Location: Acapulco, Mexico
It has been a long time since I wrote on here but my adventures have calmed down a bit. Until I decided to go away on a nice relaxing weekend for Mexico' s Independence Day weekend. It was a three day weekend and a group of the new teachers, a friend from last year and my friend John all decided to go to Pie de la Cuesta for the holiday.
This is 5 hours from Mexico City and 1/2 an hour from Acapulco. We had seen that it would be raining but it had been raining non stop in the city anyway so we we decided we would still go. We left on Saturday at 6.40 on a coach which arrived to downpours of rain in the city of Acapulco. We were kind of expecting this so we weren't too disheartened. We got a taxi and arrived in Pie de la Cuesta. Our hotel was a cute place, where I had stayed before. It was such a shame that all the new teachers were not having the best weather for their first trip to the beach.
On the first afternoon we sat in the shelter of the dinning area, tables and chairs under a shelter and we played games chatted and drank beer. We were worried we wouldn't find many places open that night so we headed off for dinner and timed it well, without getting rained on. It had been pouring with rain all day. At this point we had heard Ingrid and Manuel would be joining us this weekend (the tropical storms!!) We were all very surprisingly cheerful and positive even though the beach holiday clearly was not going to happen. Instead we went on a hunt for margaritas and fish. As there was no electricity we headed out before it got dark. We found a great restaurant, again just a cover with open sides all around overlooking the beach. There were quite a few people eating as the next day was Independence day. We had a lovely time eating delicious fish and drinking a few margaritas. We timed it carefully on the way home and dodged the rain and jumped over the huge puddles back to our hotel. We were all exhausted so we went to bed, while John popped over the road to watch the boxing match. If we were going to get one thing out of this holiday we thought at least we would catch up on sleep. The rooms were a little damp as the rain was coming down sooo hard and there were no electrics, so when we got up we had to have the door open to let in the light. That night it rained so hard it sounded as if it was in the same room as us. We all had a lie in and then got some food and thought about our options....and the only one was beer and cards, so an afternoon like the day before beers and games, by this point we were all getting to know each other well, before this holiday most of us had hardly spoken much. The new teachers had only been in Mexico for 3 weeks!!
That night we went out to find somewhere to eat, this day we were not such good rain dodgers we got soaked trying to dodge the now rivers that had formed in the streets. We had a great night, there was no electrics again but we drank amazing margaritas and ate delicious fish. Another group of Mexicans came in and when the electrics came on again with a big cheer they put on some salsa music and John attempted to dance with one of the girls, I don't think she had ever seen such a tall man!! By this point we were all pretty drunk and the lady kept bringing out the bottles of tequila that we had put away, by the end of the night we had nearly polished off 3 bottles!! I think we deserved it, we thought it was our last night. We traipsed back to the hotel and went for a quick swim and play on the beach, much to the security guards confusion, then to bed. We woke up the next day to one of the hotel rooms in about 1 1/2 inches of water. Alice had woken in the night and found the bags floating, all their stuff was soaking. We woke up earlyish that morning as we had to think of a plan. We had to catch our bus at 5.00pm but we thought it may take a long time to get to Acapulco so we thought it was best to set off soon. We had heard that the roads had been very flooded and there was a landslide on the main road to Acapulco. A man in a truck took us along up until the landslide. We then got out with all our bags and black bin liner dresses to trek the rest of the way over the landslide. Ruby[ s suitcase had split so everything was getting soaked. We clambered over the landslide, which felt very weird, the mud was light and fluffy as it was not very secure. The whole side of the mountain/hill had fallen into the road and a digger was trying to clear it. Just when we thought we had done it and tried searching for a taxi to take us the rest of the way it absolutely poured down, we looked a sight with all our bags soaking wet, the only westerners in sight. There were HUGE boulders in the road and pigs stranded with nowhere to go. We then got a taxi to Acapulco and went to the bus terminal. NO WAY were we getting on a bus. No buses were going, as the main bridge on the motorway to Mexico City had collapsed and it was not going to open, for sure by the end of the day. Infact it didnt end up opening until 4 or 5 days later.
We decided we needed to find somewhere to stay. This was more of an ordeal than we had first thought. 3 hours traipsing around Acapulco in the pouring pouring rain with rivers as streets was not what we had signed up for, at this point it started to dawn on us that this storm/hurricane really had caused some very bad damage. We went back and forth to places, a friend had told us she had managed to get us a reservation so off we went with all of our things, only to get there and find out it hadn't gone through and in fact there were no rooms. Eventually we fond an apartment for all 6 of us which was great and we were all just so desperate to get there to shower and try and dry out some clothes. We had been soaked for 3 days now and our fingers were all wrinkled from 3 hours of walking in the rain. Once we got to the apartment we really saw the damage that some of the towns close by had been hit by. It was terrible and shocking to see the damage. We had seen landslides and terrential rain and streets turning to rivers, but this was something else, 1000's of people with no food or water, houses completely flooded, we were beginning to feel very very lucky. The next day we went to the bus station. No buses...SO we thought we would stay one more night and try again in the morning. By that evening we saw on the news that the bridge was not going to be safe for quite a few days. It was Tuesday by now and we were meant to be back at work, however around 40,000 people or more were stranded in Acapulco.
