The Girl Travels

A log of my recent adventures in Vietnam, Cambodia, Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala

Monday, May 21, 2007

Disaster! Averted.

I often spend the last few weeks before a big trip like this imagining what the experience will be like - how cool my group will be, how awesome all the stuff I´m going to see will be, etc. There are a few things that don´t factor into these reveries: namely, disaster.

Oh come on, by now you know how much I love hyperbole. But a lot of what has happened in the last 24 hours was definitely not in the plan. My flight was fine, for the most part. We were delayed in Philadelphia for 40 minutes while the pilot went to look for the ¨necessary paperwork¨ in order to get the plane into Mexico, but other than that, things were running smoothly. I even made it to the gym Saturday morning for my long run! So I felt like a champ.

I finally get to Hotel Maria del Lourdes at 11:30PM and settle in for a long night of trying to ignore the incredibly loud air conditioner. I eventually put in some ear plugs and then slept through my alarm. I did make it onto the bus to Chichen Itza on time... barely. I made friends with the three guys from El Paso, Texas who were sitting next to me on the trip - Sergio, Guillermo, and Mario. The four of us hung out during most of the tour, and on the way home, they gave me their hotel name and room number in case I missed my tour group and was left alone for the night - since the group meeting was scheduled for 6:30 and I was definitely not back at the hotel until 8PM.

Well, thank God they did.

When I got to the hotel, they told me I had no reservation for that night. They did not have my name down on the list for the group. They barely spoke English. They didn´t understand the words ¨tour¨or ¨group.¨ It was eight o`clock, I was tired from a long day in the very hot sun, I hadn´t eaten since noon, I had to go to the bathroom... basically, all the makings of a totally ridiculous girly meltdown.

I almost forgot to mention Chichen Itza - really spectacular and amazing to see. You´re no longer allowed to climb up the main building (a woman fell and died not too long ago, and then they decided there was too much wear and tear from people going up there). There´s a lot of cool math and geometry built into the whole site, most of which centers around the number seven. Go look it up.

Anyway - back to me, in tears, at the front desk, being told I had to wait for the tour guide to get back from wherever he was because they weren´t going to give me a room.

So after losing it and yelling at the guy behind the desk (¨I have a f**king reservation!¨), I grabbed my things and sat in the hot lobby, searching for a Geckos emergency number. After trying to call them in Australia (and by the way, I´m very lucky that my phone has service down here, even if it is roaming), but finally realizing there was definitely a number missing, I found an after-hours number for someone in Mexico. I called, someone answered in English, and I immediately started crying. I couldn´t help it. I was just done. It felt like the worst night ever. He immediately assured me that there had been a paperwork mix-up, that he would call the hotel, and that everything would be sorted out in the morning. He called, the guy behind the desk came over all apologetic (and I was too, and now we´re best buds), and I got my room. Whew.

But now, I was all fired up. I called the guys at their hotel and we met up at a taco place. They treated me to dinner, ordering in Spanish for me (and real tacos are so much better than what Old El Paso sells), and then we went out to all of the ridiculous bars in Cancun. I didn´t get the incredibly-short-denim-miniskirt memo, thank God, though every other girl did. I saw so much underwear! Really, it should be illegal to drink and wear skirts that short at the same time. We bounced around to some of the more touristy places (painfully loud music, forced shots, confetti, ole!), and then I left them around 2:30AM and took a taxi back to my hotel. The last I saw them, Guillermo was trying to coax some girls into dancing with him on the stage, Mario was all cool and collected, and Sergio was giving me sad puppy eyes for leaving. BTW, that whole hipster/cool glasses/trucker hat thing that everyone in Brooklyn is trying so hard to do? Guillermo had the look down pat, and it was kind of refreshing not to see someone trying so hard to be cool.

Anyway, I´d left a note for the tour guide at the front desk of the hotel, but they told me that he still hadn´t returned by the time I got home. This morning, I got dressed for the beach. This is Cancun, for heaven´s sake. When I came downstairs, I started asking the girl at the front about my tour, but she didn´t know any English. It turns out my tour guide, Benjamin, was sitting at the internet terminal. I can´t tell you the waves of relief that I felt. I like traveling alone to these places, but I don´t like being alone while I´m here. There´s not much point in experiencing a new country if there´s no one to share it with. He and I had breakfast together at the hotel and we actually ran into two girls on the tour - Katie and Katherine - who are also interested in going to the beach today.

And that´s my incredibly long and detailed first day and a half in Cancun.

UPDATE: Never made it to the beach, but I got plenty of sun from walking around downtown Cancun today. My task for the evening is to convince people to go out... it is SO BORING in my room!

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