Puerto Escondido, Zicatela, and Mazunte were three beach towns which fit the bill for some solid beach relaxation. Each beach offered a different experience, but all had varied degrees of small surfer town vibes. Sunsets, lounging on sun chairs with a cervesa, getting in and out of the ocean every 30 minutes, and reading to our hearts content. Just what the doctor ordered.
Puerto Escondido is the main town in the area where you can catch ADO buses to in the area. It has all the amenities of a mid-sized town from grocery stores to buzzing cafés. Also, a food chain we fell in love with, Papatots. Basically, imagine giant fried potato balls stacked with delicious fixings in a burrito. Oh man, so good. The town attracted a lot of surfers, and having checked out the beaches, we could see why. If it wasn’t for the fact we got laid out by a flu bug during our time here, we would have taken some lessons and caught some waves!
Just a stone’s throw from Puerto Escondido is Zicatela, which also carried the same surfer vibe. Even though only a 10-minute drive from Puerto Escondido it seemed to be a little lazier than Puerto Escondido. The town had several vegan options on the shore including a vegan specialty shop that had all the spices we had been missing allowing us to make our vegan mac and cheese. Oh, the vegan cheesy, how we missed thee! Soooo good and Sooooo missed.
Mazunte, similar to Zipolite, is a little harder to get to. Taking a bus to Pochutla from Puerto Escondido, you ask to get dropped at Los Cruces de San Antonio. Hop off the bus and snag a taxi down to the beach which runs you somewhere south of 200 pesos ($10 USD). Mazunte is a lot smaller than both Zicatela and Puerto Escondido. It is lined with hostels, restaurants, and is a haven for skim boarders. Mandy and I love skim boarding and it was really cool to see folks ride out to the waves and then catch them back in. Normally we stick to the shallow tide pools of the Puget Sound on Whidbey Island, so this was new! Also offered out of Mazunte were a couple of tours from swimming in bio luminescence to dolphin watching to watching turtles migrate en masse of a beach north of town. We elected to skip these just to save money, but they all looked like a blast!
All of this was a welcome reprieve from our brief time with Work Away. After scrubbing toilets every morning for two weeks we were both ready for a return to what we realized we had come to take for granted, our trip free of responsibility. You might say, Two weeks? Really? That is all it took to feel ready for a vacation? Apparently for us, it did, but the time also solidified a lot of thoughts about what we want out of life. With truly nothing to do but sit, think, float, read (why did I ever stop?), and dream, the possibilities of the future seem endless.
Before we left on our vacation, I read an article that talked about how quitting your job and running away from the world will not solve any internal problems you may have. Wherever you go, the only constant that will remain wherever you are is, well, you. If you have a deep-seeded unhappiness, or a thirst for the unknown, it will not magically disappear by removing yourself from your box. Rather, a new box will be created, and you will build new constants around you. Going on vacation frequently can be part of the box, trapping you in a cycle of working for those two weeks of the year where you are free. Part of what I wanted from this trip was to cut free and blast out of my box. Start fresh with an empty space around me and focus on the part of reality that is constant, me. Time away from the box I had built at home allowed me to work on being a better person, so wherever I end up, I am content with me and my contribution to the world.
Traveling had become a constant rhythm, with every other day being a discussion about our next location, the next attraction we would visit, or the next vegan restaurant we would try. Bit by bit, my new box of reality was being built by my subconscious without me realizing, until I exited the box temporarily, and started at El Moluzko. For five to ten hours a day we had responsibility and unconsciously we built up stress just as we had at home. Why? After some thought I think I know. Both of us are people pleasers with an inherent drive to make others comfortable and happy. We invest all our energy into our jobs, family, friends, and life; pouring all our energy out to fill up the cups of others. While free on this trip, with no responsibility, we had done nothing but the opposite. Filling up our own souls to the point we were brimming with this shining light of clarity and happiness. So what do we do to keep this feeling when inevitably we have to come home?
I am far from the full answer, but I know that part of my routine when I get home will be on focusing on ways to keep myself full so I don’t reach the point of burn out where the desire to break out of the box lights the rocket fuel under my seat and I blast out to outer space. Maybe these words speak to you, maybe they don’t. But I hope that if they do, you remember to take the time to fill your cup, however that may be. Some find it in meditation, others in prayer, while others it’s a simple walk in the woods.
For me, this trip has opened my eyes and shown me that what fills me up is connecting with nature and learning about her unlimited secrets. We observed and cared for elephants, soaked in the spray of a waterfall, basked in the raucous cacophony of the jungle, and listened to the waves crash against the shore. I have learned about the many secrets of fungi who operate the Wood World Web in forest ecosystems, learned about the ever present rising danger of megafires, climate change refugees who meet 1st world technology at borders, researched positive solutions to climate change with actions ranging from personal to professional, and started learning ways to be a more civically minded and active American.
When you have nothing to do but dream, they get big. I dream of a world where nature is not only here for me in my lifetime, but also for my kids and my grandkids. To be comfortable with me, I now know where I must pour my energies. Reading, learning, growing, and working to improve our world one action at a time with the help of my community.