As I write this column, I am planning to be off work for an ROTC assignment.
No. I’m not in any sort of military training – too old for that – I’m referring to Running Off To Cancun. Well … flying into Cancun, and spending the week 30 miles south in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.
For those of you that know me or follow me on Facebook, at least once a year I go off to a Mexican beach and live my own version of a sun-drenched, fun-filled Corona commercial, usually this time of year since April is my wedding anniversary.
I got hooked on Mexican resorts when I saw how far the US Dollar could go compared to other paradises such as Hawaii or other locations in the Caribbean. Mexico beaches on the Riviera Nayarit are both off the beaten path, undeveloped, and truly pristine.
The locals and us “gringos” are quite compatible in an altered pace of life and time. Unlike drug cartel-infested areas near border towns, the country recognizes tourism as its meal ticket and would not allow the violence to be anywhere near these heavenly areas.
Packing for this adventure is quite simple. My standard uniform during the day of a sleeveless shirt, swim trunks or shorts, and sandals doesn’t need much space to go along with my Tommy Bahama shirt collection for evening wear.
You see, I’m a beach bum kind of guy, parallel to a Jimmy Buffet who goes into sun and sand withdrawals peaking in mid-February. It all makes sense when you are actually living the seaside lifestyle and go on the hunt for the perfect beach bar.
You haven’t experienced paradise until you’ve been under a thatched palapa listening to breaking waves with a cold drink at your side as your mind wanders watching the clueless sunbathers, especially those with lily white translucent skin, having their skin fried by the deceiving UV rays under sometimes cloudy skies and a cool ocean breeze.
A tequila sunrise color spectrum takes effect as the unknowing and unfeeling hides go from a mild pink to a carroty amber and finally a boiling red. By evening you can spot the poor souls in agony, unable to bend their limbs without searing pain.
Another palapa pastime is playing the great silicon challenge of “real or fake” as the hotties and cougars walk by strutting their cash and prizes and – well since you don’t know her well enough to ask or reach out and touch – you rely on the telltale signs, such as gravity defiance, to make a determination of who’s natural and who’s enhanced.
This is the don’t-give-a-hoot part of my personality I keep locked up that only comes out on those tropical vacations when a cold Pacifico, ceviche, and fresh guacamole in a shaded beach chair make for the perfect day.
After a quick nap (this year’s casita features a porch hammock perfect for the undertaking), my wife and I gather near the beach for our end-of-day ritual to watch the brilliant sunsets before heading into town.
The main part of Playa del Carmen is Fifth Avenue. The cobblestone street turns into a carnival-like scene at night, with artists and jewelry makers selling their wares, while musicians, magicians, and fire dancers perform for tips in the street.
With its many restaurants and bars that feature live music and scrumptious dishes, just follow your nose toward the aroma and rising smoke of grilling meat and seafood and you’ll end up somewhere satisfied. Vegetarians beware: this is downright carnivore ‘meatatarian’ territory.
If I don’t return, it’s not anything bad. After all, even the Dos Equis Most Interesting Man in the World needs a wingman.
Vaya con Dios.
Richard Paloma is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News, and The Escalon Times. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.