Friday, March 14, 2014

Going Back

Oh, well, obviously I do not yet have the knack for the panoramic shot. But I tried when the chick's ice-chest home was still clean (meaning they had only been put back in it seconds before) to get them all in. Not a great job but, well. They're merely eight young chicks, getting their feathers, looking gawky and unkempt as teenagers are apt to do.

In an attempt to make my life more exciting, I bought a new broom today. What? A new broom isn't exciting? Ah but if you love to sweep as much as I do, it is. Springy and with still-even bristles that I have not yet carved into a curved, less efficient thing. The old broom, the replaced broom, is now the porch broom and it, too, replaces the old porch broom which is hardly any good at all any more and so you see- my life has, in some simple way, changed.
I like this sort of change.
And it cost $7.99.

But that's not really what I came here to talk about on this most perfect of spring evenings in March where the sky is still so blue, the birds still at the feeder as they are all day long, snapping and popping the seeds with their beaks, the Bradford Pears putting out their cotton-ball blooms, the lowering sun shining fiercely off the shiny magnolia leaves.
What I sort of wanted to talk about is Cozumel.
I think Mr. Moon may have booked our rooms today and we are going to be staying in a hotel we've never stayed before which is not unusual. In my twenty-seven years of visiting there, we've only stayed in the same place twice a few times. I was thinking about the first time we went and how this was before the cruise ships stopped off there, before the internet was a real thing, and the only reason we went was because we opened up an account at a bank and instead of giving us a toaster, they, for some unknown reason, gave us a trip to Cozumel. Maybe only the air-fare. I'm not sure. But we went to a travel-agency (remember those?) and they advised us to stay at a hotel called El Presidente which was an older and very well-established hotel and we took their advice and made reservations there.
I didn't want to go on that trip. I had a not-quite two-year old besides my eleven-year old, my nine-year old. I'd never left a child so young for any amount of time and I hated leaving the older children too. But Mr. Moon, who had been working like a demon for two years getting his business established insisted that we go and his parents gladly took over the childcare and the running of the business (yes, they were wonderful) and I had no excuse not to.
And so we went. The first few days were odd. I was in a foreign country and although I had traveled around Europe some, Mexico was different. Funky. The ocean was beyond beautiful. Even in my state of shock and discomfort, I could recognize and appreciate that. But the people were so short and I was afraid of the drinking water and there was construction going on at El Presidente and our AC didn't work so well and the food didn't taste like Taco Bell. NOT ONE BIT! Their refried beans were black, not pinto, and you got them at every meal, including breakfast!
Oh. So odd.
But then, in a few days, something happened. I started to realize that the people were Mayan and that the faces they wore were the faces I'd seen in National Geographic forever, painted on temple walls. I started to see the smiles, the beautiful smiles, the beautiful noses. The children who looked like miniature adults, especially on a Sunday night when everyone came to the square in the center of town, dressed in their finest and I saw how devoted the families were to each other. Mothers, fathers, grandparents, children. I began to thaw. I began to relax. I began to melt.

We met a woman and a man from Norway who were traveling the world together, not as lovers but as friends. They were both nurses but I had judged them to be rock stars, they were so beautiful, so blond, so tall. We became friends quickly and they were staying in town at La Pepita for $35 a night and we moved there too, leaving behind El Presidente with all of its gravitas and marble floors. Every night we'd gather in their room before supper for drinks and then we'd walk out into the town to eat and every night was wonderful. Some nights we danced at a disco (A DISCO!) that was as high-tech as any I could ever imagine. We were surrounded by local people and we all danced and danced ourselves into a sweating mass of humanity. Some nights we went to the old Carlos'n'Charlie's which was not high-tech but like some seaport bar where people from all over the world met and drank and danced (always the dancing) and tried not to fall down the stairs back to the street for our walk to Pepita, where the towels were see-through but the AC worked fine and where there were cardinals singing in cages in the courtyard.
We snorkeled, we crossed over to Playa Del Carmen and rented a VW bug to drive to Tulum and there was no Mayan Riviera yet, just jungle. We climbed the pyramids there, we looked out over the Caribbean sea. It was amazing.

When the time came for us to come home, we lost a day. We got to the airport and discovered that we were a day later than we thought we were. No newspapers in English, no TV to speak of- we had completely lost track of time. And I sat in the airport, after having been reassured that they'd get us on a plane to home, and I sobbed.
Not because I was a day late getting back to my children- oh, how I wish I could tell you that- but because I never wanted to leave Cozumel.

The two Norwegian nurses came to visit us. The female one, Anne-Helene, stayed for six months, becoming one of my very best friends ever in this world. She was with me when I had Jessie. She helped me get Lily through part of her Terrible Twos and I would not have survived that without her.

