The money in my bank account was dwindling. Isn’t this always the predicament? The hot Mexican sun bounced off the bright, mango colored concrete. Was I going to have to leave these colors? Seattle in the winter on an old, drafty, wooden boat with little heat seemed bleak. I squinted, trying to find focus. I was hungry, but knew I had to be smart. This wasn’t an 80 peso piña colada at the beach front hotel kind of day. If I wanted to stay on this paradise island off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, this young gal with Viking bones and copper colored pigtails was going to have to get serious.
Originally, my plan was to work for a boat captain in Corpus Christi, Texas. I was going to work as first mate and help him sail his boat across the gulf, but this plan, as plans sometimes do, was foiled by a novice skipper who ran out funds and patience before the boat ever left the harbor. I jumped ship with my eyes still set on wild times in paradise, but the details always seem to change. Isla de Mujeres, please let me stay.
I had 262.19 left in my account. A flight home was 200 dollars, but retreat is not something I usually engage in. Desperation set in. I walked to the little garage at the edge of town that served beef soup and tortillas for 20 pesos. I peered over a broken wall to an abandoned yard filled with trash. An old refrigerator lay slanted in the heat with its doors ripped off, warped plastic buckets covered in dry grey paint, bags of mysterious dirty clothes, and then, there, lying among a pile of bird-picked takeout trays, was my answer.
A rusty round BBQ with its grate still in place! No sign of its lid, but excitement made me see a little blurry. This was the answer, and there was no time for beef soup now. I headed straight for the grocery store for ground beef and the bakery for buns. I stopped by the little bar whose owners I had befriended. I presented them with a proposition.
In exchange for feeding their staff every night, I would setup a hamburger stand in front of their bar from when the last restaurant closed to when the last club closed, that magic gap for profit. Sweat from that afternoon heat, and also from hope dripped down my forehead.
The bar owners agreed. That first night I opened for business I made enough for my rent for the next month. I prayed the charcoal wouldn’t burn out. Wondering how I got here, the music from the clubs pumped, and I flipped burgers on my rusty, lid-less BBQ behind a line of hungry cu