Every Mom's Dream, part 2

Three days - ALONE!?!

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Every Mom’s Dream, part 2

What WAS that rat-a-tat-tat on the door I told you about in part one?

-Melina Gerosa Bellows

footprints in the sandDAY 2  I awake fully rested. It’s as if my inner self has finally synched with the serenity of my outer surroundings. Whether it was the ten-hour snooze or foiling the door-knocking kidnapper, I don’t know, but I feel like a new person.

I’m off for an excursion to the seaside ruins of Tulum. This pre-Columbian walled city is one of the best-preserved Maya sites on the Yucatan Peninsula. No offense to the Temple of the Descending God, but the real site here is the tourists. Hordes of them, with British, German and American accents.

Perhaps the most amazing visual is the phenomenon of grossly overweight sixty-something women touring around in tiny bikini tops. Even more mind-boggling is that most of these women have men proudly holding their hands.

A head-scratcher, for sure. I’m reminded of a recent Vogue article about Jane Birkin’s daughters, which discussed how French women have uncanny ability of French women to feel bien dans sa peau, or comfortable in their own skin.

I feel a stab of jealousy that they are clearly more comfortable in their skin than I am in mine.

Speaking of Vogue, rumor has it that the Tulum is the latest off-the-beaten-track getaway for the models, photographers, and fashion elite looking for sun, surf and funky shopping.

As soon as my guide utters his last sentence, I’m off to town to investigate. I browse through the stalls of souvenirs, choosing colorful, handmade stuffed animals to bring home to my children and a hand-stitched top for my daughter. I also discover a teeny boutique featuring local designers and snap up a brightly striped A-line skirt, reminiscent of a funky beach umbrella.

On the way back to the hotel, I decide to continue my retail safari by stopping at Playa Del Carmen. Disappointingly touristy after Tulum, I do manage to unburden a local designer at Silver Palace of a silver and aquamarine necklace so spectacular that news of it reaches home immediately. And I mean immediately.

My phone rings for the first time in two days.

“The credit-card company just called to report theft!” my husband says with alarm. “Someone just spent a fortune in a jewelry store. Did you lose your card?”

“Uh,” I say.

I think about lying, but don’t.

“Not to worry,” I say. “I’m just building international relations and stimulating the economy.”

Good thing I didn’t get the bracelet, too.

DAY 3  My final day living la vida villa, I start my morning with a jog. When I get to the beach, I yank off my running shoes, and jog barefoot on the surf’s lacey edge. I appreciate the sunny-cloudy weather, which is the perfect exercise companion. I run all the way back to my villa, strip down naked and dive in my private pool. Now that’s something you can’t do everyday.

Refreshed, I set off for my final excursion, the mangrove boat tour. The hotel is set among a thriving manmade ecosystem, consisting of four types of mangroves, dunes, beach and lagoons, or ceynotes, as they are called.

I board a 21-foot electric cruiser from the water courtyard lagoon in the center of the hotel lobby. Silently we motor out and start spotting the exotic bird life; a bright yellow flycatcher, a tri-color egret, and a flock of cormorants shimmying their wings in the sun.

After we cruise around looking for crocodiles (luckily we see none, they prefer late afternoon), I disembark and am presented with my very own tree to plant. The six-foot buttonwood mangrove has a little tag with my name on it. Lovingly, I dig a hole and plant my tree. Before I even leave it, I’m fretting for its fate. Will she make it? Will they water her? Why do I have to worry about everything? I realize I miss my kids.

As my boat cruises back to the resort, my guide, Octavio, asks me about my stay. Since the hotel is newly opened, everyone is eager to please and make any accommodations necessary.

“Everything was fine except for the first night,” I admit. “I heard this weird knocking on my door.”

I take my pen and rap it three times rat-a-tat-tat on the metal beam to imitate the sound.

“Oh, you had a visitor,” Octovio says good-naturedly, as if this is a positive thing, to have a kidnapper-rapist stopping by at 4 a.m.

He taps the metal bar, imitating the sound exactly.

“That’s it!” I say, mystified that he could know. Was Octavio my midnight visitor?

“That was a gecko,” he says, and laughs, showing me a picture of the lizard in his guidebook.

I’ll have to remember to tell my Mom, I think.

I return to my very own private villa for the last time, and pack my bag. My luggage feels a bit lighter than when I arrived. My self-criticisms, anxieties, and fears seemed to be contained in travel-sized containers. It’s true that wherever you go, there you are. A private villa doesn’t keep you safe from the terrorist thoughts in you own head. Still, perhaps the things that scare us most are the ones we imagine.

Rat-a-tat-tat, I whisper as I leave.

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