" A PARADISE CLOSE TO HOME."
It had already been a few months since our last vacation to Canada. After taking 4 in the month alone of December 2015, Sarah and I were ready to hit the travel trails again. The thing with constant travel is that you're always looking forward to the next trip with loads of excitement. We had a big trip coming up, but decided that we needed to get away now. We made the decision to stay close to home and it turned out to be one of the best decisions we could have made.
Like Joshua Tree, Lake Arrowhead was only ninety miles outside of Los Angeles. A hop, skip and a jump away from the city. We had heard nothing but great things about it. Once again we were lucky and dodged traffic on the way up. Speaking of which, on the way up was one of the best parts of the trip.
The mountain road you take to get up to Lake Arrowhead had some of the most aesthetically beautiful sights you could see anywhere. Sarah and I, never shy to snap photos or videos, were in total bliss. You know how they say, some places on earth can put you closer to heaven? Well, within the hills of San Bernardino this was it. It's a scene you just have to take time to admire while taking deep breaths of the fresh clean air. All the while, you can feel your soul being revitalized. WOW, was all I could think of.
We reached our resort and was eager to get the trip started. It was about 54 degrees Fahrenheit so we had to dress a bit warm, but I didn't mind it since I'm a huge fan of winter clothes. The resort was built like a large log cabin out in the woods. I feel like anything that's created with that amount of a natural resource is bound to ground you in a wonderful peaceful way. That's the main objective when taking a trip that's predominantly a natural location.
"A 'KEY' PART OF OUR LIVES."
Before I met Sarah Fullerton, the only time I had ever heard anything about the Florida keys was watching the Notorious B.I.G.'s video, "Hypnotize." Now that we've vacationed multiple times in the last few years, it's hard to believe that as close as I was, living in southeast Louisiana, I never visited once. But at this point in my life, I'm a firm believer that things that are meant to stay for a lifetime will always come at the right time. Enter KEY COLONY BEACH, FL.
"PLAY, LOVE, MEXICO"
I don't think most people would ever realize it until they see it for themselves, but Mexico is one of the most beautiful countries on this planet. From the colorful bath like water on sandy beaches, to the ever flowing lush palm trees, Mexico is a one of a kind place. My birthday was coming up and we had just got back from Thailand a few months earlier and Sarah wanted to do something really special for me. I had always wanted to go to Mexico, but for some reason I never had the chance. That, my friends, was about to change.
I was getting ready to turn 34 and was wondering what should I do? Ever since I turned 30, I started to realize that a year older is a major milestone. You evolve so much physically, mentally and spiritually that it’s important to reward yourself for a year done well! Playa Del Carmen caught my eye in a luxury magazine a few years back. I knew I was going to get the chance to go, but I wanted to be able to share it with the person I loved the most, my wife. When Sarah found out about this desire I had to go to this paradise, she didn’t waste anytime booking it. To my surprise our trip was booked for one week in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. To say I was excited was an understatement!
We had to fly to the Baja side of Mexico near the Caribbean Sea. Although a bit long, it was worth the wait. When we reached Cancun, we were greeted immediately by people carrying water bottles and tequila. I was like whoa! I guess they do like to party here. We drink from time to time, but only for special occasions mostly, so we passed on the tequila and went for the water. So we hop in our shuttle bus and we are off to our resort. What I find amazing when taking shuttles in a country you aren’t familiar with is that you can learn so much from your driver if you’re willing to be talkative and friendly. The gentleman we had escorting us was truly amazing. We talked about all things from real estate to the best places to eat and areas to frequent while we were here in Mexico. He was truly one of a kind, but more importantly it reiterated one of the most significant lessons when traveling: Get as much information as you can from the locals, and it doesn’t hurt to make new friends.
The Shawshank Redemption has always been one of my favorite movies. In one of my favorite parts of the film, Red played by Morgan Freeman walks along a beautiful beach to meet up with his friend Andy, played by Tim Robbins. Before Red reaches his destination, he expresses the joy between excitement and uncertainty. It’s a fine line, but it’s what makes a new place a soulful experience. As we walked the beach, this is what I felt inside. It was paradise. We were the ones in the picture of the luxury magazine. The exhilaration that creates is something you must experience for yourself. It was truly a dream come true unfolding right in front of our eyes.
One of the best parts of the trip was swimming in the Caribbean Sea. The water is clear and you can see all of the uniquely beautiful fish. Before I conquered my fear of deep water, I never realized how being underwater could place you in a whole new world. As creations of God, we are all connected in every way. What better way to feel that connection than to put yourself in position to experience it the same way as the fish, whales and dolphins do. As I watched Sarah swim through the water like an enchanted mermaid, a life lesson arises in my mind. That lesson, simple yet effective, is: “WHEN WE SEE THE WORLD THROUGH THE EYES OF OTHERS, THEIR WORLD BECOMES A PART OF OUR OWN. HENCE ,BROADENING OUR PERSPECTIVE ON OUR LIVES AND THE LIVES OF OTHERS.”
