Charmed in Playa del Carmen

When I arrived in Playa del Carmen, America and Pauloko greeted me at the local bus station right on 5th avenue. We swung by America’s apartment to drop off my things before heading toward a hostel to help prep for the birthday celebration of one of America’s friends. So much familiarity, yet so much change. Playa del Carmen is currently ranked as THE fastest growing city in the world…

Fortunately, the coastal charm of a smaller seaside village continues to thrive in Playa. The highway that runs along the coast of the Riviera Maya slices through Playa nearer to the shore. Most of the city’s growth extends out from the other side of the highway… away from the sea. Thus, the highway helps preserve the more intimate nucleus of the city. Walk just about a dozen blocks from sea and you’ve already reached the highway.

The infamous 5th avenue, which marks the second block from the coast, is lined with cafes, gelaterias, boutiques, art galleries and quaint hotels. I popped out of the hostel just one block up from 5th avenue to indulge in one of my favorite treats – a fresh fruit and veggie smoothie!

Soon the techno house music led us on highs and lows that reflected the rhythm of the waves at sea. Party-goers began to arrive and drink chelas (beer) at the rooftop bar and dip into the rooftop pool. I began to slip back into a familiar bliss. I socialized with friends, but so easily I would lose myself in the music, my heart and soul turned toward the sea, completely mesmerized by her opal, turquoise, azure and sapphire hues. And my precious moon began to emerge, shining bright and bold… as dusk turned to darkness. When night fell I escaped, padding my way down the cobbled road toward the water’s edge. Stepping out of my clothes I slipped right into the cool, dark waters. Home.

I quickly fell into my old morning routine greeting the day with a morning run along the shore and cooling down with a leisurely swim. I would playfully roll around in the soft waves then drift on my back… utterly content… just me and the sea.

By 8:30 I was sitting upright and erect, ready for an energizing Vinyasa flow yoga class with Ellen at Yoga By the Way

Back to Paradise

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05.03.11

At the airport in Cancun, I made friends with a Virgin American crew member and a fellow traveler from Norway… perhaps we’ll be in touch.

I took a shuttle from the airport to the bus station in the center of town. I felt so “at home” again, yet felt my spirit hadn’t quite released LA yet…

Perla came with her boyfriend Mario and picked me up from the station. I shrieked with joy when I saw her…

Benny met us shortly thereafter and we made a beeline for greasy, yummy Mexican food. Guacamole, chorizo tacos, carne asada, frijoles… ala ¡Que Rico!

Benny is beyond words. He’s so pure.

We picked up Benny’s budding flame… Karina. She and I are one in the same… she possesses a true zest for life!

Ruben and Victor meet us for drinks. Back in tropical paradise, sipping a pina coloda with old, cherished friends… ahem ¡QUE RICO!

It all felt surreal… being surrounded by so many people I love again. Each and every one is so dear and special to me.

05.04.11

I slept in… I haven’t done that since I decided to return to Latin America. Still… sleeping in here is waking up early in LA… so maybe I didn’t sleep in after all.

After working and connecting with my client, I leave for the beach. My friends are at work and it’s just me…

I go to Playa Marlin, where I used to live. I lived in an apartment that had a beautiful view of the sea. The very waves that I so clearly remember lulling me to sleep crashed in a soft greeting of “welcome back.” When I bathed in the sea my senses began to reawaken. Little by little, I felt myself reconnecting

I busted out the blender when I got back to my friend’s apartment. Now I can liquefy my own fresh, tropical bliss!

Sushi for dinner… catching up with Perla.

Inspired to shoot a special shot… sipping wine poolside under the cozy night sky my spirit makes the final shift… finally, I am reconnected.

At One

aerialplmBy Laura Rico

I am at one with the energy here
my spirit opens
my soul sings
the silent trance calms me…

beneath the quiet
a glorious celestial choir
bursting forth from love…

the wind tickles my skin
the tropical air warm and moist
fluttering fronds of a palm
sweetly caressing my face
shivers of ecstasy course through my being
oh joy!

I am so elated to feel “me” again!

Flying Through the Caribbean Breeze

A little video of me clinging to some sort of wind swing thing that whips me around like a rag doll off the coast of the Riviera Maya (Cancun, MX, spring 2010):

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Here’s one where we cruised around the inlets in little toy speedboats before spilling out into the sea and jumping overboard to snorkel:

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Mind Scraps: A Bittersweet Farewell to My Dear Playa…

Before, thanks to my almost uncontainable excitement for the next step of my journey, I always managed to subdue the melancholy of a “goodbye.”

But these past few life transitions these past couple of years have left me red-eyed and profoundly touched.

I had to say goodbye to some truly remarkable people during my last hours in Cancun. Each, in their own unique and special way, left me sobbing with humility as they whispered into my ear during a powerful embrace how much the loved me, how much they’ll miss me, how much I’ve affected their lives.

