There isn’t really a better way to describe our initial experiences in Playa del Carmen other than saying we got off to a rocky start on the wrong foot after getting up on the wrong side of the bed.
We wandered from the colectivo stop to the crowded hostel we were going to spend the night at. We got there only to find that the last two beds were in separate dorms. Odd for this time of year but that’s okay, we thought, it’s only one night.
Our plan was to lock up our computers and start exploring the city. However, the “lockers” in the dorms were 3-sided wood cupboards that appeared to have been made in shop class. You could lock them from the front but it wouldn’t do much to protect your belongings when someone could easily turn the unsecured unit to the side and clean it out. Again, we told ourselves it was just going to be one night.
The bathroom in my dorm wasn’t the dirtiest I’ve had to use, although, the one in Erica’s dorm tops her list. But alas, this is one of the unfortunate side effects of budget travel. After attempting to once again comfort ourselves with the anticipation of leaving the following morning, we fled the hostel.
The day hadn’t started out very well and to add to it my stomach was quite upset. Adjusting to the food and sanitary conditions of a developing country takes some time, but I’m fairly used to it after 2 months. As such, I decided not to let it keep me in that evening.
It was rather late when we called it a night and began the lengthy walk to our hostel. Halfway home I was feeling like hell. Knowing that we were not likely to find any public bathrooms at this hour, we headed to the only open bar in sight. I walked in and was met by the bartender. I asked if they had a bathroom and was told it was for customers only. That’s fine, I said, I’ll buy something. I even pulled out some money to show the bartender I was good for it. She pointed me towards the bathroom and quickly walked back behind the bar.
I wasted no time and got down to business.
When I emerged from the restroom I saw Erica standing at the bar holding a Coke bottle. Relieved (in more ways than one), I walked over to her feeling a bit better. However, that feeling quickly disappeared. Erica looked at me, clearly upset, and said “You have no idea how much trouble you almost got us into.”
On the power-walk home, Erica filled in all the details that I had missed. Apparently the bartender thought I was using “illegal substances” and that was the reason for the desperate bathroom break. This resulted in a police report being filed and the cops being on standby to raid the bathroom. I guess I looked much worse than I thought.
I chuckled at the thought of them barging into the stall, as I would have been happy to show them the ‘illegal substance’ that created this misunderstanding.
We went to sleep that night thinking about how differently things could have turned out. In our case, we were largely saved by Erica’s ability to convince the bartender I wasn’t a drug addict after speaking to her in Spanish. If I would have been alone, well… *shrug*
Have you ever had misunderstandings get blown crazily out of proportion while traveling?