by Maria Ruiz
Maria often shares stories with us about Santa Barbara history, her travel all over the world, her dogs, and life.
My partner and I ran away from home. Yes, that’s right. We sold everything, bought an old, used motor home and planned to see Mexico in six months.
Silly us. We spent three years and still had a lot more to see.
It was December 31, 1999 and we were in Merida while we waited for my partner Ted’s broken ankle to heal. The trailer park where we stayed had several other senior runaways.
One couple had a small VW bug, Jane and Wayne. Another couple, Jacob and Cindy were retired and he used a walker. Ted was on crutches so we couldn’t get around easily. Bob and Judy, the third couple, were long time campers; Bob was recovering from heart surgery.
It was New Year’s Eve and we decided to go to the main section of town for a wonderful dinner. It was the last night of the 20th century. The plan was simple. Jane and Wayne would drive Jacob and Cindy and the walker to a restaurant, drop them off and come back for us. After dropping us off, they would come back for Bob and Judy.
We decided on a good restaurant and Jacob and Cindy went off in the bug. Twenty minutes later the bug was back for us. They dropped us off and left to pick up Bob and Judy. As we hobbled to the door, we saw Jacob and Cindy still standing outside, a sign on the door said “Cerrado” (Closed). The sign was so small they hadn’t noticed it until the door wouldn’t open and the car had gone. Now we were stranded too.
We couldn’t imagine how a popular restaurant could be closed on New Year’s Eve but it was. We waited until the bug arrived with Bob and Judy. After discussing the situation, we decided to try for another restaurant that Wayne and Jane had eaten at the week before. They drove Bob and Judy, saw people inside and dropped them off. When they returned with us, Bob and Judy were still standing outside, laughing. The restaurant was closed for a private party.
We attempted one more place. By now the VW bug had been driving back and forth for over an hour and we were all getting very hungry. Several of us had not eaten lunch in anticipation of a great New Year’s dinner. It too, was closed; all the fancy places were closed for private parties. By now, some of us had lost the holiday spirit. What to do?
We found an open Wendy’s.
All eight of us found seats under the bright lights. While we chewed our less than perfect hamburgers, we toasted our success and the new millennium with orange sodas in paper cups. We may not have had tablecloths or candles, but we did have a great story to tell of New Year’s Eve, 2000; one that we’ll never forget.
Check out more of Maria’s travel and history articles here in KRL.