So I haven’t updated you in a while on my personal life. Recently, in my attempts to salvage a two year hiatus from daily blogging, I have been more distant and commercial with my posts. This is probably for the best- in the past this blog turned into an online diary that became WWIII.
However, maiainplaya.com is about travel, art, family, and food. My personal life revolves around those things, and I want to share with you my experiences to give you a taste of what life is like living abroad for me, inspire you to throw off the bindings of a single culture, and dive into the possibilities this beautiful world has to offer.
Fortunately for me, I spent New Years with my crazy, adventurous, loving extended family by the famous Cerritos Beach in northern Mexico, home to some of the sweetest waves. I say fortunately not only because it was a incredible time surfing, bonding, drinking, and playing with fire (long story), but also because I was happy to not be in Playa del Carmen.
This is New Years Eve on La Doce:
What’s more is that the +40,000 people who try to crowd onto twelfth street are mostly vacationers; no local in their right mind would try to swim through that crowd on New Years. I meanwhile, spent the last few hours of 2015 lounging around a bonfire with my cousins
On January 2 we returned from Pescadero through our Mexico City connection flight (we always get stuck at that airport- there’s a great juice bar in the main plaza).
Now I haven’t introduced you to the new characters in my story.
There’s my “squad”: Polette and Dariam. Polette is a lovely girl from Cancun who I met at crossfit and since has become one of my closest girlfriends here. Dariam is a girl from Veracruz who met Polette when she first arrived to Playa. We began to hang out all together and soon the three of us became a tight-knit squad. We have had many crazy adventures together: from riding motorcycles with bag over my head as a helmet, talking our way out of tickets, flirting our way into clubs, walking miles to find taxis in the middle of nowhere, doing photoshoots on the beach, helping each other back to my house- miraculously- after a long night… I am so pleased to finally have girl friends.
Then I have my bros. Despite my love for my squad girls, I am a guys girl and I always am most at home as a “bro”.
There’s Joaquin. I met him through Polette one night at a reunion at his house in Xcaret, and he is absolutely a doll. We reclined on the couch on his balcony overlooking the untamed jungle and talked about Mayan legends and Mexico and my hippy views the first night we met, and have been close friends ever since. I can talk to him about almost anything, and he always has my back. That night at Joaquin’s was the night I met his posse, the guys who soon after became my brothers.
Pato spoke rapid Spanish and that first night I didn’t talk to him much. Later we hung out more and more and I found out he is one of the most amazing people I have ever met. He is Joaquin’s best friend and owner of a chain of hostels, as well as a laundry business that he started himself. He has traveled the world, croons mariachi music, and dances like he doesn’t care. I adore him.
I met Salvador at Joaquin’s that night as well. We sat next to each other that night, and as I talked and left the party in fits of laughter, he turned to me and said,”Me haces sonrie, Maia.” You make me laugh. A week later we went out to sushi together and since Salvador speaks no English, I spent my first three hours speaking entirely in Spanish. Since, we have gone out to Helodias (the popping new bar) together, to hang outs with the bros, and nights at Pato’s hostel. He’s dedicated to futbol, and I enjoy talking shop with him.
Eric is on Salvador’s futbol team, and dating a girl named Chris. He is great company, and although I don’t hang out with him like I hang out with Salvador or Joaquin because is with Chris all the time, we have crazy, great memories, he watches out for me, and I love having him as a bro.
Ricardo is also on the futbol team. Recently he came over and we spent the night recording him sing to put on soundcloud, laid in his car and watched the stars, and talked about our goals. He’s the kind of guy who will joke and be lively at parties, but can get so intimate when you really get to know him. He’s so driven to be a futbol player, that I can’t see anything that could stand in his way. I love hanging out with him.
At crossfit I’ve made tons of friends as well. I love what a strong community it is: we sweat together, eat together, and laugh together. Jimena is my fiery coach and girlfriend to Fer (Fernando Fernandez) who is licensed in rituals from reiki to kettleball lifting. He’s a joker and fun coach. Coach Perro works in Tulum during the day, and trains by night. He critiques every move I make, and checks in when I missed training for a couple weeks. He’s a great coach and makes me work. I run with Coach Kraken sometimes, and although he doesn’t train classes, he always helps me with my form and lifting, etc.
Then there’s my crossfit family who trains there: Marta, Paulina, Andy, Angel, Antonio, Gerry, Juanjo, Oskar, Kiki, Lupita, and so many more.
I won first place in our crossfit competition for my category, and was super proud. The great thing about crossfit is that if you want it, the coaches push you to get good.
There’s so many more friends and acquaintances I would love to share with you, but for now those are some of the main characters.
If you have followed my blog through this journey, you know that it took me a long time to figure out that there are good people in Playa. In fact, majority of the best friends I have in the world are from, have lived, or are currently in Playa.
I was looking for the wrong things in the wrong places when I arrived to Mexico in 2013. In California in public schools, club soccer teams, even at OCSA, most of the company I kept was momentary, and that was the attitude I brought with me. My relationships didn’t really matter, and culturally, the kids were groomed to gossip, backstab, and be the American stereotype of “teenagers”.
Although those things happen in every culture and everywhere, there are places where socialization doesn’t have to mean a constant stream of negativity.
I did a lot of growing up and realigned my values after leaving Playa the first time. Getting away from the bubble I was living in expanded my perspective so drastically that I no longer cared or believed in anything as a momentary relationship, fake friends, or anything of that sort. I returned to the US and apologized to old friends and acquaintances for anything I had done in the past that wasn’t done from love and compassion (a lot).
The problem with returning to California was that although I had undergone some serious enlightenment- no one else had. I was expecting to rekindle old relationships and forge the kind that I was craving: based on mutual respect and a desire to be bros. However, no one seemed to be on the same page as me, which was very lonely for a while. Eventually I made up with an old life-long friend, Lauren, and became close with her German exchange student, Hannah, who I have a strong connection with to this day. I had to look in new directions to find the relationships I wanted, but in the end, I realized that there are good people everywhere- you simply have to look a little harder.
We returned to Playa in 2015 and God brought the aforementioned people into my life. The truth is that as an expat, it is so much easier to make friends with people.
We all come from different worlds to convene in a place for a while, until we say goodbye and go to another place. Expats don’t have time to waste with relationships, so we value them and strive to make good memories. We don’t have “fake friends” because no one stays connected over countries and years of distance with people you don’t like.
You make another family when you travel. Of course, blood is blood and nothing can replace that, but it’s the people who live around you that you spend holidays, birthdays, celebrate with, and lounge around with on rainy days. Expats don’t get to have all their memories with blood family, so you build your family out of the mutual desire to pass your time in love with good friends, good music, and good food.
This relationship revelation I embarked on two years ago has made me a more fulfilled, contented, and happy person. When I look back on my crazy adventures, I know that they were made because of the people I was with and that many more will come because of our enduring connections. I learned that it’s not the beauty or familiarity of scenery, the location of your job, or the things you keep inside your house that make a place home. It’s the people and the strong connections you make with them, that make a place home.