Honeymoon in Paradise
by Kimila Kay
September 20, 2022
When my husband, Randy, and I decided to get married after dating for three years, it was an exciting time. We’d grown up together, but had gone our separate ways as adults, marrying and each having two boys. And now, we were going to be a blended family of six.
At the age of thirty-one, I’d been single for nine years and was hardly a blushing, young bride. But I knew I wanted this wedding to be a festive affair, so we agreed to use Billy Idol’s “White Wedding”, which is about starting over, as our processional song. Another important decision was changing the “until death do us part” vow to “until it not fun anymore”.
Randy and I had made a point to encompass fun into our lives as much as possible. We enjoyed spending time watching our boys play sports and loved all the outdoor adventures summertime brought. So getting married in August seemed appropriate for us, and of course, a honeymoon in Hawaii would be wonderful.
I might be a tad of a control freak, but managed to let go of my need to oversee the honeymoon and allowed Randy to plan our romantic getaway. Imagine my surprise when he comes home from work a month before the wedding and announces our honeymoon destination.
“I booked our trip today,” Randy said with a broad grin.
“Great!” I kissed him. “I’ve already started packing.”
“Packing? But you don’t know where we’re going.”
“I know what to pack for Hawaii.” I winked at him.
I held up a finger. “Don’t tell me the island, that way I’ll still be a little surprised.”
“We’re going to Mazatlán, Mexico.”
“Mexico?” I faced him, hands on hips. “I am not going to a third world country on my honeymoon!”
When I stepped off the plane onto the hot, sticky tarmac of the Mazatlán airport, I instantly fell in love with … everything.
Over our thirty-one years of marriage, we’ve been to several cities throughout Mexico and discovered something unique and fabulous about each place. I wanted to honor the wonderful people I’ve met by learning Spanish since most Mexicans have learned to speak English.
During an early stay at Emerald Bay in Mazatlán, I struggled to correctly say my room number, which is required for restaurant tabs, pool towels, and of course the swim-up bar. At the towel kiosk I met Martíne, our towel boy. He asked if he could practice his English, to which I countered, “Only if I can practice Spanish!” By the end of our stay, I had mastered my room number and learned to ask, “¿Qué hora es?” (What time is it?) And, “Más totopos, por favor.” (More chips, please.” But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t master, “Dos toallas, por favor.” (Two towels, please.) Toallas is pronounced: Twy-us. Unfortunately, my English brain just couldn’t remember that the double “lls” are the “y” sound in Spanish. Martíne, who is now in charge of the concierges, valet’s, and bellmen staff, is married and has two kids. I feel blessed that we’re still friends all these years later.
My love for Mexico has bled into my retirement plans, which unfortunately is still a few years away, but I dream of living among the warm, welcoming people of Mexico.
On one of our early trips, our group decided to take a day cruise on a catamaran named Bula. We were all excited for a day on the sea, sailing the coastline of Mazatlan, sipping Tequila Sunrises, noshing on local fruit and Mexican snacks, with a catered lunch on the beach of Deer Island. Imagine our surprise when the Bula’s owner, Gilberto, announced his mom wanted to join us for our trip, and as an added bonus, she’d prepared all our food. Gilberto introduced his mom, Quata, a small, feisty women who relished her role as our tour guide. As the Bula sliced through the Pacific Ocean, Quata regaled us with tales of how the coastline was once just endless beach where families could spend the weekend enjoying the sand and sea.
She told us the history of Mazatlán, nicknamed “Pearl of the Pacific”, and how the seaport had once been a haven for pirates lying in wait for Spanish Galleons loaded with treasure. The ever growing port became the perfect gateway for tourism, which is now the biggest industry in Mazatlán hosting over two million visitors a year. The city’s seaport also serves as a commercial shipping port and offers big-game fishing. As we sailed close to shore, she pointed out the dual spires of the Cathedral Basilica de la Inmaculada Conceptión, which was built from 1856 to 1899 and still serves as the city’s main catholic church.
Quata indicated various buildings lining the pristine beaches, giving a quick history of each place, including the fact that the small hotel where Randy and I had spent our honeymoon was owned by her twin brother. Our group sailed the Bula every time we were in Mazatlán, but sadly Quata only joined us the one time. But what a memorable gift she gave us since we managed to visit all the places she’d highlighted on our sail during our many trips to Mazatlán.
Of course a blog celebrating Hispanics would not be complete without mentioning the food. The savory, spicy, delicious food. One of my favorite memories is a tequila tasting day trip we took that included lunch at a local family’s house.
When our group arrived, we were greeted warmly, offered icy cold cervezas, and seated at a large hand carved dining table. The whole family set about the task of serving us; bottled water was supplied since not all of the small towns have purified agua. Appetizers were next with fresh guacamole, fire roasted salsa, and handmade tortilla chips as the first round. The next course of aperitivos consisted of chicken taquitos and chilaquiles. Our hosts kept the beers coming and offered margaritas as well. This is when I learned what a margarita should taste like; tart and crisp. Dinner consisted of beef tamales, pork tacos, and platters of marinated vegetables. Though we were all stuffed, the food kept coming and our tour guide encouraged us to keep eating so we wouldn’t offend the family.
When it was finally time to leave, one of the daughters, who spoke English, asked if we would like to tour their home. As she took us from room to room, I was struck by the modest comforts the family enjoyed. They had a television but, unlike most American homes, it wasn’t the focal point. Instead it set in a corner, partially blocked by a bookcase. The girl proudly showed us her room, which she shared with her sister and explained that, because she was the youngest, her sister slept in the bed and she on a palette on the floor. After we all used an open air-bathroom (walls, door, but no ceiling) we thanked our host family and headed to the tequila factory.
I knew from my very first visit that I would write a novel set in Mazatlán. How could I not include my favorite restaurant, Joe’s Oyster Bar, where I may or may not have danced on a table with a dog. And with such fabulous new friends like Gilberto (Humberto Alvarez/PIP) and Martíne (Martíne Cervantes/MIM) I had perfect examples of the type of Hispanic characters I wanted to create. Humberto’s girlfriend, Lucia came to life as a composite of all the wonderful Hispanic women I’ve met along the way. From all my visits, I’d gleaned a gold mine of character attributes, but the best character of all is Mexico, her culture, food, drink, and cities!
My husband has given me great gifts and lots of fun throughout our marriage, but the best present he ever bestowed on me is our fabulous link to paradise.
Kimila Kay lives in Donald, Oregon with her husband, Randy, adorable Boston Terrier, Maggie, and feisty black cat, Halle. Her professional accomplishments include three anthologized essays in the CUP OF COMFORT series. In three separate contests, Peril in Paradise, has won two first place awards, and a third-place award in the romantic suspense category. Malice in Mazatlan is scheduled for release in fall of 2022 and Redneck Ranch is tentatively scheduled for early 2023.