We located our room on the second floor, briefly unpacked and refreshed ourselves and headed out to do a little exploring, a little eating and lots of fact finding. Or at least lots of rumor gathering! Nobody knew much of anything at this point because news was still sparse out of Cancun.
Our first stop was the bus station. We wanted to see if buses were running to Cancun and by which route. If push came to shove, two of us might have to take the bus home while one of us stayed with the car and waited for the road to reopen. But we did not have to make that decision. No buses were running to Cancun and they had no idea when to expect to be running that route again. Scary news.
We spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening visiting the internet and waiting our turn for one of the machines, getting something to eat, talking to other travelers and sitting in the park smoking and discussing our options. There weren’t very many options available to us so that discussion did not take up much time. It was just so frustrating, no being able to do anything and not being able to get any information. The satellite dishes had been knocked out so there was no cable TV in our room. No radio either. What little valid information we were able to get came from the internet. But it could not tell us if friends were ok, if our house was still standing or even when we could expect to get home. My fear of what we were going to eventually find was mounting.
As we sat in the park, we suddenly spotted a taxi van from Cancun driving by! It took a second to dawn on us that it was from Cancun and must have made it through somehow. Or else maybe it had just evacuated before the storm, getting the hell out of the way before Wilma hit. We sauntered over and struck up a conversation with the driver. Yes!!! He had just arrived from Cancun. A group of tourists had paid him $500 to get them this far. They needed to get to Merida to catch a plane home. This is when we learned that the Cancun airport was closed and possibly destroyed. Not good news for L. This was Sunday and he had to catch a plane to Quito, Ecuador on Friday to start leading his South America tour. The driver was not optimistic about our chances to get to Cancun. He had taken the chance and driven through water that came up to the bottom of the windows of his van! He considered himself lucky that his van had not stalled out and that he had made it through. Some sort of miracle I figure. His van must have been full like a fish bowl as he passed through. In fact, he had his hood open trying to dry out the engine as we talked. The interior was a mess. He said if he had known about the water, he would never have even attempted the trip. But it was a lot of money and now he was going to have to spend most of it to get his van fixed! We left him at the curb and headed back into the park to sit a spell.
We next decided to get our address book and call everybody we knew. We knew that all power and phone lines were down going to Cancun and in Cancun itself. But maybe a cell relay tower would still be up or selected poles left standing? It was worth a try anyway. We were desperate for news. We called everybody we knew. We could not even get a voice mail to answer on the cell phones. This was bad. We had one last person in our book and dialed that number in Cancun. After a few rings, he answered! We were very relieved and he was able to fill us in on some information, but not much.
He said he was safe, just some damage to his front garden and a little water in the house. He was very grateful for that. He said that nothing was working and nothing was running. No buses, no taxis, no planes. There was a curfew and Cancun was a mess. He advised that we stay put for a few days. He had heard nothing about the island. The news that was running on the radio never even mentioned it, he said. We thanked him and hung up. With heavy hearts and dismal thoughts running through our heads, we headed back to our room for a bit of rest before going to dinner.
We had dinner at one of the “fancier” restaurants in town. We thought we were treating our broken spirits. But the meal was horrible all the way around and we left not feeling any better for the experience. Not knowing what else to do, we decided to check the bus station again. It had now been about seven hours since we last checked. L went up to the window and was there for only a brief time. He returned to us with the jubilant news that buses were now arriving from Cancun! They expected to start running buses from here to Cancun tomorrow! This was good news indeed. It must mean that the road had been cleared and drained and we would be able to get home after all! We went to bed three excited people. Tomorrow we would be home, or at least be able to see what was left of it. We planned on getting a very early start since we didn’t know what else we might run into or how long the trip would take. I fell into a fitful sleep that night, worried about the trip ahead and what we were probably going to find when we eventually made it back to the island.