In an effort to not have to tell this story ever again, I thought I would blog about it. Then, if you wanted to revisit the incident, you could just re-read it. If you've never heard this story, then I present to you: Heather and Mom Go to Costa Maya.
After I finished school, I decided to take another cruise. Mom had never been on one, so I thought I could incorporate my vacation needs with her 50th birthday. I paid for her cruise and airfare. All she had to cover was small incidentals, like souvenirs. All her coworkers were jealous that she got to go on a Caribbean cruise and Mom relished it. Brownie points for Heather!
So, in February of 2005, we sailed from Tampa to the Western Caribbean on a 7-day cruise. Our ports of call: Belize, Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Costa Maya. For the most part, we did what tourists usually do...sight see and shop. Except in Costa Maya.
There really isn't a whole lot to do in Costa Maya as it is a newly developing port. The group I was cruising with orchestrated a Beach Break Party. For a flat fee, we had access to a private beach, lunch, and open bar. Games and DJ provided. This sounded like a nice, relaxing day.
That morning, our group left the ship, caught our ride, and were taken to this little resort where our beach party was to be held. Little children milled around peddling anything from hand woven bracelets to dried banana chips. We paid our fee and allowed entrance on the beach.
Everything started okay. We sipped pina coladas and strawberry daiquiris. Some women had set up massage tables on the beach, so people could pay a little extra for a 30 minute rub down, which I took advantage of. People played in the turquoise waters, danced to tunes provided by the DJ, and took full advantage of the open bar.
At some point after our shrimp and nacho lunch, someone suggested that because we were in Mexico, we should do a round of shots. This sounded okay with me, even though I'm not a huge fan of tequila, but hey, when in Rome...
Mom, however, was hesitant. I thought it was because she didn't like tequila either, but she only said, "I like tequila..."
I went and fetched a round of tequila shots for the 4 (the other couple were friends of mine) of us at our little table. Salute and the shots were tossed down. Mom made a face and exclaimed, "Those were weak!" She took our empty glasses and made a beeline to the bar. In minutes, she returned with another round. This time, the tequila looked a little darker.
Salute and the shots tossed. Some stragglers joined in and two more rounds after that were served. Four shots total for Mom. Let the fun and games begin!
Our group had organized a sand sculpture contest. Mom decided it would be a fine idea to enter, so she set up camp by the beach with the rest of the people. She worked diligently on her sculpture, because after all, she was an artist of sorts, having won scholarships to attend art school when she was younger. After an hour, time was called and the judging began. Mom's entry: A One-Eyed Sea Serpent. If you think you might have an idea what that would be, you would be correct. A large sand penis on the beach, courtesy of my mother.
The grass is supposed to be pubic hair.
Sadly, she didn't win, but that didn't damper her spirits. Instead, she returned to the bar to do celebratory tequila rounds with whomever happened to be standing there. Then, she danced with some other women who were also pretty toasted, and I don't mean sunburned. More tequila shots ensued. At one point, the bar ran out of tequila and had to send out for another case. I'm fairly confident that my mother was directly responsible.
A hundred people in my group attended the beach party, I'm convinced she had shots with almost all of them. The only ones she didn't do shots with were the children. However, she more than made up for this deficit by doing rounds with the owner of the resort, in addition to the bartenders. The more she drank, the harder it was to keep track of her. At some point, I considered finding a bell for her to wear so she wouldn't get lost. To say she was completely blitzed would be an understatement. However, I had done 10 shots, and I was still within sound mind, completely sober (courtesy of my father's alcoholic genetic makeup). This comes into play later.
Around 5pm, it is time to head back to the ship. The owner of the resort (whom I will call Fredo) was calling cabs to come and pick us up. Mom would return to the bar for shots while we waited our turn. Fredo's family had come down to the beach and Mom started doing shots with the owner's wife, a pretty blonde lady that only spoke Italian. That didn't stop the two of them from chattering happily to each other. I don't think they understood each other, but they were united in their love for tequila.
It becomes apparent that there are no more cabs to be had, and myself, the couple who I knew personally, and Mom. Fredo decides that he likes us enough to drive us back to the port himself. Did I mention he had been doing shots at the bar all day as well??
We pile into his white minivan. I'm sitting in the front seat, Fredo is driving, Mom and the other couple in the back. Fredo starts driving, Mom and Company are chattering away in the back. Fredo forgets he's the driver and just turns around in his seat to join in the drunken conversation, and almost plows into the back of a taxi. I can see the ship from where I am sitting, and I truly believe that we are going to die before we even get there.
