It is not paradise, per se, but rather man's impression of what paradise should be. Green and lush, but perfectly controlled. Safe, and controlled. Off in the not-too-far-off distance you can hear the hum of the highway, see the metallic frames of poles ensuring our paradise is adequately electrified. The nature preserve is perfectly coiffed, and wildness is contained in the way only humans can do...clean lines, manicured, pleasing to the eye. It's no wilderness. But try telling that to the dozens upon dozens of species of birds that occupy this area. Green, yellow, crimson, black, white. Hawkish, flitting, curious, predatory. They sing songs we know not the words of, but still cast one into a dreamlike state. A birdwatcher I am.
It's home; relocated, warmer. It could be anywhere. In town it is an aural rush, mixed with all the rowdiness and awkwardness of a once quiet village now alive solely for the tourist. Visitors leave propriety and modesty at home and unleash an inner self seldom shared in public. Colors abound and the air is thick with native song. The promenade could be in any beach town. Our homeland has clearly influenced the culture here.
But the food, oh the food! Decadently authentic if you scope the right spot. A rich chocolatey and fruity mole sauce drowning perfectly juicy pieces of pollo. Smooth and completely satisfying. Guacamole unlike any I've ever had. Silken and creamy, spicy and refreshing. Though, the view from my seat at Mi Pueblo is discomforting. The lure of quiet shared seclusion is far more appealing to these two weary travelers.
Tanned bodies lay sleeping under limp umbrellas. Beach lounges are crammed in side by side in either direction for as far as you can see. Sardines come to mind. Every 10 or so yards is a new establishment blaring everything from local sounds to bollywood's finest. The sand drops off 3-4 feet where the tide smacks up against this man-made wall of sand. Hand scooped 'stairs' are carved into this wall every so often. Children woop and laugh uncontrollably as the waves move in and out. Their smiles are infectious. The sand is like silk and the light breeze carries coconut and oil on it. The sea is a dozen different shades of blue and aqua. It is precisely what you see on postcards.
Gracious ruins hold down the fort, high atop limestone cliffs, the Sea butting serenely up against the walls. The sun shines hot and sizzles unscreened skin. History abounds within these walls. It has held fast to its truth as best it could, but is slowly losing its grip to the strong arm of modern culture. You would not believe the color of the Sea. No photo can really do it justice. Cerulean and aqua, navy and turquoise. Crystal clear and welcoming.
Outside the walls of the ruins you are thrust into the arms of a bustling tourist community. Brilliant colors, loud music, sweaty bodies, roaming dogs, native children running around giddily and barefoot. Acrobats dangle precariously by their ankles from a totem pole in the center of the town, spinning with arms outstretched.
The sunrise and sunset works hard to do us one better but nothing beats the awe of a sunrise over the Lake. I yearn for home briefly but am re-intoxicated by the warm and relaxed air.
Sitting on the balcony, listening to the birds conducting their morning symphony, the warm familiarity of a hot mug of coffee resting on my chest, wrapped up in comfort, I squint into the sunrise and look over at my husband engrossed in his book. I pick mine back up and dive right back into my adventure. Time passes without a hint, but what does it matter. We've got nothing to do and all the time to do it.
This is paradise...