My family and I arrived at the Grand Sunset Princess Resort on a Sunday. During our first night’s stay, we realized how the hotel got its name: that night, a beautiful pink and purple sunset swept its fingers across the sky. The sight was breath taking—something out of a storybook. Nothing could go wrong here. This place was paradise. For the most part, this statement proved itself true. Yes, my family and I had to brush our teeth with bottled water so we wouldn’t get sick, but we made the best of it. Sure, an occasional mosquito would slip into our bed at night and we would wake up with welts, but that was a mere trifle. Mexico was a new land, one of opportunity. Here I could be anything I wanted to be.
The first words I spoke in Spanish after leaving the airport were “Muy bien, ¿y tÃº?” I was speaking with Carlos, part of the hotel staff, in my first real Spanish conversation. The topic was trivial, but the conversation marked a milestone in my life, a change in my personality. With those four words, I became addicted to Mexico. There was something special in the Mexican air—the people were friendlier and more grateful, and life was just plain good. I discovered all these things, three years ago, upon arriving at the Mayan Riviera. Everything was different here, including the person I became during my brief stay.
Mexico changed me. It was there that I first became aware of my love for travel, especially experiencing new cultures while traveling. I realized my capabilities in speaking a foreign language when I conversed with the natives, and I cultivated my talent and became comfortable with it. The biggest change, though, was in my attitude. In New Hampshire, I was a bundle of stress limited by my own fear of failure. In Mexico, I was a whimsical, carefree child who savored every second of time while trying new things.
Not only did I recognize unusual changes in myself while on vacation, but I recognized changes in others. The greatest opportunity I was granted while staying in Mexico was visiting a real Mayan lady. She lived in a dirty, one-room hut but was completely content. This woman was gracious for what she had been given, not jealous of what others had. Spending time with this grandmotherly Mayan was a blessing; her attitude about life really changed my perspective.
To this day, my Mexico vacation has meant more to me than almost any other experience; the brief 8 days my family and I spent there were the best days of my life. In my mind, the Mexico vacation represents new ideas and happiness, sun and sand, family, and lessons learned. I found happiness when exploring a new place, and I learned new ideas from the many people I met while on vacation, whether they were tourists or natives. I appreciated nature in its most natural form, the Caribbean Sea, and discovered how beautiful life really is if you slow down and treasure it. Also, in Mexico, I experienced the most meaningful time with my family, and I discovered how many ways that word can be defined. Lastly, this vacation taught me lessons about myself, others, and the world that I will apply to my future and treasure forever.
I will always equate Mexico with the song “Diamonds Are Forever,” soft-serve ice cream machines, and people named Javier because of what I was privileged to experience while visiting there. Mexico is my home. Mexico is my paradise. Mexico is me.
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