If energy cannot be created or destroyed, then the power of a Category 4 Hurricane healed my neice from Stage 3 Osteosarcoma.
I am a budget travel guru. I love Groupon! When I’m bored and can’t sleep, I will sometimes lie in bed and scroll through all the exotic trips available on different budget travel sites and think of how I want to travel to so many places in the world. So, when I came across a trip to Cabo San Lucas for two, all inclusive for 5 days for $595 I called my niece, Kristal and asked if she wanted to take the trip of a lifetime once she finished her 20 rounds of chemotherapy. Of course, she jumped at the opportunity and it gave her something to look forward to at the end of the road.
Kristal was diagnosed with Stage 3 Osteosarcoma 16 months prior to us leaving for Mexico. At the time she was diagnosed, she was 4 months pregnant with their second child, Fischer. She lives near Houston and went to MD Anderson for cancer treatment and they began her chemotherapy while she was pregnant.
They decided to take the baby early once they believed his lungs were developed and they knew he would survive. The one thing Kristal was determined to do was to not give up her baby because of the cancer. Little Fischer was born October 10, 2013, 6 weeks early, but a perfectly healthy baby boy!
Almost immediately after Fischer was born, Kristal was back to MD Anderson for surgery to remove the grapefruit sized tumor on her left hip. This would involve removing portions of her hip and pelvis. When recovered, she would have to walk with a lift in her shoe, a limp and a cane the rest of her life. After the surgery, she underwent grueling physical therapy and additional chemo to rid the body of any remains of the cancer. She left MD Anderson just 6 weeks after her surgery, able to walk out of the hospital on her own.
In order to purchase our trip, we had to book our reservation at the time I purchased it online, so we decided to go September 12-17, 2014. With our room booked all she had to do was get through the last of her chemotherapy.
As we got closer to our departure date Kristal and I would visit about how going to Cabo was on her bucket list of places she wanted to visit. It was what kept her positive and kept her going through those last rounds of chemo. She was looking forward to taking her port out the end of August so that by the middle of September she could swim with the Dolphins.
As our departure grew near, the plan was for Kristal to drive up from Houston the day before and for us to fly out together, on the same flight on the 12th. In order to pack properly, I had been checking the weather for Cabo San Lucus regularly and it was supposed to rain on Monday. Every other day we were there was less than a 30% chance of rain. In Texas, that means you are pretty much in the clear. I packed two umbrellas for the one day it was supposed to rain and waited for Kristal to drive up.
The plan was she was going to leave Houston when her oldest boy, Aiden got home from which would have been around 4:00 p.m. That did not happen. Her husband, Mikey, got stuck at work and didn’t get home until after dinner. The new plan was for Kristal to go to bed early and get up around 2:00 am and drive up to Fort Worth in time to leave for the airport at 9:00.
As it turned out, Kristal woke up at 1:00 am to drive to Fort Worth that morning, arriving around 8:00. Close to my house is a Walgreens and a Starbucks and she texted me that she needed to get something at the drugstore and until they opened she was going by Starbucks to get some instant Via Coffee Packets to take with us to Mexico. I was so anxious for her to get to my house, my only response was, “Get your ass here!”. I was tired of waiting!! I wanted to go!!! We were both so excited to be going on this adventure!
My girlfriend, Roberta had agreed to take us to the airport that morning so we didn’t have to leave a car at the airport. As we began it started to rain and Roberta was running a few minutes late. I didn’t think much of it, but she must have felt rushed because the minute we pulled out of the driveway she was speeding down the street like a mad woman. When we later took our exit to the airport, it had drizzled a bit on the way and when we exited, Roberta’s car spun out and we almost ran head long into a steel railing. She was able to pull us out of the spin and on went to the airport. We didn’t think much of it, but considering all the trouble we were having that morning getting to the airport it was as if the God’s were saying, “Stay! Don’t go”, but on we went.
We arrived in Cabo to a beautiful new airport, with 2 or 3 stories of floor to ceiling windows. In the years since I had been to Cabo, they really did spruce up the place quite a bit. Off we went to grab our bags and get our rental car.
Our first Margarita’s, at the airport in Cabo!
Like I said, I’m a dealsaver, and I rented our rental car online in the states. It was only $3 a day for a Mini Cooper or similar sized automobile. What a deal! We could tool back and forth between San Jose de Cabo and Cabo san Lucas all we wanted. However, when we arrived at the Car Rental counter in Mexico, they said the insurance I had purchased in the United States was no good in Mexico. They gave me 3 options, $175, $258, or $476 for the 5 days we were there. I was so mad at this little bait and switch I was more than a little rude and left immediately, back to the airport to try to find a cab. In the days to come, we would both remember how lucky we were not to have rented a car! It was a foreshortening for sure, and very serendipitous we didn’t have that car. It would have been demolished!
