My husband and I have been going to Cozumel for years and never took the kids because we wanted them to be old enough to enjoy and remember the trip before we spent such a large amount of money. However, we shared every detail with them, building up the magical paradise that they could only envision in their dreams.
After years of growing children and saving money, the time had arrived for us to take them to the island for three weeks. They could hardly believe that they were finally going to experience the fantasy tales of never-ending sunshine, water so blue and clear that you could see to the bottom, and sea life of every kind. Their dreams of all-inclusive play, food, fun, and no early bedtimes or chores were finally going to come true!
We arrived on the island and although the sky was dark, which made the turquoise water we had bragged about look gray, we reassured them that the water and the chilly temperature would blow away as fast as it arrived, for storms in the Caribbean usually don’t last very long.
Unloading eight bottles of sunscreen, my son glanced outside and said, “Guess we won’t be needing these today.” He set them on the dresser as the wind and rain slapped heavily against the glass doors. The weather was so severe by now that we were not able to see a thing outside our doors and windows. “Just a sudden tropical storm,” I reassured them once again.
Seasick travelers walked by announcing stories of the twenty-foot swells they had just endured coming off the ferry. I overheard that it took them two hours to make the trip, which should have been a lot shorter. We snuggled deeper into our sweats and wished that we had brought warmer clothing but while packing in Missouri, sweats just seemed too hot at the time. My family and I headed toward the dining room for there was nothing else to do but eat on this paradise isle. This was similar to our winter lives in Missouri.
The marble, so beautiful and lavish, now was as dangerous as walking on ice as our flip-flops just didn’t do the job of keeping us from slipping. Everything was wet. No, actually, flooded would be a more accurate word. “De restaurant weel be reedy een one hour,” our host informed us.
“Aww, man!” grumbled the kids. Reminders of a sunny paradise for tomorrow and that the Kids Club was around the corner hushed their complaints. Kids Club was a Caribbean Disneyland and the children pressed their noses against the glass as they gazed in at the colorful toys, video games, and all kinds of rainy day activities.
“It says right here that it’s open from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. so why isn’t it open?” It was now my turn to get frustrated. Father and son went to search for someone – anyone – to unlock the door as my daughters and I waited in case the Kids Club worker decided to show up for work that day. I know about island time but this was getting a little ridiculous!
It’s funny how no one can speak English when you need them to. Help did not arrive, so we decided to check out the hot tubs. Correction: cold tubs. The fully equipped gym, as portrayed in the glossy brochure consisted of a broken Universal machine, a set of ten-pound dumbbells, and a rusty stationary cycle with no seat. An hour later, the manager appeared with, “Jes, jes, we know. Everytheeng will be feexed as soon as posseeble.”
By now we were freezing and soaked to the bones for in Cozumel, it doesn’t rain often and everything is open with no roof except for our rooms. Feeling relief to get in our warm, dry rooms and out of our cold, wet clothes we dashed through the doors only to find it was also raining in our room! The ceiling was leaking and there was an inch of water on the floor.
Our swampland journey continued as we waded through the uncovered walkway again to find the manager in the lobby. As we waited for her, a once-in-a-lifetime sight caught our eyes. The faux presents under the 25-foot Christmas tree were floating away as rainwater gushed into the lobby!
That night we rested in the new, dry rooms. The manager moved us to the best suite and promised that they would make everything better. Things could be worse, I thought to myself as I drifted off to sleep, feeling warm and dry for the first time since arriving on the island.
I arose to the song of tropical birds and glorious sunshine flooding the room. Three days of hurricane-like weather seemed like an eternity so when the sun spilled in, it was as if I had just been released from prison!
Not even bothering to change out of my pajamas, I ran past the banana tree and blew it a kiss, jumped over the ledge that separated the beach from the pool, and made a mad dash to my Caribbean blue sea. Having traveled thousands of miles from the middle of the U.S. to the place where my heart dwells and my future home some day, I couldn’t wait to see the turquoise blue of the sea once again.
Usually the first glimpse of the water’s blue-green would stop me dead in my tracks and breathless, but what took my breath away was that my Caribbean blue had turned black! For nearly two miles the sea was black.
I learned that the resort’s extra long pier was built in an attempt to collect sand and build up the beach. However, in the rare occasion of a storm, the current could not flow and mangroves gathered between the two piers, creating the black, murky, junk-filled water.
Eventually, the Kid’s Club opened, the pools were cleaned, and everything functioned but waiting two weeks for my Caribbean blue to return was unacceptable! Our travel agent was nowhere to be found in our time of need so we moved ourselves to another resort on the opposite end of the island where my son finally stated, “Now I know why you call this paradise!” My Caribbean blue was no longer black but BACK!