It happened on the day I broke my own primary rule for solo travel. It was pivotal. It was perfect. And it was all mine. I told an old friend about it over lunch last week and sailed through the splendid memory all over again.
I was in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico, reweaving my life into something that would fit for the next several years. My kids were vacationing with their dad, and I was utterly alone -with thoughts, a few personal goals and the Bay of Banderas. I had already done a lot of exploring: both inside and out. I had navigated city buses to Puerto Vallarta, zip lined through lush jungle canopy, run miles and miles along a beach that sparkled gold in the sun and spent evenings tapping out page after page on my laptop.
The one thing I hadn’t done was dance. For years, now, it seemed. At this point in my life I danced only at wedding receptions. Usually with my sisters —and there had been far more funerals than weddings lately. It seemed a small and silly thing to miss, but the unlikeliness of opportunities did not diminish the desire.
Against my better judgement on one of the last days of my stay, I signed up for a sailboat trip to the Marietas Islands. This wasn’t the first time I’d traveled alone, and experience had steered me toward blending within larger groups whenever possible. It felt safer, it provided more options, and ultimately felt more comfortable. But, my more reflective pace had cost me a spot on the larger catamaran tour; my only remaining choice was an intimate sailing excursion with thirty four strangers. In the end, my curiosity about the Marietas Islands was stronger than my fear of discomfort. I packed a book and journal along with my sunscreen and camera and hoped for “OK”.