This story was written by my dear friend and fellow globetrotter Kyle about our spring break trip to Mexico in 2007. It remains one of the greatest poop stories ever told. Without further ado…
If I learned one thing about Mexico, it would have to be that you should always, always, take the blanket given to you by the flight attendant on the flight south. If you don’t plan on eating at McDonalds for the duration of your trip, you just never know when, or how violently the food will activate your inner diarrhea volcano. And it isn’t a question of if, so much as when.
“Hey guys, take the fleece blanket on your way out,” my friend Caitlin suggested as the plane touched down in Guadalajara. Our maturity level clearly impugned, Ben and I ridiculed her mercilessly, mostly at the suggestion that as college students on spring break we could not act as adults and refrain from stealing. “Alright, but you never know. I’m taking mine,” she replied amidst our mocking, while stuffing it into her backpack.
Going out of our way to avoid the typical spring break hotspots, like Cancun, or say, Cancun, we decided to visit a friend, Kelsy, who had graduated early, and moved to the Central Mexican city of Guadalajara. Arriving at the airport we began discussing our strategies for not getting sick and the dreaded curse of Montezuma’s Revenge. Having just studied abroad in Beijing during the height of the bird flu outbreak, I felt certain that my immune system would prevail over Montezuma. Also, I wondered who exactly Montezuma was, and why he sought revenge, but didn’t want to ruin my traveler’s cred.
While most of our peer group could be found lying on the beach outside of Señor Frog’s in a cloud of tequila body shots and regret, the four of us passed our time wandering the cobblestone streets of Guadalajara, shopping for lucha libre masks, drinking horchata, and playing a game we lovingly referred to as, “Pregnant or Fat?” However, as it is seen as impolite to ask a woman her “status,” the game lacked a resolution or a winner, and thus we found ourselves in need of moving on beyond the bustling streets of Guadalajara.
As college students on spring break, it is literally in our DNA that a beach must be found at some point during the trip. As college students not supported by daddy’s trust fund, we bought bus tickets for the 6-hour overland trip to Manzanillo. Montezuma decided, however, that Caitlin would be his first victim, so we delayed the trip by one day. Of course, this was an awful time for her, but in retrospect we found ourselves conveniently in the comfort of Kelsy’s apartment, with a functioning toilet, and still no need for the airplane blanket.
Kelsy stayed behind to work, so the three of us ventured to the bus station, and found ourselves in the sticky situation of who would have to sit next to the complete stranger on the bus. I, of course, selflessly volunteered, and sat wondering who my seat mate would be. A bandido perhaps? A hot, sweaty laborer? A pregnant or fat lady? No, as luck would have it, a nice old man with leathered, sun-worn skin, and a mustache that rivaled Juan Valdez’s.
We took Juan’s advice on which beach would be best, and told a taxi driver to just take us to anything affordable in that area. After checking out approximately one hotel, we decided that it would be fine for a night, and that the towels folded into the shape of a swan floating on the bed definitely made up for the lack of a continental breakfast.
We awoke the next morning to go lie on the beach of the city often referred to as the “poor man’s Puerto Vallarta.” In our minds, this meant there would be less crowds, more affordable accommodation, and equally beautiful beaches. Two out of three ain’t bad. As we sunbathed on our deserted beach, instead of marveling at beautiful bodies and eye candy, we got an eyeful of a smoke stack in the distance, bellowing a cloud of haze that would make for some colorful sunsets.
We didn’t mind though, as the three of us have a skin tone that would be described on a paint chip as “eggshell.” A morning at the beach without SPF 60 is fairly devastating for all of us. After a quick barefoot run in the sand, we realized check out time for our hotel had come, and we should get to the other side of town to check out other beaches. As we packed our things, my stomach began to express a hint of Montezuma’s revenge. Not an issue I thought afterward, as I popped two Imodium and we went on our way to catch a cross-town public bus.
It wasn’t until a few minutes into the bus ride that I realized that a) Imodium takes a while to kick in, b) Montezuma wants merciless revenge over, and over, and over, and c) the cross-town bus didn’t make many stops. All of these forces collided into me squirming in my seat with increased intensity, until Ben noticed me visibly distressed, and asked what was wrong. At that point the best I could do was yell, “give me the airplane blanket!” as I quickly fashioned a sort of fleece diaper-sarong around my bathing suit.
As it sank in that there was clearly nothing to stop the flow of revenge, and how truly spiteful Montezuma was for ravaging me on public transport, feelings of horror and regret quickly faded into flashes of pride and hilarity at the situation. Though the small señora seated behind me apparently didn’t find it humorous, and quickly moved to the rear.
Beyond learning the valuable lesson that an airline blanket doubles as a disposable diaper of sorts, it quickly became clear that Montezuma, the ancient ruler of the Aztec civilization defeated by Cortes, also has a wry sense of humor. After getting off the bus as quickly as possible and a quick “re-grouping,” we searched for an acceptable hotel for the night.
After settling on Hotel Las Brisas, due to the several-blocks-from-the-beach low price, we opened the door to our room, and Ben and I quickly went to the balcony to check the view. Caitlin however, with a woman’s eye attuned to the subtleties of cleanliness, noticed something dangling from the ceiling fan left by previous guests, or perhaps the spirit of Montezuma.
Like a true gift from above, while cleaning the room in the morning, the maid had somehow missed the pair of skid-marked tighty-whities, silently mocking my plight. After the ensuing photo-shoot, the maid came to our aid and giggled nervously while thoughtfully inquiring if they were ours. No, no they weren’t we told her as she fished them down with a broomstick and latex gloves.
I believe the idea of asking for an upgrade crossed all of our minds, but we knew in our hearts that the room was beyond perfect. We sat down on the beds wondering what cruel irony would be in store for the final victim of the trip, Ben.
Alas, a lapse of judgment regarding the health standards of a street-side shrimp taco stand would do him in just a few days later. Montezuma’s destiny, fulfilled.