Saturday, December 27, 2008

My Mexican Mishaps

I'm in Cancun right now, I have been here for four days now, and have slipped into a strange world that I do not fully understand. I will be describing my hedonistic holidays in a separate post, but first here is a quick update on three adventures that befell Nat and I over the last few days.

Departing San Cristobal for Cancun we knew we were in for a long ride. "Great", I had said as we queued up waiting to buy our tickets, "I can't wait for another 14 hour bus ride." If only that had been the case. When we got to the front of the line and purchased our tickets we discovered that we had underestimated the return trip, and would be spending 18 hours on the bus instead.

Our bus was not leaving until the following afternoon so we began searching for a cheap hostel to spend the night. The last hostel we had stayed at in San Cristobal was full, and after wandering by several other places that were either full, or too expensive we settled on Ek Balam more out of desperation than anything else. While we both have probably spent nights in worse accommodation in our lives we probably haven't spent many nights in sketchier places. The problems were too numerous to name them all. The lock on the door was busted. The guy working spent about 15 minutes trying to find a key for it, and finally gave up and showed us that if you just jammed a key in the lock really hard and shook the door for a few seconds it should pop open. This seemed to work pretty well, so stepping over the piles of hair and cigarette butts we made our way to the bed.

The following morning, after breakfast, I decided to show Natalie the torture apparatus that our posh room had been equipped with. Running from the only electrical outlet in the room was a long electric cord with the end stripped back to reveal several inches of copper wire inside. "Watch this!" I said, picking up the cable and touching the ends together. A brief blue flash and a shower of sparks shot out from the cable, and then darkness enveloped us. I had just blown out the circuit for the majority of the hostel. We used our headlamps to back our bags and left promptly.

Once at the bus station we began to wait, and wait, and wait finally an hour after we were supposed to depart for Cancun our bus showed up, and 20 minutes later we were underway. The going was slow and it was quickly apparent that we were not going to get to Cancun in 18 hours. We passed the time watching movies, the first of which was American Gangster, which had not been dubbed meaning that we got to enjoy it in English. Next came The Godfather (El Padrino in Spanish), which was exciting for about 30 seconds until it became apparent that this was not THE Godfather. Instead it was some insanely low budget flick (I'm talking a D movie here) starring, and directed by, Damian Chapa, who will now haunt my dreams forever. Forced to endure Damian Chapa's acting we suffered on until it finally ended around midnight. At which point they started it over again.

Finally, 24 hours later we arrived in Cancun. We made our way to the resort, had dinner, and promptly went to sleep. The next day we spent hours trying to figure out what to do when the airline holding our tickets to our next destination decided to cancel our reservation. Then, after spending the morning at the airport desperately searching for a way out of that mess, we made our way to the beach to finally relax.

We spread out on a bed (yes there are beds on the beach!!) and began reading our books. I had finished about 2 pages when I heard the first scream. A high pitched, bone rattling, scream of someone experiencing sheer agony. I looked up in time to see three guys dragging a woman out of the water by her life jacket.
The men carried her over to a bed and I ran over to see what was going on. The first things I noticed were the cuts on her leg. Certainly not life threatening, but none to pleasant either. More concerning was the odd angle of her hip, and the bumps protruding from it. I quickly ascertained that there had been a Ski Do accident and asked the men if there were paramedics on-sight. They said yes and that they were going to get them now. Thinking I would only have to deal with the situation for a minute or two I began my scan of her body, and another woman rushed over to help. After a minute no paramedics had arrived and we were then told there was no one on staff. While Natalie set about making sure that an ambulance had been called we bundled the woman in towels and tried to keep her calm though she continued to scream about her broken pelvis. It was a tense situation made worse when her friends came rushing over and started screaming and crying next to her. I monitored her pulse and kept her talking. From time to time she would black out and I would need to lean close to her chest to make sure she was still breathing. The throng of spectators had grown thick, and plenty of people tried to give advice. “She's passing out, give her sugar”, one guy sagely advised me. “OMG get fuck out of here.” I wanted to scream at him. Finally after about 30 minutes (though others have put it at more like 45) the paramedics arrived. With their help we cut her life jacket away and carefully rolled her onto a backboard. She was taken to the hospital and that is the end of my involvement in the story...almost.

The next day I was standing at the bar ordering drinks when I overheard a man relating the incident to some other guests. It went something like this:

“I saw these guys drag this woman out of the water screaming. She was bleeding REALLY badly from these HUGE, DEEP gashes in her leg (again, they were nasty cuts but not the biggest issue by far). Luckily she was a doctor and was able to keep herself conscious to direct people how to stop the bleeding because she knew that if she blacked out and they did not stop the bleeding she was going to bleed to death. Her blood was soaking through these towels and she kept taking to the people, who didn't know what they were doing, and finally got them to stop the bleeding. Then after an hour an ambulance FINALLY showed up and took her to the hospital. She was lucky she was a doctor or she would have been dead.”

I smiled to myself, shook my head, grabbed my Tequila Sunrise, and headed back to the beach. I was finally beginning to relax a bit.

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