Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Four years ago it all began... and this is how.

I was planning my wedding from about age 15.  I would buy all sorts of bridal magazines with my best friend, El, and we would sit around looking for inspiration and making fun of the weird hair on the models.  We would nit-pick dresses (“this one’s nice, except for all the lace”... “why would you put a bow THERE?”... “Who in the world actually wears stuff like this”...) and make promises (“If I get all caught up, promise you won’t let me do THAT to my hair/centerpieces/guests/etc...”) and dream perfect, beautiful, wedding day dreams.
My wedding and reception were nothing like I had planned so carefully.  
But they WERE perfect.
Perfect, despite forgetting the marriage license in our glove compartment 2 blocks away (which we needed BEFORE the ceremony could start, and was already about 10 minutes late).  Perfect, despite tromping through a muddy swamp in my brand new white heels to get that PERFECT wedding photo.  (This one):

Perfect, despite having to drive 6 hours to get to the ceremony, then turn around and drive 6 hours back to be on time for the reception, which was actually the next night (for that very reason...).  Perfect, despite needing to cut my shirt off to preserve my hair since I had forgotten to wear a button down. 

Perfect, despite the fact that the cake that was delivered was not the cake I had ordered, and Lise, my sister IL, and my mom had to perform emergency surgery with 1/2 an hour to go so I wouldn’t know.
Yes, perfect.  Because I married the best man possible. (Even though he dropped me).

A long U-Haul drive later, we were settled into our new apartment (the first for both of us) on the other side of the country from everything I knew.  But it was still perfect, because he was still the best man possible.

After such a perfect wedding and such a perfect move with the perfect man, one would expect an absolutely perfect honeymoon.
It was not.
The following is a first-hand account of the entire experience.  I will call it: "A Honeymoon Story" - or "The First Episode of a Longstanding Tradition in Unlucky Travels and How I Came to Appreciate American Soil."  OR, I’ve referred to it as “The Mexico Debacle” on numerous occasions.
** A few special notes.  1) It’s hard to portray this in the written word, but all conversations documented from the time we stepped off the plane in Cancun until the end of the story take place in various stages of broken English and/or Spanish.  And by broken, I mean mangled.  Smashed.  Beyond help.  2) This is really sad because I took about 5 years of Spanish classes - not only in high school, but in college as well.  3) There will come a point when you think I must be making things up to increase interest.  I am not.  4) How can I remember details so accurately when this happened FOUR years ago - including but not limited to actual conversations down to the exact phrasing?  Because I wrote this story once already, right after it happened.  Alas, in reading it over I feel that time and experience may allow me to illustrate the facts EVEN BETTER now.  Plus, the old one is written by both mr and me, and I’m sorry, but I want my own biased version recorded.  Hence the rewrite.  5) Despite what this story seems to imply, both mr and I have spent some time in foreign countries... well, me - not so foreign because it was England and Amsterdam.  But mr spent two years in Germany where they actually speak a different language.  So what occurs in the story below really isn’t due to stupidity, incompetence or naivety.  Well, maybe it is, but nothing like this had ever happened to either of us BEFORE we got married... 6) The fact that mr and I stayed married after this trip is a testament to how deeply we love each other.  OR, it’s just a good thing we were still in that lovey-dovey, everything is roses and honey, NEWLY MARRIED, we-have-to-be-nice-to-each-other phase.  
Without further ado:

