And now from Cayden's perspective:
Almost 4 months to the day since I was saying goodbye to Whitney in Dallas, it was time again to start what has become known to me as the ‘ritual’. Passport, check. Bag packed, check. Percy Pigs, check. Bus to the train station, train to the airport, check. I feel like Clooney in the movie Up In The Air, with getting on a flight almost as autonomous as waking up to pee in the middle of the night, eyes half shut, yet not spilling a drop.
Despite the familiarity of the ritual, this trip had a different feel to the others. Was I excited to see Whitney? Like you couldn’t imagine! The bitter pill I’d been swilling around my mouth for the past 4 months though, the heartache, the frustration, the anger, the rage, the dashed hopes……it had all left a bitter taste that was hard to shift. I felt I should have been more excited for our pre-wedding honeymoon, but until I had Whitney clinging to me like a Koala Bear, I felt I couldn’t get overly excited.
On the train to the airport, I had a sickening thought. What if the embassy had made another ‘technically, it’s not a refusal’ gaff and prevented me from travelling anywhere while I was under review? Normally, I wouldn’t have entertained the idea, but this whole process has made me into a nervous wreck.
I set myself milestones.
Milestone 1 – Get checked in without a nasty surprise that I can’t travel
Milestone 2 – Get through security
Milestone 3 – Get on the flight
Good news, I achieved all 3. The cloud of the last 4 months started to lift once I was airside, and I treated myself to some extra legroom, too. Now, I was finally starting to feel things were going our way, for the first time in a long time.
The flight was 10 and a half hours long, not half as eventful as Whitney’s flight with a crazy, Jack-guzzling, possible killer, but it didn’t go without its drama.
I became a witness to some crazed lunatic of a woman threatening a member of the cabin staff. I was told someone would need to speak to me about the incident. Welcome back nervous wreck Cayden, and to thinking the worst. Would they keep me when we landed? Would I have to talk to the police? How long would I need to stay? Would I miss my connections to Cozumel? It had the hallmarks of being a real pain in the ass.
I landed at Cancun airport and felt a huge sigh of relief. I had made it. I was in Mexico and just a couple of hours from seeing Whitney. Now I was happy. This is how getting excited about a pre-wedding honeymoon should feel like. I gingerly strolled past the cabin crew, hoping they would not keep me for questioning, and on through to customs. Did I feel guilty for arriving in the country? NO. Did I get pulled aside and interrogated because of my surname? NO. Is this what it’s like to travel to the US for normal people? I thought to myself.
I had to travel the 45 miles from Cancun to Playa Del Carmen by taxi, and then catch a ferry to Cozumel. I managed to get a shared taxi ride for the first leg of the journey. A Brit, an Argentinian, a Spaniard and an American couple made up the passengers. It was like a game of charades. The Argentinian gesturing to me like an angry monkey wanting a banana, as he tried to explain in his language whatever the heck he was trying to say. The American thinking that speaking louder would allow the Spaniard to understand him. It made for a fun ride, I suppose.
I got to the ferry port at Playa Del Carmen and was greeted with a long, almost white sandy beach, with calm turquoise water. It looked like something I’d seen on TV for the Copa Cabana in Brazil. Seeing the local families, playing in the sand and sea; that’s some way to live life. I boarded the ferry with a couple that had also been on my flight. They were a young couple that had just got married that weekend. Yes, you know I was hoping that was us, but after we exchanged stories, and after they had got over the shock and disbelief of what Whitney and I have had to go through, they gave each other a glancing look, kind of to say ‘thank god I have you’. I saw the mutual appreciation they had for each other, so the urge to throw them in to the sea and kick sand in their faces from sheer jealousy went away. Warning for all you K1-visa applicants, it sends you CRAZY!!!!
The ferry journey, I won’t lie, it was a little rough. We thought we had got the best seats on the ferry, at the back, in the open with a perfect view of Mexico. Looking out towards Cozumel, deep in thought…then smack! A nice salt water wave to the face. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and begin the drying out of the contact lenses from the salt.
The 20 minutes of swaying, dipping, salt water slaps across the face and dried out contact lenses didn’t matter after 40 minutes because I’d made it. For the first time in 4 months, I was on the same landmass as Whitney.
After a 20 minute taxi ride (yes, a bus, a train, a plane, a taxi and a boat later) I pulled up to this: