Well, readers, we all know who Aashni is. If you don’t, read my Spain blog. This time, we decided to tour Mexico together. Aash was going to Mexico for a friend’s wedding, and I was going to Mexico just because I could. Aash asked the groom whether it was okay to bring me as her plus one to the wedding so I wouldn’t be twiddling my thumbs while she attended the events, and both the bride and groom generously welcomed me to attend their wedding festivities.
So off we went to Mexico, Aash and I, with our super-sized suitcases full of strips of clothes. Funny, how summer can make skanks out of the best of us. As we packed our clothes, Aash would say, “Oh that’s a nice bandana.”
I’d reply, “Actually, that’s a shirt. I like your scarf though!”
“Oh no,” she’d say, “This is actually a skirt. What’s that shoe string you’re holding up?”
“Oh, that’s my swimsuit.”
We rented a car and drove directly to Tulum, a less crowded beach about an hour away from Playa del Carmen. We walked into the hotel property and instantly realized two things:
1) This was a total honeymoon place. Literally, everybody walking around was a couple.
2) This was a total ‘nature-esque’ place. The rooms did not have AC, the ceiling fan made more noise than a freight train, and there was one lamp that we could turn on, which would cast a ghastly neon green light around the room and attract every kind of bug imaginable.
We had forgotten to pack any mosquito repellent, but we did have sunblock, which smelled of bananas and honey. Surely that would prevent us from attracting any insects, right?
We walked into the dark room and saw two queen beds on opposite corners. We also noticed there was only one table fan, which could only point in one of the two directions the beds were placed at.
“Dude,” I said, “I think we’re going to have to share the bed so we can both get the fan.”
“Ugh,” Aash replied, “Fine, but don’t tell anyone. We won’t find any eligible bachelors if we’re sleeping together on the same bed for the entire trip.”
I climbed onto the bed, tucked in the mosquito net and spread the blanket over me and Aash. Then Aash turned around, taking the entire blanket with her and wrapping herself into it until she looked like a burrito.
The next morning, I was awoken by a high-pitched scream. I heard Aash yell again, and then bolt out of the bathroom like her hair was on fire.
“What the hell, Aash?”
“Dude, I was peeing and I ripped some toilet paper off the roll and I found this HUGE black bug on it!”
“So what’s the big deal man?” I replied, quivering inside the mosquito net, refusing to come out.
“The big deal?” she yelled. “It was on the toilet paper! I almost put that thing up my—“
“Okay, okay, I get the picture.”
In the end, neither of us had the guts to go back into the bathroom. So we went to the hotel restaurant and brushed our teeth in the public restrooms. I’m sure the waiters were like “Man, just when you think Indians couldn’t get any stranger…”
That morning, we went to the Coba Mayan ruins. A local tour guide came up to us and offered to give us a short tour. We weren’t sure if we were being scammed until he said, “Look ladies, if you don’t take the tour, you’re just gonna be looking at a pile of rocks everywhere.”
So we agreed to go on the tour, and the tour guide showed us how the Mayans played sports, prayed to the Gods, and strung pieces of ropes either through the tongues or penises of prisoners.
“Which one would you prefer to have the rope through?” I asked the tour guide.
“Definitely the tongue,” he replied, without missing a beat.
Later that day, we came back to Tulum and relaxed on the beach. After a swim in the ocean, we saw two dogs humping each other.
“Are you serious?” Aash said, “Are we now the only species not getting laid in this town?”
“Get a room, you licentious labradors!” I yelled.
The next day, we went to Chichen Itza. There, we learnt more about the Mayan civilization and the awesome acoustics within the walls of the temples and ball courts. However, the highlight of the trip was definitely when we were walking out and Aash, lost in her own world, stepped on an iguana’s tail by mistake. Now, I have to describe this incident in great detail because I literally laughed for days thereafter every time I thought about it.
Aash was a few steps ahead of me and I could see her approaching the iguana, which was sun bathing on the middle of the path. “Wow,” I thought, “I guess Aash has become one with nature and is now fairly comfortable with all kinds of creatures.”
Very soon, however, I realized she had no idea there was a lizard the size of her arm lying right underneath her. I tried to warn her but when I panic, I cannot make a sound. So there I was, my face contorted in terror as I opened and closed my mouth in vain, trying to warn her to not step on that thing. Time stopped and I watched her leg descend ever so slowly onto the iguana’s tail, at which point, all hell broke loose.
The air was pierced with the screams of women and reptile, alike, and everything became black. I realized this would be how I’d die and I decided to just run in the opposite direction of Aash. Fuck it, I thought, it’s every man for himself and I’ve got to make sure I’m as far away as possible from the aggravated iguana. Five seconds into the frenzied running, I noticed the iguana running alongside me with the same amount of terror and panic written across its face. It seems we were both trying to get the hell away from Aash.
I stopped my running and looked back to see Aash curled in a ball on the floor of the gift shop. The locals there had the same look the waiters had when they caught us brushing in the restaurant: man, these Indians…
Later, as we were driving back, I randomly burst into uncontrollable laughter.
“Are you laughing about the iguana?” Aash asked in a mock-hurt tone.
“Aash,” I replied, “For the rest of the week, if I randomly laugh to myself, you can just assume I’m laughing about you and the iguana.”
We ended that night with pizza, since we were getting sick of eating guacamole for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The next day, we drove back to Playa del Carmen, where the wedding festivities were about to begin.
The first event was a cocktail hour and after an entire day in the sun, I had a throbbing headache.
“Just ask the waiter for some Advil,” Aash suggested.
“They’re not allowed to give pills to the hotel guests,” I replied.
“You just don’t know how to get things done, Shilpi,” Aash said, and walked up to the waiter.
A few minutes later, she sat back down with a satisfied smile and said, “They’re getting someone.”
That someone turned out to be a lifeguard wearing what I can only describe as red, booty shorts. He came in with a smile that made all the women at the table uncomfortable and asked if I needed anything.
“Is that the medic or a stripper?” someone asked from across the table.
The half-naked medic assessed me and seemed disappointed that he wouldn’t be able to use the defibrillator he was holding.
“So no heart attack?” he questioned in a thick, Mexican accent.
“Er, no…just a headache,” I replied.
He nodded again in disappointment and left. One of the guys at the table said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if he shows up in your room later tonight.”
The next day was the wedding, where we witnessed the bride and groom, Anya and Manav, get married in front of the endless gaze of the ocean. They made simple, heartfelt promises to each other and I saw what love, at its very finest, could be like: exciting, poignant, effortless.
Meanwhile, Aash and I were trying our very best not to look like a couple, which was difficult what with us sleeping on the same bed, holding hands and carving our names onto the sand. At one point during dinner, I spotted a morsel of food near Aash’s mouth and brushed it off with my fingers. She gave me an exasperated look and said, “You might as well have licked it off.”
We ended the vacation sitting in front of the beach and sipping cold beer. With the sun embracing us in its glorious warmth, we talked about all the things girlfriends like to talk about: family, friends, love, boys, and alcohol.
“Hey, no point in regretting our past choices,” I said.
“Yep,” she replied, “As long as we’ve had fun, it’s all good.”
I nodded in agreement and said, “As long as we’ve had fun and nobody got hurt…” and then added with a smile, “except for ourselves.”
She smiled back. “Amen to that.”
We clinked our beer bottles and chugged the rest of it.