“You know, invariably when you ask about someone, about who they are as a person you get varied responses,” one of my friends began. “‘Oh he’s amazing!’ one says. Or, ‘I don’t know him well’ says another. Perhaps ‘Oh he’s not so great.’ Or even, ‘Oh he’s NOT a good person.'”

“So how is it Laura,” my friend continued, “that with you I always get the same response? Everybody loves you. Do you see that? We ALL love you Laura.”

He continued to share and told me that he feels I’m here for something more, some sort of crucial mission. He didn’t elaborate but he insisted that that is why I’m here.

Then, another came forward. A young man, a beautiful and awakening soul who is only just starting to see that life is more than booze and girls. Thus, his words surprised me: “Remember Laura, you are a warrior. You are a WARRIOR. Don’t forget that. NEVER forget that. Someone places a wall before you and you DRIVE IT TO THE GROUND. You bust through it showing that NOTHING can stop you. YOU show everyone else that ANYTHING can be accomplished. Don’t ever forget that you have that power and what your example means to the rest of us. I love you Laurita.”

Upon hearing about my new found Prince Charming, a young woman I’ve known casually, thanked me for giving her inspiration and faith that the “fairytale kind of love” DOES exist. She then shared that she was just recently divorced. I had gone out with her on several occasions but had no idea, no idea what she had been going through.

At one point during our gathering, a stranger to me, yet a friend to one of my beloved girlfriends here began to unleash a stream of negativity and assumption: “L.A. is just an illusion. Broken dreams. Don’t expect much. People like me eat people like you there.” The “no’s,” “not’ss” and negativity continued to stream from his mouth.

“Stop!” I countered forcefully. “You’re full of negativity and quite honestly, I want nothing to do with it. That’s certainly not what I need right now, just hours before I leave.”

Yet he insisted and the negativity continued to spew. “Don’t expect much from your ol’ boy there.”

For a moment my ego tried to win out and I bitterly laughed as I scoffed, “Me! She who has traveled to 22 countries alone. Countries like Cambodia and Vietnam and dangerous places like Chihuahua, MX… you think I will have a problem returning to my own country? That my own country will eat me when I have found but only friends in the foreign lands that I have tread?! No I will have none of it!”

Yet his insistence continued. He began to speak over me. Then, my beloved girlfriend tried to defend him. This hurt the most. Not because of him, but because of her. She was listening to the negativity, accepting it. I loved her dearly, and this “dark thought” was something I knew she still battled with… so much. ‘This is NOT how I want to spend my final moments,’ I thought to myself. ‘I’ll go… get some good rest.’ I reasoned. My recoiling reaction startled many from the group.

“But we’re all here for YOU,” they argued, hurt.

I compromised with the decision to “take a walk” but come back. I was hoping during my walk they would realize the right thing to do… Biologist Benny, an absolute sweetheart with a spirit of gold, came with me. He let me rant and calmed my tension. When we returned the “negative energy” had simply… vanished.

More hugs, more tears, more joy and more bittersweet goodbyes…

Friendship Poem

For my birthday, a dear friend I met through Couchsurfing in Cancun wrote me the following:

Lamneto mucho no estar hoy contigo en este dia tan especial…. Tu cumpleaños!

So much I lament not being abel to be with you on this special day… your birthday!

Aveces siento que eres un angel que vino a iluminar mi vida y la de los demás Csurfers y lo

Sometimes I feel that you are an angel that came to illuminate my life and the lives of other Couchsurfers and the

Ultimo que quisiera es que llegue el dia en que no te vea mas porque se que tarde o temprano te iras de Mexico

Last thing I would want is to come the day that I don’t see you anymore because I know that sooner or later you will leave Mexico

Rompiendo los corazones de todos los que te amamos, eres una gran mujer y una gran amiga con un

Breaking the hearts of all that love you, you are a great woman and a great friend with a

Alma que brilla con una luz tan hermosa para alimentar la esperanza de mas personas como tu y como yo.

Soul that shines with a light so beautiful it feeds the hope of more people like you and like me.

Feliz cumpleaños Hermosa

Happy birthday beautiful

te quiero muchisisisimo!!!!

I care about you so much!!!!

que rica amistad!!!

What a blessed friendship!!!

Thank you Victor. I love you with all my heart.

Mind Scraps: Frogs and Turtles, Princes and Princesses

“Do you have a notebook I could use,” I asked my friend Benny – Biologist Benny we call him. “Mine’s about filled up.”

That’s when he offered me The Blue Day Notebook. He had just started using it, but insisted on giving it to me. It’s a cute little blue book with a cute little frog motif. As you flip the pages, the little frog tumbles along the edge…

I opened it up to read:

Laura,

Te quiero mucho mucho mucho. (I really really really care about you.)

