Has it really already been a year? A year since we got away to the magical Islands of Loreto? Goodness... It has.
We had been living in Ensenada for just a few months. We were basically running away from home after Mr. Jones' charter company closed. It was a rough time for us, but one made easier landing on the soft sands of Playa Hermosa. We didn't want to leave the ocean behind but couldn't afford to stay in San Diego without my husband's income, so we decided to be a little adventurous and headed south of the border. The view of the waves breaking on the sand from the third floor "zen room" was wonderful, but it wasn't enough to take away the sting of failure and stress of that kind of income loss.
We hadn't quite made our way down the Baja peninsula, but we had already started marking the places we wanted to visit on our wall map. As though the Universe conspired to grant us one wish, I received an email inviting us to visit the "Million Star Resort" Villa del Palmar in Loreto, BCS. God, did we need it.
The funny thing was, we had to drive several hours north to LAX to catch a ride on Alaska Airlines' Q400 turboprop jet to go back south to Loreto. Our airplane ended up taking us directly over our house in Ensenada. Once we landed, our Villa del Palmar hosts met us with the resort's limo bus that we boarded for a 45 minute drive to the property. Every mile that we traveled, I felt the stress of the previous months melting away. I lost myself staring the hills and randomly placed neighborhoods and imagine what it might be like to live on the water with all the other gringos ex-pats.
At the resort, we were greeted warmly by the staff and invited to enjoy infused waters, cocktails, and complimentary neck and shoulder massages. Before heading to our rooms, we participated in a hand bath to symbolize the washing away of our worries. While the flowered water ran over my hands, I stated my intention to enjoy this respite for the gift that it was.
Walking into our suite, I had to pinch myself. Our elegantly decorated hotel room was more of a luxury condo, complete with washer/dryer and kitchenette. The views from our spacious balcony were breathtaking. Looking as far as we could in all directions, we were amazed by the natural beauty of the desert oasis. We tore ourselves away from our room, promising each other to take advantage of the giant jacuzzi bath later, and headed down for drinks and appetizers with our group at one of the resort's restaurants, Casa Mia. The big hit were the Chocolate Clams, which are considered aphrodisiacs. I ate a ton of those. ;)
(((PICS OF CASA MIA FOOD AND DRINKS)))
The remainder of the trip was absolutely wonderful. We ate the freshest food and drank the most delectable drinks at all of the restaurants on property. We were also treated to indulging spa treatments at the ultra-luxurious Sabila Spa with incredibly peaceful desert mountain views. But my favorite memory was one that nearly didn't happen.
Mr. Jones and I had booked a fishing excursion that was going to go out before dawn on our second day. Before our alarm went off, we woke up to the sound of howling wind. Like HOWLING! My husband groaned and said, "That's it for the fishing trip." I'm too optimistic and stubborn for that kind of talk, so we got dressed and headed down to the lobby to wait for our fishing guide. At 4:30 in the morning, the lobby phone rang. The front desk agent looked over at me and said, "It's for you." It was the guide telling me what my husband already knew... the wind had created a very unfavorable situation of high swells and choppy waves out in the Sea of Cortez and they suggested rescheduling. We had a property tour the next day, so I just canceled. We went back up to our room and got a few more hours of sleep.
We met our group in the lobby later that morning and joined in on the planned outing, which was to go out on a Zodiak tour of the Islands of Loreto, stop to do some reef snorkeling, and end with a lunch on a beach of one of the islands. Not a bad Plan B. And by the end of the day, we were very happy that the fishing trip had been canceled.
We glided through the clear turquoise waters, taking in all the wonderful sights of undisturbed nature. The Islands of Loreto are a marine preserve and often referred to as "the Galapagos of Mexico." On our ride, we were greeted by schools of dolphins that swam alongside and around us as we spotted the rare Blue Footed Booby on the shore. Side note: No matter how old you are, saying the word "booby" always gets a group giggling.
We floated along the islands and eventually came to a spot that our guide picked out for us to snorkel. We donned our masks and fins and jumped into the warm water. I hadn't been snorkeling in too long, but I got my mermaid legs back in an instant. The reefs were teeming with amazing sights. Diving down for a closer look, I found several incredible looking starfish that I was told we could look at but not touch. The locals make sure to guard the preserve as the jewel that it is. After swimming along a few coves, we hopped back on the boat and floated around to another island and anchored in a small cove that had a patch of white sand and hiking trails just beyond the beach.
Our excursion included a lunch on the beach, so another boat had arrived prior to us to set up a lunch, tents, and towels. Because of the shallow reefy nature of the islands, we weren't able to land on the beach, so we had to jump into the water to walk to our day camp site. Walking in the warm water, I felt so calm and serene. My heart had quieted and I was able to take in all the beauty of my surroundings. One of the group guides announced that he was taking those that were interested on a hike to the other side of the island. Normally, I would have jumped in to join, but I just wanted to soak in the energy of the water and the sun and hold on to that feeling of bliss just a little while longer. Plus, the beach was where all the fresh ceviche was, which we completely indulged in. It was a beautiful afternoon. One that Mr. Jones and I greatly needed.
That is the memory I keep coming back to whenever I think about our trip.
That calm that I felt... that serenity... THAT is something you must purposefully recapture in order to maintain your sanity in this crazy world that will feed you crap sandwiches when you thought you were going to a feast. Life throws some real punches at you, and those punches can be especially difficult when you're far from friends. It's so important to consciously care for yourself in stressful times. Seeking respite from the rain may seem selfish at that moment, but who care? It's your sanity... BE SELFISH!
I'm going to be raw and honest... just before the trip, I was cracking from the stress of our situation. I just felt the urge to run away and disappear. It had been hard leaving all of the things and people we knew and loved. I was mentally broken and completely done with life. I desperately needed this chance to renew and recharge. I'm so glad we had that chance to get away, even for just a few days. By the time our trip ended, my soul felt reconnected to the earth and all the promise of life. It was a getaway I am so thankful I had.
I can hardly believe it's been a year... except for that nagging feeling that I need to take some time out to recharge my batteries. I think it might be time to head back Loreto.