I’m back! Five days in Mexico (without The Binder! Egad!) seemed to fly by. Our trip was a study in contrasts: four fun, adventure filled days, followed by a final day that can only be described as a comedy of errors. But we made it home! In one piece! And we didn’t get swallowed up by a tropical storm.
Julia and I stayed in Tulum, in a beautiful home that featured an entire wall of sliding glass doors leading out onto a massive ocean-front balcony terrace. Our friends were married in a lovely ceremony on the beach. We spent a day visiting the ruins of the ancient Mayan city of Coba. We swam in the cold, crystal clear water of an underground cenote, where I worked up the courage to jump into the pool from the top of the cave some 30 feet above. We took an evening stroll on the beach under the light of a full moon, where we watched a massive sea turtle bury her eggs and return to the ocean. We ate all of the tacos.
The first four days of our trip, in other words, were a delight. Then the night before we left, the weather changed. Tropical Storm Franklin (now Hurricane Franklin) slammed into the Yucatan peninsula. I had visions of the wall of glass doors smashing through into our bedroom as gusts of wind and rain rattled the house and our thatched roof leaked and dropped straw. Suffice to say, we didn’t sleep much.
On Tuesday morning, we dodged puddles on the floor as we packed our bags. Luis, the property manager, told us the airport in Cancun was closed. I told him we were gonna head up there anyway and just hope it opened. Julia and I climbed into a taxi and made it about 100 yards closer to the bus station before the car was sideswiped by a van. The cabbie pulled a fast and furious u-turn, buckled up his seat belt (Julia said this was the most ominous part of the affair) and took off after the hit and run van in the opposite direction of the bus station. I told him that, while I understood he needed to catch the dirty rat who hit his car, my wife and I had a bus to catch. All these conversations, mind you, were happening in Spanish – I learned lots of new words this week.
Julia and I made it to the bus station in the nick of time. As we began to load up for the two hour bus ride to the Cancun airport, though, we were told that our open ended ticket had to be redeemed at the ticket counter before we could board. Now the bus was scheduled to depart in five minutes, and the line at the ticket counter was about 30 deep. I made my way to the end, resigned simply to take a $100 taxi to the airport if we missed the only bus leaving Tulum that morning.
By some miracle, a new line opened at the last minute for folks taking the airport bus. I hopped to the front (classic American move, I know) and was able to redeem our tickets before the bus left the station. We finally climbed into the bus, gracious at least to have air conditioning for the next two hours.
Our adventure, however, was just beginning. Airport Security at Cancun was not about to let us board with cooler packs, despite the fact that the packs were to keep Julia’s breast milk cold. “Necesitamos ver la leche,” we were told. “We need to see the milk.” Julia and I trudged back to the airport lobby where she very publicly and unceremoniously had to pump a few ounces of milk. Milk in hand, we made our way through security again, grabbing the milk and the cooler packs as quickly as possible once we were through and hightailing it to the gate.
After a thankfully uneventful flight, we landed in Atlanta, where we had a two hour layover. Plenty of time to clear immigration, right? Not necessarily. The line was hundreds of passengers deep, with no clear system or expectations of where to go when. With less than an hour left to make our flight, we still had at least 200 folks in front of us. Then, for the second time that day, a new line miraculously opened right in front of us. Julia and I were able to walk right up to an agent and through into “America” after answering two simple questions.
We picked up our checked bag and passed through security for a third time that day. The line was slow going, but we made it through just in time to pick up a gelato before boarding the last leg of our journey home. As if to balance out all our bad luck from the day, my bag was the very first one off the conveyor belt at RDU. We called a car and were safe at home 15 minutes later. We snuck into our son’s room and did that creepy parent thing where you just silently watch your child sleep for a while. Then we crawled into bed and fell asleep faster than I have in months.
Our trip home was crazy, but even now I can see it as an adventure to remember. I smiled more than grimaced in typing the story; I also thought back on all of the amazing parts of our trip and how they helped recharge my batteries and prepare my wife and me to come back to work firing on all cylinders. I’m attaching some pictures below of our travels. Hope you enjoy!
The view from the terrace. Pre-Tropical Storm.
Julia at the tallest Mayan pyramid in Yucatan.
I took the risk. Swimming at Cenote (sinkhole) Tamcach-Ha.