We had heard through a friend who worked at a different school that her school had managed to fly them back on the Monday night on a military flight through the British embassy. We had also heard that a military base camp was where most people were heading to try and get out. Guess where the military base was...Pie de la cuesta. We had been told so many different things that we were not sure whether this would be possible and whether flights were leaving from there. So Ruby and I jumped in a cab without the bags just to check it out and if it was going to happen and it wasn't just a rumour we would call the others to tell them to come. So off we went Ruby and I back to Pie de la cuesta. Luckily the landslides had been cleared so we drove all the way there. What a sight we were met with. Thousands and thousands of Mexicans lined up down the streets leading to the military base. So we went to the back of the line to start the long queue. At this point it was boiling hot, we called the others and told them to come. There was a lot of backwards and forwards as after an hour Ruby and I had hardly moved. So before the other 4 set off they decided it was probably best to go to the British Consulate in Acapulco to go and get their advice. Initially we had thought this line would move, however it seemed clear it wasn't. We had arrived at 10.30 after 5 hours of queuing in the boiling heat with no shade or sun cream the others joined us. We were now feeling very defeated. However Sarah had done a great job at the British embassy and spoken to a very helpful women. There was so much phoning from one person to the next trying to sort out how we could get out. The lady from the consulate was in contact with the head military guard in the air force base and was trying to negotiate. By this point we had been advised that 4 other British citizens were also stranded and needed to be evacuated too. SO all this took a very long time and eventually we all met up. It really didn't look promising. So we checked into a hotel just in case we weren't put on a flight. At about 6pm one of the boys came running into the hotel, just as we were about to sit down and eat for the first time that day. He told us we needed to go NOW and get down to the front of the line and someone had arranged that we would leave. We needed to look out for some guy that would tell us what to do. As we were walking past the 1,000's of people they were shouting at us as they knew we were getting put on a flight. They also know what Mexico is like and probably thought we were paying them off. This is when it all got a bit intense and scary. The people at the front were making human barriers and chanting not to let anyone pass. They were shouting not to let foreigners through and if they did they were threatening to stone people. The man who was working with the British consulate tried to tell me that we would be on a plane soon and within a few minutes we were surrounded buy men swearing and shouting at us. We all became very quiet and you could tell everyone felt awful. This was not fair that they had been waiting up to 16 hours and just because we were British or rich Mexicans we had managed to somehow got to the front, we were going on a plane and they still had to wait, many with small babies and elderly family members.
We were on the phone to the embassy and explained that this really did not feel safe and we were all terrified that when it came to them telling us to go through that we made be hit, stoned or caught up in a fight. The people that were making a run for it onto the air field were threatened with stoning and a very angry man was leading the chants, he was very scary and furious. Shouting No se van, which means they wont go, they wont go!! The people were raging and chanting war war war! There were a few times that we said that we weren't going through with it, the boys we met there were determined to leave and said if we didnt go they wouldnt be allowed. After a lot of waiting around and panic, a man called on his tanoy, british citzens or something like that and just said to us heads down and dont stop walking. At this point we were so scared I had my hair down covering my face and just walked with my eyes to the ground. Very surprisingly no one barricaded us, we think stress was relieved a bit in the crowd as they had let through about 100 mexicans about 5 minutes before we were let through. We were safe..we thought. We walked onto the air field and the cargo plane had just landed so all the men were asked to go and help unload it, it was full of boxes of aid for all the people stranded up in the mountains and flooded towns. This took an hour or so, meanwhile another group of mexicans were taken onto a plane. We then realised the plane we were going back on was not a passanger plane but a cargo military plane, no seats or seatbelts. This all seemed quite exciting though and I couldnt wait to show Harry the pictures of me getting on a cargo fighter jet plane. We were all piled in, some people on benches and the rest of use squished on the floor with our bags and knees to up to our faces. We finally were getting home. As the plane took off and started going up the scariest thing happened. The emergency window/door flew off into the plane hitting a poor little girl on the head, she was screaming, everyone went into panic and a passenger was desperately trying to get it back on as all we could here was a sucking sound coming from outside. This was the point when I finally lost it and burst into tears. Finally the army man who was currently taking pictures of a sight he had clearly never seen before, his cargo plane full of passengers, jumped up and with a face of panic scrambled over the people to try and get the door back on, which he eventually did. Now we had one women having a panic attack and being given oxygen and the rest of the plane just desperate to land safely. We were all thinking whatever next!!! Luckily only 1 hour passed and we started to land, every sound or movement was making us jump as we were so on edge. We could feel the wheels coming out and every movement as we were sitting on the floor. We finally landed and got back home. Exhausted, drained emotionally and physically. What a trip, I don't think I will getting to the beach any time soon. It was so terrible as we left as it looked as if it was about to storm again and all those desperate and tired people still waiting to get on a flight. We just felt so lucky that we had actually got back. What a trip.