New Year’s Eve 1999

Dec 28, 2013 | 2013 Articles, Maria Ruiz, Travel

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.

Maria and her dog Sherman on one of their travels

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.

Maria Ruiz was born in Santa Barbara, California; her family had been there since the Spaniards first converted the Indians & created small towns. She graduated from the University of San Diego State in 1972 & taught for 8 years before starting her own business. After retiring she began a ten-year odyssey to visit and live in 57 countries around the world. She just recently relocated to California. Her book, I’ll be in the Fourth Grade Forever, can be ordered on Smashwords & Amazon. Currently she is writing short stories as part of the Puerto Vallarta Writer’s Group. Her blog can be found at and her travel photos at


  1. Loved this story – friendship and making the best of things while making the best of things!

  2. Another great story Maria.
    Funny I too remember New Years eve 1999 when the computer world was about to crash, if not the whole world.

    We were in Puerto Vallarta on the beach walk in front of Plaza Pelicanos because there was no where open to eat.!!!
    Tons of fire works but that don’t feed a hungry belly

  3. Thanks for another great heart story dear

  4. I always love reading Maria’s stories. She may be the most resilient person I know. Thanks for this chuckle, Maria.

  5. An entertaining anecdote, Maria! I guess doesn’t matter where you dine as long as with good friends…

  6. I always love reading Maria’s stories. I think of her as a brave woman who doesn’t let dirt grow under her feet.

    Her stories are visual, I can see the people waiting at the restaurant, stomachs growling, and then settling for Wendy’s burgers!

  7. Maria, you’ve done it again! I always enjoy your stories. And, as always, this one left me with a smile. I’m looking forward to reading more of your travel adventures.

  8. Maria is so full of adventure! It is so fun to hear all the funny things we have to go through with the challenges of life. Thanks for sharing Maria! I hope this New Year you will dine like royalty. 😉

  9. Great story. I love when people can make a less then perfect situation in to a wonderful one and Maria certainly did that with a New Year’s Eve party.

  10. What a delightful story, Maria. Chauffeured around by a tiny car, ready to spend big on a meal — and you wind up in a Wendy’s! You can’t make this stuff up. Hope Ted and you have a “rich” New Year’s Eve and wonderful new year.

  11. Loved your story Maria, what adventures you have. I want to read more of them.

  12. I know as a New Yorker I always expect restaurants to be open. I understand the frustration. Great story!

  13. A wonderful memory of the true meaning of friendship.

  14. Dear Maria,
    Your story was delightful! We miss you very much here in Puerto Vallarta. Not only your leadership of our writers group, but your stories and guidance in our writers prompts, not to mention the gargantuan task of editing our anthology. Hard shoes to fill, my dear friend. Thank you for sharing your ongoing adventures with Ted and the world.

    Cariñosamente, RosAngelica

  15. Great story, Maria. I can just see you,Ted and the group getting more frustrated but eventually giving into the reality of “Wendy’s.” What an irony; fast food did the trick.

  16. Thanks for sharing, Maria. You remind me of some of the times we went in search of a meal on a special night in Mexico. You really know how to stir up those old memories. Is this a story that the Wendy’s organization would love to see? …as in …”Go to Wendy’s for the memories.”

  17. Having participated in this fiasco, I can say that, without a doubt, it was the most memorable New Year’s Eve I ever spent. Certainly the most memorable bringing in a new century.
    Maybe the next one will be even better. We might end up at Burger king.


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