February 20, 2012

The Battle of Relxation in Mexico

So it came to be that I am in Mexico. I will spare you the details as to why, other than we are here to meet up with my husband's birth mother (whom he reunited with five months ago), her husband, her various cousins and their spouses. We are were assured that it would be a relaxed vacation with no strings attached to how much or how little time we wished to spend with them, since most of the group come here every year to get away, relax, read and nap.

Most of my life I imagined Mexico as a vacation place for college kids on spring break and unadventurous adults who wished to travel to all-inclusive resorts where they could over-indulge in food, drink, sun and laziness. That was until I heard of Oaxaca, a place of culture and beauty, which calls to me strongly and tempts my curiosity, like an adventure. But we are not in Oaxaca, we are in Puerto Vallarta, and I am sitting on a bugenvilia fringed balcony overlooking palm trees and sand along the Banderias Bay with the mountains spilling out buildings of central Puerto Vallarta all the way down to the water. 

This is my first time to Mexico, unless you count the couple of hours I spent in Juarez (after walking across the border from El Paso), which is not a place I recommend, especially considering all the kidnappings and murders you hear about on the news that occur in this hotbed of Mexican crime. Which brings me to another thought, I was a little nervous about traveling to Mexico right now, especially since the U.S. State Department issued a new warning to halt all non-essential travel to Mexico a few days before our departure, it turns out Puerto Vallarta is still okay.

The plane ride seemed really long and I finished the first book I brought with me, The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. I decided that it is an extremely awkward choice of a book to start a vacation, if you are like me. If you don't know what the book is about, here is a short synopsis - an American born Chinese woman is determined to bring up her daughters in America the Chinese way, which means they are required to be the top student in school, study Mandarin, do manual labor, show utmost respect and loyalty to their mother even when she is a tyrant, refrain from having friends, always do exactly what is expected of you even if that means relinquishing any hope for your own happiness, forget about having fun and study classical music five or six hours a day, even on vacation and when they are sick. She claims it backfires, sort of, but not really.

If you are like me and feel your own part-Asian guilt strings pulling at you then you might understand why a vacation that promises ten days of leisure, with no more expectations other than to drink, eat, sleep, read, nap and relax, might push you into the uncomfortable zone. In very few ways did I grow up like the Tiger Mother's kids, but I did grow up with a half-Asian mom with a work ethic that makes you exhausted just hearing about it. She was my role model and now I have had a very hard time determining for myself just how much I should push myself and what is a balanced life for me.

There is a battle going on. Sitting around to "relax" is torture but I have also come to realize that I push through the agonizing pain of the weight of too many expectations on my shoulders, most of which were placed there by me. What is haunting me is the addictive promise of what hard work, dedication, discipline and focus can bring you, like it did for the Tiger Mother's kids, sort of. Yet, there is an iconoclast that lives within me trying desperately to tear down these beliefs and whisper the truth. Now I am stuck in the middle, with nowhere to go, except maybe Mexico.

We are here in the open air reception area of our hotel, greeted by my husband's birth mother and her husband. The skies open up and rain comes down like a waterfall. It is a beautiful downpour. Welcome to Mexico.

The skies clear quickly and we go to a cousin's multi-floor rental overlooking the water. We meet some family for the first time, drink and eat into the night.

Our balcony doors are open through the night and the sound of the hotel staff setting up for breakfast in the outdoor dining area six floors below our room wakes me at 6 a.m. After some time I fall back asleep and sleep until 10 a.m.

We catch a Mexican bus, for six pesos each, and go into central Puerto Vallarta. We walk along the water and through the streets and down on the beach. We stop at a beachside restaurant for an early dinner. After some more walking around town, we watch some live music in the square in front of the cathedral, then we notice the amazing sunset. We manage to catch the Mexican bus back to our hotel.

I'm not sure how this vacation is going to shape up, its been very nice so far and I can't complain about the view.

Its good to be here.

1 comment: