Alone in Stud Photographer’s room, I was caught up in an internet trance – a phenomenon common to my generation. Catching up on emails, editing photos, writing, skyping with friends, and facebooking all at once. Stud Photog had gone out… for what, I wasn’t sure. My plan was to head to Playa del Carmen (about 1 ½ hours away) that night. I had been in contact with a photography agency there and was eager to meet them and explore any work opportunity that might exist. Still, I had plans to return to Cancun the next afternoon in order to be involved in Stud Photog’s personal photo project he had organized. Then, I would return to Playa del Carmen once again in the evening….
Her form was slender and elegant. Smooth, caramel-colored skin with springy spiral curls toppling over smoky café-colored eyes that shimmered with just a hint of green. She was beautiful… and yet didn’t seem to really know. Smiling brightly, she introduced herself with an unassuming air. The French woman with a notably Arabic background would be Stud Photographer’s next couchie. I was being replaced so soon!
…When beautiful women encounter other beautiful women the insecurities and jealousies can start crackling like oil in a hot pan in milliseconds. Women naturally want to be princesses. They want to revel in the limelight. If another beauty is around… that threatens their chance to shine… or so they often think. Many women experience these feelings and that’s why it can often be hard for women to unite in pure friendship. If women do act as “friends,” the friendship is often inundated with secret jealousies and insecurities. I know this because I’ve felt it many times. I felt it within me personally. I felt it directed toward me from other women. It doesn’t help that society continually tries to pit women against women. “Be more beautiful than her” the subliminal messages say in ad campaigns. “There’s only room for one beauty, so do whatever it takes to be her!”
As I encountered this theme time and again in life, I started to feel a nagging loneliness. It seemed I had as many male friends as there were stars in the sky, yet a true female friend seemed to be the most rare find. A female friend that I felt loved me sincerely, celebrated who I was and supported me no matter what. And I her in return. In fact, for a significant while my step-mom was the only woman I considered to be a true female friend. But she couldn’t come romping the world with me in my travels. I began expressing to her how much I longed for a true female friend!
I started to meditate and pray, inviting a deeper female friendship into my life. And, with this heart plea, slowly my approach toward women began to transform. Before, I admit, the internal commentary when meeting another beautiful woman went something like: ‘Oh no! She’s beautiful. Warning! What are her flaws? Find her flaws to make yourself feel better! Ah there. I have a better this. Or a better that. Yeah, um, I’m more beautiful.’ or ‘Oh no! She’s so beautiful! Way more beautiful than me! Ugh, compared to her I’m disgusting. Ugh, I feel horrible about myself!’
But little by little the internal commentary from before was becoming dominated by a new appreciative and welcoming approach. Slowly my thoughts transformed with each encounter until the internal commentary went something like: ‘Wow. What a beautiful smile. Look at how her eyes sparkle. She’s so generous.’
Since this transformation I’ve found the female friendship I was longing for. In addition to my step-mom, I now have two absolutely dear friends in Guatemala and two in Chihuahua, MX. Here in Cancun I’m meeting yet more absolutely stunning women…
When the French Beauty walked in, I felt the old commentary sharply poke and prod me, trying to pull me back into my old mental routine of insecurities and jealousies. To me, she was that beautiful. But I didn’t let the old ways win. The annoying nag simply fueled me to find yet more than the obvious beauty about her. Stud Photog had to take off for the gym, so I was left with the French Beauty alone. Having found a comfortable rhythm with Stud Photog’s family I took the role of sub-host with honor and showed the French Beauty where she could leave her things and where she could bathe after her long bus ride.
I already had plans to meet up with local couchies that afternoon and I invited her to join me. She obliged. She was new to Couchsurfing I found out. I got excited, explaining to her that I had met many of my closest friends through CS over the years. I then began raving about the wonderful people I had already met here in Cancun as we navigated our way to the homemade ceviche gathering.
That evening a confusing exchange of miscommunication about transportation resulted in me staying another night in Cancun, instead of heading to Playa del Carmen. Oh well, I was already planning to return for the afternoon photo shoot anyway. I could crash with another CSer – The Protector – in Cancun since the French Beauty would be taking my place at Stud Photog’s. (I’ll be writing about The Protector soon…)
The next morning, French Beauty and I decided to head to the beach before the afternoon photo shoot. Unfortunately, a rare gale was sweeping like sheets across the beach. The sand became trillions of tiny airborne pellets that attacked every little crevice of our bodies. Our hair fiercely whipped our faces. Our sun dresses threatened to strangle us. “Aaaaah! Let’s gooooo!” The French Beauty pleaded in one of her charmingly goofy voices. We had quickly found a joyful comfort around each other and were already acting like two little girls who had been friends for life, utterly reveling in the marvels of the world together.
When we mounted the public bus, French Beauty was surprised to find one of her former French students on board. French Beauty had been living much further south in Tapachula, MX offering French lessons to high school and university students. Now, she was hitting some of Mexico’s gems before heading back to France. The Riveria Maya was her last stop before returning to Europe.
The former student was a part of a big, spring break/vacation tour group being directed by Traveo. As French Beauty reveled in encountering her former student here in Cancun, a representative of Traveo began chatting with me. When I had explained that I had come to Cancun to stay in the Riveria Maya region for awhile, that I was a photographer and journalist and that I was looking for work, the representative handed me his card. “We need a woman like you,” he said. “Contact me.” Wow! Sweet! It was most random, but I had a strange feeling that something would come of it… (stay tuned)
During the afternoon photo shoot, Stud Photographer proved to be yet more studly. This young 19-year-old managed to summon 12 captivating women to house to be his photographic muses for the next few hours. Fearless, he directed each of us; compelling us to show him more than what’s on the outside… so that he might capture it and digitally freeze it… forever. I know grown men that wouldn’t be able to manage that many women at once. Impressive.
By the end of that night, the unknowingly beautiful French Beauty had charmed me into joining her to la Isla Mujeres – a tropical Caribbean island about an hour’s ferry ride from Cancun. We rushed out the door after the photo shoot to catch the late evening ferry…
View the Flickr album by clicking here.