A Honeymoon Story or The First Episode of a Longstanding Tradition in Unlucky Travels and How I Came to Appreciate American Soil or The Mexico Debacle
We should have known what we were in for from the very beginning.  The night before we were to leave for our super wonderful perfect honeymoon in the sun and surf of gorgeous Mexican beaches, we still had not located mr’s passport.  We had been searching off and on all week long, only to be met with disappointment.  We resigned ourselves to the horrible fate of staying home - losing out on the relaxation, the warmth, and the pre-paid cabana on the beach.  Late into the night, things took a turn for the better when mr located his passport inside an envelope of old pictures which was stuck in the bottom of a cardboard box which was stuck at the bottom of the closet in our spare room.  We were thrilled.  Elated.  Nothing would stop us from having the most perfect time on our honeymoon now!
We did not sleep in.  It was not like “Home Alone,” with the alarm clocks dying and everyone sleeping late and making a mad rush right off the bat.  We gave ourselves plenty of time to drive the 45 minutes to the airport, find a parking spot, take a shuttle from the super cheap extended stay parking in Guam, check our bags and find our gate.  We woke up.  We got ready.  We smiled and laughed.  We left on time.
Halfway to the airport, we realized that we had both forgotten our passports at home.  
We had NOT given ourselves THAT much time.
Having no other options, mr turned the car around and high tailed it back to our apartment.  We only had an hour and a half to get back, get our passports and get to the airport - which, of course, would not give us that time cushion we had originally planned on with which to park, shuttle, check bags, get through security, locate gates or even breathe.
On the way to the apartment, I called our airline to see if we had any options.  Of course, we didn’t, really.  It was either spend a lot of money to change our tickets and not be guaranteed a connection in Houston or try really hard to make it on time.  So we decided to try really hard to make it on time - and before hanging up the airline representative informed me that another option was to present our birth certificates instead of our passports.  I remember thinking to myself - that would be great information to have and incredibly helpful if ANYONE ever kept a copy of their birth certificate on hand at all times.
(After we grabbed our passports and were back on the highway driving way too fast, I mentioned this to mr, and my scoffs were promptly quieted when he pointed out that our birth certificates were INDEED on hand - in the glove compartment where we left them after using them to get our marriage license a few weeks before.  Ahem.)
Our plane was not scheduled to take off until 8:10, and we arrived at the check-in desk, panting and flustered at 8 sharp.  Although we thought that was plenty of time to make it, the attendants disagreed and would not let us throw our bags on to the conveyor belt and run madly through security, waving our arms and yelling at everyone to get out of the way because we were going on our honeymoon NO MATTER WHAT.  Those scenes in the movies?  They couldn’t really happen in real life.
The attendants DID do their best to help us out, though.  They were pretty much some of the nicest people we met on the whole trip.  They checked all kinds of flights into all kinds of cities, trying desperately to get us to Houston in time to make a connection.  In the end, though, it just wasn’t meant to be.  The best they could do was get us to Houston, put us on stand-by for a full flight to cancun that night and reserve seats on a flight to Cancun for the next morning.
Needless to say, we spent the first night of our honeymoon, not basking in the glowing Mexican moonlight on a romantic, secluded beach, but in a stinky hotel room in Houston.  
At this point in the story, we had 1) realized that I’d lost mr’s cell phone on one of our shuttle trips to or from the airport, 2) run back and forth between two gates about a mile apart THREE times because the airport in Houston couldn’t decide which was going to Cancun, 3) been promised two seats on a booked solid flight only to lose them, 4) charged international phone calls to an expensive hotel phone (because, remember, no cell phone!) trying to let our little hacienda know we were going to be late and 5) cried.  No, no, that was just me.  mr didn’t cry.  Not yet.
After an uneventful night in Houston, we finally made it to Cancun, a day late and a dollar short.  And NOW nothing would stop us from having the most perfect time on our honeymoon!
We took the shuttle over to Thrifty car rental without incident, but once there were informed that we can’t rent a car in Mexico without insurance and that we will need to put a hold on our credit card for $4000.  Well, we didn’t have a credit card at the time, and certainly not a $4000 limit.  We had a debit card.  And certainly not 4000 dollars to hold on it.  If we had been staying in Cancun at an all-inclusive resort we wouldn’t have needed a car.  But we weren’t.  We were staying in a little village called Tulum in a little cabana on the beach.  And just for the record, Tulum is about an hour and a half south of Cancun.  A little too far to hike.

