Hi I am Old.

I literally cannot see one thing. I kind of feel like I’m going to suffocate, my eyes are burning, and it feels like people are sliding off of me from every direction as I look up, trying to get a moment’s breath without inhaling the foam that’s falling from the sky.

More hurricanes? Nope. Snowstorm? Definitely not. But a foam party? REALLY? Is this a frat house? Yes, basically.

At the weekly Thursday foam party at the Grand Oasis Hotel, I originally arrived alone, yet it seems as though as soon as you’re in a bikini covered in foam everyone wants to be your friend. It sounds a lot hotter than it is, since while dancing to sped-up Spanish techno I’m often hacking up foam as I desperately glance around looking for my sister. Apparently, some foreigner disagrees as he asks me to be in a picture with him, scantily clad and covered in foam.

Finally I spot her, DANCING ON THE DAMN STAGE. I can’t believe this kid. She pulls me up, and soon I’m on the stage too and nearly sliding onto the floor and breaking my neck. Foam is flying out from the sky, and it seems that within minutes, I’m surrounded by best friends whose names I will never know. I don’t really like getting to know people at clubs anyway, because I feel disrespectful to my expensive education while telling them about my Honors thesis and my studies while being fed drinks.

Needing a break from the foam, I sit off to the side with my new friend Peter, who is from Kansas and obviously so with the pull in his voice. I’m not sure what it is about me, but strangers always want to tell me personal information and soon he’s telling me about his alcoholic best friend and his mother’s death and his broken engagement. I never mind hearing stuff like this, but it seems odd to me that you’re supposedly so much older and more mature and revealing so much to a total stranger.

Getting a little restless talking to the same person, I’m missing my days at home when it’s almost too easy to say my roommate is looking for me or some other bs excuse. When I look back to the stage, my sister is kissing some rando and someone is filming it, and upon further inspection, lots of other randos are doing the same.

I know all these people are on vacation and looking to have fun, as I am too. But this all feels like a scene that I’m too old for. I’m actually jealous of the obvious couple dancing and a group of girls together with no boys to bother them. It’s not that I don’t think Peter is cool or nice, but his trying to hold my hand or tell me I’m pretty feels insulting, like he thinks I’m dumb enough to fall for it and go home with him.

When I see my sister, she tells me that she is ready to leave and I’m thankful. I tell Peter goodbye and I was glad to meet him, and when he goes in for the kill I look away and hug him instead and say maybe I’ll see him at the pool tomorrow. I actually feel a little guilty leaving him inside on a bench by himself nursing two pineapple tequilas, but then I remind myself his name probably isn’t even really Peter.

My sister is with two boys who go to USC, and I’m glad to be with people who don’t want anything from me and feel like my own friends. They bring us some drinks and even though they seem nice, I throw mine in the garbage when they’re not looking as we walk home. I see my sister gulp it down and it makes me nervous for when she goes to school.

We jump in the pool with the two boys, Zach and Gabe, to wash the foam off. A security guard yells at us because it is after hours at the pool, so Gabe asks us to go to the beach.

A few months ago, I probably would have kissed Peter, feeling like I owed him a little for hanging out with me and calling me pretty. A few months ago, I also would have followed Gabe and Zach to the beach, eager to prove to these people that I’ll never see again that I’m fun and exciting enough, even though it’s 3:30 am and I’m ready to take a shower and go to bed. I would have relished in being around people I don’t know, people who are new with no known flaws. But today, in beautiful Cancun, surrounded by beautiful people, I really just don’t care. I feel simultaneously too young and too old to be jumping in an ocean with could-be serial killers at 3:30 am, and for the first time I can remember, I sigh with relief when my sister tells me she is ready to go home.

I don’t know if it’s the want for more important travel than a boozefest in Cancun or the want for more important people¬†anywhere.¬†But for a few hours, I just want to settle for a little.

Image

Isla de… Rum

Today we are doing a much more touristy activity– taking a sailboat to an island off the coast of Cancun to Isla de Mujeres, where the captain, Luis, boasts in his very broken English that they are the most beautiful beaches in Mexico. It becomes clear, however, that the only reason anyone would think this would be is because Luis has been force-feeding them drinks off his boat, Gypsy Breeze, on our way to Isla de Mujeres, which, ironically, is full of homeless men sleeping on the beach.

On the way back from snorkeling, lunch on a small beach, and the overrated Isla de Mujeres, everybody is basically done, passed out all over the top of the sailboat and lounging in the sun. It seems though that the sun and Luis’s drinks are getting to everyone though as time goes by, because when it starts to pour, instead of fleeing to the small indoor part of the boat (where the bar is) tops are coming off and everyone is doing the YMCA. People are slipping and sliding all over the white plastic top of the boat, but it seems as though there is always someone to catch you before you topple into the ocean.

I’m drunk before 2:00 pm on rum punch in a rainstorm on the top of a boat dancing with 50 strangers. Isla de Mujeres is beautiful.

Image

It’s the Journey, Not the Destination

It is now the second leg of our journey into the Mayan temples, only this time, since it’s no longer 5:00 am, everyone actually seems excited. This is nice considering we are covered in rain and mud and filth and sweat, coating Lilliana’s van in it as well. For about twenty minutes, she drives us to a village in Copa, passing lots of other little Mexican villages on the way.

