Turtle Medicine

I awoke early the next day like I always do. I wasn’t surprised to feel the dull pains of a hangover pulsing through my body. It could have been much worse. I popped a couple of aspirin and took a huge swig of water. I considered going to get some breakfast and trying to walk by the beach, but my hangover got the best of me. Plus I was on vacation. And after spending three days in a row waking up at the crack of dawn, I figured I had earned the right to sleep in.

By the time I crawled up out of bed, it was after 10:30. I felt worse than when I woke up earlier. I cursed under my breathe because I always go back to sleep to nurse a hangover, only to discover that my rest is anything but restorative. Instead, I usually feel worse than before. It’s best to keep it moving when you are hung over- let your body work out the toxic remnants of good memories…

iphone pics 2451.JPG
Waffles & french toast  with the heaviest cream I’ve ever had.

I quickly changed into some shorts and a tank top and headed down to grab some breakfast. Coincidentally I ran into my gal pals from LA. We laughed for a bit about the sand cleanup and reminisced over the crazy night before. It was their last night in Cancun and they decided to hang around the beach and soak up the Sun. It was wonderful how I always ran into them at the perfect time- their phones didn’t work in Mexico and attempts to chat via Whats App were pretty useless. I was SO glad I had a free Mexico travel plan that allowed me to make calls, texts and surf the web in Mexico.

It was 1:00 when I finished breakfast. In an amazing feat, I took the bartender up on his offer to take a tequila shot in hopes of chasing away the remnants of my hangover.  It wasn’t a cure all, but it definitely got the spirits moving. Determined not to lose an entire day to a low level hang over (I’m a baby when it comes to any type of discomfort), I decided to take the ship to Isla de Mujeres to tour the island and visit the Turtle Farm.

I could already tell this morning I was a little bit more anxious than usual. Despite an intrusive obsession coming into my head that put my into a silent, 10 minute tantrum, I was able to leave my room with barely any trouble. I felt a million times better when I felt the Sun hit my face and felt the beach breeze brush my cheeks. I think the Cancun Effect is a natural hangover cure, because the sights and sounds of vacationers and the beautiful beach made me feel so much better.  Even my anxiety seemed pale in comparison to the sights and sounds around me.

I hopped on the first bus I could and headed 4 miles North to the Ferry stop. While I waited for my boat, I treated myself to a beachside Corona and lounged on a chair while admiring the beach. The waves near us where gentler, and out in the distance people randomly hollered every 10 minutes when someone bunjee jumped into the Ocean. I spoke casually back and forth with several of the wait staff who like most, were excited I spoke Spanish. By this point, I had found a nice rhythm with the language that felt natural and relaxed.

iphone pics 2453
Me relaxing beach side. Corona missing from the picture…

And then it was on to the ferry, where I slugged slowly in a line with tourists from all over the world who were heading a few miles off the coast of Cancun to visit the island. En route, I chatted briefly with a young girl from Mexico City, who despite being quite nice, asked to touch my hair before randomly stating that she liked my hair, but didn’t like “pelo como Rasta” (hair like Rastafarians). I had to explain that my hair was in fact dreadlocks and that it was a very important part of my spiritual practices and culture. She gave me that dull, flat emotionless look people give you when they don’t know or really believe what you are talking about. Without really thinking, I gave her the nod to touch my hair, immediately triggered by the idea of her dirty hands touching my dreads. I was so dumbfounded by the insensitivity of our interaction and off put by a persistent low grade anxiety that was only made worse by my hangover, that I didn’t even say no when she asked to take a picture of me.

iphone pics 2455
Ferry ride with Cancun behind me.

I pulled up to Isla de Mujeres and immediately found my second wind. Even though it was late in the day, I was able to cross something off my list. Originally Steph and I had planned to come here together on Friday, but I decided I wanted to go zip lining in Xenotes instead and opted to take advantage of my hangover and stay closer to Cancun. I was able to leave a message at her hotel while en route to the Island and I tried not to feel too bad about changing plans on her. Plus I had to get out of the hotel room before my mind and body got the best of me.

iphone pics 2460.JPGThe hotel staff I spoke with recommended I rent a golf cart and drive around the island. At first I was super nervous about this idea, but  I opted to be super adventurous and risk getting lost in a foreign country. I just imagined myself running out of gas and dropping my phone in the Ocean on accident or something.  I had a little under 3 hours to explore the island. I was cutting it tight, but for $40 dollars it was definitely worth it.

Driving around the island made me think about my car back home. There is something so freeing about being behind the wheel. It’s like the closest thing I will ever get to holding destiny in my own two hands. The power and the freedom of it all made for an exhilarating, but low key spin around the Island. It was refreshing to see the tourist life jutting up against brightly colored private homes endless streets of vendors and the few locals who inhabited the island. Even areas more run down parts of the town were filled with little children running around and dogs laying in the shade.

