We did it.
We got married, went on a great honeymoon, and have are slowly settling into our new life together.
It was on the boat ride away from the small rainforest/fishing village we honeymooned in that I told Q, mid-chuckle, “This is going to make a hilarious blog one day.” He nodded vigorously (or was that the motion of the boat?) and noted that I would have to blog through the wedding first. “Nah”, I replied, “I’m going to take a clue from Billy Shakespeare. This was a non stop comedy, it only makes sense for it to end in a wedding!” And a comedy it was…
When I was a young girl I was afraid of everything. There was a period of my youth when, unless I was dragging Jamie (my best friend and partner in crime) into danger with me, I was avoiding any hint of said danger at all costs. On one of our many camping trips to the Kern River my family decided to go white water rafting. Given my size, inability to help paddle, and general fear of the elements it was decided that I would sit in the bottom of the raft, arms wrapped behind me on the big tube. The water was rougher (and far more dangerous) than my parents had anticipated. A couple of our rafting buddies were ejected from our inflatable ship during one dramatic toss and turn of the river. My life, short and largely unlived due to fear, flashed before my brown eyes. My knuckles shoved as deep as possible into the canvas crack of the raft, all of my power squeezed into my tiny arms. My 8 year old bottom took a beating against the rapids and the rocks we passed, but I was thankful for every bump for it proved that I was still in the boat, I would live to see another moment. Every bump meant I had defeated another series of rapids the mighty river had thrown my way.
When we put our feet on solid ground again, I was a changed woman. I had faced my fear and had conquered the rage of the Kern River (which is hilarious considering I never touched an oar or sat near the perimeter of the boat). From that moment on, I was a wee bit of a daredevil. I was the paddle-less rafter that looked danger in the eye and lived to tell about it. I largely credit this experience for my inflated sense of outdoor ability. I still have that little rafter spirit in me. When looking at travel options, excursion brochures and the like, I am drawn to think that I could thrive in the elements.
It was this “con gusto” mentality that led me to believe that my dream honeymoon would be in a remote , tropical location. Quinton and I discussed where we pictured our first wedded days (and nights wink wink) together and my only stipulations were that it be warm and that there be water to frolic in (I frolic a lot in my daydreams…). When he suggested the town of Yelapa, a village only accessible by boat, deep in the heart of Mexico I was thrilled! I had, after all, survived and LOVED the church camping trip, I would obviously be a shoe-in in Yelapa. I am a full quarter Mexican, how could we go wrong?
The wedding happened in all of it’s glory, we spent a few days in our hometowns of Southern California, we made a pit stop at Disneyland (über romantic even in a post-wedding haze), made it home for a few hours and then were off again to the airport. I was so deliriously tired, I honestly couldn’t tell you how we got to the airport. Thank God Q’s wonderful mom took photographic proof that we drove there and checked in curbside or else I would swear we had been transported via aliens. I had been sick the week leading up to the wedding and had continued to be stuffy in the days following, mixed with a general lack of sleep made for a blur of action.
The stewards made a wedding announcement in our honor, the entire plane clapped and cheered as they handed us champagne, life in the sky was great! It wasn’t until the plane started descending (it really had all of the makings for a Hollywood romantic-disaster-comedy… That’s a genre right??) that I noticed that something was wrong. The lower the plane got, the more my ear hurt. My general sinus stuffiness began to feel like glass shards in my face, my ears felt only like they did when I had dry sockets after wisdom teeth surgery. I gripped my new husband’s hand with pain and squeezed my eyes shut. My jaw clenched tight as the pressure became unbearable. I buried my face in my lap then Q’s arm, my lap then Q’s arm, back and forth like a cat looking for a soft place to lie. Q squeezed my hand and rubbed my back while making polite conversation with the elderly woman sitting next to him as she was clearly unaware that my ear was exploding. Eventually, the wheels of the plane touched down and the tequila/champagne/advil combo started kicking in and my eyes cracked open again. We made our way through immigration and customs at the Puerto Vallarta airport (It is a theory of mine that this airport is actually a converted IKEA, I have photos to prove this theory.
) and were soon basking in the warmth of the Mexican sun.
We took a taxi to our hotel. The tiny tires slid around the cobblestone streets of the city, taking a final turn down what seemed like a seedy ally. As I prepared to shank potential robbers, we pulled up to a beautiful resort (You live another day, Harmless Cabbie. I might watch too much Dateline.). As Q and I made our way indoors we were greeted with a cool glass of champagne and a five minute massage while the front desk informed the butler of our aromatherapy and pillow preferences (I’m not kidding, that really happened. It. Was. Awesome.). The open air reception area led to a beautiful indoor/outdoor fountain followed by an immaculate pool and a gorgeous coastal view. We were giddy and excited to spend our first night at such a beautiful location.
After getting settled we walked the water line to a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant where we had an amazing dinner. I was stuffy and still the food tasted GREAT. One of our favorite parts of the meal though, was watching the family that owned it have dinner together. The young kids that had been playing in front of the doors came in and sat with the rest of the family that had been working and together they laughed and ate. It stuck with us when the dad told the family, in a pre-dinner toast of sorts, that if a family doesn’t eat together they will have nothing but problems. We smiled and enjoyed their camaraderie. After dinner we strolled to El Maricon, the shopping and dining district, and back retiring to our room we fell asleep early listening to the waves crash outside our door.