Whether it was the walks through the jungle, the candle light dinners or the nights spent reading in our aesthetic suite, Mexico gave us the feeling of being all that you are destined to be in this life. It taught us that the balance of giving yourself time off is essential to your health and happiness. You can’t give 100% if you’re not 100% yourself. The many people we met, consistently show us that kindness is what keeps humanity going. It’s what makes human beings feel alive. A smile, a nod, a hand wave, any kind gesture can change the route of anyone’s day for the greater.
In conclusion, why visit Playa Del Carmen? Because the beauty that lies here, you can take with you anywhere. Life is about discovering beauty in any place at any time. The type of beauty that stops you, makes you think, smile and be so grateful that something this wonderful could exist in the three dimensional world right in front of you. To touch it see it, feel it, smell it and taste it is unlike any other feeling on this earth. This is life, this is love, this is joy, this is peace, this is Mexico.
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When we found out that we were going, we were super excited until we found out about the near nineteen hour flight. I thought to myself, wow how will I ever keep busy. Great thing is, it wasn't as bad as we thought. Sure you get a little bit stir crazy and your feet swell, but once you realize what's ahead of you, patience and jubilation set in all at the same time. After a stop for a few days in Hong Kong, which was amazing, we made our way to Bangkok. To be honest with you, the last time I heard about Bangkok was in the Hangover 3 film. Needless to say, I knew it would be interesting regardless. We got off the plane and immediately the weather was so beautiful. "Sawadika!...Sawadika!" The expression for hello in Thaiis uttered politely and consistently by the natives. The initial vibrational expression of generosity is apparent after being in the country for only five minutes. It was extremely hot at the time and every person I could see had sweat spots on their shirts. I'm not a huge fan of the heat, but I instantly realized that it could be a lot worse. Not to mention, there was always a lovely Thai woman or man handing out water to us, so that really made a huge difference. If I learned nothing else from this trip thus far, I've learned that kindness is an awesome ice breaker.
"THE MAGIC OF AJIJIC"
Mexico, by some standards, has often been put in a bad light over the years. But, I'm happy to say that's only true for the people who haven't had the pleasure of visiting, experiencing the rich culture and mingling with the natives. Sarah and I have had the past five days to experience all of this awesomeness in a place you might not be aware of, but is easily one of the most exceptional places on earth. I know that's putting a lot on it, but let me convince you why I'm spot on with this observation. Enter Ajijic, Mexico!!
My wonderful in-laws discovered this gem of geography in January and were thrilled by their experience. So much so, they purchased one of the most beautiful homes you could ever imagine. It is completely out of this world and the environmental vibration just adds to the mystique. The antique lights and furniture almost make you feel like you're in an episode of Downtown Abbey getting ready to have tea with the queen. Not to mention, the gorgeous patios, that are spacious and endowed with latino inspired culture, make you feel right at home. What a thing of beauty it is! But the greatest part about it is not just the lush gardens, spacious rooms or huge kitchen. The beauty is getting to spend time with Sarah, Brian and Lolly. The last five years we've grown closer and it seems as though each time we get together it always gets better. I'm thankful that I'm poised to spend time in this one of a kind home, with the one of a kind people I care for so much. The magic is not only in Ajijic, but is forever in the relationships with the ones you love.
Now it's one thing to have a beautiful home and beautiful family, but the community is following a close second. Similar to a cobblestoned path neighborhood in a small Spanish town, Ajijic gives you a taste of some the finest art and architechture along it's streets. The fine art compliments the fine people. Whether it's a kind greeting or sincere smile, the people of Ajijic are as nice as they come. As I'm experiencing this, I think about how much Mexican culture has been stereotyped throughout my life. It's truly a shame, because the people here are so much more than that and have so much to teach just by their simplistic yet effective ways of living. As we were sitting by Lake Chapala awaiting the sunset, I noticed happiness on everyone's faces. Whether it was the kids indulging in a game they created with minimal resources, the love a husband showed to his wife as they sat on a bench or the smile of the old lady who spent her entire day gifting the community with her homemade desserts, everyone was happy and filled with joy. This is what life is truly about: LOVING THE MOMENT, LOVING EACH OTHER AND LIVING WITH ABSOLUTELY NO WORRIES. How much peace and joy could we experience if we made this our first priority? Wouldn't that be amazing?
Speaking of amazing, if you like to eat without breaking the bank in half, book your tickets to Ajijic now! The restaraunt prices are nominal, but it doesn't reflect in the quality of the food. In the five days I've been here, I've had some of the very very best Thai food, vegan food, Italian food and Indian cuisine all for the price of about two caramel frappucinos at Starbucks....Sounds great right? Look at it this way, my sentiments don't even come close to doing it justice, I'd rather you taste it for yourself.
All in all, if you're looking for a place with phenomenal food, kind&friendly people, lots to do and terrific vibrations, come experience THE MAGIC OF AJIJIC!!!
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