Things learned while in Tulum

December 29th, 2013, 11am

It was 23°C with few clouds. The breeze was light.

  • After three months of wearing boots and socks, do not wear flip flops on my first exploration of town. Even if it is raining. Pack antibiotic ointment next time. Leather softens more quickly than blisters heal and the ocean does wonders for healing skin.

  • When I see a butterfly my heart skips a beat with joy. When I see a huge Blue Morpho butterfly my breath stops. Every time. I am so filled with the beauty of these things that I have not had the presence to take a photo of one. I have seen at least one a day while here, but three out of four times they have flown behind Ed’s head and I haven’t been able to speak (breathless with joy that I am) so he has taken to teasing me about the invisible giant blue butterflies. Ed can get away with teasing me about such things after 21 years of marriage and still make me laugh.

  • I love the beach but not the culture of the beach. The culture of the beach is about how brown one can be and how drunk and lazy. The culture of the beach is about odd mating rituals or about couples where the man proudly possesses his belly girth and his thin trophy wife as if he has taken on all the fat she has dieted and excised from her body. I love laying in the sun and imagining myself to be a lizard warming my blood but when my skin tingles with heat I ease myself into the ocean, jumping into waves with abandon when the water is active and floating on the surface when the ocean is calm.

  • Spending my birthday on the beach for the first time in my 42 years is the best present ever.

  • Police carrying semi-automatic weapons are much less intimidating the third time they see us biking to the beach. After that they smile and say “Ola!” every time. In Tulum the female police officers only work on Sundays. I find this strange but am not all that surprised by it.

  • The Mexican male gaze ranges between curiousity and predation. Whistling is common but less common when I am with Ed. I would think that a woman in her forties and well-covered by clothing would get less attention than the numerous young women in their twenties walking around in their beachwear. That thought would be strangely and somewhat flatteringly and occasionally a bit frighteningly wrong.

  • Unfamiliar birds can hold my attention for hours. Here the crows are thin and delicate picking at the palm fruit. Here the pelicans are large, mottled, and majestic gliding just meters from us while we swim in the ocean. Here there are birds that look like robins with yellow breasts, singing on wires in the morning.

  • Ten days in a place is enough time to get into a rhythm. Enough time to bike down the same neighborhood streets and get a sense and a smell and a feel of a little what life might be like away from the tourist strip. Enough time to know when the juice and popsicle place puts out their gelato. Enough time to know that arriving for lunch right at noon most places guarantees us a seat. Enough time to know that the bike path to the beach is clearer in the morning than in the afternoon. Enough time to know that the grocery store is busiest between 4 and 5pm. Enough time to settle into our own skins without the pressure or rhythms of home and work. Enough time.

  • My posture on an old fixed-gear bicycle is an easy thing. So much so that I am considering looking for a bike with the same geometry but with gears and trading in my mountain bike. My only misgiving is that a mountain bike is more manueverable amidst potholes and huge trucks, that perhaps safety is more important than elegance.

  • My skin actually tans despite wearing SPF50 sunscreen. I expect people who know me back home will be shocked. Even gardening and camping in Saskatchewan without sunscreen does not darken my skin this much.

  • Anyone who complains about the mosquitoes in Tulum has obviously never been camping in Northern Saskatchwan. The mosquitoes here are like delicate swift-running deer with wings and a proboscis. The ones in Saskatchewan are more like a herd of bellowing buffalo.

  • There is no point in me packing hair gel, hairspray, or makeup when on a beach vacation. The heat and humidity have the same effect as a perm on my usually vaguely wavy hair. Makeup is for going out to events and fancy places. Here most events involve good food or watching wildlife or biking alongside the jungle. Here fancy places are made of sand and salt water.

Kelly, Mona, Marius, David Wade and 4 others said thanks.

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Lia Pas

inter-disciplinary creator/performer

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