Quetzalcōatl’s Revenge – Cancun, Nov. 1984

I had not even finished my first year at my first professional position out of College when I was being recruited by a large financial organization downtown. At the interview, I thanked them for their interest but informed them that I wished to remain loyal to my current employer for at least the remainder of my first year for the following reasons;

  1. as a courtesy,
  2. to get my vacation which accrued at the rate of 1 week per year.

I was a little overwhelmed and quite a bit excited when presented with a very lucrative offer to jump ship, with an allowance of 3 months of preparation before the official start date.

So, my fiancee’, Nichole (Nikki) and I made travel arrangements for the new and widely publicized resort paradise at Cancun, Mexico. We had just seen Against All Odds, with all of it’s Mayan ruins scenes, which intrigued us even more. Being in Dallas had it’s advantages due to its:

  1. proximity to DFW airport,
  2. proximity to Mexico.

The whole thing started on the tarmac as the AeroMexico pilot (who acted like he was half-crocked as we taxied down the runway) took a spinning turn to line-up for take-off. The right wingtip almost touched the ground as people were spilling drinks, hats were falling off, luggage was falling from the overhead compartments and everything. It was an omen!

When we arrived at the airport outside of the town of Cancun, it looked like a scene right out of a news story about a military coup d’etat in a third world country, which wasn’t too far from the truth.

Uxmal Avenue, Cancun City

Uxmal Avenue, Cancun City

On our first day, we rented motorized scooters and traveled around the peninsula just south of the Hotels. We found some Mayan ruins nearby that were thick with growth and I remember how numerous those big iguanas were. It seemed like they were watching us from everywhere. We managed to get some fantastic photos. That evening, we had a seafood dinner out on the Hotel landing, looking out over the ocean while being serenaded by a Mariachi trio. The next day, we visited local shops and bought a few trinkets and mementos (i.e. a Mexican blanket and some clay figurines). We then caught a local bus to ride into the old town of Cancun on the mainland. Our intent was to avoid the other tourists that we came with and explore the adventures independently, just the two of us. It was pretty obvious that we were blending in as were jam packed on the bus with locals toting chickens in crates, towing goats and such. The youngsters were very aggressive towards the tourists, constantly dogging us for handouts and spare change. The local stores in the town were very rustic and served only Mexican soft drinks, with little refrigeration. It was definitely far from the tourist traps, but we toughed it out and had a pretty enjoyable time.

Cancun Restaurant

Cancun Restaurant

So far, so good, right? Wrong! On the third day, Nikki got sick after our lunch of Mexican seafood pizza at a place just a block or two from the Hotel. She was apparently afflicted with some sort of ameba as it took her several months after the trip to finally get completely well.

For a couple of days, I sought ways to entertain myself around the resort by parasailing and taking the ferry out to Isla Mujeres (Isle of the Women) while my fiancee spent the majority of her time in “los banos” with her opposite ends in opposing fixtures.

About the fifth day, she was starting to feel well enough to go out by the pool. We found a nice, secluded set of chaises off to one side and layed in the sun and gulped a couple of Pina Coladas. After a while, I proceeded to go down to the beach for some sand volleyball. When I decided to return to our loungers, I took a short cut by diving into the pool where I emerged next to my lovely fiancee just in time to watch her rifling through my wallet. She kept looking up towards the beach to see if I was approaching while she was jacking my cash so you can imagine her surprise as I calmly asked from the edge of the pool if she found anything interesting in there.

Cancun Cab

Cancun Cab

One night in the middle of the week, I managed to get “Nik-Nak” mobilized to go out for dinner at a place down the strip. I was a little bit tipsy by the time we hailed a cab, and when we arrived at the restaurant, I judiciously tipped the driver. Nikki was trying to intervene, but I just kept waving her off thinking I knew what I was doing. By the time we got seated at our table, it finally dawned on me that she was right, I had tipped that cab driver the equal of $75.00 U.S., at least, for a 2 or 3 mile ride. We ended up arguing all through the dinner, so I paid the tab and retained my own private cab back to the Hotel where I hung out on the terrace until the wee hours of the morning.

Tour Bus to Xelha and Tulum

Tour Bus to Xelha and Tulum

Toward the end of our stay we decided go with our fellow touristos and take the tour bus down through Playa del Carmen, XelHa and Tulum. On the bus, we were all issued a lunch in a small cardboard box and when I opened mine, Nikki became violent with me stating that the smell of the cheese on my sandwich was triggering her gag reflexes. Obviously, she was still feeling “unwell”. Needless to say, she didn’t eat her lunch, but I snuck off and ate both of ours at the first stop along the way. XelHa is known as the “natural aquarium” because the lagoon is fresh water with an inlet coming from the ocean. You can see clearly when snorkeling in the fresh water, but the water gets wavy when you get into the ocean fed areas. The colorful species of fish are a sight to behold. Nikki was not up for snorkeling and remained along the shore with the camera. She spotted a beautiful fish and as she ran to the side of the lagoon to take a snapshot of it, she jammed her foot into a rock. It sounded like a shotgun going off as she broke her foot in a couple of places. Her commotion caused me to turn back towards the shore right as a huge stingray began to flop up out of the sand at the bottom of the lagoon. I almost got zapped in the gonads by the long tail of the ray rising up from the sand and probably would have had it not been for my fiancee’s mishap. I had to practically carry her around the rest of the day, but I guess I had her to thank for the safety of my genetic livelihood. When we finally arrived back at the Hotel that evening, I took her to the Infirmary that was on site. The Medico on duty set the foot and applied a temporary cast until we returned to the States.

Xelha "Natural Aguarium"

Xelha “Natural Aguarium”

As it was time to head back home, we, along with hundreds of other touristos and a googol of flies, had to wait in line in this now familiar, 3rd world aeropuerto with-out air-conditioning. She asked me if I had enough cash left to pay for our duty taxes allowing us to leave for the United States. When I responded “Why are you asking me? You know more about what’s in my wallet than I do!” she nailed me with a haymaker in the airport, swinging my camera around my neck, tilting my Panama hat and making my sunglasses cockeyed. As I looked around to see how many tourists witnessed the incident, trying to maintain some composure, I softly muttered, “Only you could turn Paradise into pure Hell.”

We didn’t speak or even sit close to each other on the plane trip back. When we arrived at DFW and passed through customs, her brother was waiting down the corridor to pick us up. He jubilantly shouted “How was it?” We both simultaneously replied “It was Great!!”. Nikki and I married 5 months later.

Steve D.
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