By some miracle, we happen to make it back to port without running into the Mexican cliche of a truck full of chickens. I pry my fingernails out of the dashboard, because I was the only one astutely aware of what was going on, considering I was the only sober one in the vehicle. Mom thinks Fredo is a taxi driver and tries to give him money for the ride. He refuses, telling her that he had such fun that day, taking her money would be an insult. The game of "please take this money-I couldn't possibly accept" ensues while the couple, and myself, get out of the van. I'm trying to tell Mom to let it be when I hear a plop. I turn around and there is my friend, face planted on the pavement. Apparently, she took a swan dive out of the minivan. I stare at her for a minute, my mind reeling with "How is God's name are we going to get her back to the ship if she's passed out?!?" I just tap her husband on the shoulder, who turns around and sees his wife still laying on the pavement. I look at my friend again, hoping she isn't unconscious. She starts shaking with bouts of laughter, and I am relieved. I look up to see an elderly couple (from the ship), pointing in obvious disdain.
Fredo hops out of the van to help my friend up, and she can barely stand on her own. I tell her husband to just focus on getting his wife back to the ship, and I will manage my mother.
I lead Mom back into the port area, which has a bunch of souvenir shops. She immediately starts waving her arms around singing, "I LOVE MEXICO AND I LOVE TEQUILA! I AM THE MOM AND THIS IS MY DAUGHTER!!" I pull my hat down to cover my face.
She stops mid-song and exclaims, "I NEED A HAT!!" I tell her we can get her a hat when we get back on board, but she insists on a hat right then and there and immediately darts over to one of the souvenir shops. She proclaims to everyone in the shop that she loves Mexico, and she loves tequila, and she needs a hat. The shop owner directs her to a display of cute sunhats, which she poo-poos because they are too small. He shows her another display with big straw hats. Still too small.
"I WANT SOMETHING BIGGER!!"
Shit...what could be bigger? The owner drags her around the corner to a display with the biggest, ugliest straw sombreros I have ever seen. She picks one with the word "Mexico" stitched on the front in red yarn and plops it on her head. It's too big, and it falls below her eyes. The brim is so big, it flops in such a manner that I truly believe it could cause someone to take flight. I could have easily picked this hat up in Cozumel for $5, but the owner wanted $25. While I am haggling price with the owner, Mom decides to give a hug to everyone in the shop. A quick as a grass fire, word spreads that there is a drunk American woman with big hooters giving free hugs. I then see workers from other shops hauling ass to get their hug. I decide that I'm done haggling and that Mom needs to be taken back to the ship before she causes an international incident. I fork over $20 for the cheap $5 hat and collect my mother. The shop workers are disappointed. I'm such a killjoy.
Arm around her waist, I lead her back to the ship while she resumes singing her song and waving her arms around. I almost cry when I see that the walk to the ship is SO FAR AWAY. But wait! There's a little tram that will take us from one end of the pier to the other, thereby decreasing the risk of my inebriated mother falling off the pier, into the ocean, while still wearing that big, damn, ugly hat.
We get on the tram, and immediately Mom gravitates to the person who is as drunk as she is, which is another woman roughly her age. They both start chattering in that language that transcends all cultures, and only drunks can understand. Mom is standing up, despite my repeated attempts to get her to sit down (she's still wearing the big, ugly sombrero, mind you). The tram reaches the end of the pier, but we still have a long way to walk. The driver of the tram notices my plight and unhitches his cart from the tram and offers to drive us the rest of the way. Thank goodness for the sympathy of strangers!!
Meanwhile, all the workers speak little to no English. All I can say is, "Mucho tequila." All the workers nod in understanding. This isn't the first time they've seen a drunk American.
We reach the ship and I help Mom off the cart. I give the driver $5 for his effort, and Mom gives him a big hug. I navigate her to the ship's check-in where she makes an attempt to tell the security guard how much loves Mexico and how much she loves tequila. The security guard could care less. We pass through security, and catch an elevator where she begins to sing her song again to an elevator full of strangers. "I love Mexico, and I love tequila!" From somewhere in the back of the elevator, comes a voice, "And obviously, it loves you." Mom tells everyone how this cruise is a present, from me, for her 50th birthday. Sympathetic smiles are cast my way and we reach our floor.
The tequila finally catches up with her and she decides to spend the evening in the cabin, in bed, nibbling on crackers. She doesn't touch anything with tequila for the remainder of the cruise. At the end of the cruise, she ran out of space to pack the big, ugly sombrero that I paid, in every sense of the word, too much for. She didn't want to carry it, so she tried to give it away to our cabin steward, who immediately turned it down. I told her that she had to take it home, even if it meant she had to wear it the entire way. So she did. At the airport, a man stopped and smiled. "Tequila, huh?" Some people just know.
It wasn't until after I get home, that I hear the stories of my mother drinking tequila, and singing to random garbage cans. This is information I could have used before we left for the trip.
So, this is the story of Mom, me and Costa Maya...so don't ask me to tell it to you ever again. She's booked the next cruise with me. Thankfully, we won't be stopping in Mexico. However, God only knows what's going to happen at Margaritaville.