Benny

Then I continued on to read the author’s introduction. Here is my favorite prose the author shared:

“True inspiration is everywhere, all the time. It’s in the objects on your desk, it’s in the flashing lights of an ambulance, it’s in the lyrics of your favorite song, it’s the way you hold someone’s hand, it’s the way a dog turns around twice before lying down to sleep. In other words, inspiration is seeing ordinary things in an extraordinary way – imagining what things would be like if they were somehow… different.”

“What is important is that you let your mind run free to consider new creative relationships and then have the decipline to put your thoughts down on paper.”

“To create interesting work you must live an interesting life.”

****

The night before last, Biologist Benny opened his heart to me and moved me to tears. He simply whispered the sweet words that anyone always longs to hear. Words like: special, unique, magic, light. I feel so blessed to have him in my life. He’s more than a friend, he’s a soulmate. I have discovered that we have not one soulmate… we have but billions and trillions. Every single being on this planet is a potential soulmate… we only have to open ourselves to see the light within. Benny is an enchanting person and I consider him one of my dearest friends. He is special.

Last night Benny led us on a magical excursion. From shore we silently marveled as the giant sea turtles emerged from the dark waters of the night and slowly crawled their way across the beach. Whips of sand began flying as the turtles stopped and began digging… digging their nests right there in the middle of Cancun’s tourist-trampled, white sand beaches. Then the stillness came and they did not move. The “trance” had begun. The conservationists slowly moved approached the turtles beckoning us to follow with care. Astonished we watched white, mucas-covered eggs pop out from behind the tortoise’s tail. The we helped gather the eggs in buckets, moving them new nests we had already dug in special nurseries built away from tourist trample. Hopefully, we’ve given some little new embryos the chance to survive, grow and hatch.

As we walked back from this incredible glimpse into the mysteries of nature, it was Victor’s turn to move me to tears. His words resembled Ben’s, but were spoken with Victor’s uniquely charming touch. Again my ears wrung with words like special, unique, magic, light and my heart swelled with love. “You really don’t know just how much you’ll be missed,” he told me. When I think of Victor I will always imagine the strong, young mahogany-colored warrior dancing with heart and soul.

Two Australian girls also accompanied us. Biologist Benny was hosting them through Couchsurfing. Benny had told me ahead of time that Grace and Zia were “encantadoras” (enchantresses). He was right. In less than 10 hours, these two young hippie girls who grew up on a commune out in the wilderness of Australia’s bush had also earned a very special place in my heart. Two powerful young women full of love and magic.

Of course, Perla was there. Throughout the day, her pure, sincere and unassumingly loving friendship provoked my eyes to moisten. She is as faithful and loving as man’s beloved best friend. A true spitfire in her own right. I adore her…

Love Note

Just as the tears dry up, the emotions wring my heart again, squeezing out yet more bittersweet tears.

I cannot describe the EXCITEMENT and ANTICIPATION I feel for this next, upcoming adventure… this move to L.A. I feel as if the seconds could not fly by fast enough. The seconds that separate him and I. He with the widest of grins and the giggliest of laughs. He that is always sprinkling the sparkling dust of laughter into my own eyes.

And yet, as the seconds tick away, I can’t help but feel how quickly my last few moments with some incredibly moving people I’ve met here in the Riviera Maya… are vanishing. I couldn’t put into words everything, all the beloved attributes that have made me fall completely head over heels in love for most amazing friends here. And I’m not going to try. My words couldn’t do their loveliness any justice.

Just please know…

Perla
Benny
Ruben
Victor
Roberto
Daniel
Antonio
Edgar
Jimmy
America
Paoloko
Jason
Juan Carlos
Joakin
Simon
Marco
CS Cancun Community

Each of you, in your own most unique and enchanting ways, have captured my heart. I love you guys… and I always will.

Back to Blogging with a Blast of Inspiration!

More than 75 days of blogging silence from yours truly. That’s… disappointing actually. But life has thrown me a few curve balls these past 2 1/2 months. You could say at least one of them smacked me dead center in the forehead… hence the proverbial “knockout” and “disappearing blog” act.

During the silence, lots of life has happened. To sum it up, you could say that I’ve had a more than a fistful of truly heart-movingly RICH experiences… that were all strung along a coarse strand of significant hardship and trial.

Yesterday, in fact, I took another hard hit. This one didn’t knock me out though. Rather, it knocked me back awake… at least I think it did.

Things haven’t been matching up. Opportunities, yes more than one, that seemed golden suddenly tarnished into fool’s gold.

Yesterday was the climax of the second “not gold but fool’s gold” enlightenment.

I’ll bypass the details about what happened with whom for now. That’s not what’s important. What’s important is learning and moving forward.

