I am up and out for a jog through the empty early morning streets. The peace is a welcome break from the constant bombardment of offers for massages, Cuban cigars and marijuana which happens during the day and night.
I do a lap and return for breakfast. It is only 8am and the October sun is already as warm as an English summers afternoon, a welcome return after days of thunderstorms. I decide that there is only one option in this place with this weather, the beach. I take a towel, sunscreen, a bottle of water and myself. I do not want to be concerned by my possessions laying on the beach while I am in the sea nor do I want distracting by my mobile phone. I want peace. I want to be present. I am not a holiday maker trying to escape a reality that will be knocking on the door in a couple of weeks but I want the feeling of freedom.
It is only a short walk to the beach where I find myself surrounded by hotels. All of which seem to have staked a claim of a proportion of the beach. This is not what I was looking for. A voice from a tannoy system shouts instructions of contrived fun to the people who clearly want to be left alone to drink and sunbathe. I cut across the beach and past a fisherman hauling in his nets under the watchful eye of the seagulls. The smell reminds me of my hometown. The fisherman wishes me well and I return the gesture. The sun is already punishing the beach. Scores of Mexicans brave the heat to earn some money raking the pungent seaweed that has a reputation on these beaches. The smell is of the sea and not unbearable. They will never be out of work in this job, as there is a constant supply of seaweed it would seem.
Within two minutes I am offered a massage. Within five minutes I am offered three. I continue to walk until I find a spot near Residences El Faro. I drop my meagre possessions in the shade of a palm tree and make my way into the water. The sea doesn’t have the postcard clear blue colour that Cancun has but it is warm. I lay back and let the saline sea take my weight. It is peaceful yet the chatter of two people in a language I don’t know is in increasing in volume. I look up to see a woman and what appears to be her teenage daughter looking tentatively at the water. Slowly and suspiciously they make their way into the water, they appear surprised like I was by the temperature. Peace resumes.
A scream shatters the moment, I look up to see the daughter dancing around in the water as she heads for the shore. Her mannerisms suggest that she thinks she has been bitten or stung. Her mother’s mannerisms suggest that she has been brushed by some seaweed. The moment is comical. The difference in concern and then the daughters further upset by the mother’s lack of concerns is amusing. I have no idea what is being said. I decide to venture further up the beach.
More offers for massages push me further up the beach. I only wanted some peace. I eventually reach the ferry terminal and consider turning back but opt to continue. Once I am on the other side of the terminal there appears to be very little. There is one guy renting out jetski’s and then there appears to be nothing. I continue onwards and there are very few people. The only noise is the waves crashing down onto the golden sand. I walk for a couple more minutes enjoying the moment and just as I am about to sit, I see the sea is blue further up the beach. I walk a little quickly for the weather as sweat pours from me but after ten minutes I am greeted with a beautiful scene. The sea is blue, the sand is golden and the people are few. I drop my things onto the sand and walk into the sea.
Refreshed, I apply some suntan lotion and lay on the warm sand. My feet tickled every now and then by the waves. Almost to remind me not to fall asleep. I engage with my thoughts as I lay there, my pale skin withering under the Mexican sun. There are no thoughts. There is no draw to check my mobile phone. There is no urgency to be productive. I am present. I am content. The only thing on the agenda is to embrace this moment and cherish it, for they are rare. A moment were everything comes together. When the heat, beauty and peace outside reflect the world I try to hold inside.
I realise that my complexion will dictate the length of my stay. A factor out of my control. So I make my way back into the sea and clean the sand off before going back to the beach to cook my back. As I walk back to the beach from the sea, I notice people have arrived. Many are sitting alone and reading. They are sun-seekers seeking silence. I thank them for playing a part in this wonderful moment.
After a couple of hours, I have to admit defeat. I want to stay forever but my skin is already reddening. I gather my things and make a slow walk back to the hotel. I pass the parts that I dismissed earlier and notice the people still clambering for peace. If they would only walk twenty minutes up the beach they would be greeted with their own sanctuary. A place of connectivity to the soul and the sea. One of beauty. One of true peace.
I guess I am thankful that they didn’t.