A couple weeks ago, between shows, the line captain mentioned that she and some of the others were going to try to rent some ATVs the next day in Ensenada (Mexico) and asked if I would be interested in joining. Without a clue what that entailed, I immediately said yes, something I notice I’ve become more adept at doing since accepting this contract.
Later that evening, one of the dancers asked if I would be willing to share an ATV with her (hurray for splitting the cost!) and asked apologetically whether I would mind driving the whole time. I burst out laughing, as driving was definitely the part for which I was most excited! A perfect working out.
Well, the next morning I greeted the other dancers by the gangway, freshly slathered with my trusty SPF-50 and wearing workout clothes I didn’t mind getting dirty. (Never having driven an ATV before, I assumed we’d be roaming around dirt hills and dusty ranches, since that’s the only place I’ve ever heard of people using them, and so I’d dressed appropriately.) Their sundresses and swimsuits were my first clue that things wouldn’t be what I’d expected, but it was too late to change, so I grinned and set out with them.
I don’t even know what to talk about first! Here are my impressions, in no particular order:
- Driving at ATV was an absolute blast. It reminded me of a much more forgiving version of my dad’s riding mower from childhood – awkward clutch, very little information in front of you (not even a speedometer!), but tons of power under your seat. And the joy of driving! New Yorker me, who doesn’t own a car, was in heaven.
- Apparently, ATVs are totally allowed on Ensenada’s highways. We were sailing down the streets keeping good time with the other cars and trucks in the lanes around us, and no one batted an eye.
- MOM, WE WERE COMPLETELY SAFE! Wisdom and safety were totally a priority, hence our large group of seven, and insurance, and helmets, and judicious use of speed, and a good map, and a cell phone with service, and the fact that several members of the group are experienced travelers. Also, Mexican drivers were some of the most considerate and safe I’ve found – definitely better than New York, L.A., or even Oklahoma drivers.
- Downtown Ensenada may be something of a yawn, but the surrounding areas are gorgeous! We drove about 40 miles south and west a bit, around the bay, to a small town (can it be called a town?) called La Bufadora, a cool tourist attraction and town meaning “The Blowhole.” It’s a natural cleft in the rocks by the ocean where the incoming waves make ginormous splashes and loud, low rumbles, along with misty rainbows. To get there, we passed through crop fields, beach towns, open dusty hills, and the occasional Mexican ghost town. (Also, lots of unfinished houses for sale…not sure who’d buy one, but okay.) On one large not-really-a-mountain road, we soared up over the bay, in which we could see dozens of large fishing things in the water below (someone want to clue me in on what those are?). The sun was shining, the water was blue and sparkling, the locals were smiling and waving, and it was really, really fun.
As I suspected might be the case, I spoke the most Spanish in the group, which is hilarious given that I’ve never taken a Spanish class in my life. (Parlez-vous Français?) Fortunately, it wasn’t needed very much, given that we were predominantly in heavy tourist areas, and most locals spoke English. However, I’ve been wanting to embrace things that scare me a little, and so I decided to have a short conversation with a young boy trying to sell me cheap trinkets late that afternoon. His name was Luis, he was thirteen, and his favorite thing to learn in school was plumbing. He was a real sweetheart, and my only regret was that my Spanish vocabulary is so limited. Basically, I can ask questions and understand quite a bit, but phrases like “Nice to meet you!” are just not in my head. I’m sure the more time I spend in Mexico, the better it will get.
Anyway, after taking some pictures at La Bufadora (above), we jumped back on our ATVs and headed back into town for lunch and beach. My ATV companion, Collette, lent me some shorts and a bikini top, and so I splashed into the ocean with the rest of them. The sand was warm, the water not too chilly, and I managed to get over my squeamishness of having things touch my legs in the cloudy water…somewhat, anyway. 🙂
Eventually, I found a beautiful piece of kelp and followed my inner child, picking it up and swinging it over my head like a whip. Then it broke and landed stretched out in the sand in front of me. I started to walk away, but something held me there, and obediently, I began drawing around it with my foot. Then I started walking into the water to see what piece of kelp the ocean would bring me next.
Over the next ten minutes or so, my kelp art became very elaborate, perhaps resembling a necklace or a sunflower or a person? I’m not quite sure; it was more about following my artist self’s instinct. I’ve been working on expanding my trust in my own creativity, and today felt like a big unconscious victory in that department.
And then we finished for the day, the tide coming in as we left. There’s something really peaceful about creating temporary art like that. I plan on going back to that beach – though maybe next time with a swimsuit and towel, hehe.
At the end of the day, I sat on my bed, tired but content. The Apollinaire quote I cross-stitched a while ago still hangs on my wall:
“Now and then, it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.”
I think that day was just such a pause.
Though I am an employee of Princess Cruises, all opinions are mine only and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.
Photos courtesy of Collette Wyatt and Stephanie Hare