Sunday, March 11, 2012
Vacation from Hell?
For several months, Anne had been encouraging her father Doug and step-mother Nancy to come visit us in Mexico. She was both very pleased and surprised when they agreed to make the trip. They arrived at the Grand Bay Hotel in Barra de Navidad after traveling from Seattle via Los Angeles and Manzanillo. Dear friends Lynn and Howard joined us when we took the water taxi from the lagoon anchorage to the hotel to welcome them and help them check in. The plan was for them to stay just one night at the hotel before joining us on the boat for the next couple of days. After checking in, the six of us water taxied to town, where we went for a walk to check out the sights before going to dinner at our favorite little restaurant, Mexico Lindo. Anne’s folks loved the food and the restaurant’s cute little courtyard and we all had a great time. Their visit was starting off well. After dinner, we escorted them back to the hotel and Lynn and Howard decided it was time to say a hasty goodbye as they planned to leave the next morning for their trip south to El Salvador. It was very difficult to say goodbye to them after all we have shared over the past year and a half and we will miss their smiling faces until we see them again.
The next morning, Anne made an early trip to the hotel to help her parents pack up and escorted them to our boat via water taxi. We breathed a sigh of relief when they were safely aboard as we had worried that making the transition from panga to “Blue Rodeo” might require more agility than they could muster. As they settled-in, the local French Baker came by boat to deliver fresh pastries. After polishing off several of the treats, we raised anchor from the lagoon’s sticky, mud bottom and departed for the lovely bay at Tenacatita. Fortunately the weather and sea conditions were good and Doug and Nancy enjoyed the trip to the anchorage. A relaxing day at anchor there concluded with a short, dinghy sight seeing tour. This was the first opportunity we had to help Anne’s parents down “Blue Rodeo’s” transom steps and into our inflatable dinghy. Both of them have had knee operations and their balance isn’t quite what it used to be. So we felt fortunate that we managed to get them in and out of the dinghy without any serious mishaps. The process was especially challenging for Nancy who has never had the opportunity to be aboard a small boat, let alone a sailboat with all of its rigging and awkward angles, and was very tentative about stepping into the bobbing dinghy. With Anne on the transom swim step and Mark in the dinghy, each holding on to her arms and legs, we accomplished the task. Our slow, sunset cruise along the anchorage’s rocky, north shore provided a splendid opportunity to observe fish and sea birds “up close and personal” as well as the bay’s weathered cliffs covered with remarkable vegetation. Back aboard our boat (the dinghy to boat transition was easier) Anne and Nancy collaborated to prepare the fresh Dorado that Anne had bought at Barra’s fish market. We had already decided that in order to offer them the most comfort and privacy while aboard, we would happily gave Anne’s parents our cabin with its king size bed. We would sleep in “Blue Rodeo’s” salon on the settees and pilot berths. When we turned in for the night, we both felt content that they were enjoying themselves. Before long however, that would change dramatically.