And we never quite stopped going back to Cozumel. Sometimes we didn't go for years. Sometimes we went two years in a row. We stayed at hotels in town, north of town, south of town. Some visits we started out at one hotel and moved to a different one. We found "our place" and it turned into an all-inclusive resort. Not for us. Two of the places we've stayed have closed due (one directly, one indirectly) to hurricane damage. One place we stayed at several times was ruined for me when a giant cruise ship dock was put in and the sunset was blocked by those gargantuan vessels which unload the masses of cruisers looking to buy cheap souvenirs and get drunk at the new Carlos'n'Charlies. We've stayed in plush places, we've stayed in very, very basic places. All have been cleaner than any hotel room I've ever stayed in in North America.
We stayed a night at a resort in Chichen Itza which was like stepping back in time. I kept expecting Humphrey Bogart to stroll through, wearing a white dinner jacket. Peacocks roamed the grounds where the ruins of Mayan temples lay.

And so this time, we are (hopefully) staying at yet another place. The internet loves it. I recognize it, of course. We've driven or walked past it a thousand times. It is on the water. There is a balcony and there are refrigerators in the room. Those are mostly what I require. It is not fancy. It is not pretentious. Breakfast comes with the room. I hear the sunset is fabulous.

We are going back to Cozumel. I am starting to believe it.
I hope I don't wear this blog out with talking about it.
But I can't help it.
Now I not only cry when it is time to come home but when the plane first flies over the Yucatan. I see that jungle where there are probably untold undiscovered entire Mayan cities, pyramids probably covered in vines and trees. My heart leaps into my throat and I begin to sob.

That's all for now. Mr. Moon is home and we are going to have a porch martini. I will tell him I love him. He is taking me back to La Isla mas bonita, La Isla de Cozumel.
My heart yearns and begins to accept that we are going.

My eyes spring with tears. I am going to my magical place where instead of Mary Moon I am Maria Luna.

I think. I am starting to believe.


  1. Well, we leave for Cabo on May 17. I am excited. And I think my wife is also. She is suffering from some of the Black Dog syndrome--sometimes better and sometimes not so good. Maybe a vacay is what will help.

  2. Special places we yearn to go to for where we can unwind and let go...we all need them. I've yet to go to anywhere in Mexico but I have a friend who sounds like you. She simply LOVES going and as soon as they come back from a trip (every year) they are booking for the next trip.

    By the way...we have new chicks too but your little oasis till they are bigger is spotless! This group we have now are very skittish and make the biggest mess. You don't put shavings down? Do tell....

  3. You have baby chicks and going on a vacation....I am officially jealous of your life! I know you'll have a wonderful time.

  4. I love hearing about your first time, and how you fell in love with Cozumel. I love, too, that you are unfolding into this adventure. where are the norwegians now?

  5. Awesome Ms. Moon. Have a wonderful vacation. The wife and I are celebrating 10 years this year and are thinking of returning to our honeymoon spot in Cabo but Cozumel sounds wonderful. Have a wonderful weekend.

  6. Your history of Cozumel is enchanting. I would love nothing more right now that to be in a seaport bar with people from all over the world. So glad you are going back.

  7. So glad that you and the mister are going down. It will be good for your souls. x0 N2

  8. Oh, big sighs. I am so happy for you. It will be wonderful. I wish I were going, too.

  9. Holy cow. What a travel writer you are! Seriously, if you're going to write posts like that one, please WEAR YOUR BLOG OUT talking about Cozumel. I feel like I'm there with you.

    Growing up in Florida, I'd never been all that enthused about going to Mexico -- it seems so close. But this shows me just how different and magical it really is. I really need to go sometime.

  10. Syd- I bet it will! We'll be in Mexico at the same time! But far apart from each other. Still, it will make me happy to think of that, that we are in the same country, a different one from our own.

    Ellen- Oh my god. Those chicks mess their home up in a minute. Literally! I just stopped putting shavings down. Really- what was the point? And it got all in the water. I just replace and wash the towels every other day. I don't think there is any harm in doing it this way. They seem very healthy and happy.

    SJ- I have the BEST life. Last night, while having our porch martini, Mr. Moon and I just looked at each other and said that- we have the best life! I think this is the main purpose of the porch martini. It is our official recognition out-loud of this fact. We know it, we say it all the time, but that is our ritual on Friday night to really underline it and I love that.

    Angella- Planning for the trip is part of the joy. I lost touch with Svein, the male Norwegian, a long time ago. Anne and I haven't spoken in awhile but I know she is there. I could write an entire book about our relationship. She and my brother actually had a relationship for awhile and she lived with him in Washington. She is back in Norway with the man she had gone on that journey to forget! And they have children. She is a goddess. I will always love her.

    Mr. Shife- You two should go back to Cabo. Seriously. I think one of the reasons my husband and I are still married and loving is due in part to our trips away to Mexico where we have nothing to do but love each other.

    Denise- I will never forget, looking around that room at all of the beautiful faces! I actually remember specific faces from trips decades ago. It was a special place.

    N2- And our love.

    Elizabeth- You'd have to get your own room. Haha!

    Steve Reed- In some ways, Cozumel does remind me of Florida. The heat, some of the plants, the flatness. But. So very different, too. It is absolutely magical there for me.

  11. We haven't been in so long and we adore that place. I'm afraid that if I went now, I seriously would NOT want to come back. I'd sell the city property and look for a little place there.

  12. Ellen Abbott- There's just something about that place, isn't there? I know exactly what you mean. I have been tempted to do the same so many times. It could happen yet.


Tell me, sweeties. Tell me what you think.