Mexico: The Ungrateful Bitching Edition

13th January 2009

So, Maggie! How was your awesome Mexico vacation?

Thanks for asking! There were some snags.

For example, someone removed most of the awesomeness from Mexico and put it somewhere else for a week. Was it with you? I hope so, because if so, it must have been raining glitter and cocaine where you live.

Mmm. Delicious glitter cocaine.

What happened, you ask? Well, have a seat.

Two days before our trip, Bryan left for Illinois to help our family bury his very sweet grandmother. We tried to postpone our trip so all of us could go, but tickets to Illinois were one jillion dollars each, and our cheapo tickets to Mexico were of the non-refundable, non-transferable variety. So Bryan flew out and arranged to meet us on our layover in Phoenix.

After this inauspicious start, the trip unfolded in such profuse layers of inconvenience and stress that I’m resorting to bullet points in the interest of time:

  • Two hours of sleep before leaving for the airport at 4 a.m. with our friend Libby and a sleepy baby.
  • Two hours of struggle when our US Air tickets somehow turn out to be with United, and United almost refuses to let us on the plane, because they are giant dicks.
  • Hank’s luggage is suspiciously absent from the conveyor belt.
  • Bryan and I go out for New Year’s Eve around 8 p.m. Bryan feels ill. Two hours later, he has trouble walking home.
  • Bryan sleeps for two days with a vicious flu/cold combo.
  • On New Year’s Day, Hank wakes at 4 a.m. He continues this charming habit for the duration of our trip.
  • Our friend Libby wakes with the non-alcohol-related urge to boot. Happy New Year!
  • Hank’s bag arrives at the hotel, sans both our camera battery chargers, which I’d groggily (read, stupidly) tucked into the suitcase in a 2 a.m. daze.
  • Hank gets Bryan’s vicious flu/cold. He is screamier about it.
  • Due to fruitless charger hunt, we leave too late for the house we’ve rented up North. We are driving in the dark, on isolated dirt roads, in the Mexican desert, with a toddler.
  • We arrive at the house to find another couple there. The house has been double-booked for the night. I briefly consider offing the nice couple from Rhode Island, as we are in the Mexican desert, and I’m not even sure that’s illegal here.
  • Instead we drive to a hotel in the dark, on isolated dirt roads, in the Mexican desert, with a toddler.
  • We return to the house the next day. After our first meal, we discover that the dishwasher runs but doesn’t clean the dishes no matter how thoroughly we rinse. This is irritating, as the water isn’t safe for dishwashing at tap temperatures. Hmm.
  • The bathtub tap doesn’t work.
  • I unwittingly take a swig of contaminated tap water. I immediately take two Immodiums.
  • Bryan rigs a bath by heating water on the stove. The next day the nice neighbor tells us it’s not safe to bathe in the water, because we have “other orifices” besides our mouths.
  • My intestines begin to roil.
  • When the nice neighbor showers, he keeps a dry towel nearby to wipe his eyes and mouth, in case any spray gets on his face. Do go on.
  • The nice neighbor says if you happen to drink the water, whatever you do, don’t take an Immodium. It blocks you up, and then the bacteria just breeds in your gut. Good to know.
  • Hank’s left eye begins to weep suspiciously. I first notice this when he wakes at 3 a.m.
  • I come down with Bryan’s vicious flu/cold.
  • Hank’s left eye becomes crusty, and his right eye begins to weep in a foreshadowing manner.
  • We head to the clinic in the closest town, about an hour away. Hank has a double bacterial eye infection and an upper respiratory infection. Hurrah!
  • Every two hours, we pin our child down as he screams and pry his eyes open so we can administer mystery medicine drops.
  • On our last night, the house runs out of propane, which means we can’t cook because the stove doesn’t work, and there’s no more hot water for showers. After all the neighbor’s advice, I suspect the lack of showers is a blessing in disguise.

Is that it? I think that’s it. Oh, wait. When I got home, I also contracted a mystery eye ailment. So that’s been fun.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about the good parts, because there are always good parts, right? Right.

Let me sleep on it.

82 thoughts on “Mexico: The Ungrateful Bitching Edition

  1. Gabby

    Holy crap! Where in Mexico did you guys stay? Cuz I totally brushed my teeth in the shower, repeatedly (and maybe stupidly) when we went to Mexico City about two years ago and the only thing that got me was some cactus and cheese at a Denny’s-like chain. Damn that cactus and cheese forever.

