Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Making Margaritas out of a Hurricane

I wake up at three in the morning with out the help of my phone alarm.  I check it, as it was supposed to go off right before 3.  Stupid.  I set it for PM.  I take my shower, and then Kell has hers.  We leave the Motel 6 in Madison to go across the street to the Huntsville airport.
Everything checked in and ready to go, we begin our adventure.  Then we get to Atlanta, where we have to wait for 2.5 hours to get on our next plane.  Which we do, and begin our adventure again.
I notice a couple of things while flying.  One is that people are eager to stand in a line.  When boarding begins people jump up, just to wait like they're gonna get a premier seat.  But they're not.  They're getting the one that's on the ticket.  No better, no worse.  Same when getting off a plane.  They jump up, only to wait for 10 minutes.  We sit in our chair and wait patiently, comfortably.
I also notice the lady across the isle that on a 2.5 hour flight, she Mary Poppins a giant roast beef sandwich out of her purse.  I chuckle at first, and then become jealous as I look at my peanuts vs her sammich.
We arrived in Cozumel at approx 1 pm, local time.  It took a good 30 minutes to go through customs and dodge time share salesmen.  I got my first beer of the week at the Margaritaville on the sidewalk outside the airport.  That and a Margarita for kell cost $14.00.
We got on the van and were transported through downtown towards our resort,  Sabor.  Except that our driver took us to Aura.  After some discussion, we discovered that we were upgraded to a much nicer resort, and a suite.

The room number was 1022, our wedding date.

In the fridge was an unlimited supply of Dos Equis, Coke, Diet Coke and Water.

The balcony had one of those huge out door bed/couch things.

