hole to find a maintenance man holding a long stick and a pillow case. Somewhere, somehow, in my broken Spanish, they heard I had a snake in my room. ¿Donde esta el serpiente?

I pointed him towards the gecko I’d trapped in a glass near my balcony. He looked at me and looked at the glass and said, “ es lucky.” All I said, was I don’t need any luck – which wasn’t exactly the truth – but I’d rather have no luck at all than a lizard in my bedroom.

I went to work and told one of my local co-workers, who was one of our tour operators, about the events that had transpired. He thought it was funny and I knew that one day, yes this would be a story I would laugh about but I wasn’t there yet. He told me I needed to relax and so he offered me a horseback riding tour, a scenic ride out to the beach and then a swim with the horses.

I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my day off. And being that I didn’t have a dime to spend it came at the perfect price. I got to the stables and the guide asked me how much experience I had. I am sort of terrified of horseback riding but for some reason always go when I’m on vacation, I went in Ireland, Disney World, Hawaii and in Traverse City, MI. I told him none. I wanted to dumbest, slowest horse so I could just sit back and enjoy the ride.

I was the last one of our tour group to get saddled up and was placed at the front of the pack, herd, flock…whatever we were. We began and I started chatting with the guide when my horse turned around and snorted at the horse behind me. I didn’t think a whole lot of it until he didn’t it again. I turned around in my saddle and asked the girl on the horse behind me what was going on. She said, “you’re walking too slow so my horse is biting yours.”

Great, I thought, I’m on a horse that walks too slow, is getting bitten on the butt by his brother and has some anger issues, now I’m nervous. The moment I began to ask the guide if we were almost there, I saw the ocean. I thought, perfect, when we get to the ocean, I will dismount and on the return trip I will ride in a different spot. And then it happened. The bite that broke the camel’s back.

My horse took off running, cantering? I grabbed his mane with all my might and crouched down like a jockey. I did not want to fall off. We made it to the beach in no time and all of a sudden we were in the ocean, ankle-deep. Mine, not his. Then we were thigh-deep and I wondered if we were going to swim into open water. I was terrified. How good of swimmers are horses? Will he drown or die of exhaustion first? Will he ever turn around? Should I get off him and jump in and swim on my own? Or will he kick me in his ass-bitten fury?

Somehow, we turned around and ended up back on the beach. The guides came running after me and lead my horse to the beach stable. I get down and am shaking. I was pissed and scared but not injured.

The next part of the tour (from hell) was a swim with the horses. I declined. I sat under the tent and started to unbutton my soaking wet, sandy  jeans (please, this is PG – I was wearing a bathing suit underneath). I felt something tickling my calf so I swatted it when I felt a blinding, burning pain in my leg. I ripped off my jeans as fast as I could, I may or may not have screamed. I flapped out my jeans once off my legs and a giant Mexican bee flew, dizzily out of the left leg of my jeans.

Luckily, one of the other participants was a nurse and she was able to treat me with the first aid kit on-site. She was able to pull out the stinger and assess the situation. Since I am not deathly allergic to bees, she wasn’t too concerned. My calf got really swollen and throbbed for days. But I survived –wishing I had just stayed at the resort.

The next two weeks were uneventful, I worked on my tan at the pool and the beach, spent more time at the spa and drank lots of fruity drinks. (oh and I worked a little bit).

The last day of our meeting had finally come and I was so ready to get home. I got to the airport in plenty of time with my colleague. The airline had had some problems and they had been routinely been cancelling flights. Anyway, my colleague and I were waiting in line and she says, “Let’s go to the agent together and maybe we can get seats together…”

For some reason, I said, “No, you know how weird they can be with security and we didn’t book our tickets together, let’s not.” (I should have stayed with her because she made her connection and got into St Louis that evening).

There was a delay in my original flight to Dallas/ Fort Worth and the ticket agent said I would not make my connection, so they rerouted me through Miami and I should get into St Louis earlier than scheduled. Sounded perfect.

{It’s cute looking back, at this point, I can’t believe I was still optimistic, despite everything that had happened over the past six weeks.}

My co-worker’s agent said she should be able to make it on the original flight, so it was then we were separated. When I got to my gate, the Miami flight was over an hour delayed. I was now leaving later than planned and I missed my connection.

The flight that I missed was the last one of the night.  After about an hour of waiting in line, I was able to speak to an agent and was rerouted through Chicago.  My bags got checked through to Saint Louis and I spent the night in Chicago. I arrived to the hotel at midnight and had to get back to the airport at four in the morning and touched down in Saint Louis at about nine in the morning.

That afternoon I went to the DMV. I stood in another long line and I began to slowly replace the contents of my wallet.

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Categories: mexico, travel | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “The Best Worst Trip

  1. Jamie

    So funny, your dislike of lizards. They are what I miss a lot about being in warm climates. They were so harmless and hid most of the time, so when I did see one, I felt like I had a friend in the room.

    • I just kept thinking of the scene in Parent Trap (with Lindsey Lohan) where the lizard is on the future step-mom’s head and when she opens her mouth to scream, the lizard crawls right in…..and while it would have made a great story, I didn’t want to risk it. 🙂

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