  2. Puanani

    Oh, there is the toddler, in the car. Driving to and fro. Nice. Wow. I guess the New Year can only look up from here, right? By the way, the glitter cocaine never made it to L.A.

  3. Ariel

    Shitty vacation alright. I think you should get like a life refund or something. Except I guess that doesn’t actually exist…

  4. Betsey

    Only thing I can muster is the go to Southerniam’ bless your heart. Seriously, bless your heart. That sucks!

  5. the sassy kathy

    oh my goodness. i am so so very sorry. :/ bad vacations are the worst. traumatizing in fact. as in, why bother ever leaving your house again. i went to punta cana with a group of friends a couple of years ago and 3 of us got miserable terrible body-racking stomach viruses. it was super fun.

    hope you recover soon :/

  6. Kristine

    (a) I’m very sorry about your ‘holiday’ and (b) you don’t need to pry the eyes open to administer eye drops! Just lie Hank back and put the drop(s) in the inner corner of his eye, and keep him horizontal until he blinks (in outrage) a few times – the drops will get where they need to go.

    Hopefully you’re already done with the eye drops, but there is bound to be a next time …

  7. Minjenah

    Travel Karma has been bad for everyone in 2008. I went to Thailand during the time when the Bangkok Airport was shut down. And that was the best part of the time.

    Here’s to better travel karma in 2009.

  8. Georgia

    Oh sweet jebus. This! This is why I considering staying home on my days off, instead of going somewhere “exciting”. You poor thing.

  9. Emma

    What a total rip! I’m so sorry, this sounds incredibly painful. And then you had to come back to smartassy comments about your lack of tilde! My apologies. Onward and upward!

  10. April

    I’m so sorry, but that was so HILARIOUS! Not in person, I imagine.
    And although driving at night on Mexican roads is scary and frought with urban-legend disaster scenarios playing out in your head, we did it, too—and survived. Not the first choice, but we lived to tell about it. The most dangerous thing we encountered was a 4′ drop-off, no markers, nothing. “Road construction.”
    At least you made it back safe, if sickly.
    Thanks for the laughs.

  11. Ana

    where the hell did you stayed that water was not safe for bathing? I’d never heard that one and I’m from and live in Mexico.

  12. Meg

    Holy cannoli. On the upside…it probably felt really good to get home? And also, none of the I-wish-I-were-still-back-there-on-vacation blues. Seriously, I’m sorry to hear it was such a rough trip! Hope you’re all feeling better soon.

  13. steph

    Oh My God Maggie, that is so horribly funny. I promise I am not laughing at your discomfort and all that, but wow, that is a great story (I am laughing in your general direction). I think the ones that are disastrous are more memorable, but nobody goes looking for that, of course. Well, at least you are pre-disastered for the year. May you have really boring uneventful vacations for a long while. Thanks for sharing, and good luck with everybody’s healing and getting back to normal.

  14. maria

    Where did you stay?

    Living in what can be considered THE most dangerous city in Mexico, I can still take baths – and drink the water, rinse my face, do the washing up, etc. – safely. You could blame my strong Mexican constitution, but the lovely foreign bloke who lives with me is the same.

    It sounds like a terrible time. I hope the good times were worth some of it.

  15. sarah von

    Oh good lord. Rest assured that you have just accrued enough good travel karma to get you through a month of backpacking S.E. Asia – a place where travel karma comes in handy.

  16. jami

    Christ almighty! Is it even legal to have so many things go wrong on vacation? You should demand a refund. Probably from the Mexican government. Do they offer those?

    Hope the rest of January looks up!

  17. Stacy

    I’ll betcha u were somewhere in the state of Oaxaca somewhere? Educated – by similar miserable experience -guess.

  18. Steph

    In the middle of reading that I actually said HOLY COW! out loud. Where in Mexico exactly were you staying? My grandfather used to own a ranch in the middle of nowhere in Mexico and I am very familiar with having to heat your own water for a shower. I never thought about what could be in the water…

  19. katie

    Where’s the glittering cocaine you ask? I found it in Colorado last week. The day after a large snow storm, I’m in the gondola with some strangers. The fresh snow is being blown through the air – it’s all fine and glittery. A man from Australia asks “what’s the sparkly stuff?” And no lie, a local says, “cocaine.” Glittering cocaine.