God was looking out for us already.
We finally made it to our hotel and the Royal Decameron did not disappoint. The lobby was open air from the front entryway to the registration desk and beyond. From the lobby we could see straight to the beach and the crystal clear blue sea which shimmered like a new wedding ring. We were delighted with our room with a king size, comfy bed, greatpillows, a red suede sofa and our balcony overlooking the pool and the ocean. There was a spa across the pool where we both wanted to investigate and splurge on massages and pedicures. We couldn’t wait to get in the pool as we heard Pina Colada’s calling our names.
We made reservations for dinner at the outdoor resturant on the beach. Paul, the consigner of the hotel was in charge of reservations and we booked our first night to celebrate Kristal’s end to her cancer treatment. Our waiter was Miquel who we ended up tipping $20 even though it was an all inclusive hotel, because he took such good care of us. We had one of the staff take a picture of us that night raising our wine glasses in a toast, all the while Miquel photo bombed us in the background. I know we have this photo somewhere, but neither Kristal, nor I, can find it!
Someone was preparing for a wedding on the beach the night we arrived.
The calm before the Storm…….we have no idea at this point what is headed our way.
I remember distinctly heading to our room after dinner and diving for the bed having had a little too much “silly syrup” at dinner. Our AC wasn’t working properly so we called for maintenance and while I remember distinctly him being in the room and telling them to turn the thermastat all the way down to 60 degrees for the AC to come on, I was completely comatose that night and slept soundly. We were just having so much fun and it had been a beautiful night, just the girls, no kids, no husbands, no pets.
The next morning we woke and had a delicious breakfast of homemade omelets, fresh fruit, waffles, sausages, coffee, eggs, juice you name it! It was quite a spread. All inclusive resorts have come a long, long way!
All we had on our wish list for the day was a pedicure and plenty of pool time. We didn’t want to be tied to a schedule for dinner, so we opted to do the buffet as we saw several rottisiere chickens roasting that day at lunch. We ate dinner and went to bed early and laid in bed talking until we both fell asleep. It was heaven! One full day in paradise celebrating the end of Kristals cancer treatment and on to her new life! We talked about this being the trip of a lifetime!
The very next morning, when we woke up, we were greeted by a text from a friend with a photo of a Cat. 4 Hurricane heading directly for Cabo. It appeared it was going to be a direct hit. Kristal had lived through hurricanes in Houston, but I had not been in one since I was a child.
That afternoon was when we had the Swim with the dolphins scheduled. We were supposed to take a taxi to Cabo San Lucas. It looked like it was going to rain and we weren’t sure if we should cancel. After calling the Dolphin facility, they assured us we should come for our session. So we did. It was as amazing as I remember it. First being in a giant pool with a 8 foot, 1200 lb dolphin is somewhat terrifying. But it was also amazing! These gentle mammals could propel us across the pool in seconds while holding onto their dorsal fin!
As the session continued, the weather grew dark over the ocean and we could see a storm beginning to roll in. Every time there was a thunder clap, the dolphins would dive to the bottom of the pool. The facility ended our swim session then called us a cab. When we finally got the cab and headed back to Cabo San Jose, the streets of Cabo San Lucas were already starting to flash flood. It took us about 25 minutes to get back to our hotel, and I think we rode there in silence. Often I wonder if our cabbie even had a house to go home to after the storm. Many would lose their homes that night.
When we made it back to the hotel, we knew we were at least going to get a lot of rain as the winds picked up and it was impossible to go outside without being knocked down. So we went to the basement to have dinner and drink margaritas. Then we headed back to our room for the night.
As we were trying to sleep the wind and rain began howling with fiercer and fiercer intensity. I told Kristal we should take all our pillows and blankets and go sleep in the shower. She was terrified. We managed to stay hunkered down for about 30 minutes, all the while she became more and more hysterical.
About that time, we heard voices running up and down the hall yelling for us to get out. It was two boys from the states who were checking to make sure everyone had gotten out of their rooms safely. Thank God they rescued us! We needed rescuing at this point. We headed back down to the basement.
Thinking we might never return to our room, or if we did, it would be ruined, I insisted on taking my suitcase with me. It was a good thing it had wheels. We headed down and slept on the floor with dozens of others. I pretty much slept through the entire storm recovering from the 3 margaritas I had after dinner. When I woke up, it was daylight and I wasn’t sure where I was. Because we had slept in the basement and we didn’t have electricity, I couldn’t really see our sleeping area until the next morning. It was chaos. I even found some cigarette butts on the floor where I had been sleeping. It was gross, but at least we had survived. All was quiet and a few were venturing outside to canvass the damage.
When we woke up the next morning, our hotel and our surroundings were in shambles. Most of the hotel rooms on our floor had the doors blown right off them. In our room, we had 4 inches of standing water and we were on the 3rd floor.
