After two years of teaching high school Spanish in Ashland, Nebraska, I wanted to do for my students what my high school teacher had done for me – take them to Mexico.
This wasn’t a trip over the border to Tijuana. This was a ten-day trip to Mexico City, including Aztec ruins. I recruited four kids from my Spanish classes to sign up. The program gave me three more orphans from another school. I was in charge of seven students (three virtual strangers), and I brought two of my friends along at the chaperone rate.
We flew to Mexico City and had a great time touring the university, the cathedrals, the palace, and the museums. We even got a tour of Teotihuacán and the pyramids of the sun and the moon. All that stuff is good.
What’s not good is that I made the mistake of being lured in by a strawberry milkshake halfway through the trip. I knew better — raw strawberries and milk, the worst combo ever for an American stomach with American microbes. The next day Montezuma’s Revenge came to visit with a vengeance, and I was flat on my back with a piercing headache, except when I was crawling to the bathroom for yet another bout of diarrhea.
Problem: I was the chaperone, supposedly looking out for the well-being of seven minors. I couldn’t lift my head off the pillow.
My friends did not step up to help me. They hadn’t signed up to be actual chaperones, just to take a cheap vacay. As a matter of fact, one of them left in the middle of the trip and flew home. I don’t remember if this was before or after I became ill. All I remember is that she was gone, and the other guy wasn’t equipped to step in and be a teacher.
I managed to put a sign-up sheet on my door with strict written instructions to be back at the hotel every night by 11:00 p.m.. I couldn’t enforce it. The kids could come in at any hour and write down anything they wanted. I had no way to check on them. I was too sick.
A day of two later, it was time to travel to Acapulco. I climbed onto the bus and collapsed in the front, my head down on the bench seat. No one bothered me. I looked green. I was dehydrated and trying not to need a bathroom.
That trip was mostly a blur, but happily I returned home with all seven teenagers. As far as I know, none of the five girls gave birth nine months later.
One of the boys asked me to his senior prom the following year when I was teaching elsewhere, but that’s another story. Actually, it isn’t, because I said no. I was 24, he was 18, and yes, he could have been the love of my life, but at the time it seemed oh, so very wrong.
Couldda Wouldda Didda
I have lots of great photos. I had a dark tan for my younger sister’s August wedding, and I dropped a few pounds for the peach bridesmaid’s dress, too, what with all the pooping.