  20. Luanne

    NEXT TIME you will just drive the mere hour and 15 to Santa Cruz. WHEN!!!!? When I ask. Before Hank is in college one hopes……..

  21. Michelle

    Brutal. At least you did the story justice, even with bullets. Hope the eye(s) clear up soon. Nothing worse than being sick away from home. Better come to Canada next time around. ;)

  22. Logos

    That beats any going involving going to funerals, A/C going out in the hotel room in 98 degree weather, and entire lost luggage (i.e., having to buy everything new). I really need to read the good points or I’ll be a shut-in from here on out.

  23. Amanda

    That is easily the worst vacation story I’ve ever heard. I am so sorry. Any one of those things would have been bad enough, but all together? The mind boggles.

  24. Michelle

    *omg* I’m not even sure what to say. I make a mean Rum Punch, come to PA next time. You can shower here! We almost went to Mexico but changed our minds at the last minute and went to Barbados. Thank God!

  25. Kat

    Come to San Antonio! All the Mexican culture and flavor without any of the worries. And you’ll be amazed at how far your dollar goes.

  26. jlj

    Oh my. I’ve never commented before but … I’m so sorry that happened. First, obviously, all rental/booking agencies must be kicked soundly about the face and ears. SOUNDLY.

    Next, I have to tell you … my parents came to So. Cal. this year for Christmas. They were going to spend Christmas with me and the child and then we were going to SF for a few days and then home to Tennessee to celebrate the child’s first birthday.

    Said kid got a double ear infection, a very mild case of the flu, and both eyes got infected and mucus’ed shut. Then I got the flu. Then my mother got the flu. Then my father, who went home early to deal with an illness my brother had, got the flu and an ear infection and his ear drum burst. Then, we all went home and my child’s birthday was a subdued cough-oriented affair.

    Everyone is just now recovering. The vacation sucked.

    Still, you win because of the dark, dirt Mexican roads at night with a toddler.

    You need a do-over. If I win the lottery, I promise, although I don’t know you well, I’m sending your family on a fabulous vacation.

  27. Kristy - Where's My Damn Answer

    First time commenter here … I just have to say I’m sorry you didn’t get the glitter cocaine holiday you had hoped for. I can’t even imagine all that fun in one trip … maybe it’s good that my husband was in the Rose Parade so we couldn’t go somewhere THAT fun for the holiday ;-)

  28. Amanda

    See, in the past, every time you posted about these awesome vacations you take with Hank, I NEVER BELIEVED YOU because every vacation I’ve taken with my child/ren has been just like your Mexico trip. I rarely even travel back to California to visit family anymore because honestly there just isn’t enough Vodka in the world to get me through it.

  29. HMH

    oh mexico, will i ever be brave enough to visit you again? went 2 yrs ago for my sister-in-law’s wedding and 75% of the guests (incl the bride and groom) came down with the norwalk virus. i’ve never been so horribly ill. there were still good times, though, it’s true.

  30. Berit

    Oh, I so hate the crappy vacation. And that was a Crappy Vacation. One can only begin to recover from it with a second vacation (garden variety or greater in quality) ASAP, you know…

  31. D

    Wow! Well I guess it could have been worse…….Sorry you had such a crappy “vacation.” You should head to the Green Gulch to recover from that one.

  32. Maria

    I spent a summer in a small town about two hours south of Mexico City and showered by pouring bowls of warm water over my head in an outhouse. I also brushed my teeth, washed my face and washed my clothes in the water from our outside tap. I never once got sick. It sounds like your neighbor was a bit of a freak and an ass for making you feel like every thing was going to kill you.

    Sorry your vacation sucked!

  33. Shelley Noble

    Gosh, that sounds scary, dangerous, and horrible, Maggie. See, that’s why I don’t go to Mexico! Next vacation go somewhere safe and restful. Where that could be I don’t know because after reading your bullet points I’m afraid to leave the house.

  34. Jenny

    Oof. Sorry. All I can say is the fact that you are still married is a very good thing. There’s no stopping you guys now!

  35. Annie

    Oh my god. Where the hell did you go?
    Water that you cannot touch? Who the hell was your neighbor??? Tap not safe for diswashing? Whaaa? Are you sure you were in Mexico? Are you sure you were in this planet? You shouldn’t believe everything you hear.
    We must have do-overs in Mexico! You should definitely come back… but then again, if you pay a cheap vacation, you should expect a cheap vacation. That reminds me of that horrible phoenix/motel6 “vacation” in 2000. Never again!

