October 24, 2015 / 12:59 AM / 2 years ago

Honeymoon turns to nightmare as Hurricane Patricia batters Mexico

By David Alire Garcia
    PUERTO VALLARTA, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Lured by the promise of
sun, sand and a relaxing start to married life, newlyweds Fadi
and Eva Badawi of California could not wait to get to Mexico's
Pacific beach resort of Puerto Vallarta.
    Less than a week after they tied the knot, however, the
couple from Orange County spent Friday night hiding from one of
the most powerful storms in history, forced from their hotel and
into a makeshift shelter in a local Catholic college campus.
    "Our honeymoon had been great up until today," said Fadi, a
30-year-old accountant, still dressed in beach shorts and a
T-shirt as he sat at a small desk in a classroom.
    "It's actually kind of exciting because I watch a lot of
movies about the world coming to an end, and this is basically
the same kind of atmosphere," he said with a laugh.
    Fadi tried to comfort his anxious wife as she clutched her
camera, gently rubbing her hand and whispering "I've got your
back."
    "I'm really nervous. I'm scared, but I trust that God will
take care of us," said Eva, a 28-year-old health administration
worker. "We're scared of the unknown more than anything."
    As Patricia made landfall, rains picked up and soldiers with
automatic weapons slung over their shoulders gathered outside
the campus, apparently guarding the entrance.   
    Many tourists were earlier ordered by staff at their hotels
to make for the city's convention center, which was designated
by emergency services as a main shelter. 
    But that building was later deemed at risk of flooding, and
so around 500 people headed instead to the college campus
grounds to set up an unofficial shelter.
    More arrived as the hurricane closed in on the resort, in
both luxury SUVs and rusted pick-up trucks carrying entire
families.
    The strain was palpable.
    "Do we have a place yet?" Annie Johnson, a 33-year old
physical therapist from Toronto, shouted to her husband as she
dragged a suitcase on rollers in the clogged open-air hallway of
a three-story classroom building.
    "This could be the worst vacation ever," she muttered, her
6-year-old daughter Gianna followed her, clutching a white
pillow.
    Some tourists opted to ride out the storm at their hotels.
    Barbara Bornes, a 61-year-old retiree from Canada, was
walking alongside the pool of the Sheraton Buganvilias hotel
along with her husband Glen, the only guests in sight.     
    "It's not fun and I am frightened, but what can you do?" she
said. "You have to make the best of it, right? Our kids are
coming tomorrow, and my brother and sister-in-law are coming
too, but maybe they won't be able to make it."
    Glen Bornes, 62, scanned the stacks of protective sandbags
all around, and said he and his wife would return to their new
room and stay put. 
    He joked that Patricia had certainly disrupted his vacation
routine. "If they wouldn't have drained the pool, I'd still be
in it."  

    
 (Editing by Simon Gardner, Kieran Murray and Lisa Shumaker)

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