Thursday, July 17, 2008

How do you say "Buggy" in Spanish?

Once upon a time we went on our honeymoon. It was, well, special. We had no money and had resigned ourselves to a delayed honeymoon when we could afford it, and then my brother-in-law and sister-in-law offered to pay for a cruise as a wedding gift. At the time, James (my BIL) was getting great pleasure from finding fabulous cruise deals, and so we became his project. The problem was that this all developed too close to our wedding and the only rooms left were bunk bed rooms. Yes. Bunk beds on our honeymoon. We called it an adventure - so grateful for the gift and the opportunity to go somewhere.

It was the coldest day in the recorded history of Galveston on the day we left. The sea was, shall we say, tempestuous. I began to puke almost immediately. For the first day or two of our 4 day honeymoon, I slept off Dramamine and puked. In a bunk bed room.

Every groom's dream.

The highlight of the trip came when, while docked in Playa del Carmen, we stumbled upon a restaurant called The Tequila Barrel. It was great, authentic Mexican food and perfect margaritas. Fabulous.

Several years later we returned to beautiful Playa del Carmen to stay at all all-inclusive resort (now our preference for vacationing - I've yet to puke at one), and we were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves about two blocks from The Tequila Barrel. So we returned and relived those memories (and that food) from our honeymoon.

On the third day of our trip, after people-watching by the pool and soaking up the morning sun, Trey suggested we rent a car and drive to Playa. We'd rented a car in Mexico on a previous trip - a bright yellow open top Jeep - and driven to Tulum. That day is another of my best vacation memories, and the prospect of repeating it sounded like a great plan. Off we went to the rental car place in the hotel, where my husband began to arrange our afternoon:

Trey: "Can we have a Jeep?"
Car Rental Guy: "Yes, yes. I call my associates."
(he makes several phone calls and talks in the fastest Spanish I've ever heard)
Car Rental Guy: "No Jeep. Sorry. You want car?"
Trey (not discouraged): "How about something that's open-air. That would be fine. Just any convertible."
Car Rental Guy: "Yes. Let me make some calls."
(more calls, more Spanish)
Car Rental Guy (with his hand over the receiver): "Only we have buggy. Is okay?"
Trey: "Sure"
Car Rental Guy (pressing): "Buggy is okay?"
Trey (to me): "Is that okay?"
Me: "Sure, whatever."
Trey (to car rental guy - a little confused as to why the guy's trying to get us to commit so vehemently): "Yes. That's fine. We'll take it."

While the car was being delivered to the hotel we ran upstairs to change out of our swimsuits. Trey says, "I wonder why that guy was so weird about us taking a Volkswagen bug?" I tell him maybe it's not the type of convertible he had in mind for us. Then I laugh, "Maybe he meant dune buggy." The mental picture was pretty funny.

We changed our clothes, rushed downstairs, and waited for the car. Suddenly, we heard a rumble coming up the drive. We turned and saw what had to be our car.

It was a bright yellow dune buggy. Really. I mean, really.

So we walked with the car rental man to the dune buggy, where he assured us that it was, in fact, street legal. As Trey and the rental guy looked over the "car" we became the spectacle of the hotel lobby.

A kid (obviously on his way from the kid's club) stopped by and asked, "Where do I sign up for that?"

An older couple stopped and just stared at the "car" for the longest time. Finally, he said "Are you going to drive that." Trey laughed and shrugged, "I guess."

Eventually we hopped over the side - this road-hugging machine had no use for something as conventional as doors - and Trey cranked it up. Nervous laughter filled what would have been the front seat (if there had been such an area in this yellow anomaly), and we were off.

We were speeding down the highways of Mexico literally 3 feet from the road. When the first tour bus passed us and I could see all the way to the other side underneath it, I think I started to get scared. When other drivers honked and waved at us in our amarillo auto and children stared at us from their back seats, I understood this was not a traditional method of transportation south of the border.

At least it had those beat up lap belts to keep us safe and the shaking to keep us awake. I suppose it was a like getting a work out in one of those old-timey machines you see on television shows where you wrap a giant vibrating rubber band around your waist to shake off some pounds. Only we were shaking off our hair, face, arms, legs, back, feet, and well, everything thing else we may have had to offer.

We were shaking to death under tour buses at 100 kilometers per hours under the Mexican highway sun. Every once in a while Trey would shout over the rumble of the engine (I'm confident it was located directly above my knees), "Is this still okay?"

"It's an adventure," I screamed in half-hearted reply.

But the adventure had only just begun...

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