There are some things a photo will not describe. The way the air feels warm and moist from first thing in the morning until we collapse in bed at night, curling my hair and giving a soft sheen to my skin. How it feels to step onto sand so soft, our feet would sink through as if we were walking on pillows. How warm the water is, and the addictive relief it gives when it rushes over my body in confident waves and a persistent undertow. The sound of a million hermit crabs scuttling away from passerbys, hiding in their shells if we get too close, and tumbling with gentle clicks of their shells as they fall from the rocks they were running upon. The feel of the warm sun breaking through the clouds as I sip a lime mojito when it’s not even noon yet. The freedom from inner obstacles preventing us from being fully there, fully alive, full in the moment….
Despite the lacking abilities a photo possesses, we took so many photos today in an attempt to keep the day with us long after the trip is over. We woke early, rising effortlessly at 6am after the best sleep we’d had in a week. We got up and drank a cup of coffee in bed, honestly the most delicious instant coffee we’d ever had. Following that we had breakfast, a buffet of choices. I happily filled my plate with red beans and rice, eggs, a muffin that tasted like pound cake, and a bowl of fresh fruit.
A note about the food. I feel like I’ve been eating ever since I got here, and have probably already gained 5 pounds in several days time. The food isn’t over the top delicious (though this particular breakfast was right up my alley), but they give you so many choices you’re enticed to try the starters and apps, a hefty entree, and a delicious dessert. Add to that the daily cocktail by the pool and we’re talking a million calories. My stomach already has a nice pooch going on. It’s not my favorite to feel this full, but I excuse it because I’m on my honeymoon. When I get back, I’ll take it off again. But for now I’ve had my indulgences, I’m now only eating what I’m on the mood for and giving myself permission not to clear my plate, and forgiving the few extra pounds I’ll still likely go home with.
After breakfast we took a walk down the beach. What started as an intended short exploration ended up in a full fledged trek down the shoreline, across the volcanic rock, and through myriad tide pools that held countless treasures in the forms of crabs, scuttle fish, anemones, sea slugs, urchins, and more. If I stopped and waited, the wildlife appeared from their hiding places and went about their business. As soon as I moved again, off they’d hide once more.
I was mesmerized by the hermit crabs. They’d hide in a flock of seashells when I walked close, appearing to be nothing but lifeless shells. But as soon as they thought the coast was clear, the sand became a moving carpet of hermit crabs, hundreds of them traveling to an unknown destination. They were in various shapes and sizes, harboring colorful shells as their homes, tumbling across each other in a race to the finish.
Shawn laughed as I picked them up, placing them in my hand, me who makes him save me from spiders at home. Here, I was placing the shells in my hand, waiting patiently for the crab to finally emerge and flutter across my hand before tumbling to the sand. I was also in love with petting the sea slugs and letting sea snails muck across my palm. An angry crab raised its large red claw at us, challenging us to a fight when we got too close. A family of crabs scrambled over rocks in an effort to run from us. And the sea moved back and forth over the rocks we walked across, bringing new life for us to discover.
After collecting as many sea shells and colorful rocks I could find, as well as snapping pictures right and left, Shawn and I made our way back to the hotel. It was just 9am, but the weather was perfect for some lounging time by the ocean. So we changed into our suits, grabbed our books, and then laid on lounge chairs with the ocean as our view. Shawn got me a mojito while he sipped a coke. And both of us enjoyed the feel of the sunshine on our skin. Soon Shawn fell asleep, and I felt the need to feel the ocean.
It was cool at first, but soon I was intoxicated by how warm it became. The waves were strong, but predictable. I let them rush at me, trying to knock me off my feet. Shawn woke up and joined me, and we laughed as we became more bold against the water. Soon we were above our waists, the waves coning straight at my head. One wave stole my glasses before I could grab them. I laughed as I fumbled for them, but knew it was no use. We sat in the shallow water, letting it move us around with its force.
Following our refuel with lunch (arroz, frijoles, pollo, y salsa lizano para mi!), we drove up the coast to explore the white sands we were curious about. We found a secluded area after a 4WD through some muddy roads, parking our car discretely and hoping for the best. We felt a little nervous, unsure if we were on private property or putting our car in danger of getting broken into if we moved out of view. So we set up camp with the car in sight before walking down the shoreline. The sand encased our feet, enveloping them in plush pockets. I’d never felt anything like it.
