I had moved in with Trish in July of 1998. Around about November, I suggested that we spend Christmas in Mexico. She agreed. Try as I may, I could not get an all inclusive resort. Having backpacked around Europe, I told her that we just needed our air fare to Cancun. I managed to get accommodation on Isla Mujeras (the Island of women). Things were working out after all.
Now, we had our first week booked, but we had another week left. Both of us being adventurous, we decided to get a bus down to the border town in Mexico and cross into Belize. A few days in Belize and we’d take in Guatemala. I had no problem booking a hotel in Chetumal. The hotel was lovely and it was Christmas Day, our first Christmas day together.
Armed with credit cards, we set out to have a meal in a nice restaurant. To our utter dismay the entire town was closed. Not one restaurant was open. No ATM machines in sight.
We saw the bus station and wandered in. There it was, our Christmas Day dinner laid out for us, cafeteria style. The cashier shook her head when I took out a credit card. “No cards –just cash. We sat at a nearby table and counted out our cash.
I knew Trish wanted to phone her family. We could do that, but only for a few minutes. We walked down the isle of unappetizing food and settled on a plate of meat balls and spaghetti. We split a coke.
Two minutes, what can you say to your family at Christmas? Trish plucked up all the courage she could muster and passed on greetings. Yes, we were having a wonderful Christmas Day. When she put down the phone, I could see tears in her eyes. I put my arm around her, we kissed, and then made our way back to the hotel.
Holding hands and deciding that “tomorrow’s another day,” we stopped in disbelieve. There it was, “Santo Francesco Supermarcado.” And, there were Visa and Master card signs. I headed for the wine section with Trish right at my heels. We could smell cooked chicken and hot vegetables. We added dessert and popcorn and other goodies. Back at the hotel, we watched a Spanish movie, where a duck gets kicked out of his home at Christmas,but finds the manger in some little village church. All the villagers make him feel welcome. Being sentimental beings and having imbibed a few glasses, we shed a few tears for the duck. Then, another couple of glasses and we looked at the brochures for Belize and Guatemala.
It was a great trip to both countries, but as the school bus reached the Mexican border again, the custom’s official singled me out for inspection. I took my backpack and told Trish to phone the Canadian consul in Cancun or Mexico city (I had no idea of its location) should I not return. The Police Captain was very polite and his minnion examined my bag. The Captain looked at my passport carefully and for a moment, I had visions of watchingt lots of Spanish movies of the duck’s friends or soap operas.
Trish beamed when she saw me, and we both decided that Santo Francesco’s supermarcado would still be open. We both needed a drink!