After a week on the road through the big city and the southwest, everyone was pretty happy to finally unpack our suitcases at our sea-side condo in Bavaro – a sleepy fishing village turned bustling tourist town located 20 minutes north of my family’s residence in Punta Cana. It is from a balcony overlooking polished grounds, a fresh pool (with swim-up bar), and the Caribbean Sea, that I have been working on these blog posts.
My routine here in Bavaro has been nothing short of heavenly. Our group tends to roll out of bed somewhere between 7:30 and 10am (no schedules here). After enjoying homemade omelets (courtesy of Austin’s father, Nicky) we put on our bathing suits, apply sunscreen, and stumble to the beach. A few hours are spent here swimming and napping, before we change our location to poolside, where we spend a few hours more, well, swimming and napping. Sometimes we take a walk along the beach. Sometimes we lumber back to the condo for a Presidente or Cuba Libre. Either way I find time to carry my computer to the balcony and write a little diddy about our day. In the evenings we meet the rest of the family – either at their house in Punta Cana or at some eatery around town. Reservations are never made for fewer than 15 and arrivals are seldom timely. Dinner rarely lasts less than 4 hours before we pile back into the car and collapse on our beds in complete and utter exhaustion.
Is it incredibly exciting? No. But this slow lifestyle is good, for now. While pondering my options for this employment-less winter I started thinking about the difference between ‘travel’ and ‘vacation.’ For most of my life I believed these words to be synonymous. But the more I travel the more I realize that the best ‘travel’ experiences should always require a ‘vacation.’
For me travel is equivalent to new experiences. And as enthralling as new experiences can be they are not always rejuvenating. My trek across Spain last fall was amazing, but afterwards I found myself in bed for 3 days straight! The experience changed me as a person, yes. It did transformative things for my body and for my mind. But was it relaxing? Hell no!
So as much as I talk about adventure and movement, I’m not going to beat myself up for enjoying a couple of weeks of pure sun and sand (and food… and drink). 2012 has been a pretty adventurous year by itself: I moved 4 times, worked at two national parks, spent the winter above 10,000 feet, and nursed a pretty serious tendon injury back to health. And with even more adventures set for 2013 (Austin and I head to Mexico for some less-luxurious travel on January 15th), I plan to enjoy every second guilt-free.