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catching up: mexico diaries

Remember that time I went to Mexico for a week-long Big Gay Honeymoon on forty-eight hours' notice, after one of my buddies broke up with her partner and called off their wedding?

I know. Seriously.

So many words have come to me while here and in the preface to being here, and they're all jumbling at me as I try (perhaps unsuccessfully) to peck them out on my iPhone, ocean approximate, devoid of paper save for the books I'm devouring. There was the strangeness of the onset: Mexico for a week on a day's notice, how the car to the airport at 3:30 in the morning smelled like pipe tobacco, somewhere on the line between annoying and broaching the comfort of my father's preferred brand (a plastic-covered paper pouch, white with navy blue writing, some kind of cursive font -- or maybe I'm just remembering a blend of that and the doodles of sailboats he always used to pen). Once, I made a tiny pillow out of a scrap of denim that I stuffed with cotton and some of the tobacco so I'd always have the smell. I was a kid. I'd give anything to have that pillow now. I wonder if he looked at that moment and it helped him to quit, that I equated that smell with him enough to make some kind of temporary artifact out of it.

There's the getting here, and the being here, and the Sex-in-the-City-ness of it all, being on someone else's honeymoon. The strange sleep-deprived dream state on the bus, waking up unsure of my surroundings; the onslaught of salespeople at the airport, passport stamps and fast-talking wannabe dreammakers. The timeshare pitch before we went to our room. The embrace of things rustic, imperfect: dusty corners, slow room service, expensive wifi, and the sticky, near-unbearable heat.


And then, the ocean happened.


I told Kim I felt like we were in a movie, or one of the opening scenes of Laguna Beach. About an hour shy of sunset, limitless water, as far as you could see save only for the craggy mountains to the north and south of the bay. Salty bathwater, completely warm, fizzing and bubbling and reflecting us and the light and itself, all around. So vast that even my wide angle couldn't capture it all. We bobbed and floated, let ourselves be carried on waves, remarking that romance would be the only thing that could make this any better than it already was.

Oh, that's right. We were on a honeymoon. There's huge beds and glossy, big-tiled floors and outdoor jacuzzis and thatched huts to recline under. Bellhops and service-sellers at your beck and call, to cater to your every whim as best they can. They'll all say it's just because they are being nice, but it feels like there's a current just underneath that's looking for a tip or for you to buy whatever is being sold. The inherent guilt of judgment, real or false, correct or not, makes you inclined to tip them at every turn. I suppose the system is working.

***

We're at the end of our second full day here, blasted by such unbearable heat that we had to spend part of the day inside, sheltered. The resort is all-inclusive, so one doesn't need to venture out for much, but we're struck with a wont to see old Mexico, away from the built-up waterfront and resorts. All of the tours trap you for six to eight hours, cost a hundred dollars at a clip, want you to go on tequila tastings and the like (where they then try to sell you more products) -- and the taxi is only reliable heading out, there's horror stories about being charged hundreds of dollars by taxi drivers to head back in from the tourist part of town. So, we're finding our contentment in oceanside naps, face-melting sunsets, trips to the gym, and nourishing ourselves with the fresh fish and abundant fruit.

Tomorrow, we have plans to brave the city bus early to head in to town before the heat takes over, although, as I type this Kim is reading to me from the "Safety" portion of the in-room binder, recommending we only use authorized taxi services to and fro when we daytrip.

***

Those were journal entries from a trip I took back in Septmeber that I'm just getting around to posting (hi, November), and the next day we did indeed head out to Puerto Vallarta early on in the day. You can't tell from these photos, but it's about ninety degrees out -- and it was early, 9ish / 10am.


We rented a car the following day and headed out for the shore, passing through Buscerias (a tired, fishy-smelling marketplace-centric town just up the road from our resort), out to Punta Mita (Four Seasons literally owns the whole point, so you can't really get out to the best part unless you're a guest on the property), and finally to Sayulita.

 

Sayulita is the greatest spot in Mexico I've ever been, to this very date. I want to rent a house and take my girlfriend and all my BFFs there for a month. It's a gorgeous little surf-friendly bay, one of the first gringo settlements in this part of the country -- but it's barely been "Americanized" at all. It's charming and authentic and clean, but still decidedly Actual Mexico. Kim and I spent most of the afternoon on the bay, taking in the vibes and talking to these guys who owned a dance party beach bar kind of place. One of them tried to kiss me when we left. I think the thing I loved most about it was the tiny handpainted sign that told you to turn off the main road and go down a steep decline into these windy roads of houses built into the cliff -- had I not been paying attention in that moment I would have missed it completely, and missed out on what literally felt like another world.

Maybe that's what has kept it great for all this time.

And even with the heat and the heavy food and the inclusive resort-y-ness of it all, the trip was beautiful. The sun ruled the day, the ocean held us afloat, we skinny dipped after it had grown dark and there was no one out to see us splashing in the waves, save for the faint streaks of pink post-sunset against the otherwise darkened sky. We saw thunderstorms and watched crazy television shows and took long showers and talked and processed. And, hopefully, we both healed over a little bit, making our way back up to Seattle a bit better for our wear.

Victoria Uhl