PUERTO VALLARTA (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