You are still a woman, at least you were the last time you checked. You check again, just to make sure. While you’re at it you admire your tan lines. Yup, doing good.
If you were the sun you’d kiss you too.
You sleep badly but it’s of no consequence. To awake with a faceful of such beauty is almost visually jarring, then immediately soothing. Nature can really blow the socks off you sometimes, even when you aren’t wearing any, like now, because it’s too damn hot. The thought of socks makes your toes twitch. If your toes had faces they’d be frowning.
You are not alone. Your friend is asleep next to you, travel weary and slightly late to the party, but determined to make up for it. She arrived last night, an angel in a shuttle, coasting along a tar-black road on a tar-black night. The generators were down and the hotel was saturated in darkness. You’d given up waiting for her and were heading out for a drink, and you knew, the second before it happened, that when you stepped out of the shadows and into the streetlight, you’d find each other. It was so. The bus lights illuminated you, you both screamed with joy.
Kismet. Boom. Welcome to Tulum.
Now there are two.
You look around. This is, quite honestly, the sexiest room you’ve ever stayed in. You decide to stay another night, even though you can’t afford it, because life is short and there’s no use hoarding your nana’s fine china for special occasions. You’ve got to bust that shit out and let it get used and chipped and broken. The ancient Egyptians were wrong, you can’t take stuff with you when you die, and money is no exception. You think this, and you wonder, ruefully, if you’ll feel the same thing in a week when you check out your depleted bank balance.
This morning you swim and wander, meeting people and making new friends. You run into friends of friends from Burning man and the synchronicity of everything reaffirms the right-on-ness of your decision to come here. You’re blessed to have your partner in crime with you. Her spirit helps to elevate you. She is a torch shining light upon you whenever your darker side appears. You are grateful.
You teach two people to bodysurf and watch your friend whirl topless cartwheels in the sand. This is the day you almost drown in the unforgiving ocean from uncontrollable laughter. It would not have been a bad way to go.
At some point in the night the wind stops. At first this feels like blessed relief but soon you become aware of two things: it’s much hotter now, and, the mosquitos are coming.
Itchy, you seek solace in the ocean. You delight in confusing the swarming halo of bloodsuckers that hover overhead by diving beneath the waves and appearing elsewhere. Karma is a bitch.
The wind picks up before noon and blows your angelic crown of little devils away. Good riddance.
It’s time for a frosty beverage and you go inside to help prop up the bar. You’re selfless like that.
You hear that one of your heroes has passed away. Gil Scott Heron, ivory tickler and deep throated poet, a man who inspired you with his blunt honesty and heart stained sleeves. Gil always told the truth. Always. About his drug use, his mistakes, his lessons learned.
You drink a beer in his honor and play “Give Her a Call” before you sleep. It makes you feel sad and small and you miss the person you’ve been missing even more. You wish he would listen to that song. You wish he would really listen to it. Your heart hurts and you fall asleep with one hand on your heart and the other between your legs, holding yourself together, fearing you may break in half.
You escape the beach and drive inland towards the ruins of Coba. You pass small villages where small statured women in bright dresses beat rainbows of hanging rugs with wooden poles and skinny dogs dart into traffic, trying to give you a heart attack and make you accountable for the portion of the car insurance that Hertz said isn’t covered by the ‘full liability coverage’ you purchased. Oh, Mexico.
In Coba you visit an ancient Mayan ruin dedicated to the honey bee. It makes you happy that an entire race of people worshipped the tiny creature you consider your totem. You hug the temple. It feels old and warm.
You ask a Mayan what he thinks about the paranoid among us who believe 2012 will be the end of the world. He laughs and says people should chillax. The world will keep on bumping along, long after we’ve killed ourselves off, he tells me. So there you go. Straight from a Mayans mouth.
Afterwards you drive to an underground cenote and jump 30 feet from a platform into cool fresh water while bats circle stalactites and small, fearless fish nibble your toes. It is quiet down there. It’s like a church. You’re in a holy place and you let the solitude and quiet envelop you until other humans come and break the peace. You leave.
The drive back is marred by the deaths of hundreds of butterflies. Perhaps thousands. They fly with such grace and beauty across the road ahead of you, and hit your windshield with such violence that it’s impossible not to gasp at every splat. Little yellow wings dot the asphalt. It’s carnage. There is nothing to do but grip the wheel and drive.
You make a pit stop at the police station on the way back to the beach to retrieve your license plate. The police have been kind enough to hold it for you after they removed it from the front of your car as punishment for a parking violation. They look so officious in their uniforms. You are tempted to do something weird so you can be thrown into a Mexican jail, just for a few hours, because you know what an awesome story it would make. Nothing like that happens. You pay your fine and retrieve your property.
Back at the hotel you are offered a cookie.
What kind of cookie, you ask.
It’s not peyote, you are told.
Seriously, what’s in it, you insist.
Everything, and nothing, comes the reply.
You eat the cookie.
The cookie messes you up.
You regret the cookie.
You are both awake at dawn, fuzzy-muddle-muggle-headed and confused from the night before. You watch the sunrise from different vantage points along the beach. You’re hungry and wish ceviche was on the breakfast menu. There is not enough ceviche in Mexico to satisfy your cravings for it.
Today you receive the most perfect massage of your life. You are a professional massage receiver, so this is no mean feat. You climb a ladder into a tall tree house and lay down on a bed with a view over the jungle and cenotes to the west. You undress and allow a gorgeous man with soulful eyes to manipulate your body and sing into your soul. When it ends you are happy. He is named for a holy book and for a minute you think about suggesting unholy things for the two of you to do together. But you don’t. Despite the mastery of his touch your body still feels like it belongs to another.
You drive back to your hotel to pack your things and prepare for an early departure. You watch the sun set and dream of never leaving. This place has captured a part of you. You run your fingers through the sand and find a pale pink shell. You let the shell slip through your fingers and into the foam. Take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints, you murmur.
In the morning you’ll be gone, but you know you will be back. You’ve made too many friends here.
You rise again at dawn. The drama of the sunrise sucks a gasp from your breast as you lay beneath a light blanket on a beach chair and watch it all unfold. A scoop of pelicans flies low over the breaking waves, heading North for breakfast, and two beach dogs play and chase each other with early morning abandon. You, a golden girl, swim in a pink ocean, wearing nothing but pink panties, watching pink light dapple the clouds above.
It’s time to go. Back to reality, back to life. Back to a new job and new beginnings. It all feels strange. You are excited and replenished. You love new things but you dream of beginning again something old, of making that precious thing new and improved. You take a deep breath. What will be, will be. You are deserving of love and lust and luck. You believe in yourself, perhaps truly for the first time.
Viva Mexico, where the police are thieves, where colors heal, where there’s no such thing as “margarita mix”, and where old VW Bugs come to die.
Hasta la vista.