Volume 12, Number 70, 2009

by Donald Lugers

“Next year in Mexico,” they c o n f i d e n t l y toasted. At that particular spot in time, they probably really did believe that it would come to pass.

Petie leaned back in his chair and marvelled at the irony of travelling all the way to Florida only to run into, not only his sister and family, but also his brother and wife. What a small world! They partied hearty and promised to make a southern reunion a yearly event. Perhaps being a newly minted single parent would be a fun experience.

The months flew by.

“Dad! Have you booked our trip to Mexico yet?”

Apparently his daughter, Niky, was the only person that remembered their pledge of one year ago.

“No, sorry we can’t make it,” said his sister. His brother’s reply was the same.

Looked like it would just be the four of them. Yes, Petie now had a serious love interest in his life.

“Susie. How would you like to go to Mexico?”

“Sounds great. When?”

“In a couple of months.”

“That’s a problem. I’ve used up all my leave for the year.”

What to do?

Petie and Susie put their heads together and decided there was no alternative but to tie the knot officially. That way the government would kindly grant them each a week of marriage leave.

So it came to pass that the happy couple were joined in wedlock amidst the snow and ice of an Ottawa December. Shortly thereafter they found themselves winging their way south, not on a honeymoon - but a family-moon.

Hours later they descended into Shangri-la: otherwise know as Manzanillo. Packed into a little bus, they careened off down a twisty hill at breakneck speed. Their terror was over in a half an hour but it seemed like an eternity, and then some.

Club Maeva was 90 acres of tropical paradise. They were greeted by a bevy of beautiful bikinis and then ushered into a large open-air hall where they were overwhelmed with complimentary drinks and appetizers. That was it for “free,” unfortunately. Henceforth, it was pay - pay - pay. Those were the old days before “all inclusive” became all the rage.

The “freebies” disappeared all too quickly, and they were ushered off to their room. It turned out to be a three story turret with a kitchen and twocouched living room on the ground floor connected by a winding staircase to a second floor with two double beds and a bathroom, and yet a third floor with a king size bed and another washroom. It seemed a little too grand for what Petie had ordered, and sure enough, there was an extra suitcase piled amongst their own. Ironically it was labelled Cathy “Joyce.”

“Looks like we have to share our little castle with someone else,” announced Petie. “Cathy probably has the third floor.”

The rest of the Ottawa Joyce clan looked most displeased at that prospect.

Just when Petie feared his family might lynch him from the tower wall, a porter came along and saved the day: “So very sorry. This suitcase was left by mistake.”

That was the last they heard of Cathy.

It being early afternoon and the day being a sunny 30 degrees Celsius, they quickly donned their bathing suits and headed down to a small pool just outside their door. There was nobody else there so they settled into comfortable loungers.

“Excuse me. Would you like to order some drinks?” A waiter had arrived.

Petie opened one eye and replied: “Can we get two margaritas, please?”

“I’ll have a pina colada,” chimed in Niky.

Timmy added: “Beer for me.”

“Isn’t that cute,” thought Petie as he drifted back into his nap. “A 13-yearold girl and 10-year-old boy ordering alcohol. Hope they won’t be too disappointed when they get soft drinks.”

“That will be 150 pesos,” the waiter announced.

Petie paid with a nice tip. He started to lean back on his chair but was shocked by the sight of Niky sipping on what looked like a pina colada and Timmy definitely slurping back a real beer.

“Good Grief!” he thought. “Will definitely have to keep an eye on those two this week.” With that in mind, he slipped back into a warm southern sleep.

Over the next few days, they developed an easy-going routine. A little store on the complex provided sustenance for Susie to start everyone off with a hardy breakfast of bacon and eggs, or pancakes and sausages. Cereal and all manner of snacks kept the kids’ appetites at bay throughout the course of the day.

Dinners were a bit more of a challenge. The kids always had whatever, and Petie managed to luck out on what he had. Susie, on the other hand, had more than one disappointing surprise. One night she ordered her evermost favourite red snapper but was served what looked for all the world like an oversized, over-oiled sardine - and tasted even worse. Another time she fancied pollo con mole. Who would have fancied “chicken in chocolate sauce” might be considered a delicacy?

Around the pool one day, Susie had a yen for nachos.

“Can we get a large platter of nachos?” she asked the waiter.

“I’ll ask the kitchen.”

He returned in a few minutes to caution: “It will cost 500 pesos.”

“That’s fine.”

Off he went and returned shortly with the promised platter. By then Petie had calculated their cost to be about $40.

“They better be good,” he grumbled.

An evening special involved everyone lining up for an interminable length of time to claim their meal. For whatever reason, Susie and the lady in front of her had occasion to exchange unpleasantries. Maybe “such things are more common in sun-drenched climes.” Regretably the lady’s husband decided to get involved and insulted Susie. Two ladies being involved in a tiff was one thing, but for a man to impugn a lady - well that was intolerable! Petie immediately challenged the caitiff to a duel. Off the opponents went to the centre of the square. Just before the fisticuffs started to fly, Petie had a vision of spending a bad night in a squalid prison cell before being deported. Perhaps justice had already been served.

The centre of the complex had a pool that was reputed to be the largest in Mexico. It was hard to argue with that assertion since it was hard to see where exactly the pool started and where it ended. Most of the time that was where they loitered for hours on end. Within a couple of days, Petie’s bronzed body and dark curls had the waiters addressing him in Spanish. By week’s end, he was starting to reply in kind. Who knows what might have happened on a two-week vacation.

They visited the city of Manzanillo but found it to be not so awfully impressive. A tour of the surrounding Bay, however, was quite spectacular with no end of verdant foliage, variegated flowers and luxury holiday spots. A highlight was certainly the resort wherein they shot the movie 10 with Dudley Moore and Bo Derek. The imagination ran wild.

Alas, their week drew all too quickly to an end. They decided for their piece de resistance to make the extra walk down to the beach. What joy to dig their toes into the silver sand and immerse their bodies in the salt of the Pacific. And be harassed by no end of pedlars. Petie decided to buy a lovely silver ring with slanted inlaid turquoise. A memory to be worn forever.

The next day they returned to the snow and ice of Ottawa.

“How come you’re not wearing your new ring?” Susie asked a short time thereafter.

“One of the pieces of turquoise fell out. I was thinking of replacing it with a little piece of Play-Doh.”

“I don’t think so.” Susie gave him the look.

Off to the dresser drawer it went, and there it still resides.