This past weekend I went to Mexico with a friend to both relax and get a little work done on a large upcoming project. It was simply amazing. Stunning! I flew from Charlotte to Houston, then transferred flights to Puerta Vallarta. After that there was a 2-hour drive out into the Mexican jungles, which ended (after some muddin’ in a big van with special tires) at a beach front nature preserve that also houses a resort with its own farms. ¡Bienvenido al Hotelito Desconocido!
Hotelito Desconocido is a green eco-resort. There is no electricity, the water is heated with solar panels, the food is grown onsite, and the rooms are individual huts open to the air around them. Simply enchanting. While in the shower you could look straight up at the stars. And the lighting at night came from candles. Anyway, I’ll get to all that. 🙂
Upon arrival we were greeted with fresh mojitos and then rowed across the laguna to El Valiente (the name of our hut, which was fitted out to celebrate the room’s theme of valiant Mexican rebels). The doors face directly onto the water, which was about 100 feet away, and the walls were constructed of branches covered with adobe. The ceiling was open construction, so it was possible to see the skeleton of the thatched roof. Some writing on the wall expressed the idea behind El Valiente: Perfiero morir a pie, que vivir siempre arrodillado (I prefer to die standing, rather than live forever on my knees). The huts are airy, single room dwellings with a closed-off toilet and a screened-off shower. The shower is open to the sky, and the entire structure allows the breeze to flow through almost without inhibition of any kind. It’s very obvious that this place will leave almost no footprint of any kind on the environment – the whole resort springs out of the earth and the materials at hand (and would immediately revert back if the property were ever abandoned).
Exploring was in order, so we took a long walk up and down the beach chasing crabs and being generally captivated by the sheer isolation and wildness of the place. That first night we were there they brought a snack of fresh guacamole with chips as well as more drinks while we sat on the wraparound porch in the hammock and watched the scene change colors. We were rowed back across for dinner (which was YUMMEH!!) and talked into the night. Torches lit the trails everywhere. It was like a painting where the scene is bathed in golden light. To make it even better, we were the first guests after the renovation, and we had the place completely to ourselves (except for one heterosexual couple – the woman did Yoga each morning on her porch, performing the Surya Namascar to greet the dawn before settling in to meditate while listening to the waves). We went to bed listening to the surf, and when I woke up and looked down at my feet I could see the water directly behind my toes.
During the day I spent a huge part of the morning in the hammock on the porch while my friend went for a long run. I got some reading in, but mostly I was contemplating Monet’s concepts about color and changing light. I watched the scene change gradually as the Sun hit the water and sand from different angles. Breakfast was late (since we raised the red flag at mid-morning, had to wait for it to be seen, the food prepared, ferried across the water, and then brought to us by foot – LOL), but it was delicious. Fresh melon with a cinnamon-infused coffee, which had no acid or bitterness at all… quite remarkable – I’m not a coffee drinker, but I would drink that every day. The fresh squeezed orange juice was a vacation unto itself. It was finished off with a postre made of chocolate cake on bottom, flan on top, and drizzled with caramel. Now THAT is how to eat breakfast. The rest of that day was one calamity after another: More hammock time, splashing around in the pool (the undertow of the waves made swimming in the ocean impossible, which is fine since I don’t swim in the ocean on general principle – a single toe in the water sends me to the bottom of the food chain), a massage on the beach, and a great deal of talking and napping. I really don’t know how I got through it all… It’s a hard knock life. That night we had dinner on the beach (tuna as a first course followed by a nicely prepared steak), and (if I may quote Henri I in “The Lion In Winter”) the sky was absolutely pocked with stars. I’d not seen stars in so long I’d forgotten how amazing they are. The Milky Way was right there. We commented that it was easy to see why the ancients perceived them as diamonds hanging from the dome of the sky-ceiling – they looked like you could touch them.
The next morning was the same toilsome rigor of breakfast on the porch; however, this time there was a special chore cooked up to completely break my spirit and leave me in abject distress… We got to release baby sea turtles into the sea!!! I really was squealing, it was so fabulous. I named each one. We had seven little babies. They were newly hatched, and each could fit in my palm (and I have small hands). Remember that this resort is also an animal preserve: They specialize in caring for baby sea turtles, and one of the treats while visiting during the hatching season is to ensure that as many of the babies reach the water as possible. In the nest the eggs have to dodge innumerable predators, but when they hatch the babies have to get out of the nest without suffocating, dodge innumerable predators, get down to the water without dying of exhaustion, dodge innumerable predators, swim off the beach, dodge innumerable predators, and survive for a decade in order to come back and breed. The resort gave us seven to release, but on the way back up I found three more who had come out of a nest at that very moment. We put 10 into the waves ourselves. It was wonderful to watch – they knew exactly what to do: Run like hell.
After that I had to leave, so it was another ride back to Puerta Vallarta. This time I was better rested and found out that I am quite capable of an intelligent conversation in Spanish. The driver and I talked about all sorts of topics, including the confusion in English concerning the word “stuff.” It was quite interesting explaining the use of this generic term to someone. We talked about plants, women, the cost of living, and how to translate from one language into another while speaking. I had a great time, and I definitely need to make trips like these more of a priority. It was just marvelous.