Lucy and Ethel go to Mexico (Part 2)
If you’ve been following along, you know that my best friend Eva and I went to Mexico for a vacation, just the two of us. You know that we spent the majority of our week with a Mojito I.V. and hoovering up ceviche by the pool. You also know that Eva decided we needed to go snorkeling and check out some sea turtles or our trip would be incomplete.
So when I left off in Part 2, Eva had just screamed Shark!!! and we had turned to head for shore as fast as our rented little flippers could take us. We were dismayed to see that we had managed to swim right out of Akumal Bay and into open ocean.
How did we get out that far?
We had been lulled by the clear shallow water. I mean come on… how far off shore could you possibly be if you could still touch the bottom? We had been so concerned with finding sea turtles and making sure we didn’t swim on top of each other, that we did not bother to pay attention to how far we had come.
Having not actually seen the shark, I did not know if we were talking about a little scavenger shark or if it was Jaws. (I was picturing Jaws.) As I tried to get back to shore before the shark attacked me (because I knew it was going to) I was surprised to find that survival story lore was going to fail me.
Have you heard about people who develop super-human strength in the face of extreme terror? Mothers whose adrenaline allows them to lift cars off of their children? Fathers who can run through a blizzard, and while eating their own foot for nourishment, can carry their small children to safety after a tragic snowmobiling accident? Have you heard of this phenomenon…? …this adrenaline rush?
Let me tell you. It’s a load of horse puckey. Adrenaline rushes will send you straight to the bottom of the ocean.
My adrenaline did nothing to help me. It made it worse. Hyperventilating and hysterical with fear, I tried to swim for the shore…. in vain. I was right where the water going in to the bay, met the water coming out of the bay. It was like swimming on a treadmill. The harder I tried, the more exhausted I became, and I was getting no closer to shore.
Eva has gotten onto the other side of this swell and was much closer to the beach (and safety). She also has not managed to lose 1/3 of her gear in a blind panic and she still has her snorkel. I, on the other hand, had lost my snorkel and was still trying to swim to shore while looking everywhere at once, certain the shark is right. underneath. me. and about to attack, a la Jaws.
As I expended energy trying to hold my breath (while also screaming), I grew more and more tired.
This may sound stupid, but I’ve had a hard time understanding how adults who know how to swim can drown. I wasn’t drunk, I did not have a head injury, I wasn’t wearing concrete shoes. I always wondered, well, why don’t they just float…?
In a matter of a minute or two, I was completely exhausted. I was also so freaked out, I don’t think it occurred to me to float… I just wanted to get the hell outta the water! Had you asked me at that particular moment, I would have told you that floating would be a shark buffet. Thank you for that, but no.
I realized that the shark would probably come and eat me while I was busy drowning. I thought, “Oh crap. This is how it happens. This is how I’m going to die. I hope Eva makes it to shore because otherwise, no one will ever know what happened to us…”
We were in Mexico as an early 40th birthday celebration for me, and I was not actually going to make it to 40! How would the boys be without a mom? I’m never going to see Handsome Hubby again? Oh God! My parents will not be able to take this… my Dad especially will not do well.
Eva looked back around to see where I was and I yelled to her, “I can’t get in to the shore!”
She yelled back, “I think it’s gone.”
“No! I can’t swim any more!”
“I don’t see it. I think it swam away!”
“No!! Eva, I’m going to drown!”
She told me later that she wondered if that would be a good time to tell me she wasn’t a very good swimmer…
She thought the better of it and stopped swimming. That’s the true test of a best friend. One who is scared out of her mind but will wait to make sure you’re OK before saving her own skin. She stayed where she was while she talked me through my panic.
“Viv! Flip over and float on your back!”
As I did what she said, I remember thinking, “Yes. On my back is good. If the shark rips out my spine first, the pain will be over faster than if it rips out my stomach first.” (Ya know, because if my spine is severed, I won’t feel anything, right…?) That is how messed up in the head I was. And this thought came into my head, was processed and filed away in a split second.
“Now start kicking your flippers. Stay on your back, kick your legs and try to relax. You’re doing great. You’re almost here.”
I did not stop even once to check and see if she was blowing smoke up my butt or if I actually had made some progress and gotten closer to the beach.
