Day Six - Nightmare in Merida
I think you all must know what happens next. All those buses heading to the only functioning airport in the area. I believe the estimate of tourists that night was 38,000.
Our caravan had four buses and 20 cargo vans full of stranded Funjet tourists. 2,000 of us was the estimate I overheard. We were able to drive into the airport parking lot and get out of the vehicles. Joe and I headed into the airport proper to check things out...and go to the bathroom.
We ran right into Bob and Judy our first friends we made at the Hotel Rui Caribe all those days before. Seemed like years!
It would be an understatement to announce that the place was crawling with people. Shoulder to shoulder, wall to wall. They were laid out on the floor everywhere in the airport, and on the outside lawn. Everywhere you looked, there were bodies. The line into the restroom was long and I feared once again of being left behind.
After all we were told the planes to take us home were waiting for us on the run way. There were no planes. I can't remember how many I heard taking off that night. Only a few and even less coming in.
Bob and Judy had hooked up with an elderly couple. They had more or less taken them under their wing to help them maneuver their way through the ordeal. Israel and Bella. Russian immigrants.
Bob lent us $20 as we had spent our last $10 with the Maestro. Hurricanes are expensive with all the tipping you have to do! We gleefully spent it on a Pizza hut pizza! We took the remainder back to share with Judy and Bob. What we found was Israel standing alone, under a tree holding Bella's pocketbook.
She had gone to the bathroom some time ago. Yes he would accept the pizza, but he would not eat until she came back. I was somewhat concerned. Here it was, closing in on midnight and a 75 year old man was alone in the dark, separated from his wife of 57 years. It saddened me.
Joe tried to find Bob. I laid on the wet, cold, hard ground with my suitcase for a pillow because there was no room in the van!
Joe was wandering around and ran once again into Israel, holding one piece of pizza and the purse. He had not found his wife. By my estimate, she had been gone for two hours. The line was long, but not that long!
Suddenly......once again, nothing happens, nothing happens, then everything happens!!!.....we were ordered to get into the van! The airport was shutting/closing and everyone had to evacuate the parking lot.
Evacuate!!! To where?????
Our fourth and last shelter.