My sophomore year of college, I went to Mexico for Spring Break with my dad. It was one of the best trips I’ve taken in my entire life.
I had the most crushing, devastating, heart-wrenching break up in the fall of my freshman year. My high school sweetheart, who I was absolutely positive I was going to marry & had been dating since I was a junior in high school, decided he needed a “break” to see if we were really meant to be together. My novice experience in dating left me completely blindsided and utterly crushed. I lost weight, I had a rebound guy, but 6 months later I was still completely beside myself. Cue dad to the rescue.
I got a phone call from my dad asking if I wanted to go on a Spring Break trip. Uh DUH! Of course I did! He called back the next day and said we were going to Cozumel for 4 nights. AWESOME! I had never even left the country before, so I was completely stoked. A beach, the ocean, sun, and FREE, all sounded great to me.
If you’re perplexed at this point why a college student would be interested in Spring Breaking with her dad, then you clearly don’t know my dad. He was the BEST. Funny, the BEST stories, the life of EVERY party, never met a stranger, laid back, and generous. Despite my dad being, well, “dad” age, many of his friends were my age, because, as he said, “People MY age act so OLD!”
So, we were off. It didn’t take us long to find a beach to sprawl out on, nor did it take his Norwegian white skin (especially his normally cowboy-boot wearing feet) to get crazy sunburned. So we cleaned up and nosed out a bar for dinner. Dad had a particularly good sense for finding a good bar. And good food. He probably had the best luck paired with the best intuition of anyone I’ve ever met. Either way, we ended up at Carlos & Charlie’s, where the completely drunken afternoon cruise crowd was partying it up before heading back to their boat. We ate our dinner (the BEST street tacos I had ever had, and, these “potato sticks”–i.e., jicima, that neither of us had seen or tasted before).
Once the cruise crowd departed, the locals started showing up, and that’s when the fun began. We sat near the dance floor and I bashfully watched the scene, afraid to take part because, well, my dad was watching. But we had both had a few drinks, and I think he knew he needed me to start having some fun if he were going to have any, so he called over a young Mexican dude and said, “Dance with my daughter!” It was a demand the guy was happy to comply with; I was whisked off to salsa and merengue my 19 year old ass off. Drinks started coming out of nowhere, and I noticed my dad had made some new friends, so I started ordering him these ridiculous tequila shots where the waitress blew some loud whistle, pinched his nipples, and poured liquor down his throat. It was a solid plan on my part; mission “get dad drunk” served an opportunity for me to flirt (innocently), dance, and drink.
I made friends with a college student from Mexico City who offered to drive my dad and I back to our hotel so we didn’t have to get a taxi. This guy was SMOOTH, cuz I don’t know HOW he did it, but as my dad slipped (or tipped?) into the backseat of his vehicle, I got the dirtiest make out kiss from my new “friend”, and as far as I know, my dad was none the wiser. We cruised the streets of Cozumel listening to Mexican rap (a new genre for me), with the windows down. The ocean was to the right, and the moon grazed the top of the black waves, creating the most beautiful scene I’d ever witnessed.
Once our transport delivered us safely to our hotel, we both stumbled our way to our room (that had external entrance with sliding glass doors–not sure of the safety, but being with my dad I guess I wasn’t too concerned). We each chugged a bottle of water, took some aspirin (thanks for the tip dad) and passed out. I’ll never forget his groan and face the next morning when I woke up and asked if we were going back to Carlos and Charlie’s again that night–a clear indicator of me being 19 and him being in his 50’s–as his ambitions for back to back party nights were slim to none.
We did make it back to “our” bar again before our trip was over, and we had many other memorable experiences while we were in Mexico. But nothing is as sweet as the memory of the generous gift he gave me championing my heart and spending an unforgettable (and my only) college Spring Break trip together.