Thursday, April 29, 2010


Joyce and I left just enough time to drop off our rented VW bug near the Cozumel ferry station and catch the 7pm boat to Playa del Carmen. We had loaded all our luggage and food into the old bug, drove to the ferry terminal and dropped Joyce and the bags off, then I drove to the nearby car rental shop to return it. I walked back to meet Joyce. She was feeling peckish, so she went in search of nibbles while I stood watch over our pile of stuff.

One of the bags held our traditional mini-keg of Heineken, and we'd remembered to bring paper cups, so I poured myself a beer. I lit a Cohiba cigarillo. It started to rain again. The wind picked up. I glanced at the time and started to wonder if Joyce would make it back in time for the ferry. I poured myself another beer, and an elderly man riding a bike with a wooden homemade luggage cart pointed at it and said something in Spanish. I asked him "how much" in Spanish (one of the few Spanish words I can use with any sort of command) and he replied "only tips". Sold.

The man and I began loading the luggage and bags of food onto his cart. Joyce arrived just in time to start boarding the ferry. We walked past the gate, but the man on the bike had to go a separate path to get to the ferry. I wondered if we'd ever see our stuff again, but there he was waiting by the ferry to help unload our bags.

We took a seat near the front of the ferry. I poured another beer out of the Heinekeg for myself and one for Joyce. Shortly thereafter the ferry boat backed out of the terminal and headed west toward Playa del Carmen. And then the swaying started.

I don't get seasick. Never have. But this boat ride was the rockiest I've ever been on, so my stomach would be tested. Apparently the crew knew that too, because one of the crew members walked down the aisle to pass out barf bags. Not really walking down the aisle, more like being thrown from seat to seat in the aisle path while clutching the handles to stay upright.

It was insane. I could hear several people coughing up barf. Passengers were saying "woaaaaahhhaooohhh" as the ship surged over another huge wave. It started to smell like vomit. But the rolling didn't affect me. When the undulation died down enough, I poured myself another beer from the keg. Somehow, Joyce had the focus to be able to read a book.

I texted my friend Jesse to tell him how crazy the boat ride was. Jesse had originally told me about the ferry from Cozumel, and how the party doesn't have to stop when you get on the ferry. Clearly his party was a much different affair than mine.

The swaying started up again. Luckily I'd finished my beer. The rocking got worse. I could hear more people puking. The crew member lady was thrown in my direction and she offered me a barf bag. I took it. I started to understand how people could get seasick. But now I had more pressing matters to deal with. I had to pee.

Getting to the bathroom would be no easy task. I timed my movements to the lulls in the waves. I got up out of my seat, stood in the aisle holding the handgrips and steadied myself. I waited for another wave to go by. I lurched toward the restroom. There were seats across from the door to the restroom, so I took a seat. Or more like the boat sat my ass down with another sideways swerve.

After another wave, I got up and grabbed the handle to the restroom and opened it. A woman was inside, standing at the sink. I said "sorry" and slammed the door shut as another wave threw me back into the waiting seat. There was another restroom to the left of this one. A crew member was sitting in another waiting seat. He gestured with his arm toward the other restroom. "Would you like to use the restroom?" he asked. I laughed. I didn't have the composure to tell him "How the hell do you expect me to get over to that door right now?!?!??!!" I was too busy trying to counteract the forces of the sea.

At the best point in the wave, I stood up and reached for the door and opened it. Nobody inside this time. The next boat pitch threw me into the bathroom, slamming the door behind me and seating me onto the toilet. I briefly thought about standing up to pee, but I knew that wasn't going to be possible without pissing all over myself.

The bathroom visit completed, the boat jerked me back into my seat next to Joyce. I thought about filling another cup of beer, but my stomach told me that wasn't such a good idea. I gripped the barf bag tightly, hoping I wouldn't have to use it. And then we docked. Passengers couldn't get off the ferry fast enough. We exited the boat into more torrential rain. And to our delight, another man with a bike and a homemade luggage rack waited to carry our bags to the next hotel.

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