We both walked towards the water, loving our luck of finding a place so private. Shawn took me in his arms, and we danced in a kiss that sent chills up my spine and down his. We stopped only when we heard dogs barking down the beach. I watched as Shawn bristled slightly. They were pit bulls, one brown and one white, and coming straight for us. But as they came they playfully nipped at each other and splashed in the waves. I could tell they weren’t angry, just happy to see other humans. I kept looking down the beach for their owners, but saw no one. I told Shawn to relax, knowing that any fear we showed could translate into a threat towards them.
The brown one reached us first, running around us before planting himself next to my leg. I carefully placed my hand near his nose, praying silently to him not to bite me. He didn’t. Instead he licked my hand. He was young with a happy smile on his face, full of energy as he ran back and forth between us and the waves.
The white one reached us second. I could see he was older, possessing one light blue eye and one brown eye. It looked as though he was winking, with his blue eye so light against his white fur. He had a pink scar above his light eye, and while just as enthusiastic about playing and rolling in the waves, he moved slower than his brown pal.
The dogs kept with us as we moved back to our towels. I was still waiting for their owner to call out to them, or for us to cross some imaginary boundary that would cause them to turn around and go back. They were beginning to make me nervous with the way their playful energy was starting to feel possessive. The clincher was when the brown dog suddenly jumped and snapped at Shawn, barking at him in a more aggressive form of play. Shawn yelled out, and I quickly reminded him to remain calm. The brown dog stayed near Shawn now, barking every now and then. The white one kept his distance, but stayed at an even pace with us.
When we got near our towels, the brown one raced ahead and sniffed at both of them. He found mine and then lifted his leg to pee on my camera case. To me, it felt like he was sending us a message that this was his beach and not ours, that we didn’t belong there. It wasn’t until later that it occurred to me that he might actually have peed on my case as a way of holding onto me as his human. It was beginning to be apparent that these dogs were homeless and probably starving, hoping to find a home or at least a plate of food (we later learned that all dogs have much more freedom than dogs in the US, roaming free as if they’re wild. These dogs probably did have an owner but were just enjoying a day on the beach). The urgency in them was becoming a sign that it was time to leave.
I forgot my reminders of keeping calm, and yelled at the dog to back off my stuff. The sheer audacity of this dog was immediately humorous, and I laughed as I wiped off the few droplets of urine he managed to get on the bag, all while the dog grinned at us a few feet away. Shawn and I gathered our things and got in the car. The dogs followed, not getting the clue that we were leaving them. A few yards away a car was blocking the road, its engine refusing to turn over. I felt trapped between the car and the dogs, feeling threatened in the strange scenario. I wondered if it were all a trick to steal our belongings…or worse. But the car eventually moved and we made our way back from where we came. The brown dog chased after us, trying to keep up and not let us go. I felt sad for him even as I felt relief in getting away. I watched in my side rear view mirror as he finally gave up and sat in the middle of the road while we drove further away.
We never did stop again, seeing the strange encounter as a sign that our safety was only guaranteed at our resort beach. But we did take a few hours to explore the neighborhoods. Each turn took us past all different homes, greenery, and ocean views. We dreamed big as we passed large homes with lush lawns and leafy trees, the stucco walls riding above tiled steps and enticing us with wide balconies that looked out across fields of green. We drove past locals balancing precariously on bikes, children unstrapped in the back of teetering pickups, exotic buzzards, cattle, and countless dogs both domestic and wild. The homes varied from brightly colored shacks to majestic castles that loomed over the poorest of neighborhoods. We wove through the roads, passing rustic businesses and finding more things for me to point my camera at.
Eventually we recorded the sunset on film before calling it a day and heading back. After another filling meal (urp), we retired to the room where we now sit unwinding. Tomorrow is a new day where we will spend it at Tabacon, a resort 3 hours away with hot mineral baths and a promise of relaxation. It will surely be another perfect day in paradise.
P.S. it’s getting easier to keep away from the outside world via Facebook – probably because this scene is so much more interesting than my newsfeed. It’s also possible that my attention span is starting to get longer. Hm… Could it all be related? Likely.