Wow, there were 130 snorkelers today in the bay, a new record. Dario, Martin and I were feverishly swimming and paddling around telling people the rules and separating giant groups of snorkelers that overwhelm the marine life and grazing turtles. It was actually fun. I got to yell in Spanish, “Hey guides, please separate the groups!” and in English, “Hey! Don’t stand on the coral.” It was kind of a free for all. Some clueless Americans were standing on the coral. Clueless, or, more likely, scofflaw guides had too many people — they’re only supposed to have 8 snorkelers per guide. One had 15! Nonetheless, I had a nice time snorkeling and paddling around and saw lots of turtles and a pretty lavender ray.
I’m getting ready for the big feast at Turtle Bay Cafe. I will douse myself with bug spray and put on my tropical finery. What to wear?
Very weird Thanksgiving. Instead of a group of locals, our table was a group of Americans who had come to celebrate a friend’s wedding anniversary. I sat across from a couple from Wisconsin who have a place here and come twice a year. The husband was a very nice, slightly punchy jovial guy, but the wife was constantly nagging and criticizing him. I think she was also on the verge of dementia since she kept repeating herself and saying nonsensical things. Not the kind of locals I wanted to meet.
The group had been together for almost a week and seemed very de-energized — perhaps sick of each other? — most were leaving today or tomorrow for home. They were all very nice and friendly, and I was kind of the oddity, being a single, older volunteer and a journalist. I feel like I’m the only older single in Akumal — other than Alan, who seems a bit of a misanthrope.
I feel suspended between two worlds here — the young CEA volunteers beginning their exciting adult lives and careers and the boring American tourist families. Some of the resident American shop owners and retirees seem interesting, but into their own thing — whatever that is — and appear busy, preoccupied and somewhat closed off.
I’m looking forward to returning to my own world in Boulder, where I feel at home, in my element and happily surrounded by friends and like-minded people. Somehow coming here to shake up my life, have an adventure, volunteer for the environment, escape from the onset of winter and meet interesting people, has not exactly panned out as expected — although it certainly did shake up my life. I didn’t expect to be bored, lonely and disgusted. I’ve been disgusted, mainly by the American tourists, who seem bland, stereotypical, beer-swilling, football-obsessed, loud-mouthed and clueless. Contrasted with them are the Canadians, who are polite, alert, environmentally aware and curious about the world and other cultures; the Brits with their wry, dry humor; and the young folks like Martin, the Belgian volunteer and Epy from Finland, who are very bright, educated, articulate and engaged in reality.
I’ve been reading Isable Allende’s latest memoir, “The Sum of Our Days.” She talked about her inspirational well running dry after the death of her daughter Paula. Later, she decided to travel to India to help reawaken her dormant muse and refill her well of creativity. I realized that although it’s been difficult here, more than fun, it has sort of refilled my inspirational well. Maybe it’s difficulty that’s more inspiring than just wonderful, lovely experiences.
Tomorrow is my birthday. David says they’re making lasagna for me. I’m thankful that I’ve made it this far in life and appreciate the wisdom gained by many experiences. I’m thankful for my health, my friends and family, my Boulder Sangha — and my cats, of course. Viva la Vida!