After what seemed like forever, I made it to where she was. To this day, I am still amazed that she waited for me. You see, I saw her face when she came up from the water after seeing the shark and as she turned back towards the beach. She. Was. Terrified.
When I reached her, we were out of the open ocean, but the depth of the bay was still over our heads. We linked arms and since she still had her snorkel and I didn’t, she swam face down and I swam on my back and we four-flippered it towards shore as fast as we could.
I was starting to think we may not die after all, and suddenly Eva stopped swimming and brought her head out of the water. “Viv!”
Oh No. The shark is back. I’m not going to drown, but we’re going to get attacked any way….
“Viv! Flip over! Look! A sea turtle! Look at it!”
Are you kidding me with this stuff? I flipped over and stuck my face in the water. I looked through my leaky mask. Yep. A sea turtle. A single, solitary, sea turtle. Great. We saw one. Can we please go now?
After all of this, Eva still sounded excited to see the turtle. For me? It would have needed to be a Diamond Encrusted Nobel Peace Prize Winning Talking Rocket Scientist Turtle for me to have given it more than a perfunctory glance at that point.
You know in the movies how people wash up on shore, coughing up saltwater and seaweed, then crawl a few feet before collapsing, face down in the sand? Yeah, we didn’t do that, but I am sure we did not come out of the water looking like Bond Girls.
We stopped and rested for a moment, looking out at the bay. From the safety of the beach, it didn’t look like we had gone out as far. But I can say without a doubt, the beach looked much farther away when you’re bobbing in the water, thinking that you’re a piece of bait.
We dragged ourselves back to the dive shop. The same portly guy was on duty. I dumped my gear, sans snorkel, on the counter.
Me: “Um, yeah. The shark has your snorkel…”
Portly Dive Shop Guy (PDSG): “What shark? You guys didn’t see a shark…”
Eva: “Oh yes I did! It was a shark, you said there weren’t any sharks!”
PDSG: “Are you sure it wasn’t just a big fish?”
Eva: “No. I saw a shark.”
PDSG: (pulling a book from under the counter and flipping through it…) “Here. Look at this. Did it look like this?”
PSDG: “Oh. You did see a shark.”
Turns out that it is likely Eva saw a Nurse Shark. She says it was easily as big as she was.
PDSG told us that they are mostly harmless and will leave you alone. They only attack if provoked. What might provoke one? Loud noises, big movement, big splashing and commotion.
Only had we poured chum all over us would we have been more deserving of an attack.
PDSG also told us after the fact that in addition to Nurse Sharks, the reef is home to Sandtiger Sharks
…which are butt-ugly, but also (supposedly) not interested in humans, as well as various other reef sharks. Ya know why? They enjoy eating the sea turtles.
We pointed out to PDSG that we asked about sharks before going out, and that we would have appreciated a heads up before telling us to “just keep swimming” and we’d eventually find some sea turtles, aka Shark Food.
He did not charge me for the lost snorkel.
Remember the Before picture for our Snorkeling Adventure? We took a self portrait, After.
After our harrowing encounter with the shark, we needed tequila. STAT. We settled in at a beach side table and ordered ceviche and Margaritas. We marveled at the day’s events. We rehashed everything:
I was probably more freaked out since she saw the real shark and I saw the Macy’s Day Parade Balloon Size Jaws shark in my imagination… What’s with the boat warning us that there is a shark and then leaving us in the water with it….?
(Senor? Two more Margaritas, please.)
We got out Eva’s phone. We called Handsome Hubby at his office and, talking over each other, screeched out our story. We learned later that he was online and researching our shark as we described it. Once he learned it was a Nurse Shark, he kind of chuckled. Told us to be careful and not to drink too much.
(Senor? Yes. Again, please. And some more ceviche? Thanks!)
I think the drinks at our resort were kind of watered down. Or the ones at this Bay were really strong. Or perhaps after such stress, alcohol hits you harder and faster…?
(Shenngnor? Two more pHleese…)
Eva thought it would be a good time to call her 5 year old daughter and tell her that her momma almost got eaten by a shark. (Fortunately, SpongeBob was on TV and her daughter wasn’t paying very much attention when momma was talking…) We both talked to her ex-husband and took turns passing the phone back and forth while we
repeated ourselves ad nauseum told him the story too.
