Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Me n' My One Big Thing

I've honed in on my One Big Thing for 2011, and I think it's going to be a series of travels, both in the US and abroad.* One of the things I wish I did more of in my twenties is traveling. Instead, I did very grown-up (and expensive) things, like earning a master's degree, buying a house and getting married. I don't regret any of these - some set me up for where I am now in my life, others taught me a lot about who I am and what I want - but now I want to do something more, too.

I love to travel. I first got the travel bug in college, when I lived in Oaxaca, México, in July 2001. It was honestly one of the most amazing and formative experiences of my life. For one month, I lived with an incredibly hospitable family that showed me around the area, made sure I sampled the local delicacies (including chapulines - yes, little grasshoppers roasted in garlic, lime and salt) and generally treated me like a member of the family. Every day after class - which only went from 9am to noon each day - my friends and I wandered the streets of Oaxaca, exploring shops and churches and alleyways. We did things that I'm sure would have given our parents heart attacks. One day, six of us piled into a beat-up old Toyota Camry taxi and rode out to a tiny little town, Zaachila, because we heard there was a pyramid there, then let a total stranger lead us into the town's local cemetery - yes, the cemetery, because apparently none of us had ever seen any horror movies - and give us a tour. It was amazing. And don't get me started about the time we went out to the Lagunas de Chacahua and had our bus boarded by some federales who checked my purse for smuggled narcotics by using the muzzles of their automatic machine guns to prod open my bag. (Welcome to México, gringa) If the travel bug doesn't bite you after that, it never will.

Permit me a little stroll down memory lane...

The entrance to the cemetery in Zaachila. "Here... eternity begins!" The cheery colors really lighten the tone of the otherwise ominous message, though, don't you think?

Did I mention that the window of the bus that took us to the Lagunas de Chacahua had a bullet hole in the it? No? Well, it did.
I'm just including this as evidence that I used to be damn cute.
And now that that's out of the way...

Like most people, I'm a bunch of contradictions. On the one hand, I crave adventure, but on the other hand, I need stability. This is going to be the year when I begin to reconcile those two sides of myself and see how I can fulfill each of them. I'm not going to quit my job and travel the world, but I am going to have a few adventures. Alone.

Yes, alone. Not with you, not with anyone else - just me. I want the space to explore on my own. I want to be lazy and nap in a hammock without worrying that I'm holding anyone else back from seeing the sights, or get up and go check out whatever strikes my fancy at a moment's notice. I want to read books and write in my journal and explore, all on my own terms. So, yes, I'm going alone.

And I need this break. I didn't get to go home for the holidays last year, and I haven't traveled anywhere - except around Texas for work - in almost a year. And really, if it's for work, it doesn't count in my book.

First, I'm planning a trip to Sayulita, México. Sayulita is about 40 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta, on the Pacific coast. It started out as a surfer's mecca, then drew tourists looking for something off the beaten track. Luckily, it's not yet dominated by the mega-resorts, and still seems to retain a bit of funky charm. The particular hotel I'm eying is a complex of one-of-a-kind little units tucked away in the jungle. They have yoga on the beach, hammocks strung over the sand and oceanside massages. You can rent a bicycle and ride into town, hike around the jungle or walk down the beach 20 minutes and explore the restaurants lining the sand. And did you notice my mention of hammocks? I'm a sucker for a hammock. You could string up a hammock in East L.A. and I'd plant my ass there with a book and an umbrella drink.

The day my love affair with hammocks began. It's a grainy photo and I'm partially obscured by shadows, but clearly you can see how happy I am.
I have a few other places I'd like to go in 2011. A good friend from college, who lives with his wife in Southern California, had a baby 16 months ago and I still haven't met the sweet child. I'd really like to visit them for a long weekend. And if I can afford it, I'd love to go a little further abroad, too. I hear Spain and Portugal are lovely in September and October.

I told someone recently, "I'm 30, not dead," and I intend to spend this year proving it. Time to get busy living again.

* I know, I know - technically, a series of travels is A Few Big Things, not One Big Thing. But really, are you going to deny me this based on a technicality? I thought not.


Streetlights94 said...

Clearly you will come visit me at some point.

Caroline said...

Yay you! (also - Seattle has the Space Needle, #justsayin) ;)

Katherine said...

Two things: What is this "used to be damn cute" crap? Also, I've never known anyone who needed to be gifted with a hammock so much as you. If only you already owned one so that I might steal it from you and regift it to you in a repurposed plastic bag.

lahn said...

You definitely need a hammock in the new backyard! Can't wait to read about your adventures around the world.

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