Thirty-eight years ago I worked for an airline and was asked to escort a select group of Canadian travel and media types to Cuba, the company’s new holiday destination.
Havana was a trip back in time – at the Hotel Capri all the furnishings and decoration were of early fifties vintage. The faces and famous quotations of the world’s socialist leaders had prominent places on thousands of gigantic billboards around the city. Day and night, the radio played recorded speeches by Fidel Castro, interspersed with Latin rhythms.
Now all this was fine with me. Every country has its own customs and ideology. But the many practical challenges made for a stressful week. The food we were served (rice & beans…beans & rice) didn’t quite cut it and we sensed that we were being constantly watched.
Most Canadian travelers take it for granted that the creature comforts they know and love will be available to them wherever they go. From the get-go, the members of my group knew this would not be the case in Cuba, and they found the country to be interesting but they were ready for a more conventional tourism experience in Yucatan, our next destination.
We arrived into Merida on the evening of January 17th and headed for the Plaza. A festive crowd danced and delicious food smells wafted through the air. Soon everyone in the group relaxed and felt ready for fun.
The next morning, January 18th, we assembled in the reception area of the Hotel Merida, one of the city’s best hotels at the time. At 8:30 am we were scheduled to depart for Chichen Itza. We figured that the handsome man in a red shirt who came rushing through the door must be our tour guide. Jorge was his name, and gazing into my eyes he crooned, “Estoy a tus ordenes.” – “I am at your service,” And at that very moment my life completely careened off course.
Visiting Chichen Itza with Jorge was like a “magical mystery tour,” and right then and there, I started to fantasize about staying in Yucatan for the rest of my life… That night, sitting with Jorge in a romantic patio restaurant, he blurted out: “Do you realize that we are going to get married?”
I nearly fell off my chair… that was the craziest thing I’d ever heard, and yet I couldn’t stop myself from agreeing with him.
Nine years later, my daughter Maggie was born… on January 18th. And today, January 18th, my daughter-in-law, niece and I will take Maggie to lunch while Jorge and our son, Carlos, look after our granddaughter
38 years later … this date is still a very special one, and yes, Jorge and I are “still crazy after all these years.”