The swimming pools were black and there were lounge chairs everywhere. the thatched huts where the bar used to be, now looked like a pile of matchsticks. The open air lobby of our hotel no longer had a roof. They Hyatt Place Hotel across from us, was 8 stories of rooms totally open to the outside. Literally the side of the building, all 8 floors, was gone.
We had made it! We were alive! We looked like hell, but we had made it through the storm. We headed back to our room and found we had 4 inches of standing water in our room which was located on the 3rd floor. When we walked in the water was ankle deep. I remember we paid a worker $10 to squeegy the water out of our room and over the balcony. It was definitely the best money I ever spent.
We had befriended a couple from Texas the night of the hurricane. When we got back to our room the next morning, to survey the damage, I saw this couple going down to the swimming pool with their ice bucket and skimming dirty black pool water into their bucket. I thought, I’ve seen a lot of things, but this woman is nuts.
One of the things with being without electricity and running water, is your toilet doesn’t flush. Like I said, our room was on the 3rd floor, and we had a door to our room, when most rooms had lost their door. So we stayed put. We would end up stranded in Cabo for the next 3 days without water or electricity.
I called down to my friend and asked what she was doing with that dirty pool water. She said she was taking it to her room to flush the toilet! OMG! I didn’t even know you could do that!!!We gave it a try and it worked!!! Without anything else to do, Kristal and I went around to all of the empty rooms and collected every ice bucket we could find. We then found an unused housekeeping cart and loaded it up with ice buckets full of dirty pool water and started delivering it to our fellow guests. People were amazed! No one, evidently, except from our new friend from East Texas, knew you could flush your toilet with a gallon of water. We must have been quite a site. Two women, one with a limp, pushing an old laundry cart full of dirty pool water.
Oh well, sometime being of service to others is not so pretty! This began our hike to the the 3rd floor dirty pool water every time we wanted to poop or pee! The last day we were there and I went to the pool to fill up my ice bucket, a live SHRIMP jumped into my bucket!
With nothing else to do that day, we headed to the beach to take some lovely swimsuit photos with a huge tree that had just washed up on the beach. Kristal was the picture of loveliness. Other than her buzz cut hair, you could not tell she had just survived 20 rounds of chemo. She was, and still is a beautiful woman. The next day, because the tide had been so strong, the entire tree was swept back out to sea!
I must say the hotel staff were amazing while we were stranded. With only a propane to cook with, they fed us beans, rice, eggs and anything they had which they could cook before it spoiled without refrigeration. Every morning Kristal and I would pay one of the cooks $2 to heat us one cup of hot water. To this we added our Starbucks instant Via coffee. We only got one cup of coffee between us for 3 days, but it was the best coffee I had every tasted. I was so happy Kristal has stopped at Starbucks on the way to my house before we left for the airport. So, at this point it is beginning to feel like God has a plan for us the entire time. In hindsight, nothing was wasted.
One thing about living at the beach and not having AC, or a shower, or a blow dryer, is my wavy hair got curlier and frizzier as the days went by. I was astounded at how my hair went from sexy beach waves, to out and out kinky brillo pad. I do remember after 3 days of no shower, we all began to stink really bad. Kristal had some coconut body wash and shampoo, and I will confess to bathing and washing my hair in dirty pool water. We smelled good for about 5 mins before we turned to sweat bombs again. To this day, every time I smell Coconut Body wash, it takes me back to Cabo.
Every morning, after the hotel fed us, the General Manager would give us a report on how we were going to get home. In the beginning he had told us the airport was shut down and no one was flying in or out. Those who had found their way to the airport were stranded with no services. Kristal desperately wanted to get home to her boys, but I convinced her we should stay put until the GM told us to go.
Keep in mind, we also did not have any clean drinking water, so on day 2 we headed out of the hotel to try and look for a Walmart of convenience store. We found one a block away and stood in line to be let in to shop. They were only letting 5 people in at a time so there wouldn’t be a “run” on the store and total chaos. We were able to buy bottled water and some chips and other snacks. We had no idea at this point how long we would be stuck in Mexico, so I know, I wanted as many provisions as I had money for. Credit cards weren’t working, so all the cash we had on us what afforded us to buy what might keep us from starving.
While walking back to the hotel, I noticed I had two bars on my phone. I immediately went to FB and reported we were alive, but that we did not have any money and our cur credit cards weren’t working. That was the only SOS I got to make home. After that, wireless was no more, anywhere on the peninsula.
When the time came for us to leave the hotel, the general manager made an announcement at breakfast that we had 20 minutes get ready to go. He said the Federales had a caravan of armored vehicles that would take us to the airport. He said once we got to the airport we would get flights home. Why did I assume once we got to the airport it would be smooth sailing and organized. No. Not at all. Total Chaos. There were hundred and hundred of people standing in line at the airport and no one was going anywhere.
