First things first, Merry Christmas everyone from beautiful Playa Del Carmen, Mexico!
Now that that’s out of the way, here’s what we’ve been up to these past few weeks. The last time I posted I was explaining the daily grind and the more mundane facts of life we’ve been living. I would love to talk about all the incredible things we do on a regular day in this paradise like setting we find ourselves in but it would only lead to your heartbreak and our self delusions.The reality is that we don’t do much everyday. Between entertaining the kids and us researching our next leg of the trip, we barely have time to lounge by the crystal clear blue ocean or our pool (which we do almost daily). We barely have time to drink the 2 or 3 fruit smoothies we constantly inhale. We also barely have time to walk around in the +28 Celsius sunny sky weather we’re forced to endure day in and day out.
Yup, it’s a hard life we live. I say that all with a mischievious grin and a shake of my head. If only life was always like this. Please don’t get me wrong. We’re loving this lifestyle and to us no price is too high to live like this. Sure, when we get back we don’t have the shiny new leather couch, the new stainless steel appliances, the new SUV sitting in the driveway or the 2% more mortgage paid onto our oversized and overpriced home but Micki and I have made a conscious decision to forsake the HGTV lifestyle in favour of the National Geographic lifestyle.
We definitely like the fact that we don’t owe a dime to the world and we have a paid off home, a good vehicle, solid investments and plenty of contracts (if we want them) available to us when we return but this still wouldn’t stop us from doing what we love. To be honest, the thought of spending another cold winter in Canada scares us more than the lost income and cost of this trip combined. All I ever have to do if I’m feeling down is look at the weather channel and for some reason I feel so much better. I seriously question our forefathers for ever deciding to lay down roots in such a cool climate.
So what have we done these past few weeks to make us forgo all the above? Not much in all honesty but I can say we enjoyed every minute of it. We’ve hit the ever increasingly busy beach a number of times. We’ve chowed down on all the local fare. We’ve made the trek back to Akumal to see a half dozen turtles in one swim and let the kids play in the calm waves. We’ve built a dozen sand sculptures (and let the kids destroy them in seconds) and enjoyed some of the best pizza ever created on a regular basis. We shopped in the 2 main malls for Christmas presents and checked out a half dozen other stores as well.
Before I go on I have to make a quick comment on that note. In all my years both at home and abroad never have I seen such well stocked stores only days before Christmas. I have no idea if it’s the economy (both local and tourist) or the fact that the toys out here are too expensive for the average person but walking down the large toy aisles only 2 days before Christmas was like walking in them in June back home. Every shelf is full, every toy has a dozen of it’s twin lined up perfectly behind it and every time a toy is pulled down and thrown in the cart an employee pulls out another one to replace it. I mean, what are companies thinking when there are literally fights over the last doll in an entire city 2 weeks before Christmas in Canada and yet these shelves are full to the brim? Leave a dozen out here people and ship them all North where they will be consumed like mini doughnuts at a police convention.
It actually amazed us how easy it was to shop this year. A week before Christmas we walked through the aisles with the kids and let them show us their favorite things and then quickly wittled their lists down to what we knew they would enjoy and what could be easily packed and transported. A few days before Christmas we walked in and grabbed them all. So simple, so easy, so beautiful. It was like a mini Christmas Miracle! That alone almost made up for the cost of admission to be here.
The next thing we didn’t have was the pre-Christmas panic we usually get. First, no need to find and buy a tree, set it up and then decorate it. No need to rifle through boxes of Christmases past to find the rest of the Christmas decorations and place them throughout the house. No need to freeze my arse hanging the outside lights in the snow. No need to start baking a week before Christmas and filling the freezer for the hordes of family and friends that we’ll be hosting. No need to struggle with deciding which place to go on which day to maximize both our time and our sanity. No need to overindulge on the over abundance of over rich food and a get stuck with a week’s worth of leftovers. No need to fear having one too many spiked eggnogs before hitting the road to our next destination and coming across a police checkpoint. Finally, no need to feel guilty that we overspent on the kids gifts (especially compared to how much we give to charity in the yuletide) yet end up feeling too cheap because the neighbor’s kid got three times what ours did.
None of that matters out here. We have no commitments here besides our commitment to enjoy a stress free holiday in a warm climate. Smaller gifts make sense because we know we’ll still be travelling quite a bit and space is a definite premium. With no immediate family or friends we can spend the day at the beach and go out for supper instead of spending the day cooking. We bought an inflatable Santa (on sale for a ridiculous price of $7 Cdn) and made a bunch of Christmas decorations days before with the kids to occupy them with something crafty. With no vehicle and the availability of alcohol on every street corner here the dangers of a DUI isn’t an issue coupled with the ability to maintain a continual Christmas buzz at all times for a fraction of the cost as back home.
To put it all simply. We had a great Christmas and enjoyed our day tremendously. The kids enjoyed the presents in the morning and we both got to enjoy a nap in the afternoon. We had a nice home cooked Italian meal for supper and watched some Christmas cartoons with the kids. We went out to see how the warm world enjoyed Christmas and found every place open and the streets full of happy people enjoying being free of the constraints of a Northern Christmas. To be honest, it was one of the best Christmases in recent memory and we think we might make it an annual event.
On that good note, I think I’ll stop this post before it gets too long. Our flight has been booked to Costa Rica on the 31st and we’ve got a great condo lined up for January in Tamarindo. The condo is only a stone’s throw from where I plan to become a great surfer (or at least someone who doesn’t look like a complete tool). We also have a few tours in mind and are looking forward to exploring all Costa Rica has to offer.
We’re also hoping to put together a Best Of Playa Del Carmen list to finish off the year and to give any of you that are travelling out here a few things to do.
All in all, 2010 has been a great year and we’re really looking forward to seeing what 2011 has to offer.
So Happy Holidays to all the Barefoot Nomads out there and to anyone not able to walk barefoot this holiday season, we hope the little barefoot nomad inside of you finds a little inner peace as well.