That’s me up there on that horse wearing the pink sun dress. Can I tell you how difficult it is to trot a horse while you’re in a sun dress and no shoes!?! Ouch. That’s all there is to say. Bella, our nine year old, is in the green, followed by a real cowboy, and a young boy along for the ride. That was the last day of our trip to Mexico.
I lasted an eight full days unplugged. I did not check my emails, blog, Facebook, home messages, or iPhone—not even once. I didn’t even turn my iPhone on, which is pretty surprising for me. I watched a total of less than thirty minutes of TV and it was all easier than I thought it would be. It was really nice to sign off, even if it was only for eight days.
I feel like I sort of cheated though because I was on a family vacation. I usually bring our laptop and steal a few minutes here and there (okay, way longer than a few minutes, but who’s counting anyway), but being unplugged gave me the opportunity to fully engage in every moment of our trip and made me realize how much time I actually spend on-line (sometimes too much time—time procrastinating from what I should be doing).
In Mexico, I had plenty of time to think and lots to think about.
We stayed in Nuevo Vallarta at our friends’ really cool condo. We hung out at the pool, went horse riding, relaxed, visited a zoo (I have really mixed feelings about that zoo and others like it—more on that on a later post), and we rented a car to go on day trips to Sayulita, Puerto Vallarta, and some other off the map destinations. They were all interesting and unique in their own way.
Being in Mexico without media distractions was great because it forced me to see things as they really are both personally and in the world around me. That’s always a good thing, right? You know–to open our eyes a little wider so we can really see.
Some issues came up that made me think deeper about a few things. Maybe our experience in Mexico just made me consciously acknowledge what was already in my heart.
I thought a lot about the Domino Effect: how everything we say or do eventually affects others directly and changes the outcome of how lives intersect and unfold. I thought a lot about this topic because of a book that I finished reading while on the plane ride to Mexico. “The Book Thief”, by Markus Zusak, has won many awards. It’s disturbing at times, but beautifully written and thought provoking. The story and narrator are haunting. I couldn’t get into a new book because I kept thinking about “The Book Thief”, the domino effect, and the contradictions of life.
A short walk down the beach from our condo–good example of the contrast we saw.
I thought about the contrast I saw between the rich and the very poor. Being in Mexico made me think about my relationship with money. Being there also showed me why Americans and some other countries have the reputation that we sometimes have.
I spoke to locals and listened to their stories. One cab driver in particular really caught my attention. He said the average service provider (cab driver, server, etc.) in Puerto Vallarta makes about $7,000 a year. That’s about $583 a month. He said that was okay and that although people are not making a lot of money, most people have jobs in places like Puerto Vallarta and Nuevo Vallarta. Those areas are safer than the areas where there are fewer jobs available.
With no jobs in certain towns there is a growing number of drugs, gangs, and violence. I felt pretty safe where we were, and I am sure that what he said is true overall, but I have to tell you that my husband was offered cocaine and hash on our first day there by a beach vendor. The vendor said he hadn’t made a sale in over a week. He was getting desperate. Unfortunately, that can happen anywhere.
We also saw a police check point that made me nervous. Those guys and their huge guns randomly pulling people over looking for whatever they are looking for—drugs I’m sure. They are just doing their job–keeping Nuevo Vallarta safe. I appreciate that, but their guns made me think anything could happen at any given moment. Because as you know, in life–anything can happen.
We stopped for some coconut milk in Sayulita.
I was impressed with how well the locals spoke English. The same cab driver I mentioned earlier said that in order to get a job in the tourism industry (and that’s where most of the legal and lucrative jobs are), you have to know English. He said there are many French Canadians’ who visit as well, so he learned French too. I think that would be really cool to be bilingual. I kind of feel lazy not knowing another language.
The cab driver went on to say that he was giving a ride to a French Canadian couple once who were badmouthing Mexico. They didn’t know he spoke French. After he could no longer take the negative comments, he pulled over on a bridge. He very nicely told them, in French, to please leave the car and the country if they thought it was so horrible. They apologized, but he said he left them there on the bridge to hitch a ride with another taxi. He said it really bothered him how arrogant some people act, but that most travelers were nice. I wonder how that affected those travelers.
I was impressed that he didn’t simply ignore their rude comments. I think it takes more guts to tell someone how you really feel than to just walk away and shrug your shoulders. I think it shows strength and character to stand up for what you believe in, even if it’s the unpopular or less lucrative thing to do.
I asked the cab driver if he liked it when foreigners tried to speak Spanish or if he thought it was funny. He said both. He appreciated the effort and interest in his country. Like all good relationships, it’s important to show respect, effort, humor, and to work through issues as they arise.
That leads me to our nine-year-old daughter. We learned a few things about her on this trip. She looks older and is more mature for her age than most. This is good and bad, but I think I’ll save that story (and several others) for another time because I’m tired and my time on the computer is up!