Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A memorable New Year’s Eve in Mexico

(Folklorico dancers in Mexico.   What a party.)

About 20 years ago, my wife and I and our 8-year old son decided to spend the holidays in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.  We did most of the usual things one does there.  We visited the Mayan ruins at Uxmal, went skin-diving in the Caribbean, sun-bathed on the beaches at Cancun, and spent a couple of days on Cozumel Island. 

But on New Year’s Eve we found ourselves in the provincial capital, Merida.  We stayed in an old hotel, the name of which has now passed into the mist like the smell of tequila after a festive occasion.  When we checked in, we realized that they were setting up for their New Year’s Eve party later that night.  We asked if we could attend, and the desk clerk uttered a chipper “seguro”.  All he needed to know was the kind of alcohol we wanted at the table, so I said tequila and my wife said rum.

When we were escorted to our table later that night, we found an entire bottle of rum and a bottle of tequila on the table, as we had apparently ordered.  Ay, caramba!  Our 8-year old might have to help us with this, because I refuse to leave food or drink behind at the end of an evening out.

The festivities that night resulted in the most memorable New Year’s Eve we have ever experienced in 42 years of marriage.  There were choruses of dancing girls in colorful dresses performing a folkl√≥rico, there were bands of several styles, and a buffet of food the likes of which I have never seen.  And it went on and on and on.  Our son found young friends to hang out with around the swimming pool, so he was occupied, and we were happy, and getting “happier” by the hour.

Needless to say, the following morning my wife and I were moving and thinking very slowly.  The desk clerk kept asking me for “la llave” as I was checking out and, for the life of me, I could not understand what he was saying.  My wife acted embarrassed and yelled indignantly “The key.  He wants the key!”  Oh, of course.  I handed the young guy the key and sheepishly scooted out of the lobby to the waiting taxi.

As we meandered down the narrow streets in the cab, my wife perused the signs on the buildings as we passed.  My head hurt too much to look out into the bright light of day.  As we passed one respectable looking edifice, and because my Spanish was normally better than hers, she asked me what “Y—M—C—A” spelled.  I looked as superior as I could muster, stared her squarely in the face, and told her it spelled YMCA.  Touch√©! 

Several morals to this story, but here is the take-home message for me.  Drink bottled water, and don’t mix alcohol and the alphabet when traveling in Mexico.

 Article first published as A Memorable New Year's Eve in Mexico on Technorati.