I have travelled to Mexico a few times during my early years. So when Dee Dee proposed a trip to Cozumel, an island off the Caribbean coast of Mexico, I was all about it. I offered to book our flight to Cozumel, but she had other ideas. “No, I talked to this guy at work and he says it’s a lot cheaper if you fly into Cancun.”
“Then how do we get to Cozumel?” I asked.
“Oh, that’s easy. You fly into Cancun, then take a mini-van from the airport to the bus terminal.”
“And then?” I asked.
“Well, then you take a bus to the ferry terminal which zips you right over to Cozumel,” she said confidently.
“I don’t know about that,” I replied shaking my head. “Using that many modes of transportation in Mexico sounds like trouble to me.”
“Nonsense,” she said. “It’s easy,” she said. “My co-worker does it all the time. You’ll see.”
Although I still had doubts, and that little voice in the back of my head was yelling, “Nooooo! Don’t do that,” I found myself agreeing.
Our flight to Cancun was uneventful and after retrieving our bags, we went outside where we immediately found the mini-van. “See?” Dee Dee said with a smug look on her face as the driver loaded our bags and we took our seats. I simply nodded without comment.
It rained during the trip to the bus station. So, when we arrived, our driver slung our bags onto the muddy ground while I went inside the terminal to purchase our bus tickets. There were two windows. One had a line with about twenty people in it, while the other had no one waiting.
I immediately strode up to the second window, and within seconds had our tickets. I laughed at all those stupid people standing in line as I proceeded out to the bus proudly waving my tickets.
We boarded the bus and took a seat. While we were waiting for all those stupid people in the long line to get their tickets, Dee Dee noticed leather straps hanging from a long metal rod in the aisle.
“What’s the deal with those?” she asked.
“I guess when the bus is full, people have to stand and use those to hold onto,” I replied.
“They stand?” she asked in horror. “They stand while riding the bus?”
A couple of minutes later, a Mexican woman walked down the aisle and stopped beside us and began speaking in a rather loud voice. Lacking a command of the Spanish language, I just looked up at her with this befuddled expression. She rolled her eyes, and then thrust her ticket into my face.
I saw the number “16” printed on it in large black letters, but had no idea what she was trying to communicate. That is, not until she pointed above the window where I noticed a large “16” also printed in large block letters.
“I think we’re in her seat,” I said as I stood up. I looked around and noticed that by this time the rest of the seats on the bus were filled with people who had been waiting in that long line. So as the bus pulled away from the terminal, Dee Dee and I hung onto the leather straps for the remainder of the journey to the ferry terminal.
We finally arrived at the dock and after retrieving our wet, muddy bags, I spotted a booth selling ferry tickets. I bought our tickets and we walked over to the boarding ramp of the sleek, water jet ferry. While it had been a long trip, I knew that in a matter of minutes, we would finally arrive in Cozumel where we would be sipping margaritas and lying on the beach.
But as we approached the ramp, the official-looking boarding-ramp-guard-person looked at our tickets and shook his head. “What?” I said in a demanding tone. He answered in Spanish.
What is it with everyone speaking a foreign language here, I thought.
In response to my blank look, he rolled his eyes and then pointed behind me. On the opposite side of the dock was a ragged-out looking boat which appeared to have been built in the previous century.
“That’s our ferry?” He nodded back, evidently able to understand me better than I had him. “No. We el want-o el ride-a-mente the mucho cool, really fast, water jet,” I said while pointing at the sleek, water jet ferry.
He said something which I took to mean, “You’re el screwed-o,” and pointed to a second ticket booth, which I had failed to notice. Immediately, I walked over to this ticket booth to explain that I wanted to exchange my ticket.
The lady there shook her head and pointed at the first ticket booth. So I went back over to the first ticket booth to explain the problem. She simply shook her head, and then said something in Spanish which I assumed meant, “No way, Jose’.”
So, we grabbed our muddy bags, walked over to the rickety boarding ramp which led to our piece-of-crap ferry, and took a seat … outdoors … where we sweated … in the 180 degree sun! Seconds later, the water jet ferry roared away from the dock in a massive cloud of spray, its passengers looking down on us with smug expressions while relaxing in air-conditioned splendor.
A looooong time later, I assumed after they had shoveled enough coal into the boilers of our craft, or got all of the hamsters running in their cages, or maybe got all of the slaves chained to their oars, we limped away from the dock for our journey to Cozumel.
I did manage to find a bar onboard where they were selling cold Coronas for a mere $75. We then proceeded to sip our beers on the slow ride to our final destination.
After arriving in Cozumel and taking a taxi to our hotel, we were finally lying on the beach guzzling gallons of margaritas. The rest of the trip went much better.
But when it was time to return back home, we flew directly out of Cozumel—thank you very much.
Disclaimer: Frank Wilem is an author, speaker, and all around funny and entertaining guy. On this blog, his stories are based on his real life experiences, often with a satirical twist.
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