From where I was sitting, I hazily noticed that something had changed in that blurry, loud, and occasionally uncomfortable world beyond the screens of my ipod and laptop. Replacing the ever-stretching blue, a mass of dusty brown seemed to be below the plane. I shifted in my seat, turning to another (much larger) passenger.
“Dad, are we here?”
“I think so,” he answered, “I think that’s the airport down there.”
It was indeed. The ridiculous stretches of concrete painted the ground with proof. We were, as we say, “here.”
The plane made a small turn and continued its downward spiral toward Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. This year’s vacation would consist of a course in R&R with a side of obligatory testing; as the only member of the family with any real Spanish education, I would graduate from oldest son and yard-mower to guide and translator extraordinaire upon landing. After an unheeded explanation that the city’s name is pronounced “vhay- ar- tah” (with vhay rhyming with fly) and not “vull- lar- tuh,” I realized what this trip would mean: endless cases of, “What does that brochure say?” and, “Tell him this overly complicated statement, Brooks.” I decided that it had better be worth it.
The vacation proceeded in it’s delicately-planned excellence: we did all the activities we set out to do, and then some. One day, though, stands out as the defining excursion of the trip. Aboard a boat to the village of Yelapa, I could truly take in the rugged scenery of coastal Mexico. I’d heard several languages on that boat alone; French, Portuguese, Japanese, Spanish, and English, at least. Amidst the chatter, the lush mountains loomed above us: utterly unconquerable, forbidden, and beautiful.
Arriving in Yelapa, we found a quaint village inhabited by smiling rural Mexicans, eager to show us the treasures of their land. Above the village, we found a roaring waterfall, powerfully cascading down, yet kindly beaconing to us. Yelapa itself is set in a crescent of beach, far beyond the usual tourist limits, and from the top of the village, the whole picture came into view.
Despite the nagging from parents, the heat, and my seemingly unyielding resolve to remain stoic, the sight of Yelapa in all its unseen glory caused a gear to move inside me. The world is full of different people, different cultures, but beauty is universal. Nothing can dampen the power of a landscape, or the murmur of an ancient waterfall.
Standing atop a mountain in a small fishing village in Mexico, I thought back to the plane. I had vowed that, “It had better be worth it.” With a gentle spray on my back, and a mosaic of green, blue, and yellow before me, I decided that, yes, it had been worth it.
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