I was grateful I brought our umbrellas because we ended up standing in the middle of the airport parking lot in 100 degree heat for 6 hours. If it had not been for that umbrella, we would have had no shade whatsoever! The Star Telegram is our local paper in Fort Worth, Texas.
We kept seeing lines and lines of people being taken to planes who were headed to Mexico City or Guadalajara. However, we already had our credit cards declined when we got to Mexico, so I was terrified if we did fly deeper into Mexico we would be able to get a hotel, or buy new clothes. Every time an airport official came to check on us we told the we were waiting for a flight to the US. Finally, 6 hours later, a Southwest Airlines pilot pointed at about 80 of us and said, “Follow Me!”. OMG! We were going home!!! They checked our suitcases on the tarmac and immediately boarded us on the SW Airlines Jet. The flight attendants were waiting for us with a sack lunch and bottled water, and AIR CONDITIONING! My God, we must have been a smelly group, but they never let on! They were kind and gracious and so very very sweet. We heard later they had all volunteered to come to Mexico to rescue us. Some of them were even from San Antonio!
When the plane took off we found out we were going to Los Angeles!!!
When we arrived at LAX that night at dark, I called my son, who lives there before we even got off the plane. When we disembarked, the first thing we say in our terminal at LAX was Starbucks!!! Since my son lives about 40 mins from the airport. We had one more stop to make before home! I think he was there in about 20 minuets. No one had heard from us in days because we didn’t have wifi and most of our phones were dead, since we also did not have electricity.
When we arrived at his house, we all stayed up until about 1:30 in the morning debriefing from our ordeal. We had sooooooooo much to talk about. It was the trip of a lifetime and we got way, way more than we bargained for.
Five years prior to Cabo, while visiting San Francisco with my family. I purchased at a local art walk, 4 drawings on notecards that I wanted to frame and/or give away as gifts. One I held onto to until 2014 was titled, “Energy Wave”, thus the title to this piece. That year I had sent that particular card to my son’s roommate as a birthday card. Hannah had received the “Energy Wave” card and had saved it for framing.
When we got to the point, where in our traumatic synopsis of our ordeal, we all felt like it was the power of the Hurricane Odille, that had once and for all been the Energy that shape-shifted to heal Kristal of cancer. Hannah went and got the Energy Wave card from her room and gave it to my Kristal. She decided it was hers to keep. We all agreed, Hurrican Odille created the energy that would later prove, after follow up tests, that Kristal was cancer free. After all, we left had gone to Cabo when her chemo ended. She had been diagnosed cancer free, het. That was yet to be determined when we got back from our trip.
The next morning I called American Airlines, which had taken us to Cabo in the first place, and told them what had happened. It was amazing to me how many people had no idea there had been a hurricane in Cabo. However, they airline was very accommodating and basically asked, when would we like to go home. We made arrangements to fly back to Texas the next day.
When we boarded the flight back to DFW, we were the very last seats on the very last row. Our flight attendant was the sweetest woman we had ever met and we ended up telling her our whole story while she was in the back preparing a drink service. Later in the flight she came and told us that Derek Hough with Dancing With The Stars was on our flight and sitting in first class. We begged her to ask for his autograph. We ended up giving her the photo of Kristal taken at Cabo Dolphins to sign. The flight attendant actually took the time to explain to him how she had been a cancer survivor and had just survived a Hurricane. It was the perfect end, to a near perfect Trip of a Lifetime!
To this day, Kristal has been cancer free. That was nearly 5 years ago. Her hair has grown out and her boy, Fisher, is about to start kindergarten. Every year when she goes back for her scans, I remind her of the Energy Wave that saved her life.
First law of Thermodynamics:
The first law of thermodynamics, also known as Law of Conservation of Energy, states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; energy can only be transferred or changed from one form to another.
Hurricane Odielle saved my neice’s life.
Energy Wave greeting card.
Kristal today, 5 years later after being cancer free!
Little Fischer today. He’s the one Kristal was pregnant with when they started chemotheraphy.
Kristal and her husband Mike and their two boys, Aiden and Fischer, 2017.
Native Texan currently living in Fort Worth.
Mother of two grown children. One daughter, living in Denver. One son, who lives in Los Angeles and works in the movie industry.
Licensed Realtor since 2005. Full time. Dream job!
Dog Mom to 3 year old Silky Terrier named, Addison. AKC Championship name CH IMMA SWEET ADDICTION.
Introspective thinker. Writing is a gift. Have no idea where it came from. Seriously addicted to the human language. Words and phrases are some of my favorite things.
Raised with horses. Studied Art in Junior College and still paint in my spare time.
Very, very eternally grateful for YIN Yoga. I cannot live without it.
There is nothing better for the soul than a walk in the forest. Love to hike. Much of my inspiration comes from nature.
Love all things spiritual....
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