I am extraordinarily happy to report that my husband is safe and back in the US following a terrible ordeal in Cabo during Hurricane Odile. I can't tell his story — which I've heard some of and is horrifying — but I can tell mine. And I want to use it to call out the absolute bullshit that is the Riu hotel company, owners of the Riu Santa Fe hotel in Cabo.
As of yesterday afternoon, this is the update Riu company had on their website:
Based on what my husband has told me now that he is back in the states, most (if not all) of that statement is untrue. According to him, the hotel promised its guests it would deliver food and bottled water to the rooms, and he said that it only delivered it to some of the rooms (not his). He said the hotel staff abandoned the hotel relatively early in the hurricane without any notice. He and his friends were on their own after the storm began hitting hard and for the aftermath. In fact, they couldn't even turn in their room keys because there weren't working employees on the property that they could find the day after the hurricane hit, when they walked out to survey the damage.
I want to interject here and say that I get why the staff would leave. If I were that staff, given the size of that storm, I would leave too. Absolutely. I even think that given the circumstance that's okay. What is NOT okay is the Riu company lying about the status of its guests and staff.
Here is the Riu screenshot from the company's Facebook page, telling a person another lie (I've blocked out the person asking the question for their privacy, because I don't know them):
Do you want to know how my husband managed to get home and how pretty much everyone has who has managed to escape has gotten home? He made for the airport. He didn't have any concrete information—he said there if very little—but on hope alone he hitchhiked (so lucky that worked) to the airport where the Mexican military is flying foreigners to select cities where flights out of the country are available.
This information is now available online — multiple people are beginning to leave Mexico and they are documenting their travels with recharged cell phones at the ready. When my husband called me from Tijuana to tell me he was steps away from the US and had been rescued by the Mexican military, I burst into tears in a parking lot I was so relieved. Prior to that call I hadn't heard from him in over 24 hours and all I had to go on was the news (terrifying) and and — you guessed it — the information coming from the Riu hotel.
Prior to my husband's return the Riu's statements were a comfort. I thought, thank everything that he is fortunate and privileged enough to be in a big resort with generators, etc. I saw the photos of the flooded Riu Santa Fe and convinced myself to believe the hotel had moved him and his friends to another property as a safety precaution. NOPE.
He and his friends were stuck in a room, stories up, unable to leave without wading through two-to-four feet of sewage. Everything was wet, even in their rooms (if not from Hurricane Odile itself, then from the 78° humidity). But wet is nothing compared to sewage, right? The way my husband explained it to me is that the Riu Santa Fe has a big wall around it and that wall functioned as a dike in the storm weather, creating a giant, un-drainable lake for the property to sit in.
When they got desperate enough to leave — remember, prior to the storm hitting full-tilt the night before the hotel had given guests explicit instructions to stay in their rooms — they had to wade through that disgusting mix of floodwater and... who knows, let's not think about it (see the title of this post for possibilities). Once out, they hiked to Riu's second property in Cabo, the Riu Palace, thinking that as guest of the hotel company they might at least find some potable water. All this while THIS was up on the Riu's Facebook page:
At this point I think it's necessary I explain what my husband explained to me, which is that the Riu Santa Fe is Jack to the Riu Palace's Rose a la the movie Titanic. Despite the fact that the price difference between the properties isn't very big, the Santa Fe is the lesser tier. This apparently meant a lot to the Palace property, because despite my husband and friend's proof that they were in the neighboring Santa Fe, the Palace wouldn't even give them any water or let them take shelter there.
There are good, logical reason for that, I'm sure. But I think it's colossally disingenuous for the Riu company as a whole to pretend that all their guests (or ex-guests) are being treated to fine amenities like potable water and shelter that their Riu Palace guests are lucky enough to qualify for.
Again, I am so, so happy my husband is home. I know he's incredibly fortunate to have found a ride to the airport, and a lift to Tijuana. I have an immense respect for the Mexican military for helping so many tourists get home safe so quickly. My heart goes out to all those still trapped in Cabo (and there are many, the estimated number of tourists in the region at the time of the hurricane is 26,000) and especially to those living and working in Baja Sur. I hope the relief comes fast for them; I can only imagine that getting the tourists out will help leave more water, food, and aid for the actual residents who need the help more than anyone.
But fuck the Riu Santa Fe.