One of my big regrets and one of the sore points of my current marriage involved our Honeymoon.
I want to say, right off the bat, that we were very lucky to have one at all, and that it was generous of our relatives to bankroll our trip to the East coast of Mexico.
I suppose the main issue was the way I handled things. At the time, I felt I had a reason.
The flight down went smoothly. We were all worried about the paperwork, but they hardly glanced at it when we landed. We made it through the airport in a flash.
They warned us about all of the cabbies trying to get you to pay them to take a shuttle. There was one company that we had been recommended to use, and we were to find them and use them– so we did.
We chose to stay at a resort. It was absolutely beautiful, I have to say, and was right on the Gulf of Mexico. Everything was kept perfectly– the grass, the shrubs, the buildings– everything. Our parents invested a lot in this trip, just so we could be together at this place.
When we first got to the resort, we were informed that we needed to meet with a resort official. He ushered us into his office, and he began to try to convince us to use our vacation time to look into investing in timeshare property ourselves.
Evidently, there was another resort, adjacent to this one, that was even better. It had more dining choices, more amenities, more everything.
If we promised to spend a day touring this other resort, with thoughts to invest in it, we would get all kinds of privileges at our current location.
My wife and I discussed these terms and decided not to take the tour. It seemed indicative of the general feeling I was getting in Mexico– that no one had any money except for the tourists– and everybody wanted our dollars.
Our room was great. It was mostly beige and white and was quite tasteful. It had a light citrus aroma– as did the entire resort. I think it was the cleaning agent they used. The shower was very large, there were stacks of fluffy towels, a nice dining table, and a lovely bed with a big, firm mattress.
The first night my wife and I lay down to sleep, we heard a rhythmic thudding. Hoping it would go away, we ignored it. It did not go away– if anything, it got louder.
We realized that our room was very close to a nightclub spot, which featured loud dance music until the wee hours.
My wife admitted that there was no way she could sleep through that kind of noise. After a fitful attempt to rest, we asked, that next day, for another room.
It was granted.
I often noticed the wait staff at the resort. They were very polite and humble. They were Mexican people, who lived off of the resort with their families. They worked all week cooking and cleaning, and went home for their days off, attending Mass and taking care of things.
Whenever we asked for something, the staff would say, “It’s a pleasure”.
A main goal of mine for the Honeymoon was to sit around in the wind and sun, sipping cocktails. I imagined maybe I could do that all day, every day.
I realized quickly that I really did not have the tolerance, or pocketbook, to drink all day.
Plus, my wife was getting restless. She wanted to go on adventures.
T. brought me a pile of brochures, containing details, and extra fees, for various exciting things we could try.
She recommended 8-10 of them, and I was able to talk her down to a few.
One adventure we agreed to involved a horseback trip through the jungle. It was very lovely, though the Mexican guides, who were more experienced, teased me relentlessly about my clumsiness. I am not a natural rider.
We stopped, as a group, and dismounted, near a stand of trees, whose sap is used to create chewing gum. We gathered around the trees for an oral presentation.
At the end of the ride, we arrived at an inland pool. Everyone dove in, and seemed to be having great fun.
I jumped into the pool, and immediately panicked. I wasn’t used to swimming where I could not touch the bottom. I thrashed around for a few minutes, calling my wife’s name, ending up against a set of rocks on one side of the pool. I clung to them for several minutes, panting– and apologized for my lack of puissance.
An exciting adventure, for certain.
Possibly the low point of the entire trip came on one of the early nights. We had our new room, and my wife had taken a lot of trouble to put on some nice clothes, and to spread petals and other romantic toys throughout the space.
We started laughing and talking– and then she got on her cell phone. She kept getting on and off of her phone, trying to persuade me to do and buy things. She was playing with makeup and other items, acting a little childish. In her defense, she was a little tipsy, it was her Honeymoon, and she was simply trying to have fun.