We ran into an American couple who gave us the tip that we should take a bus, and it would only run us $60.  We could handle that.  Who needs a car in Mexico anyway?  But when we got back to the airport, we were flagged down by a friendly Mexican guy before we could find a bus.  He offered us a deal on a rental car.  It seemed a little shifty so we told him we’d just take a shuttle.  
But he wanted to make a deal, BAD.  “How about $300?” He said.  “No,” I responded, “Because we don’t have any money for insurance.”  “Is included!”  He said. Then I told him we didn’t have $300 to spend on a car.  He thought we were playing hard to get, but I was just being honest.  It’s easy to bargain with people when you really don’t have any money, I guess.  
“Ok. $250?” He asked.  “Insurance too?”  I asked, in disbelief.  He assured us again that it was included.  mr asked if there’d be a hold on our debit card.  “No, no,” The man explained, “I don’t want your card, I only take cash.  No hold.”  It was either too good to be true, or too good to be legal.  We weren’t sure which, but we WERE pretty desperate.  Plus, both of us have a hard time saying no.
All we had were traveler’s checks and the debit card.  We had to get to an ATM so we could pay in cash.  The Mexican guy, who told us his name is Nacho (not kidding), took us into the airport and introduced us to his brother, Jaime - who speaks MUCH less English.  He showed us to the ATM, which we couldn’t get to work.  No matter what we tried, it kept telling us we had no money.
Every time things started to go right, something else came up.
Now we had no car and no cash.  We couldn’t figure out why our card wasn’t working and we needed to call our bank.  But oh yeah, we had no phone.
Jaime was nice enough to lend us his phone to make the expensive international calls.  (These brothers are either very nice or very desperate for some renters...)
The next 20 minutes were a blur of phone calls, panicked conversations, worried looks and sinking feelings in the pits of stomachs.  When mr finally got off the phone, we had news.  Through miscalculations, forgetfulness and a little carelessness we had inadvertently left the country with no money in our bank accounts.  None.  The bank would let us apply for more credit, but we wouldn’t hear back until the next day as to whether we were approved or not.
So, here we stood with Jaime - no phone, no way to the cabana and only $60 in cash and $150 in traveler’s checks - and our situation was starting to look a little dire.  As I turned to Jaime to explain the predicament, I was mentally preparing myself to spend 10 days in the airport subsisting on ketchup and saltines, a la Tom Hanks in “The Terminal.”  I sadly filled Jaime in and let him know he needed to find other customers - preferably some that would pay him.
And this was what he said: “Hey, no problem.  You can fill out the paperwork, take the car today and pay me tomorrow.”  When mr points out that we weren’t staying in Cancun,  Jaime said again, “No problem.  You take the car and I will come pick the money up in Tulum tomorrow.”  Again, it seemed too good to be true.  And at the same time, completely irresponsible.  Why would we make a deal with a complete stranger in a foreign country that is known for some shady stuff when we didn’t even know if we could, in actuality, uphold our end of the bargain in the end?  Are you holding your breath for us now?  Because you should be.
So we did it.  Jaime took us to the shop, gave us an old beater of a car, we signed our money away (money we didn’t even have) and we took our luggage, our maps and our English to Spanish dictionary and drove away.
This would not be the last crazy thing we did on our trip.
We did find our little hotel with no problems.  If you could call it a hotel.  mr made all of our honeymoon arrangements and thought it would be much more romantic to stay in a little cabana on the beach, off the beaten path, secluded and tucked away, than in a large, overpopulated resort.  And under normal circumstances he would be right - that would be more romantic.  But these were not normal circumstances.  These were completely stressful, Murphy’s Law kind of circumstances.  

