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  • Sarah Reijonen

Mourning travel (minus Mexico)


“How’s a man get so homesick for a face he’s never seen?”


Or in my case: How’s a girl get so homesick for a place she’s never been?


I’ve had this lingering internal ache over the last year, an ache for other places. Sometimes it’s an ache for places I have visited already. I have flashes of that white sand beach in Australia or that hiking trail in New Zealand. Some days I go on a walk and I smell other places (and no, I’m not talking about smelling Thailand when the shitter’s full, although that is the same scent).


The process of mourning travel continues 12 months later, though my appetite was whetted a bit with our recent trip to Mexico (more about that below!) Then again, it just made the longing worse.


I know it may seem selfish to cry about not getting abroad much in the grand scheme of things, but travel has very much become a part of my identity over the last 12 years (yes, it’s been 12 years since Spanky and I quit our jobs and sold our house and 80 acres to travel the world!) I realize I’ve been in a mourning period for the last year and it continues as the world just barely begins to feel its way out of the COVID cave. Of course, I still have fears about what that will look like and I hold little hope that the powers that be won’t try to use the things we love and the promise of normal life as a bargaining chip.


But, let’s not get too far into all that. Let’s talk about Mexico.


Imagine a place that once fueled legends of Montezuma’s revenge and came with the disclaimer “Don’t drink the water.” Now imagine that place covered in a sheen of Lysol and lubed with hand sanitizer. A few days before heading south of the border, someone who had traveled to Mexico in the fall said, “I’ve never seen it so clean.” I can now corroborate that statement. You could eat a tortilla off of the floor at our resort, though I didn’t test that theory. I had my temperature taken more times in the last week than I have in the last 20 years and was offered sanitizer almost as many times as I was propositioned to buy something (almost).

While Puerto Vallarta was spotless, it was also mostly touristless, as well. Typically, at the Mexico resort scene, you have to set your alarm to get a poolside chair in the morning and you have to sign up for a cabana. Not this year. We rolled down around 11 a.m. every morning and had choice pick of the chairs AND the cabanas—no chair clips or alarm clocks necessary. But, we didn't just sit poolside and drink margaritas the whole time (OK, a lot of the time). We went ziplining, got massages and had lots of great dinners out, including a couple of fancy steakhouses and the Happy Lobster. Guess what we ate there? We posted up at various bars and cheered the Zags on with fellow Spokanites and we ventured out to the newer mega-resort where we—you guessed it—drank more margaritas at the swim-up bar.


One last excursion and difference this time around in Mexico was the requirement of a negative COVID test—not to get into Mexico, but to get back into my own country. I can say I passed with flying colors (if I hadn’t, I would have been writing this blog from Mexico!) The resorts are making it as easy as possible by offering testing on-site. We got rapid tests for $30 per person.


All this to say, I felt very safe in Puerto Vallarta and traveling, in general (I mean, I did visit 14 states last year, so that should have tipped you off.) I’m also ready to get back to real travel (Mexico doesn’t really count). I’m ready to laugh with more strangers and test my linguistical chops on new languages. I’m ready to see new faces—whole faces. I’m ready to see the world again.


In the meantime, we head to Alaska on Wednesday! That'll be a shock to the system—from 80 degrees to 20 degrees. Brrr! More Mexico photos here.

Our awesome Midwest friends met us down in Puerto Vallarta.

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