Something about being waited on, and feeling spoiled because of it, the misadventure with the horses, and a general sense that this whole thing was basically about money, caused me to snap. In sharp tones, I asked my wife to cut it out with all of that stuff.
She immediately broke into tears and ran out of the room.
The next few hours were miserable. I was either sitting in the suite by myself, feeling guilty and worried, or walking around the darkened resort, calling T.’s name.
Much later I found her, lying half-passed out on a beach chair.
I persuaded her to come back to the room, but things after that were not quite right between us.
There were a few nice moments at the resort. We went to the beach together and waded in the water. I filmed my wife laughing while small schools of fish swam around her ankles.
We discovered a place where we both liked to eat, that had very delicious smoothies. The smoothies were cool and sweet and did not fill us up too much.
I am afraid the trip to Chichen Itza was my choice of adventures. I had a fascination with ancient structures and heard these were beautiful.
The bus ride down was pleasant enough until it became clear that the bus driver, who was by now everybody’s friend, really just wanted us to invest in items such as local tequila and diamond jewelry (which could be fashioned in the pattern of our names, while we visited the ruins).
Worse, when we arrived at Chichen Itza, we discovered that the ruins were completely engulfed in a kind of commercial shanty town. Hundreds of local Mexican people manned tables and booths, hawking their wares.
There were sweatshirts, sunglasses, sculptures– even carved toys that could make a loud “whooping” sound- a bit like sounds made by the local fauna.
About this time, my wife revealed that she was feeling sick. She had the chills and was nauseous.
We discussed what to do.
We agreed to spend some money on a nice sweatshirt, to keep her warm.
She and I started off with our group. The guide began his presentation, delving into ancient Mexican history. I got a nice view of the ancient structures, from about a half-mile away.
My wife quickly realized she could make it no further. A cold rain was falling, and she was shivering.
I walked her back to the tour bus, and we sat next to one another, waiting for the tours to end.
The return trip was quite stressful. My wife seemed feverish.
The bus driver looked back at us with concern. He recommended she drink a Coke.
Quite a bit later, that night, T. was getting worse. She was lying in the shower stall, on the floor.
I did not know what to do– after all, we were in Mexico, and it was 1 am.
T. insisted that she needed medical attention.
I called the night staff and had them page a taxi. The taxi took us 45 minutes to the nearest hospital.
When we arrived at the hospital, it must have been around 2:30 am.
A doctor was paged. After about a half an hour, he came to our room.
He was very polite and soft-spoken. He suggested that the problem probably resulted from something she had eaten or had to drink.
He gave her some medication to help and sent us on our way.
We took a cab back to the resort, and collapsed, exhausted.
T.’s condition improved, but only slightly. She was grateful to have a diagnosis, and medicine to take. The resort staff was very nice, bringing us noodle soup that I think might have belonged to one of them personally.
T. and I did have a nice deep massage on the Gulf. A trained masseuse rubbed oils into our skin, as the wind blew off of the water and through our wooden chamber. We left the treatment feeling very refreshed.
Sadly, the plane trip home was hard on my wife, who, if anything, became even sicker.
At the connecting airport, we had to ask for a transport vehicle that is usually reserved for the elderly or handicapped.
We were relieved to return to our Midwestern hometown.
It took my wife some time to recover, and I am afraid our troubles were substantial enough that neither of us will ever forget. It was a Honeymoon full of challenges, adversity– and mistakes.
Looking back, I have learned a lot. I am glad T. survived the trip, and though she may never forgive me for my sharp words and other miscues, we are still together.
Personally, I get mellower every year. I might even be able to have fun with my wife, after all, without getting upset or snapping.
When I do, I think it will be Stateside.
Thomas Park is a multi-disciplinary artist living with his wife and 2 cats in Saint Louis, Missouri. A big poetic inspiration is Philip Levine with his works that pay tribute to hard-working people. Thomas would like to follow in Mr. Levine's footsteps.