Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Las Olas: final days

"Writers live twice.  They go along with their regular life, are as fast as anyone in the grocery store, crossing the street, getting dressed for work in the morning. But there's another part of them that they have been training. The one that lives everything a second time. That sits down and sees their life again and goes over it. Looks at the texture and detail."
-Natalie Goldberg in Writing Down the Bones. 

I have really enjoyed coming back to my villa at the end of each day, and sitting on the porch to write or post photos.  You might have thought that I would want a break from the blog, but I actually looked forward to the quiet time to kind of relive and recreate my day;  it forced me to take inventory, pay attention, make sure I was soaking in all the juicy bits.    I have also had to let go of the notion that I'll be able to write about everything that happened here.  There is just so much.  

Let's start with my Jessie girl.  Jessie and I found each other in line for the flight to Puerto Vallarta when we were still in Phoenix.  I knew my roommate was on my flight, so I was looking around for the women traveling solo who had a surfing vibe.  We noticed each other at the same moment, starting talking right away, and that was pretty much it.  Jessie is a personal trainer and surfer from San Diego who went to Las Olas to challenge herself to surf in bigger waves.  We shared a bedroom and spent a lot of time together, and it was all just so damn easy with her.  If you've ever had the pleasure of traveling with a friend who is kind of just an extension of yourself, you'll know what I mean.  We were just in sync the whole time.  Some days we felt like eating out in town where the action was, sometimes we preferred to get food and bring it back to the villa, sometimes we wanted fish tacos, one night we both wanted pizza.  We talked and talked and became great friends.  I know I'll see her again sometime. 

I hit the roommate jackpot.

We even started acting like an old married couple by the end of the week.  "What should we do tonight, honey?"

This week, if you couldn't already tell, had a really amazing balance of all kinds of things that I needed in my life.  Lots of relaxation and downtime, no pressure to be anywhere.

I didn't even really brush my hair but let it get all stringy and beachy.  I spent almost all day each day in a bathing suit.  Sometimes I'd rinse off after surfing, sometimes not, sometimes I'd just enjoy the salty feeling all day.

I fell in love with Mexico, all the color, the music, the friendly locals.  I felt so comfortable and safe that I walked comfortably alone around town, even at night.   I practiced Spanish with the vendors and the waiters.  The guys who work on the grounds at the villa just light up with a smile if you say "Buenas Dias."

Besides the beautiful beach and vibrant night life, Sayulita has some hidden treasures.

A short walk behind the Villa Amor, there is a really cool grave yard.

Even in death, the Mexicans are full of bright colors.

Here is a view looking back at the Sayulita beach and town.

Another amazing part of this trip was the women I shared it with.  I will admit to you that because the price of the Las Olas camp is pretty high, that I was maybe a little worried that the women here with me would be super wealthy and wouldn't have a lot in common with me.  I was so wrong.  Everyone here is a hard working woman and/ or mom that just needed to do something big and invigorating for herself.  My roommate Jessie had been saving for 4 years to come.  These women are just super cool and everyone got along well.

Jessie, Sara, and Nicole

Beautiful Jamie, another kindred spirit.

Lisa and her bright colors.

Hillary and Karen, mom and daughter.
the whole crew in salsa dancing and margarita drinking wear.
the whole crew ready to surf
And then, of course,  there was the thrill and challenge of surfing, of learning something new and working hard on something that had such sweet and immediate rewards.

I got to the point toward the end of my week there that as soon as I'd jump off the board from catching a wave, I would say to myself:  more, more, more... as I hopped back on my board and paddled out for more.  I loved it even more than I thought I would.

Here is the purple Jule 9 ft. long board that I rode this week.  Isn't she pretty?  We got to be good friends.
You can see here that it was important to learn to steer and control my board so as not to decapitate a small child. 

I like the surfing life.  I really do.
And then there was all the little things that made the whole experience just so damn pleasurable.

You want the world's most amazing flan?  Just walk up the street and find the cake lady selling it outside her shop.  Lying on the beach and feeling a little hungry?  The Mexican women selling food  were always close by.  "Yes, senorita, I would love a fresh, hot tomato basil empanada."    Someone was always running up to Choco Banana to fetch a mango smoothie if you wanted one.  The air was warm and the water was the perfect way to cool down.  The staff at Villa Amor was so kind and lovely.  When I asked the front desk about a manicure and pedicure, they said:  "We will come right to your villa.  What time you like?"

Can I make you another margarita?  Si.  Gracias.

In the last week, I have not been stressed or hurried, raised my voice or felt even slightly annoyed by a single thing.  And I like myself best this way.   Las Olas has found the perfect combination of elements that reunited myself with myself.    This wasn't so much a vacation as it was a perspective shifter.  Calling it a "reawakening" isn't even overstating it.

I am so indebted to Las Olas for this opportunity.  To Bev, Jackie, Mike, Nicole, Aynsley and Brittany.  And Meridith who gave me a kick ass 1 hour massage.  How will I ever thank you?

These last two photos pretty much sum up the week:   The serenity of floating in a calm spot, and the thrill of riding one in.

Muchas gracias for coming along with me.  I wish this for all of you.


Brooke said...


Christopher Brand said...

Big Brother here - I have been surfing for about 15 years and still remember how life changing it felt to first start catching waves, and how difficult it was to avoid getting trapped in cliches trying to explain it. Once, at a family gathering with Emilie, I said that as an adult there are a few key moments in outdoor activities I do that still make me feel like a kid coming down the stairs to open presents on Christmas morning, surfing being one of them. I think she probably rolled her eyes at me then, as only a sister can, but I'm guessing she gets it now. The photos say it all. Very proud of my sister, even happier that she had this experience in a place I knew so I could share in all the details. Way to go Emilie!

Meredith said...

Emilie - I voted for you with the expectation that you would "take us with you" through your writing. Uou have not let me down! Thank you for letting us share this experience with you!

Willow @ My Own Trail said...

Thank you so much for taking us along! I have always dreamed of surfing, and I think I might follow your roomate's lead and start saving for a trip for myself in a few years. It looks like an amazing, life changing adventure!

Jen said...

I have loved every bit of your posts. Thank you for sharing your experience. You are one fabulous woman!

klein814 said...

awesome posts, Emilie -thanks for sharing. your words and pictures are making me want to return to Sayulita - have to start saving my pennies! glad you had such a great time!!

courtney said...

I've really loved reading these posts and I'm so happy you had this seems as if it's been really great for your soul.

Thanks for sharing your adventures, Emilie. They have been so inspiring, and I've loved living vicariously through you during the last week.

rowgirl08 said...

I'm just so, so happy you found a place and time to recollect you....and found a happy Emilie there.