Our view was a pool and the ocean.  Sand came right up to the wall.
I decided to take a shower, as I had the funk of three different time zones, as well as two different airplanes.  When I got out, Kell was standing with the room telephone, saying "its your mother".  I answered "hello".
She immediately said "I don't mean to call you on your honeymoon, but why is your cell phone off?"
"I meant not to be called on it whilst I am in paradise.  Plus, roaming."
She nervously told me of an impending hurricane that was going to sit on my head and wreck our honeymoon.  I told her that I had checked the weather, and I suspect nothing more than thunderstorms.  I said that I would keep my phone on, and a close watch on the weather.  We immediately went to the bar.
There were two drunk chaps that were hard to peg down where in the States they were from.   From what I could gather, they were in on a cruise ship.  Their wives had gotten to the puking stage of drunk, so they went back to the boat, while these guys decided to stay and drink some more.  They were talking to an older guy, maybe in his mid 50s.  I heard him say something about Arkansas Football, and I recognized my in with him to have a conversation as well.
When the cruise ship drunks stumbled away, I said "did I hear you say you are a fan of Arkansas?"  A nice compliment about his team, and a few drinks later, we were friends.
Kell and I had a nice dinner, and turned in semi early, as the early morning traveling had finally caught up with us.
I awoke before 5 the next morning.  Grabbed the iPad and checked the weather.  Storm headed our way, but looked like it could be a hurricane, still wasn't convinced.  I talked to my mother, and she suggested leaving the island before it got to us on Wednesday.  By 10 that morning I was frustrated with the possible weather scenario and rapid fire texts, I proposed we see if we could go somewhere else.  New Orleans, Denver & Baltimore all became options.  We finally said "lets just go home."  My mom changed our flight to be out on Thursday, which seemed odd, as that was when the hurricane was supposed to be there.   We opted to do our best to make the most of it, which was admittedly difficult when you're uncertain if you are making the best decision.  We went for drinks, and saw our new friends throughout the day.  I checked the weather a few more times, the word "Hurricane" disappeared from weather.com's forecast.  Now, only storms, like I had said.  We continued to have drinks, and eat through the day.  Its pretty easy to do, when there are multiple bars and restaurants within 30 seconds of your door.  We got kind of hammered that night at a swank little bar downstairs.  They had some really good booze.
I awoke again Wednesday morning, and walked over to grab the iPad to check the weather.  I caught a glimpse of the sunlight peaking through the curtains.  I stepped outside, and there wasn't a cloud in the sky.  Which was odd for what was supposed to be hurricane style weather that evening.  Kell and I went through the same routine as the day before.   Drink, eat, repeat.
We came back up to the room, to change clothes, or to shit.  I don't remember which one.  The phone rang.  I expected it to be my mother.   Instead, was a mexican guy on the other end, letting me know of the impending ocean weather of doom that was to descend upon us, and we had the option of staying with the possibility of evacuation, or evacuate now.  We chose the "fuck it, lets stay, and ride this thing out" option.  We figured the walls are 1.5 feet thick, we've got water & Dos Equis.  WE ARE GOOD.
So, Kell and I headed downstairs to continue our day, and told the front desk that we had decided that we were not only staying, that we were gonna surf that storm when it rolled in.  Actually, we just told them the first part.  We ran into our friends, and they said they had decided to do the same. We got a few margaritas and enjoyed a meal.  We ran back into our friends who had their luggage by the front counter.  They said they were going to a hotel in the city.  I got a little nervous, as I liked it when there was a pack of us that could be shuffled around, but wasn't too hot on just Kell and I having to move from place to place.
We talked to the travel guy, and he suggested that he book us the same place, and we not check out of our current room, that way if nothing happens, we come back with ease.
He booked the room, and we all four got a taxi into downtown Cozumel.
I've been to the bad parts of town before.  And this looked like the bad part of town.  But its hard to tell, as from what I've been told that some of the nicer parts of Mexico all look like the bad part of town.  The hotel was nice enough, and had a grocery store and other shops nearby.  Plus there was always a cop at the corner.  At least he looked like a cop...but he was riding a dirt bike.
Steve, and his wife walked with Kell and I to the grocery store to pick up some hurricane survival items, like cold beers, a flashlight and stuff to make ham sandwiches.  When we finished shopping we opted to find a local restaurant to have some late afternoon lunch at.   The lady at the front counter suggested this place pretty close to the town center.  It was a pretty cool open air joint.  They had cold beer and hot fajitas.  And both were awesome.
After our meal, we walked and shopped for a bit.  I noticed only light cloud coverage.
The salesmen in the shops were getting too aggressive for my tastes, so we decided to walk back to the room.  I noticed the wireless router attached to the wall right outside the room, and asked for the password at the front desk.  I immediately got online, and checked the weather.  Still headed right for us, still looking like a storm.
As the sun went down, people started boarding up their windows on their shops.  Maybe they knew something that I or weather.com were unaware of.
We sat in our room for most of the evening, wondering what would become of the storm.  I began to question my decisions.  Should we have tried to fly out on Tuesday?  I got an email that said our flight had been delayed to Saturday.  We weren't for sure if that was a good thing, or bad.
That night, all of the people from our resort that had decided to come into town were in the lobby.  Everyone was playing cards, drinking wine and beer, and generally having fun.  I went back to the room to get Kell and a couple of beers.  We hung out for a while, and then decided to go to bed.  I slept in my shorts with my passport and my wallet in my zipped pocket.
The next morning was really just kind of cloudy.  We tried to see if we could get back into our resort, and they said that they were not letting anyone back in, until the storm passed.  I was upset that we were going to be there for another day.   As the day progressed, rain begun to fall.  Then more and more.  But no high winds, until maybe 6 or 7.  I walked out front to see what the weather looked like through the front door, and saw that the street was beginning to flood.  I got nervous and began to think about what would happen if the government decided to evacuate the island.  The storm sat on top of us for a while, but while it was there, it dropped a metric ton of rain.  So much so, that it had completely covered the street, and was coming over the sidewalk.   I quickly noted how high the first floor was above the sidewalk and felt a little more calm about the situation.  As the storm finally passed over us, the water quickly flowed away.  The street was visible within an hour.
The next morning I woke up early and texted my mother to have her call the resort to see if we could come back.  We got the word that yes, we could.  I alerted our friends.  We checked out so fast there were us shaped holes in the front door.
It felt good to get back to our resort.  It felt like we survived some sort of rich American nightmare.  We're not rich, but compared to what I saw, I certainly felt like it.
We got our arm bands back, and got our luggage upstairs.  They had taken the televisions down, and put the mattress against the balcony windows in case they couldn't take the winds.  When we came back down, the people at the front desk told us that not all the restaurants are open yet, but we could go over to this one that overlooked a pool.  We jumped on it.
Its as if they knew that we had gone through some sort of ordeal, as the bar was already open at 10am.  I got a round of screwdrivers.  I think they used some sort of half and half or something.  They were so delicious, I drank them for a few hours later throughout the entire day.
I was sad that we were having fun again, and the weather looked so awesome.  I let my mother know that everything was ok.  She got our flight moved back to Sunday, and got us comped two extra nights at the resort.  So, we decided to full on relax.  Or get drunk.  Maybe both.
After eating lunch, we got dressed in some swimming gear and went to the fun pool where there were waterslides built into the landscaping.  I went down probably 50 times, having drinks in between each trip.  Then, I went up the waterslide.  Which may be against the rules, but who cares.  I got straight chocolate wasted at that poolside bar.   That night, Kell and I went to dinner, at one of the nicer restaurants.  I was completely wasted, and don't remember what I had to eat.  She said that I compose myself pretty well, as she couldn't tell that I was schockered.
Saturday morning came, and I finally was able to sleep till about 8 that morning.  Which was nice.  We had breakfast at the same place we had been going, I think Kell probably ordered the steak and eggs again, as that was probably her favorite thing that she had eaten.
We hung out just on the beach all day.  Much to my surprise when a waiter came out to our chairs and asked if we would like more Margaritas.  He was correct then, and about ten times more while we were out there.
We went to the roof and met back up with our evac buddies, and hung out at the bar, and admired the sunset.

