Con Dos Ojos

Like mama always said, Look before you leap.

Yesterday I leaped to Playa Del Carmen for an afternoon date of snorkeling, sun, and adventure. With the best intentions, things went a bit awry.

After noshing at La Choza for a desayuno rico, my lover and I caught the 11 a.m. ferry to Playa Del Carmen. It was a perfect Sunday where you wake up early and decide not to waste time and head out into the world. I love those days.

There was electricity in the air. It was July 1 — Mexico’s national election day. My lover cast his vote for AMLO, and the day would be full of the kind of anxiety I can only liken to the night Obama was elected.

Once in Playa, we rented a car and dove a bit of ways out to Cenote Dos Ojos. We bought our tickets and were heading down another dusty gravel road surrounded by thick jungle when I saw a man, woman, and child on the side of the road. The man was frantically waving his t-shirt in the air. They needed help and I told my lover to stop. We backed up to them.

The woman ran over and was in a panic, speaking Spanish so fast, I could only make out conjugations or morir — death. Something bad had gone down.

They got in the car and we turned around, speeding to the entrance. Minutes later, we dropped the family off and they thanked us. I still had no idea what happened until my lover explained that they’d been clearing brush and the man had been bitten by a deadly snake.

He had an hour to make it to the hospital or he’d die. He told me the man said that he was trying to stay calm, because an elevated heart rate would only push the venom faster through his system.

I felt so deflated and I’m not sure I ever really recovered after this chance encounter. It made me consider so much about my life this year and about my sojourn to Mexico to capitalize on that life.

I gave up everything to come to Mexico, literally. And I’ve had some amazing adventures here, and I’ve been truly disappointed here — by my own expectations, and by people, too. I looked before I leaped; I took a chance. I hoped for the best, and still do. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters.

Sorry for the vagueness. Like I said, I’m not sure I ever recovered.

But I hope that man is okay.

We carried on to snorkel the cenote, which is a freshwater sinkhole made from limestone. Stalagmites and stalactites and caverns galore. Tiny fishes and cold water and, in some corners, complete darkness. It was refreshing and a bit of calm after the snakebite, the long drive, and temperatures escalating into the 90s.

We dried off in the sun. I drove back to Playa — my first time ever driving in Mexico. I navigated the topes with caution and we found a cheap hotel for the night.

After dinner, we walked to the pier, and I thought again of the man and the snakebite. I will certainly never see him again. Whoever you are, I hope you are still here.