Once we located the front entrance and checked in, we were directed to our small, one room hut.  There was no air conditioning and no hot water.  Actually, with no air conditioning the no hot water was kind of a blessing.  But there was no cold water either.  Just this tepid, sun-warmed water, even in the jug they left us to drink from.  There was also no electricity except for a few hours in the evening because the whole cluster of cabanas ran on one small generator.  Which meant we only enjoyed the delicious relief of the ceiling fan for two hours every night.  The door was locked with a padlock from the outside and the windows didn’t lock at all and above all, we shared this cabana with a gigantic, hairy spider which we nicknamed Jorge.  Oh, and a large lizard named Bob that I really wanted to eat the spider.  
All of the above I could have tolerated in the name of romance.  But the next morning we discovered that this “hotel” had no phone.  Not even for emergencies.   We were told to go around the corner and buy a phone card from a small shop - but not just any phone card.  A “Telmex,” because apparently they were cheaper and better than normal ones.  When we got to the shop, I asked for the specific card, but she had none - she only sold normal ones.  I bought it anyway and tried it right away on the pay phone just outside.  No luck.  Just some Spanish much too fast for me to understand.  We drove to a different phone and tried again.  No luck.  At this point, I tried to ask the operator if she could connect me to the United States – “Uh, necesitamos llamar los estados unidos…” – but this was a mistake because she then thought I was fluent in Spanish, despite my ridiculously lousy accent.  Since I couldn’t understand a word of her reply, I hung up hastily, fearing I may have just told her I needed to wrestle the wet cat or something equally ridiculous, or worse yet, ALARMING.  So we drove back to the hotel and begged for help.  The guys there told me to go into the village and try.  “These phones on the beach, they are no good,” They explained.  mr thought this was absolutely ridiculous.  As if the phones in town would magically work when nothing else would.  There was nothing else for it, though.  We had to go try.
We searched and searched for a regular pay phone, but all they had in town were Telmex phones.  Wishing I had waited and purchased a Telmex phone card somewhere else, I finally decided to try the normal card on the Telmex phone because I was desperate and it was hot.  And, miraculously (or not miraculously, to this day I don’t know what the difference in the cards or phones are) it worked.
mr called the bank back and we stood in the sun on the corner hoping for good news.  When mr hung up, I could tell there was no good news.  We were approved for an extended credit line, but due to the aforementioned miscalculations and carelessness, it was completely used up with our debt already.
We sat on a small step watching tourists walk in and out of shops, counting shabby cars drive by, sweating in the oppressive humidity.  We sat in silence, each of us at a loss as to what to do.  I had visions of being hauled away by a corrupt police department and rotting in a rat infested jail cell while we tried unsuccessfully to contact the American Embassy and our parents held press conferences to convince the Mexican government to free us.  We sat a bit longer, our mouths watering at the smell of Mexican food drifting our way from vendors and open air restaurants.  We sat, sad and drained and hopeless.  My visions changed to Jaime hiring the Mexican mafia to break our kneecaps or deposit us at the bottom of the ocean where we would likely become fish food.  I knew mr was thinking the same thing when he sighed and resigned himself to calling his parents for help.
I’m not sure if his parents knew the extent of the situation at that point.  I know it’s a good thing mine did not.  But they informed us that they intended to give us a monetary wedding present anyway, so they would deposit it in our account as soon as we hung up.
Feeling ashamed, yet relieved that we would have enough money to pay our debtors and do things like eat, we called Jaime to let him know we had the rest of the payment for the car.
What followed were some incredible days with very few incidents.  Of course, by this point things that would have seemed insurmountable were, by comparison, laughable.  
At one point, mr left the car lights on all day while parked in 
the hotel parking lot, and when the staff finally told us, we were sure we’d have car trouble the next day - but amazingly we didn’t.  We visited two Mayan ruins (in Tulum and Coba) and both times it poured on us... and when I say “poured” what I really mean is that the skies cracked open and let loose a torrential onslaught of never-ending water which soaked us through to the bone, creating rivers down the pathways and waterfalls down the stairs and ruining everything in our backpack, including a novel mr had borrowed from his mom.  There was no possible way to get wetter than we were in that tropical oceanic storm - unless perhaps we had jumped into the ocean with our clothes on.  While at the Tulum ruins, my purse was stolen out of our car.  You’d think this would be the low point of the entire trip, but fortunately I had been wise enough not to keep anything of value in it at all.  I had simply been using it to tote around our lunch of soggy peanut butter sandwiches.  There was no visible sign of forced entry to the car, and the thieves were nice enough to politely lock the doors after themselves.  Also at Tulum, mr got horrible sunburn - the worst part of that being that we couldn’t locate an aloe anywhere - and our camera batteries died which was depressing because of course we hadn’t thought to bring extra from home.  I bought a disposable camera for the rest of the trip. (on a side note: this disposable camera was a blessing in disguise, for when we got home I proceeded to accidentally erase all pictures of our trip from the memory card without backing them up in any way.  Thus, the only evidence we have that any of this actually happened are the 24 photos I snapped with that cheap disposable.  That and the memories seared into our brains.  Now you know what all these pictures are so horrible).  None of these small annoyances phased us, though, for we had already survived much worse!  Now nothing would stop us from having the most perfect time on the rest of our honeymoon!

On our last full day in Mexico, mr decided that it was time to throw caution to the wind.  We’d had a lot of stress, and he wanted one full day of fun with no worries.  We settled on a trip to Xel-Ha, an eco-park not too far from our hotel with beautiful nature walks, coves for snorkeling, scuba diving by the carnivorous fish, caves, cenotes, cliffs to jump off, a river to float down, hammocks, massage parlors, swimming with the dolphins and fantastic restaurants.  