We promised some folks that we would go to the karaoke bar, but never made it.
That night we went out to dinner again, and I remembered the steak this time.  Super thick and super rare.  Also, the fried cheese thing.  Pure, unadulterated awesomeness.
We got up the next morning, and got our gear together for our trip home.  I was not looking forward to it, as i could have stayed at the resort for a whole other week or month.  Maybe the rest of my life.
We decided to go have one last breakfast.  We were fortunate to see the friends that we had made one last time, and after our respective meals, wished each other well in our future endeavors, and safe trips home.
Kell and I checked out and headed towards the airport.  We made it through security with little to problem, save the Mexicali soldier that was eyefucking the shit out of me.  There was a really awesome souvenir shop in the airport where we got some Mexican swag.  Then we sat and waited for the plane to get ready.
When on the plane, I noticed a couple bickering about who got to sit next to the window on the way down.  When the argument was finished, the husband reached over his wife and shut the blind on the window.  I laughed to myself.  We took off from Cozumel International Airport, and headed to Atlanta.
Two and a half to three hours and two timezones later, we touched down in Atlanta.  With little more than an hour to go through customs and find something to eat, we settled on Popeyes chicken.  With some Henderson charm, I was able to earn us some extra chicken at no extra price.
We left Atlanta to Huntsville at 7:45.  I had never flown at night, well starting out at night.  I have a bit of a problem with heights, but never with flying.  We were sitting right on the wing.  As we went higher, and the lights got smaller, I freaked out a little.  Then part of the wing went into another part of the wing.  And I freaked out some more.  I thought "THERE ARE TOO MANY MOVING PARTS!  WHY ARE WE FLYING AT NIGHT, NO ONE CAN SEE WHERE THEY ARE GOING!!!! WE ARE GOING TO DIE!"  And that's where I had a 45 minute long, but silent panic attack.  I squeezed my fingers' impressions into the metal armrest, and Kelly's hand, as she reassured me that it was going to be OK.  I just kept thinking "I want off this gotdamned thing...why didn't we just drive from Atlanta to Huntsville..."  Then, everytime some fatass got up to go to the restroom, I could feel the vibrations through the plane, thinkin "SIT THE FUCK DOWN!  YOU AND YOUR BOWELS ARE GOING TO TAKE THIS FUCKER DOWN!"
Needless to say, we safely landed in Huntsville, and much to my surprise, I wasn't escorted off by air marshals.
When we got back to Florence, we went to go eat at On the Rocks, and for the first time in existence that I've been there after 5pm, I order a water to drink instead of a beer.
That night as I lay in my bed, with Kell squarely taking up half, June and Angus taking 20% each, and I laying on my 10%, I think to myself that despite there not being a free bar and or restaurant next door, it sure is good to be back home.