The car in front of me comes to a halt as I look at a the sun mercifully setting on the horizon. It is hot, in fact I'm not sure if the asphalt is quite literally melting or I'm just seeing a hazy mirage as I make my way toward the Mexican border.
My car thermometer reads 115 degrees, that's probably inflated but needless to say I feel much more like I am pulling onto the dust of the playa than a coastal weekend getaway.
Twenty five people, two houses, one peninsula in Baja California, in the resort town of Ensenada. This was how we chose to spend the hottest weekend of the past ten years. Of course there was a 30th birthday and well and you don't exactly need to twist my arm to get me to do something cool.
In fact, I've spent most of my life counting down to something. Counting down the days until college, until the next formal, spring break, karaoke night...more recently the next vacation, wedding, the next 'bloggable moment.' It's not that I don't enjoy my every day life. I enjoy recording my podcast every week and walking the streets of Venice. Heck, I even enjoy my job. It's just that I am a very excitable person and I've always looked forward to the unexpected. Alas a trip with two dozen friends 200 miles south of LA was sure to be one of the highlights of summer.
We arrived in the small town of La Bufadora around 9 o clock, Friday night, eight hours after departing LA. The property is beautifully situated on a cliff that rises about 200 feet above the rocky beach below. With no guard rails or any sort of protective measures it's shocking that this place is allowed to exist, especially with the frequency in which it plays host to extreme debauchery.
Within minutes of arriving the host is sure to tell me that he can get me 'whatever I want.' I press him for clarification and he says 'Well, I had midget lucha libre wrestlers delivered last weekend for an Australian bachelor party.' Despite my well known affinity for WWE, I thank him for the offer and respectfully decline. I have a healthy amount of Fireball and Tecate Light as well an iPhone with the last four Bieber albums downloaded and ready to go.
A private chef came over to cook us a late dinner on Friday. This quickly escalated into a Disney Power Hour which has become my favorite trend of 2018.
After eating about three pounds of beef tongue I sauntered off to bed with my bunk mate Michael Griffin and passed out to the soothing ambiance of his inebriated snoring. Day 1 in Mexico, in the books.
I wake up in sweat around 8am drenched in sweat and I am once again reminded of that brutal feeling of wanting to sleep more but being unable to due to heat. So I went through my typical burning man routine of briefly cursing the sun and then wandering somewhere to find a beer.
Upon cracking the first Modelo of the day, I realize that some adventurous folk have already made their way down the treacherous cliffside "path" down to the rocky tide pools below. So with an inflatable Peacock named Peter, I scrambled down the mountainside to take a bath in some rejuvenating 69 degree water. Several of my party were stung by sea urchins and one may have been pinched by a crab but fortunately, Peter and I made it through the morning unscathed.
At 10am it was time to load up two vans with to go to the beach for some morning horseback riding.
I have never ridden a horse, but I have seen plenty of Westerns. People in movies ride horses all the time. Men, women and children, they all ride. They ride fast. But then again people have also died riding horses. Superman was paralyzed. Scarlett O'Hara lost her father AND her daughter to horse related injuries. It probably wasn't my best idea to hop on a steed after an AM 6-pack, but alas I did...dressed all in black, it's not hard to ascertain who I would chose to portray in Westworld.
Baja California is a fascinating place, it has some of the most breathtaking natural beauty in the world, but it is also surrounded in abject poverty. There are hand made shanty towns as far as the eye can see. The majestic beach at the La Jolla beach camp doubles as a trailer park, where I imagine someone could have great success disappearing forever. The people have nothing and rely on a couple dollars from Americans on holiday to feed their children.
We ate a quick lunch in aforementioned trailer park at a quesadilla stand before making our way to the Guadalupe wine country where we took very stereotypical American photos and ran up a bill that included 37 bottles of wine and 10 plates of charcuterie. Our bill? Twenty dollars a person. Beat that Malibu Wines.
After sitting in the hundred degree sun all day, the executive decision was make to 86 an excessive night of table lording and bottles at Papas and Beer in favor of just hanging out with each other at the house, a decision that five years ago would have made me sick, I now appreciated more than anything in the world.
If I learned anything this trip it's that life is usually about the small moments that happen when you really aren't paying attention. It's about lighting a sparkler on the driveway or taking the time to look at the stars. It's about the late night bonfires when no one wants to call it a night because in the morning it will be over.
But it isn't over.
Because of course the people that make life worth living are the ones you choose to celebrate it with. I may be back in the states, my Mexican vacation may technically be over, but the people in it are still here. Add that to the fact that technically the memories will live on forever, so by that logic the trip really never ends, a part of us will always be sitting outside telling old stories and hoping to spot a shooting star.
And those are the things I will never forget, being knighted by the Alexia, Queen of Baja, Monica setting the house on fire with an ill fated sky lantern, Andrea and Kelsey attempting to buy a puppy at the border.
It's time to stop living life one event at a time, because doing the whole philosophy of "If I can just make it to _____" posits that the majority of your life you are just waiting for something to happen. What a waste. Take pleasure in the small moments, a brief conversation with a loved one after work, watching a movie with your roommates, surviving a yoga class with a friend. Sure it's ok to look forward to the weekends but it's also great to not wake up with existential dread on a Tuesday just because there are four more days until you can sleep in.
Perhaps that is wishful thinking and my endorphin count is slightly higher today than a normal Monday because my mood is inflated from an incredible weekend with a rockstar crew. But I am reminded of something from high school that I thought was complete bullshit at the time but now I finally understand.
I went to a catholic school and we did a thing called 'Senior Retreat' I think it was about finding God and you told a random group of your classmates all your deepest darkest secrets. It was super therapeutic and the idea was that everyone would be friends afterward. The whole thing was three days long and you were told to "Live the Fourth," the meaning being make the rest of your life the fourth day of retreat. Well to scale down all the religious elements one could apply that theory to a vacation or really the last time you were truly happy. Never mentally leave there, tell those people how much you appreciate them at every opportunity. Cherish the fact that these people are in your lives and will undoubtedly rub off on you to a certain extent.
Of course you can rip it too. I mean the eight hour drive home yesterday was by no means great and I was so dehydrated this morning that my urine looked like used motor oil. But I dunno, I just felt a little different today. Maybe it was the calming effect of the Pacific Ocean, maybe I had a quasi-psychological breakthrough, but I just feel better now. Everything is going to be ok because the people I surround myself kick ass. And what else do you really need? Sure, life would be incrementally better with 10 million dollars in my bank account and a clean bill of health, but I don't think I would trade my situation for the world.
I think tonight I'll do my an dual re-read of Oh, the Places You'll Go...a book you undoubtedly received at your high school graduation party. Well ole' Doctor Seuss gave me a 98 and three quarters percent chance guarantee that everything would turn out ok...and boy was he right.
Oh...and Happy bday lex! Love ya forever :) Thanks for the trip of a lifetime.
Oh...and Happy bday lex! Love ya forever :) Thanks for the trip of a lifetime.