We did still have our wits about us enough to take pictures of our adventure.
(Monsieur? Deux Margaritas, por favor. Merci! Danke Schoen!)
At the point that we have each had about 5 Margaritas, we figured out that it was likely they were straight tequila with a lime squeezed into it. Yep. It is definitely possible that our drinks at the resort were watered down. Way watered down.
We needed to head back to our hotel.
Wait. Where are we? Oh yes. We still need to walk back up the half mile of dirt road, out to the Mexican freeway, cross the freeway, (Frogger, anyone?) choose the right bus and hope to recognize our “exit.”
Or maybe we should try to find a cab.
Falling down drunk and still incapacitated by the fear our little swim put into us, I vaguely remember approaching a row of cabbies and telling them where we need to go and trying to negotiate a price. I also vaguely remember Eva’s Really? You’re bargain hunting right now? Get in the car, fool.
Apparently we decided on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride Taxi Service.
I really don’t remember too much after this.
She tells me that when we arrived back to the resort, probably around 5:30 or so, there was a large new group of guests that had arrived and were having a cocktail mixer by the pool. According to Eva, we stumbled through their party, we each had another drink, and I ate the garnish out of some lady’s cocktail. We are not sure what the garnish was. It could have been a little paper umbrella or a plastic swizzle stick for all I knew.
We went back to our room and I promptly went to sleep. Suddenly Slept? Does that sound better than Passed Out? Either way, that’s what happened.
I think I woke up around midnight, ravenous. Eva was on the phone, telling someone (else!) about our day. I remember calling room service and ordering some nachos. We’re in Mexico. Nachos? Shouldn’t be tough. We got cold chips with crumbled queso blanco. Um, wrong. (We ate it anyway.)
We woke up early the next morning. Hangover? Nope. Armageddon is more accurate. Bed spins… please don’t talk above a whisper… throbbing headache… We each took Tylenol and chugged a bottle of water, then went back to sleep.
We were well enough to discuss the previous day’s events when we woke up again. We were mortified by what could have been. We talked about how irresponsible we were as moms and counted up the ways we could have died:
#1. Shark Attack (well, we could’ve…)
#3. Alcohol poisoning
#4. Attempting to cross a freeway while blind, stinking drunk
#5. Potentially murdered after getting into a stranger’s cab, in Mexico, while blind, stinking drunk.
As we packed our bags because, of course, we had a flight to catch, there was a knock at the door. It was our concierge. In Part 1 of this post, I mentioned that upon our arrival, we had been told there was a special treat for birthdays, anniversaries, etc. We had told the concierge to “surprise us” and then promptly forgot about it.
It turns out that the staff was watching us during the whole lazy week we had been at the resort. They watched us lay by the pool all day, taking breaks only long enough to get a massage or a facial at the spa. They watched us sit for hours at dinner, talking. They observed what time we came in to eat and what we drank, and what desserts we tried. They noticed that we were predictable.
They gathered that information and put together a special 5 course meal, tailored specifically for us and the habits we had exhibited the first 5 nights we were there. And for the 6th night? Where were we when they prepared this special meal and waited (and waited) for us to show up for dinner? Uh, passed out drunk in our room after our snorkeling adventure.
The concierge actually gave us a bit of a talking to. We hung our heads in shame and took it. Yes, M’am. You’re right M’am. We’re sorry M’am.
As we drove towards the airport we, as Lucy and Ethel, realized we were gonna have some ‘splaining to do when we got home. Eva had called everyone we knew, including Handsome Hubby. We are too old to “keep stories straight.” The truth takes so much less energy.
Upon arrival back at LAX, we were both looking a little worse for wear.
We came completely clean with our idiotic adventures. They certainly make for a good story. However, we have not been able to get away for a Girlfriend’s Trip since then. I’m not sure if it is a busy schedule or Divine Intervention. We’re lucky we’re allowed to get together for lunch after that stunt.
By the way, on my actual 40th birthday, we met up for dinner. This is one of the things she got me:
She’s such a smart ass. But then again, that’s one of the many reasons I love her.