This was not the vacation I was expecting… but that’s okay.
I wasn’t expecting to get sick within 6 hours of arriving in Mexico. (My own fault for eating sushi that I should have known was bad.) I spent all Thursday night getting sick everywhere, including a mortifying public vomiting incident in the trash can at the convenience store when I went to get Gatorade. On Friday, although I wasn’t getting sick anymore, I still felt pretty crappy and didn’t really get out of bed until noon. I ventured out to the marina shopping area for more Gatorade (and found lemon lime! The best flavor!), crackers, and instant soup – then continued to hole up in bed until 6pm, when I went for a walk on the beach and then tucked back into bed for the night. So, not quite the sun and fun I had expected; more just 36 hours in a foreign bed.
But today I woke up super early (not surprisingly, after all that extra sleep), went for a sunrise walk on the beach, and then got in several hours of reading and sunbathing as planned.
I do wish that I had more time in Puerto Vallarta: to sunbathe, to explore the marina shops, and to read/relax without being consumed by alternating chills and sweats. But I’m not devastated that my vacation didn’t work out as planned. And here’s why:
I don’t believe in the YOLO attitude that many in my generation have. Yes, of course you do only live once, but I don’t think we need to be in quite such a rush to cram everything in. Personally, I hate the idea that something great will only be experienced once – that’s a pretty depressing outlook. Pretty much the only wonderful thing that I only want to experience once is my wedding day. (And even there I imagine I will be one of those breathless romantics who loves paging through the photos in my wedding album to relive the experience.) Otherwise, though, if something is really all that wonderful, my goal in life is to experience it as much as possible.
So with that in mind, I hate the idea of a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Why would you want to go somewhere and fall in love with the place, knowing that you’ll never get to go back? Yes, there is so much of the world to see and you can’t possibly go to every place multiple times, but I like thinking that I can go back if I want to – it takes the sadness away from leaving.
I’ve taken two trips to Peru… and haven’t yet hiked the Inca Trail. I’ve taken three trips to Paris… and haven’t yet been up-close-and-personal with the Eiffel Tower. Generally if I tell people that, they’re shocked that I’ve missed out on what they consider to be the seminal experiences in those countries. I’m not dissing those experiences; hiking the Inca Trail and visiting the Eiffel Tower are things that I want to do someday. But they didn’t fit into my schedule when I was in either Paris or Cuzco, so rather than force them in, I simply flew home thinking, “I’ll be back.”
I know that I’m in the minority to have a job that makes travel fairly easy and affordable. But even if that isn’t the case for most people, I think that a truly wonderful place is worth scrimping and saving to get back to – it’s a matter of how you prioritize your spending. There are a lot of great sites teaching you how to travel for next to nothing (check out The Art of Non-Conformity, for starters), and if someplace is that special to you, you’ll find a way to make it back someday. We’re lucky to live in a time where you can fly halfway around the world in less than a day, and where flights continue to get cheaper all the time! (Okay, I know some of you don’t believe me on that last part, but I promise it’s true… need to write up a blog post about it soon.)
My real point, though, is that whether I ever make it back to those cities or not, I’m glad that I don’t let the regret of what I didn’t do taint the memories of the awesome things I did do.
Although the book that I recommended last week, Mastering the Art of Quitting, talked about how people feel a bigger sense of regret from inaction rather than action, I disagree with that. My biggest regrets in life have actually been some of the dumb things I did and wish I could take back (like drinking too much at a party) rather than things I didn’t do (like stay at NYU to finish my theater degree). The logic behind inaction spurring regret is that it’s “more psychologically open and imaginatively boundless” – but by that same logic, the results of that inaction are equally open. If I had graduated a theater major, who’s to say that I would have been successful in that chancy world of talent? Would I have been happier in the long run? In contrast, I’m quite positive I would have been happier if I hadn’t said something embarrassing after one drink too many and had to apologize the next day ;)
So all this is to say, I’m on my way home from Mexico with no regrets. Sure, it sucks that I ate that bad sushi and lost a day being sick in bed. But outside of that, I had a great trip to a place I had never been before, and I’m excited to have “discovered” it. Having never been to the Pacific coast of Mexico before, I was pleasantly surprised to learn what an easily accessible destination Puerto Vallarta is. (2 hour flight from Dallas, 5 minute cab from the airport to the hotel, and a 3 hour flight home.) I really enjoyed the hotel where I stayed, and it was shockingly cheap (7000 Starpoints/night) relative to how nice it was. From the Westin, it was only a five minute walk into the little touristy marina area with tons of shops and restaurants – which meant that had I been actually eating food, I could have gotten some great, inexpensive local meals rather than being stuck with hotel food or taking taxis. Finally, the pools/beaches on the property were just gorgeous!
Puerto Vallarta: no regrets; I’ll be back soon!