We couldn’t do everything, so we picked some things that looked exciting and spent the day floating in inner tubes, jumping off cliffs, walking around all the beautiful cenotes, 

swinging from ropes into water, 

watching lizards and scary birds (I have a bird phobia) 

feeding carnivorous fish,

and snorkeling into a partially underwater cave – very cool.  

(contrary to what this picture tells you, we SNORKELED in there, not scuba'd.  I tried to fix it.)

mr suggested the tattoo parlor, but I shot it down.
At the end of the day, we got dressed and headed back to our car.  Once there, mr asked me if I had the car keys.  In my sweetest, calmest voice I asked him why in the world I would have the car keys when he had been the one driving all week long and it had been him who’d locked the car up in the first place.  
We searched our pockets.  We emptied our backpack.  We backtracked and looked in the locker room - positive that we would find them in a locker or sitting lazily on a bench, mocking us.  No such luck.  We went back to the car and looked inside.  Of course they weren’t there - you had to lock the car from the outside, so we knew we’d had them upon entering the park.  mr is verbally retracing his steps... “I got out, I locked the car.  I put the keys in my pocket.  We went into the park and I forgot all about them...” when I noticed that mr was still wearing his swimming trunks.  With wide eyes I politely pointed this out, then asked in an even calmer, sweeter voice than before if he’d been wearing his swimming trunks into the park from the car.  He replied that of course he had... and that was when we realized the biggest mistake we had made so far.
He’d put the keys in his pocket.  In his swimming trunks.  Then he had gone snorkeling, swimming, tubing and even jumped off a cliff.  There was only one place those keys could be.
I would like to take this moment to recap.  We are in Mexico.  We are short on cash.  We have almost unwittingly fallen prey to a mobster running a car rental shop as a cover, but pay him just in time.  We’ve been rained on, sunburned, stolen from, and completely stressed out.  Now we have lost the keys TO OUR RENTAL CAR, most likely at the bottom of the ocean.  We are again about to fall prey to a mobster who runs a car rental shop as a cover - and we will most likely end up on the ocean floor along with our keys. 
I refused to panic…
We ran around the park, stopping at every information desk and bar along the way asking if anyone had turned in a set of lost keys.  Unfortunately, in all my years of Spanish, we never really covered a situation quite like this, and I was kind of at a loss as to what to say... “Um, uh, we, er, nosotros perdimos our... keys... de la coche...”  We received a lot of blank stares and a lot of shaking heads.
With increasing temor y la desesperaci√≥n, we said many silent prayers while we made our way to the main help desk to begin our pleas yet again.  Amazingly, there was a guy working there who was fluent in both English and Spanish, since he had lived in Kansas with his father for 7 years.  His name was Angel.  No, I’m not kidding.  
He understood our situation perfectly and told us not to worry so much.  “Every car rental place keeps duplicate keys!”  He exclaimed with a smile.  We gave him the name of the rental company (Veloz) and he called the operator, speaking rapidly in a Spanish I couldn’t begin to understand.  He finally handed me the phone, looking pleased and told me to speak with the owner of the company.  The man I tried to talk to (but failed miserably) was the owner of Veloz in Playa del Carmen, not Cancun.  Apparently there is no Veloz in Cancun.
This was the exact moment that mr and I remembered that the name of the company on the car and the name of the company on the paperwork we filled out did not match.  It seemed fishy at the time, but we were so happy to get a car we ignored it.  Jaime was now starting to look more and more like a member of the Mexican mafia.  For all we knew, he’d stolen the car in the first place and his shop wasn’t really a rental shop and we had been carting around illegal substances hidden under a false floor in the trunk.  We could now smell the rotting jail cell and feel the rats climbing over us as we whither away through the years... has anyone seen “Brokedown Palace” with Claire Danes?  Yeah.
We did have all of the information for the rental car company on our duplicate paperwork.  In the glove box.  INSIDE the car.
We had no way to find Jaime.  And we didn’t really know if we wanted to find him at this point.  Maybe it would be better to walk to the airport and sleep there...  We don’t even know his last name.
Angel assured us that he would help us.  “I know a guy,” he told us. Whatever THAT means.  And we stood there nervously, while Angel had a friend track Jaime down using the scant information we had: Jaime, Veloz, Cancun... and watched a miracle happen.  This friend not only found the rental company, he found Jaime’s CELL PHONE number.
mr got to tell Jaime we’d lost the keys.
“To the car?” Jaime asked in disbelief.  mr replied in the affirmative.  “Ay, ay, ay!” Jaime exclaimed. “Where?”  “We don’t know.” mr stated the obvious.  “Maybe in the water?” Jaime concluded.  “Yes, probably.” mr hung his head.  “Ay, ay, ay!”  Jaime exclaimed again.
He told us he would drive to the office and get the duplicate and that we should call him back in forty minutes.  By this time the park was closed and everyone was gone.  The employees were starting to leave.  Angel took us to watch the soccer tournament that all the Xel-Ha employees were having in the back parking lot.  After rooting for both teams (so as not to hurt feelings) and feeling severely out of place for forty minutes, Angel made the phone call for us.  

