Reading on a Nook with polarized lenses

directions
Everything is up and to the left.

It’s oddly telling that since my return from our Mexican vacation, I haven’t yet gotten back into the habit of checking my various social networking streams much. The notion of opening up Twitter just seems a little too similar to the feeling I had, the first day one of our trip. There were many things that I could choose to do at any given time, but it was overwhelming, partly due to the planning needed, and I eventually stuck with the simplest and most obvious option: head to the enormous pool with a book. However, we were there for a whole week, so I did manage to fit in some standard vacation fare: photography, food, drink, socializing, and saying “wow” about the scenery. Some details follow:

Cool as a cucumber.

salsa
Sauces, many.

Just how does one relax? Internet hiatus. I did it! 8 days with no internet access. I recommend it.

I fully admit to some uneasy feelings at first, when I realized that there wasn’t really a good place to run outside and that excursions would require some hassle and discomfort. Here is what helped me overcome that agitation: my pile of books, a personal mission to jump into the pool every day, and my realization that our last several vacations were full of bustle and activity. It really is okay: not every vacation needs a high level of adventure. Various individuals on this trip, including myself, simply needed to rest. Packing a few clothing items and books into some luggage and heading toward a tropical climate isn’t a bad way to do that.

Orchid
One sneaky orchid.

Our wee bit of adventure for the trip: a few hours spent strolling around Yaax Che, the Dr. Alfredo Barrera Marn Botanical Garden, just up the road from our resort. A nice, shady path took us past medicinal plants, ferns, cacti, orchids & other ornamentals, and mangroves. A rustic but well-produced exhibit showed us how chicle is harvested and processed, to make chewing gum. While at the garden, I climbed a rickety observation tower, then walked across a “hunging” bridge – made of cables, thin wood slats, and lots of chicken wire. This, combined with the large snake and the monkeys we spied in the garden, made our mini-Indiana Jones adventure complete. Those hours, slowly walking, now and then stopping to take pictures, looking into the trees and the earth to find treasures (or threats), were few, but I departed feeling refreshed and recharged.

Nuclear green chili sauce illumination

Playa del Carmen
It’s ALIVE! Street scenery in Playa del Carmen.

I enjoy reading immensely, but over the last few years, my reading time has just been while on airplanes, and we didn’t fly much last year. The three flights and countless poolside chaises allowed me plenty of time with books. Some of them were illuminating ( The Omnivore’s Dilemma, A Natural History of Four MealsIn the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin; and even The Art of Racing in the Rain). Some of them were amusing (mainly Katherine) and will also provide me with a lot of excellent vocabulary for attempting to beat Matt, TJ, or Steve in Words with Friends. Thankfully, my WoW-playing husband and the contextual clues helped me out with items like hauberks, garderobes, and tippets.

We stayed at an inclusive resort, and yet we did see some new (to us) wildlife: a coatimundi (locally called a tejón) and an agouti, both roaming the resort grounds freely. Also, the resort had access to a great public beach with tide pools full of ocean critters, which included a very nimble and black brittle star and several of my favorites, chitons.

It was eerily calming, to sit amongst and move around with so many other people with whom we had one obvious thing in common. Most of them were vacationing, and the remainder were enabling the vacation by serving us food and keeping the facilities in fine working order. Humans need to play, to rest, to recharge. As I sat under a palapa on the beach one day, listening to the waves crash in, wriggling some sand from between my toes and sharing sand castle news with Steve, I felt so fortunate for this life and I am grateful.

Always, a list

And now the requisite post-vacation resolutions: One of my books offered a useful parable: the human (versus canine) habit of launching off onto tangents while trying to make a point can be both frustrating and exhausting for the listener. I fear that I do this often, so it’s a helpful reminder.

view from the tower
Nosebleed seats.

Also gleaned from my reading: I’m inclined to get more of our food at the farmer’s market, if not straight from local farms. I’d also like to preserve some summer-harvested foods, beyond the pesto and blueberries that I do freeze. While I’ve offloaded our vegetable garden duties to Steve this year, I returned even more excited about the tomatoes he plans to grow.

I’d like to learn to speak Spanish. We didn’t need it, in order to function on this trip, but I’ve always believed that if you’re going to visit a foreign country, you should arrive equipped to converse with the locals. I failed on that front, but I can be ready for the next trip – and for ordering food at El Burrito Mercado, in our neighborhood.

That’s it for now. Here are more photos from the trip!

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