Many of us spend a great deal of time planning our vacations. Where are we going? What are we going to do?…and what happens? A schedule develops. We’ve all done it. Heck, I have gone so far as to create elaborate itineraries and laminate them – one for each traveler on our trip. What this does is set you up for stress. You have to set alarms to be able to get in all the day’s activities. If there is something wonderful and unexpected at one of the places on your agenda for the day, you will likely have to miss out because if you take the time to enjoy, you will be off your schedule and THEN WHAT?! Well what happens is at the end of your trip? You evaluate – “did we see and do everything according to plan?”, if not you will feel like you have somehow failed. If you did get it all in, then you will start thinking about all of those wonderful things you missed, that you didn’t know about beforehand, but had to skip because they were not scheduled! Ultimately – some level of disappointment, not to mention you come home exhausted.
After this happened to me a few times, I thought what if I went on a vacation with no plans, no schedule, no itinerary? I heard about a place in Mexico called Akumal. About an hour from the Cancun airport, this small village had no all-inclusive resorts, a handful of condos for rent, and very little else. I turned to my partner and said, “Let’s go.”
First, going on a vacation, not knowing what to expect, you would think I would have been nervous BUT if there is one thing my cat has taught me it’s to think outside the box. We arrived, we got a cab, and we were off. An hour later we arrived. The village consisted of 3-4 places to eat, a couple of grocery stores, and condos sitting right on the beach of Half Moon Bay. We were dropped off at our destination condo rental, with no car and no idea what we were stepping into.
So what did we find? A place so inspiring that it is now where I go, in my mind, to meditate. Water so blue and so clear that I felt a sense of calm wash over me every time I looked at it. Beaches that were quiet and unpopulated – where you could sit and take in the wonder of the world and feel blessed to be in the moment of each and every day. Where you can sit and read a book or close your eyes and listen to the waves break and the birds celebrate their good fortune to call this place home. Places to eat where you literally get a taste of culture and an opportunity to mix with the locals. You can watch fishermen come in on their boats, clean the fish on the beach, and offer up the day’s catch in their great dishes. I wonder, as I watch them, if the beauty of this place escapes them since they wake up to it every day.
Talking to a local I learn that Half Moon Bay is a prime nesting place for turtles. The locals watch and protect the eggs in an effort to ensure as many survive as possible. In turn then, when visitors put on their snorkeling gear, it is very common to find yourself swimming with these beautiful creatures. As I floated over the top of one, watching him eat ocean vegetation and majestically swim around, I found myself mesmerized by the grace and beauty. He had not a care in the world – kind of like me in that given moment.
So many times we are consumed by trying to make sure we have THE best trip, that we lose all the wonderful opportunities afforded by doing, planning, and paying nothing. On this trip I lost my track of time, I lost the need to schedule, and I lost my stress. I found that walking everywhere comes with a great sense of freedom. I found that love is deepened by time spent doing nothing. Most importantly, I found PEACE.
About the Author: Jonna J Cooley PhD lives in Springfield IL with her partner Lisa and their 7 cats. Jonna has worked in social services for over 25 years, working with child abuse, HIV/AIDS, and the LGBT community as well as teaching at the University of IL for 14. Besides travel, she loves photography, bicycling, and animals of all kinds.
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READY TO TRAVEL TO MEXICO? This will inspired you: Cancun Day Trip: Top 8 Things to Do on Isla Mujeres, Mexico