In Copa, it’s clear that we won’t be running into any old Mexican medicine men, since the place is overrun by tourist shops and teenagers who barely speak English getting paid to drive tourists to the site via bike for about three dollars. Obviously, we walk (it’s about a mile on flat ground through the trees) although my dad gets on a bike with a beautiful Pollack named Anastasia in an attempt to woo her.

Reaching the Mayan temple, I’m glad to see that even though GETTING here is touristed-out, the temple itself is not. It features 120 tiny but steep steps, 120 of which I have to crawl on my hands and knees to get up. Thankfully, by this point the rain has stopped, because otherwise climbing these little stone steps would be even harder and I would be stopping a lot more often than every 20 or so to catch my breath (and then look down and lose it again). Besides seeing the ground looming under me, like I’m scaling a damn mountain, I can see my dad huffing and puffing his way up with Anastasia’s bag on his shoulders.

When I look down for the final time at the very top, however, it’s clear that this was definitely worth the short trip to the summit. I can easily see the top of every tree in this little jungle, and I kind of feel like a Wild Thornberry.

Image

Image

We’re Not in Jersey Anymore.

I am standing in a soaking wet t-shirt over my green bikini, my legs actually shaking under me from the rain pellets that fall from the sky. Lilliana, our tour guide, is shouting instructions on how to zipline in broken English from only a few feet away, yet the rain easily muffles her otherwise broad Spanish voice. When I’m standing on a wooden platform and Pedro yells VAS! and pushes me off the cliff and into the jungle, I can only hope that I set up my own harness correctly, although that wasn’t too easy to maneuver amidst the hurricane brewing over my head.

This is all because when you actually leave your Cancun resort, you find yourself a hell of a lot more than red-skinned tourists cramming onto booze cruises. The tour I took, which held a group of about ten people of all ages, brought us to the ancient Mayan temples about two hours from Cancun. Instead of sandy beaches and buffet style lunches we traveled down the littlest “highways” you have ever seen to jungle monotony only broken up by man-made shacks on the side of the road surrounded by skinny dogs and holey shirts on the line.

On the tour, after kayaking to a separate part of the jungle, a man named Jose came to bless us all for our stay in his village. Being the village medicine man, I think that this was the extent of his duties nowadays, since the area’s main income comes from tourism. Lilliana then led us to a little cavern opening in the ground as big as a folding chair next to a shower. She said that everyone had to wash off before climbing into the cavern in order to keep the sinkhole underneath clean. I kept wondering where this sinkhole was since the cavern looked like just that– a hole. Lilliana said we should probably keep our heads down.

As soon as we got through the initial hole, however, we found ourselves in an alcove about as big as a large living room with crystal blue water running through which created a little circle. You could see the bottom, however tens of feet down.

Back outside of the sinkhole, which Mexico has tons of since, like New Orleans, it has little bedrock, Lilliana led us to a zipline course, which was when the rain started up. In her drenched t-shirt and sandals, the little Mexican woman told us there was no reason to stop unless it started to lightning “really bad” yet even then we would be screwed because the zipline was the only way to continue through the jungle.

However, as I’m soaring over the jungle and over small swamps and flying birds and I’m trying to shield my eyes from the piercing rain, I’m actually feeling pretty glad Pedro pushed me off the cliff. I can hear my dad screaming bloody murder behind me because he is pushing the 235 weight limit, but hey, this sure beats snorkeling.

Image

When Sickness Strikes

In less than twenty four hours I will be getting on a plane to Mexico, and I am covered in hives.

On my arms, my legs, my feet, my back… I have little red dots. Everywhere. It is not pleasant and the only thing I can do is pop the steroids the doctor gave me. She also mentioned they would not be gone by tomorrow. And probably not a week from tomorrow either.

I’m sure many of you have had similar issues during your travels. Maybe you weren’t covered in little red dots, but everyone has gone on a trip where there (or before) they contracted a godawful stomach virus, got strep, maybe started getting some chills. Whatever the case, being sick before the time you have been looking forward to gives you two options… You can either wallow in it and hide in your fancy hotel bed, or you can put on your game face and have a good time.

Because the bottom line is this: one day, you won’t be covered in hives. One day, probably very soon, your stuffy nose will be good as new, your strep will have moved on to the person sitting next to you on the airplane, and your stomach cramps will wander off. However, the memories of your trip will hang on for the rest of your days. And during the rest of those days, do you want to have memories of wallowing in the hotel bed, or do you want to think about the running rampant late at night and sitting next to the breezy blue ocean, even if you were a little uncomfortable, a little embarrassed?

So even though I’ll still wear long sleeves and my sister will make fun of me and my dad will continue to ask me if I have fleas, I will still be smiling.

It reminds me of another instance– a few months ago, on the Friday before my twenty-first birthday (aka the best weekend of my life) I got flu-like symptoms within some sort of cold. I was not happy. Originally, my dear wife/roommate and I had planned a party at our house, since her birthday is the day after mine. I was seriously debating saying eff it to the party, to the following day at the bar, to my parents’ visit the next day (that one I should have actually cancelled). However, instead, I popped some pills, made a drink, and we partied till the next Tuesday and had the time of our lives. (Plus, when you’re inebriated, it’s a lot easier to forget that you’re sick.)

So keep your head up and have a laugh about it. If anyone asks you what’s wrong, tell them you have gang green and it’s highly contagious. Then take some meds and go to the damn pool.

Image