Turtles are majestic creatures. The way they move is stoic and dignified. I hope that one day I can move with such deliberate patience. I can remember standing in the humid room, the sounds of water splashes licking the air around you. I imagined I was a turtle- wrapped in the safety of my own shell, floating above the depths of the salty ocean, coming to shore to nest and lay eggs like my ancestors have done for thousands of years.

Mexico Day 4.jpg
Sea Turtles of Quintana Roo

I admired the different expression of colors shapes and sizes of each turtle. They were separated by age and species . When you approached their closure, they swam to you – each climbing on top one another, bobbing their head slowly up and down in the water. I tried hard to imagine the turtles being released into the ocean. Even though their temporary habitation at the farm was a carefully orchestrated human attempt at repopulation, the farm had some zooish quality to it.

iphone pics 2494
Zoo like enclosure. Pretty depressing I know.

You could feed the turtles, which I didn’t really want to on account of me thinking they were probably eating dead fish pellets, and the fact that it seemed like a pretty unsanitary activity. Most importantly, it made me think of when I used to feed giraffes at the Zoo in Colorado. Was this feeding the highlight of their day-of their existence? Would they ever know freedom? Would they ever experience the wild again?

iphone pics 2491
Welcome to the Turtle Farm

Compassion is a beautiful thing, and the turtles brought it out of me. It just poured out of me thick and heavy like honey that’s been sitting by a warm stove. So there I was, standing in front of the turtles, still slightly hungover, speaking aloud to them as if they were dear children I would not see again. I told them how beautiful they were and thanked them for their medicine (real hippy stuff I know, right). An important side note here- it was around this time that I owned the spiritual and emotional significance of my trip to Mexico. After having felt slightly self-conscious about lugging my crystals to be charged on the top of the pyramid in Coba, I had no problem tearing up out of joy and speaking prayers and affirmations aloud, despite being surrounded by tourists in corona t- shirts. It was one of the best things about traveling, and one of my favorite things about being alone in general- the opportunity to dream and imagine and be exactly who I am at that moment and safe doing it. That is turtle medicine. Thank you turtle.

iphone pics 2508.JPG
Panoramic shot of the outdoor turtle enclosures.

And that my friends was when I decided to add scuba diving with sea turtles to my bucket list. I wanted to witness them in their element and truly experience their medicine and majesty.

iphone pics 2503
Two thumbs way, way up.

A short two hour stay on the island later and I found myself racing to get the golf cart back to the rent-a-cart station before they closed at 5. They had my ID and I HAD to get back there before they closed.  In my eagerness to return, I quickly took several guess turns and ended up lost. Fortunately I ran into a bit of travelers luck when I found out I was only 5 minutes away from my destination. And here I was, thinking I was a good 15 minutes away on the other side of the island. On the one hand, I did get a chance to see several of the Spanish inspired, stuccoed Churches and open style, air condition less classrooms which I appreciated. It also left me a good 30 minutes to walk around the beach in Isla de Mujeres, before I had to catch the ferry back to Cancun.

iphone pics 2516
Interesting Church with a false facade.

Apart from the young gentlemen who decided we all wanted to hear his playlist, the ride back to Cancun was uneventful. I even had the opportunity to meet an older married couple (the wife was a human geography professor who taught sustainability) who had rented a car and traveled all along the Yucatan for the past week. It was a refreshing conversation and I was happy to have relaxing company.  Note to self, make blog cards to pass out to people when I travel.

iphone pics 2539
Promenade at Isla de Mujeres

The bus ride home was short and sweet. 30 minutes after leaving the Island, I was walking up the steep hill to my hotel. I was exhausted but mostly over my hangover which was nice. Despite wanting to cancel on dinner plans, I rallied and met with my friends who were headed back to Los Angeles the next day. We headed to the hotel strip for dinner at Senor Frog’s.

iphone pics 2542
Fish tacos and beer. Deliciousness.

Per my usual I order tacos, secretly wishing I was in Mexico City so I could order some tamales with rice and beans.  We were seated in an awkward spot which didn’t help my mood,  but I really enjoyed the band singing covers of pop hits from the last few years.  Plus the tacos were surprisingly good and we just hung out and recapped our days, wondered how we would ever go back to the states after all we had experienced.

Night out
Beautiful brown skin in Mexico.

We took a few last minute selfies and walked a half mile to catch the return bus to our hotel. By this time, I was feeling a little cranky and growing increasingly annoyed at the people constantly trying to sell me something. Many had no problem reaching out and grabbing your shoulder to get your attention- something I disliked for obvious reasons and found highly inappropriate. Boundaries people.

iphone pics 2543
Nonetheless, I made it to my room safely and showered- carefully removing the last bits of sand from the night before. I chuckled at the audacity of it all and quickly hopped out of the shower amazed at all I had done so far. Tomorrow was a long day of traveling. I had to meet the tour bus at 7:05 am sharp and make the 2.5 hours bus ride to Chichen Itza. I quickly gathered the items I would need, including a small pack able back pack I splurged on, my outfit for tomorrow and hurried into bed. As usual, I was slightly nervous about waking up on time and making sure I had everything. But then I thought about turtle and my heart melted. I drifted off to sleep.