Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Surrender / Intention

A good theme for this trip. A friend of mine just texted me(free for incoming, 35 cents for each outgoing text). Her text read: "Thinking a lot about surrender and intention." Her text was a gift to me - a reminder of my own journey. My own intentions. And ultimately, the courage to give them up and let the universe do it's thing.

I can feel the pressure of being an inspiration to people – near and far. I don’t mind mostly. I chose it, boasting about going away for “a month” to my customers and strangers while at work. I wasn’t really bragging. The trip just provided casual fodder for conversations that needed an injection of excitement.

I'm a bartender. A storyteller. It's my job to keep people engaged and interested. (and drunk, but that's the easy part.)

Good stories are essential to the job.

I've been planning Mexico for months. The story had chapters. Some people were supportive. Others not so much, saying things like, "Mexico? Well, don't get kidnapped down there." or "Bring a mask." In my final days before the trip, I was anxious to start the next part - PART 2....the trip.

Shall we go?


I am here in Tulum – finally. I arrived on Monday after a long day of travel. To save money, I opted for the Super Shuttle to the airport in NY. For $27, I got a ride to Newark with 11 strangers. The van was full when it got to me, so I sat up front with the driver. Although it was 5:30 in the morning, it struck me funny that I was sharing such close quarters with people, some of whose faces I never saw as my back was to them for the entire ride.

I landed in Tulum and was to be picked up by Gilberto, the caretaker of Brian and Gina’s apartment, where I’m staying. I met Gilberto only once and couldn’t recall his face, but thankfully, he had a sign with my name and we were on our way down to Tulum.

Cancun is about 90 miles north of Tulum. Playa Del Carmen sits in-between. Playa serves as the “city” to those that live south. It’s built up over the years and many people in Tulum fear that it’s a preview of what will come in a few years to their sleepy town. Convenience-wise, Playa is great.

There’s a Walmart which makes the American version look like an outpost. Walmart here, is huge! It’s got everything, including produce and fresh meats and fish. Gilberto suggested we stop and pick up some stuff for the condo. I was grateful to have a Spanish-speaking person with me to translate some of the labels and answer my questions about some of the local fare.

After Walmart, we continued down to Tulum. Gilberto is a wonderful person. He’s very smart and his English is really good. We spoke easily throughout the trip and he’s a great audience for my humor, so there were a lot of laughs as well. He’s married to Priscilla and they take care of a few of the condos here in Tulum. He and his wife are a jack/jill of all trades. He transports people to and from the airport, the market, the beach. She teaches Spanish, cleans, irons. It’s a great thing they have going.

Arriving at the condo was mixed for me. The last time I was here, I stayed in a different apartment which faced the pool. I liked it because I felt connected to what was going on around me with the others and it was an easy way to socialize without really trying.

Brian and Gina’s place faces the back part of the property, which is much more isolated. However, it’s decorated really well and there’s a warm energy in the apartment, so walking inside, I was glad to be there.

It was blazing hot outside, so I was thankful for the modern amenities like air conditioning and ceiling fans. I bid Gilberto good-bye and unpacked my groceries and clothes. I wasn’t as excited as I thought I would be. I kept trying to find the joy that I felt the last time I arrived in Tulum, but all I felt was apprehension. The noise in my head translated to, “What the hell am I thinking? A month? What am I going to do for a month?” This would quickly become my new mantra.

I know myself. It takes me a minute to adapt, but once I do, I’m golden. Even when I was a kid, I’d go to camp and spend the first week crying and missing home so badly that I thought I wouldn’t make it through the month. Once the month was over, I’d spend the car ride home crying because I would miss my new friends so much. I decided to counter the mantra with another one, “I will be fine.”

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