For those of you following this vernacular voyage about my retreat, while this is the last full day of the trip – it’s not the concluding entry. My journey out & 1st night was Day One, and recounting my trek back will allow me to tie this novella up with a nice little bow, one that will unfortunately end up covered in vomit.
The nearby Playa Sayulita, was typically where we hung out. It was right by our hotel and the proximity to free bathrooms over paying 5 pesos a piss was an attractive incentive. The ocean was swimmable and there was a massage tent with a margarita bar behind it, what else did we need? However, I was determined to venture to another beach and my sister had recommended one. She’d visited a year prior with an ex, that I could use a lot of words to describe, but we’re just going to stick with “underwhelming.” He and his friends rented an Airbnb and spent the duration of the trip indoors drinking and playing Rummikub – something you can easily do anyplace, including Reno where they lived.
As much as she appreciated the thrilling combination of rummy & mahjong, one day she took herself to Playa los Muertos. “Definitely go there. They try to make you pay to use the restrooms, but you can pee in the woods for free. It is a colorful cemetery along the beach. Super worth it to shit in the woods, and not on dead people,” she advised. I managed to convince Wendy, Andrea, and Jenn to join me. Jenn was funny because when you were around her she was very extroverted, but mostly elected to spend time alone. She was a badass yogi who was also a nurse, a fate that probably led to her to hear way more about people’s bowel movements than she realistically wanted to. Like me, she’d come solo, but sans the crippling social anxiety – she had the confidence of someone who truly thrived traveling on her own.
We walked through town stopping in a few shops, and I made a note to pick something up for Bridie later. There was no shortage of unique gifts to be had, but I was mindful of the following: a.) We’re not “stuff” people, she’d even mentioned not to get her anything, and b.) We were moving into our 13-foot Scamp in two months and downsizing our belongings greatly, so we didn’t need to acquire any new items. Still, I didn’t want to leave empty handed. I desired something tangible that I could hold or look at to evoke memories, or maybe call on the happiness and strength I had found during this trip when I wasn’t feeling so “Mexico Tanya.” After ambling down from the center of Sayulita and a short jaunt through the jungle, we found our destination.
We checked out the cemetery which seemed to celebrate life rather than mourn death. Vibrant paper picado banners hung from the trees and candles flickered over above-ground entombment’s. We made our way to the beach, and were immediately greeted by a woman asking if she could grab us a beer or margarita. While my answer is usually always “Yes!” I asked her to come find us later as our plan of action was uncertain. It was overcast so swimming and surfing seemed unappealing and we chose instead to have a wander. Unlike Playa Sayulita there were rocks to explore and we climbed and peered into tidal pools where the water washed over sea urchins, snails, and small darting fish. We realized we could follow the coast all the way back to our hotel so that’s what we did. On our journey we met a young boy who excitedly caught fish (with his bare hands) to present us, and even showed us an octopus.
We learned both his parents had passed away and he was being raised by an older brother who worked in a restaurant. He sold pom-poms and other souvenirs to help out but never even offered them to us. He didn’t want money, or our business – he simply reveled in his game of show and tell. We also crossed “shit river” which smells and looks exactly as you would imagine. It made me understand why people were tentative to swim in Sayulita, but my thoughts still aligned with: “Just don’t swim in it if it smells like a toilet.”
I had walked back with Andrea, while Wendy and Jenn trailed behind due to their inferior footwear (Chacos trump flip-flops when skirting over sharp crags.) The second we arrived Andrea bolted for the bathroom while I stayed back. I wasn’t really waiting for the others, I just wanted to soak in the sentiment of the stroll. Then like a light-bulb above my head I remembered the margarita bar behind the massage tent. How better to absorb the beauty of the day than whilst sipping on tequila and fresh lime? I was crestfallen when I walked there to find it deserted. This is when I ran into Joel, from my Sweat Lodge, who was also aimlessly meandering. “They’re closed because it’s cloudy?!” he yelled, “I wish I didn’t have to go to work when skies were gray!”
“Why don’t we get a drink somewhere else?” I suggested. There was Yoga at 4 but I felt pulled to spend more time in town, it wasn’t something I’d done a lot of. We went to the Hippie Market where I bought myself a Labradorite pendant, and a Chrysocolla one for Bridie. These were the only purchases I made in Mexico, spending about $150 USD when all was said and done. On our excursion to imbibe we ran into Katie and collected her, then Steve’s cousin Vanessa. That was the really cool thing about the retreat – one second you’d be looking out at the ocean alone, and moments later run into someone or something that changed your course. We found a place with outdoor seating and enjoyed an impromptu happy hour. When we returned we had our last group meal at the hotel, followed by the option for Yoga Nidra.
Yoga Nidra translated is literally: “Yogic Sleep.” While “Mexico Tanya” had been a Power Yoga machine – this was more her jam. Ashley, who was facilitating, encouraged us to bring blankets, pillows, or anything we wanted to make ourselves extra comfy. We settled in and within five-minutes of her talking I was out cold. Now Bridie will snooze in savasana all-day, but I’ve never fallen asleep in a class. At first I thought this was solely related to the soothing sound of her voice, but I now know my body was resting deeply for some serious shit. At the end of class Brooke announced a friend of her and I’s was also in town from Utah, and had told us of a Lantern Festival at the beach. It was a Full Moon, and I knew people were going down to play music and drink and I was excited to actually have a night to let loose. It was humorous when someone inquired further about my friend who also visiting and I explained: “Oh we banged at a wedding once. She was my best friends sisters nanny and I was officiating. So it was like the babysitter and the minister hooking up.” I don’t think that was the story they were expecting.
When we were done I went down to my friends villa where Katie nonchalantly mentioned she’d run out of class to vomit, but felt okay now. The poor girl had been so sick days prior a quick and casual puke was welcome. I sat chatting trying to ignore the fact I could physically feel the color draining from my face. Wendy had started to ask if I was alright before I suddenly ran out of the room. Charcoal tablets would ease my stomach but also made my bile emit as a black liquid, which was aesthetically terrifying. Eventually around 3AM, Satan had exited my body and I was able to fall asleep.
I woke up in the morning to Katie softly knocking at my door with more medicine. “I feel so bad everyone is getting sick,” she said genuinely & apologetically. “Katie! We’re in fucking Mexico. I knew at some point I’d probably get sick, it was just a matter of when.” She let her face relax for a second: “You’re right,” she accepted, “You just know how I am.” One thing I love about Katie is that she needs constant pep talks and as her #1 fan, I love being there to give them to her and remind her of things. “Plus,” I retorted, “Tell everyone this was part of the package – a spiritual purging if you will.”
This comment elicited a laugh from her and with a belly stocked with Gatorade and Pepto, I prepped myself for my last few hours in Mexico.