Learning and growing:

1. I’ve really got to stop trusting so wholeheartedly at the first “hello.” I offer my trust on a silver platter without doing my homework to see just whom it is I’m offering this fine delicacy. That’s just imprudent. Personal improvement goal number one: Stay open, willing, friendly and receptive but be more prudent and weary with whom I trust.

And if you think I’m talking about love… I’m not. I’m talking about work and employment.

2. See the warning signs. People leaving the company should be at least a yellow flag that prompts me to investigate “why.” People holding the exact same position they were holding six years ago, without the slightest change in “standard of living” or even upgraded equipment should be a blaring red flag. And there were more… with my “after the fact” perspective I see that so clearly now. Personal improvement goal number two: Interview the company even as they are interviewing you.

The bright-side:

In just two months I went from having experience solely in Journalistic Photography to having plenty of content for a solid portfolio in Lifestyle Photography and Wedding Photography. That of which I’m very proud. I learn fast and work even faster!

The surprise:

Yesterday, as I was trying to calm my emotions and meditate on what’s been happening I decided to turn to the greats for inspiration, look to the words of wise that have walked before me. Each time I’ve done that has marked a coming pivotal period in my growth, success and achievement. This time, instead of taking months to remember the inspirational quotes from world sages remedy, I remembered in the very same afternoon. Yes! A sign of growth! Well, my to-do’s reminded me actually. In a moment of distress I decided it was better to put this spring of hurt, negative energy toward something useful and good. Transform it. Thus, I decided to turn to the weary task of cleaning out my computer and hard drives (they’re bogged with lord know what.) During this, I stumbled upon some business mentoring articles I had saved. Since I had saved them I had never read them. I was always brushing them off: Later. Later. I’ll have more time to read them later. In my determination to clean out my hard drive and computer once and for all, I almost brushed by them once again. But, I paused and considered: This is where I need the most guidance right now. There is no time better than NOW. Read them!

Less than ten minutes in my spirits were lifted, my confidence restored and my drive to overcome not only renewed but SUPERCHARGED.

One of the very first quotes that jumped out at me while reading stopped me in my tracks:

“Within each of us is a NATURAL PATH. Someone who ALIGNS themselves 100% to their PATH finds an EXTRAORDINARY sense of FLOW and ENERGY comes into their life or work.”

Wait a minute! I just had that! I was just there!! During my last few days in Chihuahua and even more poignantly so during my first several weeks in the Riviera Maya I was nearly EXPLOSIVE with energy. Getting an average of 3-4 hours of sleep I night I quickly became the a CS social butterfly, got involved in photography projects, lined up not one but two jobs, completed daily runs along the shore of the emerald and sapphire colored sea, visited and charmed the tropical island of Isla Mujeres and kept up a very active night life… and I was feeling GREAT. The best shape of my life, the best health of my life…

Pffff. What happened??!! On the contrary the past two to three weeks I’ve felt drained of energy, unrefreshed as I woke up feeling worse than when I had gone to bed, little desire for my normal here-there-everywhere social life. Just zapped. Accordingly, the tension gathered, the health went downhill and I got grumpier at realizing I was getting grumpier. I never lost the “Que Rico!” but I was feeling it less and less. (Thanks to amazing friends they really kept blazing moments of it alive even amidst my period of waning energy.)

So what gives? I asked myself. I’ve definitely gone through a tough bout of trial so the zapped energy makes sense. Pffff I deserve a break. I reasoned. But I didn’t want to stop there. Why all the hardship and trial I wondered? What happened that made me suddenly plummet head first from the exhilarating heights of feeling an “EXTRAORDINARY sense of FLOW and ENERGY” in my life and work?

The blog.

I’ve had the blog for several years now. But, it wasn’t until Chihuahua that I decided to really start sharing the juicy stuff. The crazy stuff. The weird, Locura de Laura spiritual stuff. When I began really writing everything that I was feeling and experiencing not just “parts of it” is when I felt the blast of energy. I had even written about how I felt the call to write it all… now. Then, the blog went offline, the energy and flow peaked and I was on a fast-track to decent.

Wow. A powerful realization. I knew that writing and sharing and opening up was therapeutic. But geez, I didn’t realize the extent of which I need my blog for my own personal release and self-development. Maybe some of you out there read it. Maybe not. While I’m truly heartened and utterly touched to get the feedback I occasionally get, I just realized how much this blog is for me. My development, my growth, my health… me. Without it… I began holding everything within. Blocking my flow, which manifested both physically and in my external life experiences. I need to express and to express freely… my precious little blog lets me do that. She lets me blab and blab and blab and never once talks back and tells me “no,” “can’t,” “stop,” “you’re doing it wrong,” “you’re a failure.” She simple lets me share, express and be free to be in love… in love with this wonderful blue little planet I so adoringly call home.

Yelp! How excited I am to have my blog back!!!