Wednesday, September 01, 2004

True Story #1

About this time last year, I attended a wedding in Cozumel, an island off the coast of Cancun in Mexico. I like to think of myself as a fairly accomplished traveler, and told the groom he didn’t need anyone to pick me up at the ferry dock. Well, that and he didn’t offer.

Anyway, I fly into Cancun, change out of my Don’t Search Me or Screw with Me flying clothes into my White Guy in the Tropics clothes in the airport bathroom, wait an hour for a bus that takes me to the dock, dash through the monsoon-esque squall in my White Guy in the Tropics Raincoat (with anglewings, naturally), catch the ferry, relax belowdecks with a local brew, and arrive at Cozumel in high spirits at high noon.

Shouldering my pack, I walked through the main tourist part of the city to a residential neighborhood, ask directions only once (and somehow manage to understand them) and arrive at the address the groom gave me, a little three story house with a veranda. I knocked, but no one was there, so I went on in. That was a bit odd, as they’d be expecting me, but I figured they probably had gone for a swim or something. A little more odd was the fact that I didn’t see any of their gear lying around – no suitcases, clothes, toiletries, etc. So I had a look around and discovered a stairway around the back of the house that led to three other apartments or rooms, all of which were locked and apparently unoccupied at the moment.

So, I went back to the main house, took a shower in what I took to be the master bedroom figuring that the bride and groom, very close friends, would forgive this small indulgence. I took a short siesta on the couch then moved outside to the veranda to escape the heat and wait for someone to come home.

Toward the end of the day, some little Local Dudeman rode up on his bicycle, opened the gate and walked onto the veranda. We exchanged hellos, me explaining that I was here for the wedding, he explaining that he lived above. I asked when the owner would be back as I’d like to get to my room, but he didn’t seem to know (or perhaps understand?). He disappeared upstairs, and I took a walk, bought some beers and smokes, and returned around dusk.

The bride and groom in question are pretty smart people, but a wedding can scatter anyone’s brain. I was not the only person arriving that day, and I knew that they should have been back by now. But I figured they were off someplace having a good time, and I’d be with them for a whole week soon enough.

Still, I was hungry and not a little bored waiting around. Little Local Dudeman had told me if I was bored to knock on his door and we’d do something. So I did, and we sat on the roof and drank beer while watching possibly the worst high school marching band I’ve ever heard practice in the whitewashed courtyard a half a block away.

Now it was legitimately dark and I was legitimately hungry, so Local Dudeman and I took off for eats in the locals’ area (a very bad torta) then went into to “town.” There we met up with some hipster locals: a dive instructor, and underwater photographer, a recreational fisherboat captain. All very interesting people. The drank some strange Mexican version of a shanty and I drank a Herradura. They also all spoke pretty good English, and it was then that I began to realize that I’d better get back to the hacienda pretty soon, for after talking to them it appeared that my Local Dudeman had not really understood why I was there.

When we got back, the gate was open but the front door was locked. This was less than optimal since everything I owned, aside from about $20 worth of pesos, was in the house. Local Dudeman did not have a key. About half an hour later, a guy showed up in a taxi, got out and walked up to us. He asked me pointedly and in English what I was doing there. I explained that I was here for the wedding, but the wedding party wasn’t back yet and had, apparently, locked me out of the house. He then informed me that, no, they hadn’t locked me out of the house, he had when he fixed the broken lock and could I please explain again what the hell I was doing there.

It turned out that this was a private apartment rented by an American girl who had left for a week’s holiday. I had showered, napped and hung out in her place all day because the lock on the door had been broken. Fortunately, the Taxi-locksmith knew that the owner of this building also owned another building, and he offered to drive me there where I found the rest of the wedding party, awaiting myself and another lost soul to whom they’d given the wrong address from the owner’s website.


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