“Next year in
c o n f i d e n t l y
toasted. At that
particular spot in
time, they probably really did believe
that it would come to pass.
Petie leaned back in his chair and
marvelled at the irony of travelling all
the way to Florida only to run into, not
only his sister and family, but also his
brother and wife. What a small world!
They partied hearty and promised to
make a southern reunion a yearly
event. Perhaps being a newly minted
single parent would be a fun
The months flew by.
“Dad! Have you booked our trip to
Apparently his daughter, Niky, was
the only person that remembered their
pledge of one year ago.
“No, sorry we can’t make it,” said his
sister. His brother’s reply was the
Looked like it would just be the four
of them. Yes, Petie now had a serious
love interest in his life.
“Susie. How would you like to go to
“Sounds great. When?”
“In a couple of months.”
“That’s a problem. I’ve used up all my
leave for the year.”
What to do?
Petie and Susie put their heads
together and decided there was no
alternative but to tie the knot
officially. That way the government
would kindly grant them each a week
of marriage leave.
So it came to pass that the happy
couple were joined in wedlock amidst
the snow and ice of an Ottawa
December. Shortly thereafter they
found themselves winging their way
south, not on a honeymoon - but a
Hours later they descended into
Shangri-la: otherwise know as
Manzanillo. Packed into a little bus,
they careened off down a twisty hill at
breakneck speed. Their terror was
over in a half an hour but it seemed
like an eternity, and then some.
Club Maeva was 90 acres of tropical
paradise. They were greeted by a bevy
of beautiful bikinis and then ushered
into a large open-air hall where they
were overwhelmed with
complimentary drinks and appetizers.
That was it for “free,” unfortunately.
Henceforth, it was pay - pay - pay.
Those were the old days before “all
inclusive” became all the rage.
The “freebies” disappeared all too
quickly, and they were ushered off to
their room. It turned out to be a three
story turret with a kitchen and twocouched
living room on the ground
floor connected by a winding staircase
to a second floor with two double beds
and a bathroom, and yet a third floor
with a king size bed and another
washroom. It seemed a little too grand
for what Petie had ordered, and sure
enough, there was an extra suitcase
piled amongst their own. Ironically it
was labelled Cathy “Joyce.”
“Looks like we have to share our little
castle with someone else,” announced
Petie. “Cathy probably has the third
The rest of the Ottawa Joyce clan
looked most displeased at that
Just when Petie feared his family
might lynch him from the tower wall,
a porter came along and saved the
day: “So very sorry. This suitcase was
left by mistake.”
That was the last they heard of Cathy.
It being early afternoon and the day
being a sunny 30 degrees Celsius, they
quickly donned their bathing suits and
headed down to a small pool just
outside their door. There was nobody
else there so they settled into
“Excuse me. Would you like to order
some drinks?” A waiter had arrived.
Petie opened one eye and replied:
“Can we get two margaritas, please?”
“I’ll have a pina colada,” chimed in
Timmy added: “Beer for me.”
“Isn’t that cute,” thought Petie as he drifted back into his nap. “A 13-yearold
girl and 10-year-old boy ordering
alcohol. Hope they won’t be too
disappointed when they get soft
“That will be 150 pesos,” the waiter
Petie paid with a nice tip. He started to
lean back on his chair but was
shocked by the sight of Niky sipping
on what looked like a pina colada and
Timmy definitely slurping back a real
“Good Grief!” he thought. “Will
definitely have to keep an eye on
those two this week.” With that in
mind, he slipped back into a warm
Over the next few days, they
developed an easy-going routine. A
little store on the complex provided
sustenance for Susie to start everyone
off with a hardy breakfast of bacon
and eggs, or pancakes and sausages.
Cereal and all manner of snacks kept
the kids’ appetites at bay throughout
the course of the day.
Dinners were a bit more of a
challenge. The kids always had
whatever, and Petie managed to luck
out on what he had. Susie, on the other
hand, had more than one
disappointing surprise. One night she
ordered her evermost favourite red
snapper but was served what looked
for all the world like an oversized,
over-oiled sardine - and tasted even
worse. Another time she fancied pollo
con mole. Who would have fancied
“chicken in chocolate sauce” might be
considered a delicacy?
Around the pool one day, Susie had a
yen for nachos.
“Can we get a large platter of
nachos?” she asked the waiter.
“I’ll ask the kitchen.”
He returned in a few minutes to
caution: “It will cost 500 pesos.”
Off he went and returned shortly with
the promised platter. By then Petie had
calculated their cost to be about $40.
“They better be good,” he grumbled.
An evening special involved everyone
lining up for an interminable length of
time to claim their meal. For whatever
reason, Susie and the lady in front of
her had occasion to exchange
unpleasantries. Maybe “such things
are more common in sun-drenched
climes.” Regretably the lady’s
husband decided to get involved and
insulted Susie. Two ladies being
involved in a tiff was one thing, but
for a man to impugn a lady - well that
was intolerable! Petie immediately
challenged the caitiff to a duel. Off the
opponents went to the centre of the
square. Just before the fisticuffs
started to fly, Petie had a vision of
spending a bad night in a squalid
prison cell before being deported.
Perhaps justice had already been
The centre of the complex had a pool
that was reputed to be the largest in
Mexico. It was hard to argue with that
assertion since it was hard to see
where exactly the pool started and
where it ended. Most of the time that
was where they loitered for hours on
end. Within a couple of days, Petie’s
bronzed body and dark curls had the
waiters addressing him in Spanish. By
week’s end, he was starting to reply in
kind. Who knows what might have
happened on a two-week vacation.
They visited the city of Manzanillo
but found it to be not so awfully
impressive. A tour of the surrounding
Bay, however, was quite spectacular
with no end of verdant foliage,
variegated flowers and luxury holiday
spots. A highlight was certainly the
resort wherein they shot the movie 10
with Dudley Moore and Bo Derek.
The imagination ran wild.
Alas, their week drew all too quickly
to an end. They decided for their piece
de resistance to make the extra walk
down to the beach. What joy to dig
their toes into the silver sand and
immerse their bodies in the salt of the
Pacific. And be harassed by no end of
pedlars. Petie decided to buy a lovely
silver ring with slanted inlaid
turquoise. A memory to be worn
The next day they returned to the
snow and ice of Ottawa.
“How come you’re not wearing your
new ring?” Susie asked a short time
“One of the pieces of turquoise fell
out. I was thinking of replacing it with
a little piece of Play-Doh.”
“I don’t think so.” Susie gave him the
Off to the dresser drawer it went, and
there it still resides.