  36. elayne

    Yeeeeeouch. You win the Clusterfuck (Not Occurring at Employment or Home) Award for this month.

    For those who are skeptical about the water stuff, it doesn’t sound like the place they were staying had processed/treated water via standard plumbing. Given the “isolated roads” and the “nearest town, about an hour away,” I’m guessing that the water for the houses was probably untreated well water or whatever they call it when rainwater is collected in a big container outside. Several colonias where I live, on the US/Mexico border, have the same “don’t brush your teeth” issues because their water – even though it might come out of a pipe inside the house – is not processed and not safe for use unless it’s been boiled. For someone who hasn’t been acclimated to it, and especially if her immune system was already bottoming out from exposure to other illnesses, I can see where it could really do a number on one’s system.

    (Maggie: I learned the same “no Immodium” rule after a bout of C.diff colitis that landed me in the hospital a year or so ago. It is one hell of an unpleasant lesson to learn, so I sympathize!)

  37. Stella


    I know you had an honestly craptacular vacation in Mexico (that cannot be denied), I’m kind of not feeling the vibe of everybody saying “No to Mexico!” Shit happened, but I don’t think everybody should just…condemn the poor nation. That’s like people who come to Puerto Rico, only visit the capital, and then feel they can make some sort of completely justified assessment of how everybody and everyplace on the island is. :/

  38. Christian

    Oh crap, none of those things are on your Mighty Life list. Here’s hoping everyone is now well on the road to mental and physical recovery.

  39. Jocelyn

    Oh honey, poor you. I know it’s a little wading through the backwash of mediocre compliance, but all-inclusive is the way to go in Mexico. If you need the hot with clean water and food.

  40. amanda

    I thought 3 cases of yuletide pink eye in the Adirondacks sucked ass, but I think you totally trumped it with your hacienda de suffering.

  41. Kimberly

    We had the glitter coke in DC. Sorry we forgot to share. Coke makes me forget my manners.

    Sorry your vacation was such a dickhead. You need a make-up vacation to get Mexico out of your system (umm, literally).

  42. Why Mom Drinks Rum


    You poor bloody thing. I can’t even imagine. I was all busy throwing myself a giant pity party – but I instead hereby dedicate it to you.

    That. Blows.

    It blows so bad I think I might just throw myself down on my knees and thank-heebus that my problems are not gastro-intestinal in nature.

  43. Sarah

    I also had a “don’t drink the water” vacation, and while that part was fine, my experience with UNITED was the same–DICKS! I got to the airport at 5:15am for a 6:25am flight, wait in a line that doesn’t move, get to the front of the line at 5:38am, at which point the person directing the line walks away. I get to the computer terminal at 5:41am, at which point they tell me that I can’t get on my flight–check in time has passed by ONE MINUTE. Then they try to make me pay for a new one. When I complain, and tell them it was their fault, they tell me they’re short staffed and can’t do anything. I swear, those people are outrageous–I would write and complain!

  44. Adrienne

    I have to say, everybody I know who lives/works in Mexico on a regular basis insists the water is A-Okay almost everywhere (I can vouch, I drank the water all over the Yucatan without problem.) Where in the WORLD were you??

  45. Stacey Ball

    If it makes you feel any better my one and only trip to Mexico was on my honeymoon. Two hours after we got there I got hit by a gigantic wave in the ocean which did damage to my knee equivalent to being tackled by a 400lb linebacker (they do tackle right?!) I spent the next 9 months on crutches, had a major surgery, a blood clot and endless months of physical therapy. And yet….I would go back tomorrow. That guac and tequila was freaking awesome!

  46. Bobbypin Bandit

    Where was the tequila this whole time? You could have bathed in it. It takes away colds and the flu. A little drop in the eye would have killed the bacteria…of this I am sure. When in doubt, alcohol it all out. Sorry you had that kind of trip.

  47. Katie

    Dear heavens. That blows in a huge way.

    I don’t know whether anyone else said this, but if you ever have to do eye drops again, instead of prying, put the drop on his tear duct, and once he opens, it will go in. Someone told me this after days of prying and crying.

  48. Daddy Scratches

    If ever there has been written in a blog entry anything as funny as this, I’ve not come across it:

    “For example, someone removed most of the awesomeness from Mexico and put it somewhere else for a week. Was it with you? I hope so, because if so, it must have been raining glitter and cocaine where you live.”


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