Upon completion of the City of Dallas Water Utilities project, practically the entire team booked their vacations to the Carribean island of Cozumel just off the northeastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, much to the dismay of our Managing Partner, James Wilburn. We didn’t all travel together as we alternated groups in and out over a 2 to 3 week period, but we were all there together at one particular time. We were able to book the whole second floor of the “Hotel Lopez” on the old town square San Miguel de Cozumel.
All the rooms were off of the balconied patio looking out over the square. Our coolers were full of ice and assorted Mexican beers at all times while the ladies of our tribe preferred wine. A local guy that worked at the hotel would roll out a mat and sleep on the porch after we all had retired for the evening. The rooms were cheap, but they had toilets, showers, beds and air conditioners, so they sufficed, especially since we didn’t spend any more time in the rooms than we absolutely had to.
I had been to the Yucatan 3 years prior and remember seeing the island from the mainland when Nikki and I [ref]Our divorce was final in March[/ref] where riding the tour bus down the coast visiting Playa del Carmen, XelHa and Tulum, all part of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. Cozumel is a diver’s paradise while Cancun is geared more towards sun worshipers.
Bill and Danny, were “pushing their diving tables” by staying down too deep for too long, hence becoming “narced out” early nearly every night. Of the five females in our group, two were avid divers while the others mostly ate, drank and sunned. Ed’s diving was more conservative and I, having gone through a local certification process, only went down a couple of times to no deeper than 15 to 20 feet. I witnessed a young beginning diver go into the “bends” in the lagoon I was in and had to be rushed to the local decompression chamber. He appeared to be unconscious and was white as candle wax when his diving companions pulled him from the water. They laid him on a chaise lounge, covered him with beach towels and propped his feet up until an ambulance arrived. That more or less quelled my diving ambitions for a while.
One night, we all visited “Carlos n’ Charlie’s” , where we were entertained by a local guy who had trained his beautiful Macaw or Parrot or some-such bird to do all kinds of strange things like sing, dance, mimic humans, play dead, etc… We were all at a table clear across the concrete floor of the establishment about to fall asleep from a full day of activities. At one point, I got up to excuse myself at “los banos”. As I was walking towards the rear of the place, this bird attacked my lower leg, much to the amusement of the patron’s in the place. It was kind of funny, at least for a couple of minutes until this bird relentlessly continued pecking away at my ankle and finally began to draw blood. That was it, I was tired and had enough of it, so I ended up kicking the bird several feet across the floor. The laughter seemed to have died down a little after that. I ended up limping out of the establishment, baggy shorts, sandals and all, leaving a small trail of red droplets as breadcrumbs. Fortunately, I don’t believe that I contracted any exotic diseases from the creature, or at least the bugs were kept at bay by the enormous quantities of Mexican beer and Tequila in my immune system.
We rented a jeep to carouse around in, and Danny did most of the driving. We were driving back into town one day, coming back from the south end of the island, when Danny’s attention (ours as well) was diverted by a horse-drawn carriage full of babes going the opposite direction. Bill, in the passenger’s seat, was the only one keeping an eye on the road as he yelled “look out!”, but it was too late as we bounced into the curbstone around one of the concrete obelisks in the middle of the road taking a huge chunk out of it. The jeep was okay and we avoided any major accident, however, the damage to that median is probably still there to this day. The next night after a tropical deluge, we were driving through the town streets en route to the grocery. We were heading down one street that appeared to be a big puddle almost a block long. Ed was standing up against the roll bar with his hands up in the air as Danny hit the gas to plow through the “puddle”. It turned out not to be a puddle but a 3 foot deep “lake” that caused the jeep to stall in a sheet of muddy water about half-way through it. We had to wade to the side of the road, then get somebody to jump our vehicle in the middle of this downtown lake called a street. Ed looked like he had been mud wrestling, but the rest of us were mostly just muddied from the waist down.
Another late night, my room was strangely quiet. One of my roommates, Danny, was passed out on the john in the bathroom with his head propped up on the toilet paper holder. He had the door locked, so I stood on a chair and looked down on him through the little window above the door. I was concerned that he was dead until I heard him let one rip. He woke himself up with that.
Ed, Bill, Danny and myself went to a local Mexican restaurant one night. When we would all go to lunch back in Dallas, like Tolbert’s Chili Parlor for example, macho Danny (he’s Hispanic) from Marfa, Texas, would grab-up everyone’s serano chilis and devour them gloatingly. Well he pulled that on us at this Mexican place as we were all learning of the local pepper called the Habanero! Danny gained so much respect for this phenomenon, that he requested several of the peppers wrapped in foil to take back home. Even Danny’s eyes were watering. All the waiters were snickering at us as we all had our first encounters with the world’s hottest pepper. We couldn’t even taste our food and had to wash our hands before using “los banos”.
Several of us went to a pretty snazzy discotheque called “Scaramouche” were I asked a girl if she would care to dance. She politely declined, however, her friend took me up on the offer and we danced quite a bit. Later, the one I originally asked, asked me and I obliged. A few days later when I was boarding Aeromexico back to DFW, I looked up at the flight attendant, and it was the girl that I danced with at the club that night. We chatted quite a bit when she was able to take a break or two and told me that she was laying over in Dallas at the Addison Sheraton. After I got home and cleaned-up, I met her for dinner at Atchafalaya Seafood in Addison where we had a great time for several hours. I was completely exhausted by that time and was having difficultly keeping my eyes open while driving back to Valley Ranch which is only about 4 miles from Addison.
What an unforgettable trip it turned out to be! Though, I sure was ready to get back to work so I could finally get some rest.