Mexican Memories

Surfing in Baja

Matt and Mike surfing the waves in Baja

It felt like we left Mexico in a rush and were suddenly back in travel mode with a quick tour of California that lead right into a cross country drive and then on to New Jersey. We’ve been here for a week now and have seemingly slowed things down. The slowing down has actually occurred because we were finally able to check things off our to-do list; many that had been there for weeks. So now it’s time to reflect back on my favorites of our time in Mexico.

7. The routine – We woke up with the sun most days. Not right when it came up, but shortly thereafter. I would lie in bed and check up on email, my sports teams, the stock market, and long distance running news. Julie would have her coffee and read the local travel books we had around the house. We’d ease into our day and then go for a run in the desert or on the beach. The days were relaxed, some just around the house, others on little day trips. We’d have a good dinner and usually follow it up with a good hour long walk on the beach as the sun was going down. It was really a little piece of paradise.

6. The food – I could cook again! The Mexican diet is almost entirely focused around meat and fish and that doesn’t work well with our vegetarian lifestyle. We ordered veggie tacos at a restaurant in La Paz and ended up with corn tortillas with guacamole. So we cooked everyday and loved it. It was similar to Ethiopia in the sense that we had to make many things from scratch. But this was almost ideal because the base vegetable ingredients were so inexpensive. We could buy over 2 lbs of beautiful red tomatoes for about 70 cents. Bananas, papaya, broccoli, onions, and potatoes were all super cheap along with dry beans and rice. We bought freshly made tortillas and cooked up a storm. I love being in a kitchen and it was good to be back.

5. The running – We ran almost every day we were there and after not running much in the past 8 months, it felt so good to get back into it and to have a routine again. We ran mid morning each day anywhere from 35 minutes to 100 minutes a run with some days including a second run in the late afternoon. Due to my diet that requires 3 hours of exercise a day in order to eat two good meals, I also found myself stretching, doing core work, and walking a lot as well. I felt like I started burning off some of the excess belly fat I’d built up on the bike ride.

4. The day trips – Mike was a great tour guide. He has his own website where he has written numerous articles on the area. He has learned Spanish well and knows his way around. This was very fortunate for us since we didn’t have a car or much of a clue. He took us surfing at the beach, over to the capital city of La Paz to check out the water and the boats, and he took us up to see Marcos the potter in the mountains. The trips were great and the time with Mike even better. We had great conversations where we learned about the area and got to know him better.

3. The lifestyle – While I don’t think I’m ready for it long term, the “manana” view of saying essentially, later or tomorrow was really nice. There were things to be done, but there was little pressure to get them done now or even today. We did do things while we were there but at a nice, steady pace without much sense of urgency. Coming from the corporate world where I was busting it each and every day to meet deadlines, this was very refreshing. But by the end, I was ready to get back to it (not work, but a faster pace, more deadline based approach to my days).

2. Our hosts – Mike and Penny were fabulous. First and foremost, they gave us a house to live in for free for two and a half weeks. There were no strings attached and really no expectations. They gave us the keys and said, “have a good time”. We spent quality time with them but had lots of free time to ourselves too. We would have meals at their place or have them over for dinner, we’d take day trips with Mike, or ride horses with Penny, but we also had entire days to ourselves to read books, walk on the beach, and think about things. We didn’t know them all that well before the trip, but are very fortunate to have crossed paths with such wonderful people.

1. Time together – While it may seem like we’ve had plenty of that the past 8 months, and it’s true we have spent a lot of time together, we really benefited on this trip from all the relaxed time we had together. We had our own home with our own bedroom and our own bathroom. It was relaxing and refreshing for both of us. We were able to talk through ideas and make concrete plans for upcoming adventures as well as spend time simply being quiet together in the serene setting of the Mexican beach and desert. I am fortunate to have such a great travel companion and person to spend so much of my time with.

Mexico was awesome. While in it, we were like we are most of the time, checking out the green grass around us, but as soon as we got back to California and were telling our cousins about our trip, we realized how amazingly awesome our time was in Mexico and what an opportunity we were presented with. We can only hope that the future continues to hold such gems for us.

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