Unfortunately, during the night, poor Nancy developed some sort of gastro-intestinal distress that left her feeling miserable and making making multiple trips to “Blue Rodeo’s” only small bathroom. We felt so bad for her, especially knowing that we were at least several hours away from a hotel’s more comfortable surroundings. Instead of complaining though, she repeatedly apologized for being such a burden to us. For those of you reading this, Nancy was born and raised in Peru and, as a young woman, discouraged from doing anything athletic. So, as you can imagine, for her to agree to come out with us in the first place took a lot of courage. The next morning, she was still feeling awful so Mark dinghied over to a nearby cruising boat which we knew had a doctor aboard. After discussing Nancy’s symptoms, he advised us that it was probably a virus and would pass shortly. We conferred with Doug and Nancy about going back to Barra to the hotel but decided that it was better that Nancy stay in bed and rest instead of going through the ordeal of trying to get off the boat, water taxi to the hotel and walk through the considerable grounds to a room. We could only imagine how miserable she was feeling being in a strange country, and on a small boat with no privacy. Later, while Nancy was resting and recovering in our berth, we spent the day with Doug, taking him on the jungle river tour and then meeting other folks from the anchorage on the beach for bocce ball and drinks at the palapa restaurant. He had a great time and played a mean game of bocce ball to boot. When the three of us arrived back at the boat, Nancy was feeling a bit better but decided to continue to stay in bed. Anne prepared fresh shrimp with mango sauce and a salad for dinner. We all went to bed fairly early that night with Mark sleeping in the salon and Anne sleeping in the cockpit. At some time before sunrise, we were awakened to Doug calling for Nancy after stubbing his toe while stepping over the high door sill into the bathroom. By the time he realized that he had nearly torn off a toenail, he was standing in large puddle of blood that vaguely resembled the shower scene from the movie “Psycho”. We all pitched in to bandage up his wound and clean up the mess before trying to catch a few more hours of sleep. Once we were all awake, we raised our anchor and began the 2 1/2 hour trip back to Barra de Navidad in order to enter the shallow lagoon at nearly high tide. Once back in the lagoon, we arranged for a water taxi to pick us up and transport us to the Grand Bay Hotel where Anne’s parents had planned to spend two more nights. Nancy was feeling much better by then and, despite his foot injury, Doug was doing well. Both of them agreed that they would like to return to the small town of Barra that night and have dinner once again at Mexico Lindo Restaurant.
We all had another great meal that night and wandered around for a bit before returning to the hotel. Mark returned to “Blue Rodeo” to bring the dinghy aboard before it got to late and Anne escorted her parents to their room. About a half hour after entering the room, her dad started getting violently ill. He was having the same symptoms as her mom. Anne helped them get as comfortably settled as possible before coming back to the boat and then proceeded to get ill herself. Not to be left out of the fun, Mark followed several hours after that. With both of us ill, this is one time we wished “Blue Rodeo” had more than one bathroom. During the night, Mark made numerous trips to the swim step where he vomited with such gusto that he awakened every sleeping dog within miles of the peaceful lagoon. On one trip to the bathroom he even passed out, falling to the galley floor and striking his head. Neither of us could ever remember being hit so hard by a stomach bug. What a night!
We were awakened early the next morning by Anne’s mom calling to say that Doug wasn’t doing well. So, Mark dinghied Anne to the hotel where she found that Doug was still throwing up. Fortunately, a doctor had been called and when he arrived, he gave Doug a shot to stop the nausea and prescribed antibiotics and something to stop the diarrhea. Unfortunately, this meant Anne (still feeling quite poorly herself) had to go into town to purchase the meds. After an ordeal of her own, she returned to the room where her father had started to feel better. He was resting comfortably so Anne settled in to monitor the situation for several hours before coming back to the boat to rest for an hour or two. She remained extremely concerned that he had not had sufficient fluids and, due to his diabetic condition, an adequate amount of sugar. Calling her mother, Anne requested that she wake him up and give him a can of Coke and some water. We returned to the hotel later that afternoon to check on his condition. We all were wondering if he would be well enough to fly home on schedule the next day. Anne checked with the hotel about extending their stay and found that they were nearly booked-full the next night and only the only room available was a suite for $799.00 USD per night. The thought of moving them to a different hotel with less amenities was mind boggling, especially considering Doug’s condition. Fortunately, after the doctor’s medicines and taking some nourishment, he began to feel a much better and announced that he wanted to go home on their original flight the next day. We can’t tell you how relieved we were to hear that.
The next day, We helped Anne’s parents into a taxi from the hotel to the airport and said our goodbyes. Doug and Nancy were able to summon-up enough of a sense of humor to declare that this had been the “Vacation from Hell”. Anne was relieved, but also disappointed, that it had turned out the way it did as she had so been looking forward to having a wonderful memory of this trip together as she sets sail across the South Pacific. As we will learn to say in French Polynesia, “c’est la vie”. At least no one drowned.