QUARTER-FINALIST 2015 FTF TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
When I arrived at the Royal Sands Resort in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico in 2013 with my family, my parents divorce in two years wasn’t on my mind. The fact that my brothers would be gone and off to college in four years, was nowhere in my train of thought. And the very last thing that I would’ve guessed to ever come across my mind, was that this would be my last full family vacation. When I arrived, all that was on my mind was getting to spend quality time with my family, playing in the clear blue waves of the Caribbean Sea, and listening to the squeak of the white sand underneath my feet. I call this the “Post-Vacation Appreciation Disease”, as I didn’t know at the time, but this vacation was far more important to me than I would’ve expected it to be when I walked off the plane into Mexico. Today, I hold this vacation close to my heart, knowing the adventures I took on it were some to remember for a lifetime. For starters, the Royal Sands Resort is gorgeous. It had everything you could ever ask for from villas right on the beach to a fun staff with round the clock activities planned for the guests to endless methods of relaxation. It also provided information on local adventures. My family and I had the opportunity to visit the Xplor Adventure Park in Cancun, where we had endless fun kayaking through underground caves, ziplining through the Mexican vegetation, and doing a couple of gorgeous hikes under some ancient stalactites. I know I will never be able to compare that stunningly beautiful experience to much else in my life. My mother and I also took a trip to visit the Tulum Ruins, or the “Ruinas de Tulum”. Guided tours were offered, but my mom and I decided to explore on our own, and what we found was amazing. The remains of this ancient Mayan city offered a rich culturally enlightening experience, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. In the same day, my mother and I traveled a little further from the ruins on the coast in pursuit of a snorkeling experience. We found other tourists about to board a random boat and joined them. I couldn’t tell you the name of the snorkeling company because in all honesty, I don’t believe it even had one. That’s one of the great things about Mexico, it’s rich in random experiences everywhere. This snorkeling adventure was life changing to me. It was the first time I had ever held life from the sea in my hands. One man on board the boat noticed my nervousness to enter the water, as I was a little scared of a shark possibly showing up. He swam down and brought me up a starfish. A living starfish who was probably just opposite of me, never having been held by life above water before. It calmed me down and I enjoyed my time in the crystal clear water, seeing the different colors of fish and all the underwater life. Playa Del Carmen is what rings in my mind when I think of a vacation that changed my views on the world. It was one of the first experiences I had outside my little bubble of Indiana, and it made me realize how big and beautiful the world truly is. And to never take what you have for granted, whether it be family or personal experiences, for one day you’ll be sitting in your living room, looking back on only an eye opening memory.
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