“Bad news.” Jaime told us. “There’s no copy.  But I know a guy.” (I guess everyone in Mexico knows “a guy.”  I wonder if it is the same “guy”...) “I will come get you and give you a different car.  We can go back to the park and make a copy tomorrow.”  As already mentioned, we were seriously low on cash.  mr asked how much it would cost and Jaime assured us he would only charge us the cost of the key.
We waited and waited.  The soccer game ended.  Before he left, Angel explained our situation to the security guards who were there around the clock so they wouldn’t think we were sneaky thieves or anything and so they could help us if we needed it.  We waited and waited some more.  At 8:30 pm the guards called Jaime to see where he was.  He said he had a little car trouble but would be there soon. 
We waited longer.  About twenty minutes later he called back.  “Bad news.” He started.  I was seriously beginning to dread those words. 
“My tire… it exploded!”  
Fortunately he was already at the front gate.  The guards ran out to let him in.  Unfortunately, he had no wrench.  Fortunately, a park administrator who was working late DID have a wrench.  Unfortunately, his spare tire didn’t fit because it was actually to a different car.  FORTUNATELY, he was nothing if not resourceful.  He ended up taking the tire off of our rental car and putting it on his car.  
He hadn’t been able to find anyone to drive an extra car out to us, so instead, he drove us to our hotel and promised to be back in the morning to pick us up, take us to Xel-Ha to have the key made and then get us to the airport by 3:00 pm.  As he left us at the hotel, we got the really bad news.
All rental cars in the area were fitted with a microchip in their key and fob so they couldn’t be stolen easily.  The key will cost about $300 to replace.
This was precisely the amount of money we had left - $300 and some change.  We spent a restless night trying to sleep, hoping that we’d be able to leave the country without needing knee replacements or doing time.   Finding no other comfort, we finally knelt together and offered a simple prayer.  “Please help us to be able to pay.  Please help us to get home.”
We stood on the curb the next morning waiting with bated breath and twisted stomachs.  Twisted firstly because we were stressed and nervous.  Twisted also because we couldn’t afford to eat until we knew how much the key and fob would cost.
And then we did more waiting.  Although Jaime had promised he would collect us at 11:30 sharp, Nacho didn’t show up until 1:00.  When we got to Xel-Ha, Nacho met with the locksmith and then handed us his keys.  He told us we’d better hurry and meet his brother at the shop because it was already 1:40.
I was sure this couldn’t be possible, until I looked at a clock and compared it to my watch and realized that it had actually been 40 minutes slow the entire time we’d been there.
We jumped in Nacho’s car and drove, praying the whole time.  Please let us be able to afford the key, please let us get out of here alive, please let us make our flight on time... all we wanted at that point was to get home.  It didn’t seem like too much to ask.  
I was sick with worry, almost to the point of tears.  mr was fighting the worst traffic.  We were both silent in our fears, when the fuel light came on.
It would really be something if I told you that we ran out of gas there on the highway.  That we had to walk 15 miles to the nearest gas station.  That we then had to hike 15 miles back and put gas in the car, and on the way WE MET A GIGANTIC PURPLE DRAGON SPOUTING FIRE WHO FED ONLY ON AMERICAN HONEYMOONERS WITH NO MONEY AND EVEN LESS HOPE.... but no, that didn’t happen.  
We searched out a gas station and made it to the shop at 2:55, 5 minutes before we needed to be at the airport to make it through security.  
Jaime explained then that although the key itself cost only $300, the fob cost $150, bringing the total to $450.  My heart sank.  Do prayers really work?  I began to question in my head.  What would we do?  How could we outrun the mob when the airport was still at least 5 miles away and we had no car?
I explained to Jaime that we had only $300.  Finite, en total-ay, that’s it.  He must have thought I was trying to swindle him or bargain him down, because he kept saying that it wasn’t enough.  Finally I took out the money and handed it to him, showing him my now empty wallet.  “We don’t have anymore money now.  But we could wire you more money when we get home.  Can we do that?”  I begged.  “Like Western Union?” He asked.  “Yes, exactly!”  I was relieved that he at least understood me.  “Sure!” He smiled, “No problem!”
Really?  That worked?  Maybe he wasn’t part of the mafia after all...
Things happened in a blur at this point.  mr pointed out we had a plane to catch and Jaime dropped everything and took us to the airport.  On the way he asked if we’d had fun and told us to come again soon and he’d get us the “friend’s discount” because he knew a guy... hmmmm, it still seemed shady.  But he was awfully nice after everything we put him through.  Of course, if he actually thought we’d be back again anytime soon after all of that, he was sorely mistaken.
When we got to the airport we realized that we had more time than we thought.  We even had enough time (and change) to buy ourselves some food, since we hadn’t eaten since lunch the day before.
All through the flight back into the US, I kept having nightmarish day dreams where some Mexican thug suddenly stood up at the front of the plane demanding we pay repercussions for our carelessness.  Then I had nightmarish day dreams of landing, only to be stopped by customs for trying to smuggle something into the country that had been slipped into our bags unbeknownst to us while we were occupied paying for the key.  THEN I had nightmarish day dreams about being pulled back into Mexico and sent to prison and rotting there with rats running over our pale, American bodies...
But none of that happened.  The flight landed.  We got off.  We made it to our connection.  We landed again.  We found our bags.  We got to our car.  We drove 45 minutes to our apartment.  
I had never been so glad to be home in my life.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so glad since then, either.

