There was a warm breeze blowing as we waited outside the lobby for a bus to take us on a tour. We were excited to finally go on the Pirates Assault
. The description of the tour sounded like a lot of fun:
"Become a pirate of the Caribbean on this fun-filled voyage where you will go back in time and experience a pirate's attack while sailing through the beautiful waters of the Nichupte lagoon, while enjoying a pirate's dinner! A fun adventure for all ages."
It was just what we were looking for, an event families could enjoy. I was on vacation with my husband, my son (10 years old), my best friend, two of her sons (15 and 9 years old) and her daughter (11 years old). Our adventure was about to begin.
Someone was going to call out our name to let us know they were there to take us on the tour. It was 10 minutes past the allotted time and no one had called our name. I decided to go ask a man standing outside a van if this was the Pirates Assault tour van. He took the transportation voucher in my hand and studied it for a moment, then nodded. I waved to the rest of our group to let them know our transportation had indeed arrived. The name he had been calling out sounded nothing like our names, but it seemed like we had made the right connection.
The man started loading us into the large white van, the four children first, then me. I climbed into the van, all four kids were in the back seat, I was in the middle seat next to two teenage children. I presumed that the man and woman in the seat ahead of me were the parents of the teenagers. The van was a bit crowded, but there was a seat next to the parents and another next to the driver that my husband and my friend could occupy. Suddenly, the man closed the van door.
The driver pulled away from the curb, my husband and friend still standing there, on the sidewalk. There was another van parked there, maybe they would ride in that one. The van I was in was dark inside, the only sound was the voice of the driver, talking in Spanish into the dispatch system. I know how to count to ten in Spanish, plus a handful of other commonly known Spanish words. The driver talked to the dispatcher every 30 seconds or so, I could only make out the numbers that they said. I expected the driver to make an announcement about our destination, how long it would take to get there, something, anything. He spoke only to the dispatcher. He drove like a New York City cab driver.
The driver squeezed that large white van through spaces so small that I would not attempt passing through them with a Volkswagen. He zipped through the streets of Cancun, where many of the hotels were dark, not yet reopening after the ravages of Hurricane Wilma last October. Twenty minutes had passed, I thought to myself that perhaps we should already be there, I wasn't sure where my husband and friend were. The apprehension I felt at the beginning of the ride was slowly turning to fear. The longer we rode, the more anxious I became. I was in a foreign country, with four children, only one of them mine. I wasn't sure I was in the right van, I had only a nod from the man standing outside the van near the lobby indicating that we were in the right place. There were no words spoken between us. Were we on our way to the Pirate Assault? I wasn't sure. I began to make plans for our safety.
I made note that there were two other adults in the van, and one was a man, so that was reassuring. I reached inside my purse and turned my cell phone on, I pulled out a small brochure and started memorizing the phone number of the resort where we were staying. I checked to make sure I had a credit card in case I needed to pay for alternate transportation. I spoke briefly with my friend's older son, telling him of my phone and credit card, just in case. After forty minutes the van stopped abruptly at the curb, and Captain Hook opened the door.
The captain was a large man, with a loud voice, and louder costume. We got out of the van and the captain beckoned us to his ship, but I was not interested in getting on board. I was interested in finding my husband and my friend. I stood on the sidewalk and began to explain my dilemma to the man in the curly black wig when a dark blue van stopped at the curb. My husband and friend walked towards me smiling. They told me about the plush seats and wonderful music they had in their van, and how relaxing the ride was. I was thrilled for them.
We boarded the party boat, everyone was directed to go upstairs to the second level. We found a small table towards the back of the boat and pulled up some white plastic garden chairs to it. The boat left the dock, the party music was playing, people were getting drinks from the bar, the "pirates" were singing and dancing. People were getting more drinks from the bar, the boat was traveling faster. The boat began to rock back and forth because of the choppy water. We started questioning whether it was wise for everyone to be on the top deck, wouldn't the boat be more stable if it wasn't so top heavy? Where were the life jackets? The partying continued, we sat with the kids in the corner. People were getting more drinks at the bar, then the pirates ordered everyone to stand up and dance. To facilitate the dancing they began to take away all the chairs. We quickly moved to the permanent bench seats around the edge of the boat. Drunken people began dancing on the top deck of the party boat as it swayed in choppy water. The people swayed from side to side falling into each other, stopped by the sides of the boat. We finally slowed down and the pirate assault began. Pirates from other small boats surrounded and boarded our boat. They got into a sword fight with our pirates and took two women off the boat as prisoners, they also confiscated some liquor. Captain Hook vowed to rescue the women, but even more importantly, he vowed to find the stolen alcohol. I took the Pirate Assault brochure out of my purse to recheck the "fun for all ages" statement. It was still there.
The boat finally docked and we were given black bandanas to disguise ourselves as pirates. Captain Hook led the charge to rescue the hostages. My son was handed a rifle to use in the skirmish. I thought that was charming. We rescued the women, then had dinner. After we ate, it was time for some contests and a show. Five women won the first contest and got to share a bottle of tequila, right there on stage. When it was time for the limbo, my son and I joined in. As people got close to the limbo stick workers were ready with a bottle to pour tequila down your throat. I politely refused, and to my surprise, they didn't offer any to my son. Somehow the limbo line got moved up to the stage and the crowd was instructed to dance. My son made a break for the audience benches where he joined his father. I tried to get off the stage too, but every time I did, I was foiled by a woman with a yellow vest and walkie-talkie. She and several other people who worked there danced around the perimeter of the crowd. The first time I tried to leave the stage, yellow vest woman took my arm and danced me back into the crowd. A minute later I tried again, and yellow vest woman matched me up to dance with a lone elderly man in the crowd. I tried a third time and yellow vest woman found a fourteen year old boy for me to dance with while the DJ played "Celebrate". The crowd control on stage surpassed that of a police force, no one was getting off that stage if yellow vest woman had her way. I waited until she started dancing with another hapless tourist and planned my get-away. I danced over to the side of the stage and when yellow vest woman wasn't looking, I jumped off the stage to freedom and ran to my seat in the audience. I made it safely. Meanwhile, my friend had devised a different diabolical plot to get off the stage; she pleaded that her children needed to use the bathrooms, and they were finally let off the stage. They didn't really need to go, but they headed towards the bathrooms anyway; they were afraid they would be captured and brought back up on stage if their ruse was discovered. We didn't dare leave our seats again until it was time to go.
On the boat ride home the passengers could choose either the upper or lower level of the boat. We chose a booth on the lower level. The pirates were doing all they could to get passengers to dance. I think they worked on a commission basis, so much per passenger dancing. My son still had his rifle, so we put it on the table in our booth to ward off dancing pirates. My son wanted to take the rifle home with him, so we explained how hard it would be to get on a plane with a rifle. Finally the boat brought us back to where it had picked us up.
Luckily, we were all in the same van on the way home to the resort. I asked the kids if they enjoyed the evening, and they were enthusiastic in their praise. Just like the brochure said, a fun adventure for all ages, especially if your children enjoy booze cruises.
Labels: Memoirs, Personal Favorites, Vacation