Club Culture: Finding Friendship Amidst a Catastrophic Hurricane

November 14, 2023 • By Amy Jo Robertson


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“When the hurricane hit with very little notice, we had ThirdHome guests in our home that night, Mary and Rich. They have now become lifelong friends brought together by an event that few people can say they have experienced.”

– ThirdHome Member, Ron W.

In the coastal town of Acapulco, Mexico, a vacation meant for relaxation and joy took an unexpected turn for ThirdHome guests Rich and Mary (and their hosts, Ron and Brenda). As Hurricane Otis rapidly escalated to a devastating Category 5 status, their plans were upended, and an unforeseen story of survival and friendship unfolded.

Ron and Brenda’s home, “La Roqueta,” in Acapulco, Mexico, prior to the storm.

Hundreds of miles away, vacationing in Puerto Vallarta, Ron and Brenda found themselves spared from the hurricane’s direct impact. However, their brand-new luxury home in Acapulco became an unexpected refuge for their guests, Mary and Rich.

With a mere two hours of notice before the hurricane hit, Ron contacted Rich, urging him to brace for the impending storm and to do what he could to help secure the home. As the cyclone escalated from a tropical storm to a formidable Category 5 hurricane, Mary and Rich, accompanied by their house staff, took shelter in the most secure space available—the laundry room.

Overnight, the hurricane transformed the once picturesque city into a scene reminiscent of a war-torn landscape, with devastation in every direction.

For 2-3 days, Ron and Brenda anxiously awaited any correspondence from Mary, Rich, and their live-in staff. All communication channels were lost. Ron and Brenda were relieved once a text finally arrived, reassuring them that everyone was safe. Mary and Rich had spent those past few nights sleeping on the master bedroom deck in a bid to counter the heat, using pool water for basic hygiene.

Despite the reported $15 billion in damages to the city, Ron and Brenda’s home miraculously fared better than expected. Though significant damage occurred, it was a fraction of what they had feared.

In the aftermath, Acapulco faced a dire situation with no electricity, water, or food. The city’s roads were impassable, and the airport was closed.

Taking matters into their own hands, Ron and Brenda hired a truck from Mexico City, loaded it with essential supplies, and sent it on an expedition to Acapulco. Luckily, the truck successfully navigated the debris-strewn streets.

Driven by a heartfelt commitment to humanity and genuine concern for their ThirdHome guests, Ron and Brenda took it upon themselves to personally cover the expenses for transporting Mary and Rich to Mexico City in the same truck, where upon arrival, they were able to find solace in a shower and safe hotel room to rest their heads.

Ron and Brenda met Mary and Rich in Mexico City that night, where the four friends gathered to share their stories and witness the destruction of their once-luxurious home.

The friendship forged during those challenging days extended beyond the four ThirdHome members to include Ron and Brenda’s live-in staff. The staff, despite their own concerns for their families’ welfare, continued to assist Mary and Rich throughout the ordeal. In turn, Mary and Rich supported their hosts by cleaning up around the property.

As the authorities later revealed the hurricane’s staggering force, reaching a catastrophic Category 6 status, the impact on Acapulco was truly one of the worst in world history. In the midst of challenges, the group’s journey is a powerful reminder of resilience, kindness, and the lasting bonds that can form between strangers.

“It truly is a story of strangers becoming friends, due to the chaos that ensued, proving that humanity is more good than not! It doesn’t matter the culture or the setting, good people should always do good things to help, love, and support! Not only have the 4 of us become friends, Ron, Brenda (my wife), and Rich and Mary, but our entire staff of 5-6 people have also become friends with Rich and Mary and will always remember for the rest of their lives the experience they survived together.— Ron W.

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