But you know what?  It's a good thing I married the best man possible.  Because we survived it all, together.  And we both learned some valuable lessons.  Don’t rent a car in Mexico (if for no other reason than that they drive like lunatics there and you are taking your life into your hands... I mean they don’t even pay attention to designated lanes...).  Don’t loose your keys at the bottom of the ocean.  Keep better track of your finances, especially if you’re planning an out of country trip.  Try to stay somewhere with a phone - just for emergencies, you know.  Pay better attention in Spanish class.  But the three most important things I learned on my honeymoon were:

1. Prayers really are answered.  No, God did not suddenly make the key less expensive.  But he did touch the heart of Jaime with understanding and compassion which allowed us to make it home in one piece.  And just for the record, we really did wire Jaime the money, and he was very excited to hear from us.
2. mr and I can make it through anything.  Our honeymoon was hard.  Was it the worst trial we will ever go through?  I’d like to say yes, but I know that’s probably not true.  If we stay patient with each other - as we did on this trip - and if we trust in the Lord, we really can survive through hardships, together.
3. It’s important to overlook mistakes - even if they are big ones.  I have to remind myself of this over and over again.  I make mistakes... he makes mistakes.  Are any of those mistakes even comparable to losing rental car keys in the sea?  I don’t know, that was a pretty big one.  But I didn’t place blame at the time because I knew it was an accident.  Like I said, we were in the newly-married, lovey-dovey phase.  I think we should try for that “newly-married, more forgiving and accommodating” feeling more often.

So, here’s to the last four years!  It started out with our less than perfect honeymoon... but that's ok, because it could only get better from there.  And it has.  After that kind of beginning, NOTHING could stop us from having the most perfect rest of our lives!



Unknown said...

Oh my. It was a good thing it was your honeymoon and you were so happy to be together, because this surely is HELL, and I don't just throw that word around.


Jillian said...

Oh my heck...I can't believe all of that stuff! That is so crazy and scary! Glad to hear you made it back home with your knees still intact! Your honeymoon trip should be made into a movie. It's WAY better than the crap they seem to be putting out nowadays!

Jillian said...

Oh, and I'm not a total stalker/creeper. This post came up as a "You Might Also Like..." under a more recent post. Lol!

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