Acapulco Mexico – Our First Vacation Disaster

Kelsey P. Gonzalez September 26, 2010 2 Comments

View from The Grand Mayan Hotel Acapulco Mexico
View from our hotel in Acapulco, Mexico.

In April of 2009, my husband and I along with our then 1 ½-year old son left our home in Southern Utah to make the trek to Acapulco, Mexico.  To be honest, it was not someplace I’d ever had any desire to go despite the numerous reports from friends on how wonderful it was.  Though my husband had been anxious to visit what he half-jokingly calls ‘The Mother Land’ for years, the only reason I finally agreed to go was because we’d be attending the wedding of one of his best friends.  I had traveled internationally before but with all the reports of violence and crime coming out of Mexico, I was extremely nervous to head south.  Still, “How bad can it be,” I asked myself “when the whole wedding party is going?”  Sadly, I was about to find out.  

The closest major airport to our home is in Las Vegas (McCarran International Airport) Nevada nearly two hours away, and unfortunately there were no non-stop flights from there to Acapulco.  Instead we were forced to drive two hours to Vegas, then take a flight to Houston, TX and take a connecting flight from there to Acapulco.  Our flight out of Vegas also happened to be a red eye; it was the only one that would make the connecting flight out of Houston.  While many children will happily sleep through the car ride and subsequent flight, our son is not one of them.  He was wide awake on the drive to Vegas and ran gleefully through the airport as we waited to board the plane.  It wasn’t until we were finally in the air sometime around 2:00 AM that he finally sacked out.  Of course he woke up again when we landed in Texas a couple hours later.   

It was while we were waiting for our connecting flight in Houston that I first noticed the runny nose.  Having our son get sick while traveling internationally was one of my greatest fears…closely followed by getting kidnapped by drug lords and being arrested and thrown into a Mexican jail.  However, as it was just a little runny and our son was acting normally, I convinced myself it was only due to the change in altitude.  I was so very wrong.   

Hotel Room of The Grand Mayan Acapulco Mexico

My husband and our sick little boy in out hotel room at the Grand Mayan Acapulco.


By the time we reached our hotel in Acapulco around 1:00 PM later that day, his runny nose had turned into a full-blown fever.  Of course, I panicked.  Though I had packed enough first-aid supplies to serve a small army, I didn’t have any antibiotics to treat him if it turned out to be something more than a cold.  Hoping that he would benefit from the warm, humid air, we took our son on a walk around the hotel to explore the grounds and amenities (see the article entitled “Acapulco-The Grand Mayan”).  When we reached one of the magnificent pools we sat down at a table to enjoy the ocean view.  As we sat there, a woman approached us.  She was visiting from Europe, she told us, and felt prompted to warn us about a strange new virus that had recently broken out in Mexico City.  “Don’t let anyone get near your son,” she said, “it’s very contagious.”  We thanked her for the information but couldn’t help feeling she was being rather dramatic.   

Swine Flu News

Photo courtesy of


Later that evening we found that she wasn’t.  While searching the internet, my husband found the ‘strange virus’ she’d been talking about was none other than the Swine Flu.  Yep, we were there for the start of it all.  Of course it hadn’t reached its peak yet so the panic level was still relatively low, at least with most of the tourists.  My panic level however, quickly shot up a few more notches.  We put our son to bed and prayed he would be better the next morning.  But he wasn’t, he was worse when he woke up and I placed a call to our pediatrician.  Since our doctor wasn’t allowed to have prescriptions filled internationally, he told us to take our son to the resort doctor which we promptly did.  The doctor was quick to assure us it wasn’t the horrible flu going around but gave us a prescription anyway which we took the local Walmart to be filled.  

Outside the Grand Mayan Hotel Acapulco Mexico

My husband and son waiting for the hotel to be cleared after the earthquake.


I was extremely anxious to get home at this point but the wedding was just a day away and then we’d be leaving the day after that.  The level of fear surrounding the Swine Flu was getting worse with each passing day though, as it claimed the lives of more and more people in Mexico City and the surrounding areas.  We watched the website of the U.S. Health Department but they were not yet encouraging tourists to return to the states.  They were however taking other precautions.  Anyone arriving in the U.S. from Mexico who appeared to have any symptoms of illness was being quarantined for up to three days to make sure they weren’t carrying the H1N1 virus.  We knew if we came home with our son in his current condition, we would be stopped and held until they could make sure he didn’t have it.  So we stayed but didn’t venture beyond the resort except to go to Walmart once again to pick up some more medication.  This time when we went in, all the workers and many of the customers were wearing masks to protect themselves.  My panic level was now off the charts.  When we climbed back into the cab to head back to the resort, I was literally counting the hours before we could go home.  I couldn’t see how things could get much worse.   

Beach near Grand Mayan Acapulco

My little family on the beach in Acapulco.


But believe it or not, they did.  As we pulled up to our hotel, I noticed that the staff seemed to be in chaos.  One employee ran up to our cab driver and began talking so quickly in Spanish that I could no longer understand him.  My husband however could.  He turned to me with a strange half-smile and said, “seems there’s just been an earthquake.”  I stared at him in disbelief.  Riding along in the very worn-out back seat of a very old cab, across extremely uneven roads, we hadn’t felt the 5+ earthquake.  When we walked into the large, open-air lobby of the hotel though, it was obvious it had been a good one.  Furniture, decorations, and palm fronds from the thatched roof were strewn all over the floor and the hotel rooms were all off limits.   

We were herded out onto the lawn with the rest of the guests to wait for the hotel to be cleared before we could return to our room.  I was tremendously grateful that we hadn’t actually felt the earthquake.  Though my husband and I are originally from Southern California and are quite used to them, our son had never experienced one and I was pretty certain it would have been a scary experience for him.   

When we finally lifted off the runway on our flight home the next day, I nearly cried with joy.  Even my husband was thrilled to be leaving.  Though we managed to make it through the airport checkpoints and all the way back to Southern Utah without bringing home the Swine Flu, we did find that our son was suffering from a double ear infection.  He was a trooper though through the whole experience and is even smiling in all our family pictures.  However, I truly hope my husband has had his fill of ‘The Mother Land’ because I doubt flying horses could drag me back.  I’ve decided that with some destinations, once is enough! 

avatarAbout the Author:

Kelsey lives in Southern Utah with her husband, their 3-year old son, and their newborn daughter. They enjoy the adventure of exploring new places together and love building memories through family travel.

Tags: , Travel Disasters
2 Comments to “Acapulco Mexico – Our First Vacation Disaster”
  1. avatar The Grand Mayan Resort Acapulco Mexico says:

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    • avatar Tanya says:

      I was born and raised in Acapulco. Based on your story it sounds to me like your son was sick before arriving to Mexico. I’m not sure what part of Acapulco you stayed in, but we have fully paved streets and modern/new means of transportation; so your comment on uneven roads and old cars reflects only the area you decided to stay at. I can only guess the decision was made due to budget restrictions. I would also like to point out that both the port and the state have excellent medical professionals, had you taken your son to the Dr. the ear infection would have been diagnosed properly, treated, and you could have avoided your little one pain and discomfort allowing him to enjoy a beautiful vacation. I have taken both my x-husband and my now husband not only to Acapulco but various towns surrounding the state as well as to Mexico city and they loved it! I’m sorry circumstances beyond anyone’s control caused your vacation to be ruin.