It was 2am when I woke to my ear hurting again. It hurt like it did upon landing only now it seemed my brain was leaking out of my ear. I rolled to my side to alleviate the pain and felt relief for about a second. I got out of bed and paced, my sweet husband was fast asleep and that was how I intended on leaving him. I ran tracks into the floor making futile attempts at relieving the pressure build up. My brain went to my “This is how I die” track. Ear explosion. There are worse ways to go out. Honestly, I would have cried in pain had crying not induced even more pain. Eventually, my restlessness woke Q up and upon seeing me, he began to get things ready to go to the hospital. The front desk attendant went to the street and hailed a cab. Again, we wove through the cobblestone roads, this time with more of a Fast and Furious PV Drifting feel. At the emergency room, I walked indoors. Poor Q was left with the driver who swindled about $700 pesos from him while I got checked in. It turned out that the plane landing had opened up the infection I had earlier in the week, I got a shot in the rear and a prescription for antibiotics and Motrin. After a 4am walk to the Wal Mart pharmacy (where we also bought Doritos and a Snickers bar… Q is my hero) we were able to make it back and catch some sleep before morning broke.
We woke to a beautiful morning complete with breakfast in our room and booking massages. These were not just any massage services… If anything was going to shake our heebiejeebies from the night before, it was going to be an outdoor massage at the wave break.
We laid out in the cabana and the massage therapists smooshed our weary muscles into dreamland. It was heavenly. Equally as beautiful was our boat ride to Yelapa. Once on the water taxi, we were whisked off to our final destination. There are few words for the magical feeling of pulling into the bay.
The water was a stark teal and completely transparent close to the shore. From the beginning of the bay, on the far corners of land, were whimsical bungalows tucked into the hill. It was the thing Pinterest is made of! We chose to hop off the taxi at the village pier, there we found willing hands to carry our bags to the Yelapa Oasis.
Our first trip through the village provided the cardio of a Zumba class combined with the scenic views of a postcard shop. The path wove through homes, businesses, abandoned buildings and gates that opened to yoga pavilions. The elaborate hippie culture was starkly juxtaposed with the poverty of the Mexican natives. One one side of the path was a playground for the children of Yelapa, the metal swings, slide and teeter totter used in the States decades ago that had since been deemed unsafe were standing in a freshly raked dirt plot. It was one of many “We’re not in Kansas anymore” moments for me. I took a picture of the playground but I wasn’t sure why, the place that brought joy to young children made my heart a little achy.
The grounds were maintained immaculately and the position of the land against the river gave the hotel a secluded feeling even though it was along the main trail and facing the beach. Our room, an open air bungalow, was sweetly furnished with sling back chairs and a netted full bed. What more do honeymooners need?! We quickly changed into our bathing suits and waded the river to get to the beach. We had civiche and Pacificos, we were so happy to watch the different types of tourists around us. I am a chronic eavesdropper and like to make up back stories to people’s conversations so I was entertained for quite some time! There was plenty of material to work with on the beach that day.
The next morning we woke and made fast friends with an old man staying in the same bungalow we were. His name was Ed, he was 71 years young, and had COPD. We adopted him at breakfast (I may have adopted him, Q was hesitant to bring an old man into the fold) and before we knew it, the tree of us were hiking the trail to La Cascada.
The path went through the more rural parts of the village, crossing the river twice and then past a random, wooden cattle gate we were to climb through. Once through the gate, we hiked deep into the Sierra Madre mountain range along the river. There was plenty of wildlife to see and hear, plenty of trees to oogle, a handful of anecdotes coming from Ed (he was a character, there were no two ways about that!), and random hornets to avoid. We made it about two hours into the hike when we saw what looked like a waterfall, “We’ve arrived!,” we exclaimed and Ed collapsed in an old man heap on a rock. We later learned that we had not arrived to La (actual) Cascada but, rather, a sub cascadita en route to the real deal. It mattered not because Ed’s compromised lungs had had their fill of fresh rainforest air and we were heading back to avoid having to call el coroner (I think my Spanish has improved greatly, no?).
On the way back I retied my sarong while passing through one river crossing, I secured it tightly against my hip and frolicked (so much frolicking!) through the knee high water, cool compared to the warm, yet filtered sun. As we neared the town I felt a sharp scratch against my skin. Confused, I looked down to see the knot of my sarong moving in a way that could only mean one thing… HORNET! In my bee allergy fueled panic, I moved with the swiftness of a ninja and in one fluid motion my sarong went flying in one direction and I went running in the other, giving Old Man Ed quite a show in the process. Quinton’s face was ashen as he asked if I had been stung. He fumbled through the pack we had only to find that the epi pen (that is always to be with me) was safely packed in our suitcase. Luckily, I was wearing bathing suit bottoms under the sarong and wasn’t stung. I am not entirely sure which one of those facts makes me happier. Soon our pulses returned to normal and we vowed to carry the epi pen from that moment forward as wasps, bees and hornets were buzzing about everywhere we went.