It’s quite crazy to think that just two weeks ago, I was walking along a beach in Mexico. When I think of the places that I expected to visit in my lifetime, Mexico wasn’t one of them (despite living in California and taking five years of Spanish) because I just never imagined it would be a possibility. As a military brat, I never saw myself traveling for fun. Long roadtrips and plane rides were reserved for a PCS move rather than family vacations. But so many previously held beliefs have been blown away within this past year and a half.
I met P just a few days before Christmas in 2016, the same month I hired my divorce lawyer. By February, he was talking to me about plans to travel across the country to visit the Grand Canyon that summer. “Yeah, sure.” I said, thinking he was either crazy or blowing smoke. But June came, along with months of ups and downs and a couple of life changing experiences thrown into the mix. I found myself on this cross country road trip with P, his children, and his mother (I quickly realized the correct answer to my internal debate was that he is certainly crazy) passing through El Paso, and thus this Mexico journey began!
Months passed and Mexico was still on P’s mind. I, however, was planning to book a trip to England to see my brother until we received news that he unexpectedly deployed. I had to cancel a trip to Canada for a Boudoir Photographer Summer Camp while I worked to wrap up a custody battle with my ex. When Kara Marie Boudoir posted an Instagram Live Video talking about a boudoir workshop in Mexico, I knew this was the perfect opportunity!
I swear, everything that happened just pointed us to this trip. It was destined to happen!
P’s passport arrived, I was awarded full custody of my son, and tickets were purchased!
Rather that staying on the resort for the workshop, we opted to stay at an Air BnB and get a rental car. As the trip drew closer, I decided to put a little effort into planning the trip. I began doing more research about the area we would be staying in, the drive from the airport in Cancun down to Tulum in the evening, safety precautions, etc.
I love to read. I love knowing anything and everything about a situation. Hermione Granger is my spirit animal. I read the reviews on anything I buy before purchasing. And that was my biggest problem.
Reading reviews about a country filled with corruption will have you question everything. Traveling abroad to foreign countries is always an experience. You are far outside your comfort zone. Nothing looks like the store you bought ice cream from after school. The street signs are filled with a language you probably don’t know. People can often tell that you just aren’t from around there. Familiar sights are few and far between. But these reviews were saying our decision to rent a vehicle and drive in Mexico at night with police waiting outside the airports to trap tourists was the equivalent of asking somebody to rob us of our money.
It was here that I learned my first lesson:
Your fear is bullshit.
I like to think I’m quite in touch with my own thoughts and feelings. I am typically a great judge of character. I trust my decision making ability. I didn’t feel the need to stress about our trip to Mexico because I didn’t feel there was anything worth worrying about.
Upon hearing that I was leaving, my mom began to bombard me with safety notices. The Starbucks barista told me to be safe more times than I could count. The reviews on the trip planning website had me paranoid. P kept reassuring me that we were making the right decision, but I couldn’t stop the doubt.
I began to question every aspect of our trip. Maybe we shouldn’t rent a car? Is the bus worth taking? Should we just stay at the resort and catch a shuttle? Is it even worth going? Would it be easier to just stay home?
Our trip was simply incredible.
The drive from the airport to Tulum was not without incident. Our car was pulled over, we were ordered out, and my fiancé was frisked while I frantically opened every bag in the car for searching. But we didn’t get shaken down for money and we didn’t get ticketed or sent to a Mexican prison! We arrived just in time to check into our Air BnB and hit up a local dive bar and eat some nachos while I sipped on my first margarita in Mexico! We watched a lot of drunk people stumble around or dance while trying to maintain their balance and avoid spilling their drink.
Our Air BnB was one of my favorite things about the trip. We had this gorgeous place all to ourselves. Every night was spent skinny dipping in the pool under the stars. I could fulfill my inner nudist desires. In the mornings we awoke to the birds singing and light streaming into the room. There was so much privacy, which I always crave. I was able to laugh and enjoy every moment without worry of being too loud or interrupting the quiet.
Having a rental car and staying at our Air BnB was the best decision we made that entire trip. If I had listened to the reviews, we would have been stuck at a resort, adventuring out whenever the next tour group was leaving. We wouldn’t have been able to swim in a bat cave with my lover and sleep in a hammock for who knows how long. We wouldn’t be able to explore the grocery store searching for a badass bottle of Mezcal or pull over on the side of the road so we can climb the big boulder in the ocean. We would most certainly miss out on all of the beauty that Tulum has to offer in their art, food, and people (not to mention dogs!). We were able to pull over at a moments notice whenever we saw a piece of art that we were dying to capture or a shop that carried a gorgeous item. We explored so much, but we still feel there was so much that we left out!
This major life experience would have been relaxing, yes, but exciting? Life changing? Soul shaking? Probably not.
I was so afraid after reading the opinions of others and I started to doubt everything I had planned. I was ready to cancel on a life changing experience because I was outside of my comfort zone. For a moment. I allowed fear to creep in and it had me cuddled into a ball on my bed forcing deep breaths.
This brought me to my second life lesson…