Since 1989 my Beloved and I have traveled to Mexico looking for the perfect retirement spot. We have been to small villages, tiny islands and big cities.
But wherever we traveled in Mexico we had fun, and were open to adventure. We made friends with other tourists of all nationalities. We got to know local Mexicans. We played Good Samaritan one Christmas Eve. We were driving back from Tulum to Cancun. There was a young American woman standing in the teeming rain surrounded by Mexican workers.
She flagged us down. She had been waiting for the bus that never came. We stopped, backed up and offered her a ride. Her companions did not want her to get in the car. They heard about how Americans carry guns. They held onto the car and wouldn’t let us leave. After some sharp words from her, they relented. We headed for the Cancun airport where she was meeting her mother. And we listened as she told her story about running a dude ranch. We will never forget her, and that stormy night and the adventure.
We had the best lobster dinner of our life at a cute restaurant owned by a Frenchman in Playa del Carmen. And while waiting for the ferry to Cozumel, we had a plate of guacamole and chips that is indescribable in its delicacy of flavor and smooth texture.
We were sitting on a wall near the pier, waiting and loving every finger lickin’ scoop. It cost $3.00
This is the Playa del Carmen of the late 80’s not what it is today which would perfectly fit into Joni Mitchell’s song, Big Yellow Taxi the opening lines describe Playa del Carmen of the 21st century perfectly:
“They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique
And a swinging hot spot”
Whether it was a crepe place in a tiny space on a side street on Isla Mujeres, a rooftop bar in Puerto Vallarta, a new, formal restaurant in downtown Cancun,where the owner flamed the Bananas Foster with great expertise, the oldest restaurant with the biggest selection of mole in Puebla, a hopping and hip bistro in Tlaquepaque, or an Argentinean steak house in Mexico City, they all charmed us. And we can bring back the mood, and the food when we reminisce about our trips.
And as we traveled through Mexico, we were longing to live there. We envied the foreigners already established in their now homeland. We dreamed and schemed about what life would be like once we retired and moved to Mexico.
Now after eleven years of living and working in La Paz, that magic of the Mexico we imagined can come rushing back when we hear a song, smell fresh fish being grilled, or the light on the water is just right.
We have magic here. And there are magical places, and wonderful restaurants, but it is where we live our daily lives. That exotic otherness of our romantic notion is gone.
When guests visit and stay in our HoneyMoon Hut, they tell us how lucky we are. Our lives look exotic. We have friends, I write for the paper, my Beloved walks to work along our beach.
So when I look at picture like the one at the top of this page, I can smell that special smell of Isla Mujeres. I can taste the succulent lobster of Playa del Carmen. And I want to dissolve into that setting, wearing a white gauze dress. I will be barefoot, and tanned with a ruby red hibiscus tucked behind my ear. My beloved will be in white linen and will hand me a tall cool glass of limonada.