Vacation’s All I Ever Wanted

Last week I spent 4 blissful nights, and 5 fantastically happy days, at a resort in Ixtapa, Mexico. It was my first true vacation in 3 years, and my first time on the Mexican coast. I had no idea what to expect, other than the fact that my brother and sister in law, had stayed at the same fabulous resort 6 years in a row, and this year, had invited me to join them. My first observation was that all of the people we encountered, whether it be at the resort, in town, in a restaurant, or even on the streets, seemed incredibly friendly and hospitable. I realize there’s a commerce connection here, I’m not naïve, but I swear this attitude was genuine. It may also have something to do with my brother; we’ll call him “Bill.” Turns out, friendly as I think I am, I am a positive hermit crab compared to “Senor Bill.” This was the 6th year in a row that he and his wife (we’ll call her “Misty” just for fun) had visited the same resort, and by this time, it was like they were beloved members of the family. It seemed as if every person we encountered had a hug or handshake for them, an offer to have a sip of tequila or catch up on the latest news. And I got my fair share of hugs and handshakes too. It just made for a warm and comfortable environment that was easy to relax into. And me, being me, I had worried about that. Sometimes it takes me a while to ease into the vacation mode. And especially after the last stressful year, I assumed it would take me at least a couple of days to throw off my cares and really relax. But, I think from the moment I stepped off the plane onto the warm, sultry tarmac, breezed through customs and saw Bill and Misty smiling at me, my mind flipped to a carefree place it barely recognized, yet so desperately needed. And within an hour I was sitting on a beautiful beach, in a gorgeous resort, without a care in the world. Well, one minor care. If you are sensitive you may want to skip this next part, but it’s a story I have to share. One big attraction at this resort, and in fact many of the beach front resorts in Ixtapa, is the rescue and release of baby sea turtles. I had seen videos of this, and was very eager to catch it myself. It doesn’t happen every day. The guards and lifeguards find the turtle eggs during their rounds each evening. They bring them to a hatchery, and when there are enough babies hatched, they release them back into the ocean, at sunset, when predators are least likely to snatch them up. It turns out, the life of a baby sea turtle is far more precarious than I had known. The nature guide gave a little talk before the release, and explained that only one in a thousand turtles actually survives the release. One in a thousand! Got that? And they were only releasing about 100 babies that night, so you figure out the odds. Suddenly, what had seemed like a beautifully benign activity, took on a rather grim aspect. And me, well, being me, I couldn’t help it. I started giggling nervously, and muttering things like, oh, the humanity, as the poor, doomed little baby turtles struggled to make their way to the water, surrounded by eager tourists. One enterprising little guy (we’ll call him “the boy who lived” or “lucky one out of a thousand”) scooted off quickly, and we all cheered as he swam off. But the others…well, let’s just hope that the Gods were friendly that day. I couldn’t bear to watch it through the end; it didn’t seem as if there would be a happy ending for all. Okay, moving past that sad little tale… The days took on a predictable but thoroughly enjoyable, routine. We would meet for breakfast, go to town (either Ixtapa or Zihuatanejo), stroll around town until lunchtime, have lunch at some local hole in the wall, where I ate some of the most delicious tacos I’ve ever had, return to the resort for pool time, afternoon reading and rest time in the hammock, meet up again for happy hour, go back to town to one of several delicious restaurants, have a nightcap in the lounge, retire to our ocean front rooms for a peaceful night’s sleep, and then start it all again in the morning. Blissful. I’ve never had such a leisurely vacation before and it was perfect. We started to recognize our fellow guests after a day or two. The rugged Canadian ladies who had escaped the frigid weather of Alberta. The French family with the turtle chasing little girl. The unhappy woman we came to call “Sad Sad Cig Cig” because she chided us for laughing one night in the lounge, and told us she was sad. She was also always trying, unsuccessfully, to find someone to bum a cigarette off of. She was most frequently alone, but we did spy her with what we assumed was her (grumpy looking) husband. She was not having a happy vacation, and I felt bad for her. I was having a very happy vacation! I expected there would be some moment of clarity during this break, where all of the questions I’ve been asking myself for the past 18 months would suddenly be answered. This didn’t happen. What did happen was that for 5 days, I didn’t worry. I didn’t even think about my “real life” and problems that might be waiting for me at home. I went with the flow. It was, frankly, awesome. I came home, and life restarted quickly. I had made a vow to myself that I wouldn’t check work email during my vacation, and would wait at least 24 hours upon my return to start working. I failed on both counts. Within a couple of days, I was stressed, tired, cranky. And I was mad at myself for losing my bliss so quickly. But now it’s been a week, and my mood is leveling out. Whenever I start to get too worked up about things, I remember the ocean, my hammock, laughing with Bill and Misty, the beautiful sunsets. And I take a deep breath, and it feels better. After all, however stressful my life may feel sometimes, I had a wonderful break, and I can start dreaming of my next vacation, whatever that may be. And as hard as times might seem, it could be worse. At least I’m not a baby turtle. The end, for now

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