But anyway. I had a brief reflection about the nature of Travel versus that of the Vacation that I thought I'd blurt out. It came to me this morning as we bumped along through the neighboring village of Puerto Morelos, crammed into a vintage, un-airconditioned Mexican minibus with various native persons, my children being quite conspicuous in their a) blondness and b) loud speaking of the English language.
Here's the thing. With a vacation, one should be able to relax as much as possible. This excludes the activities of cooking and cleaning for one's family. The principal decisions to be made should involve, say, "Pool or beach?" or "lemonade or iced tea?" I thank my friend Kate for pointing out this essential element back when we were considering our options. Also, a beautiful setting and at least a decent degree of customer service help quite a bit. (Have I mentioned that we love the Marina El Cid? Because we do. Being unspoiled folks, we feel it's almost paradise. As soon as I find that winning lottery ticket lying in my driveway, y'all are all joining us on a return trip here.)
Travel, on the other hand, requires a greater spirit of adventure. It involves a willingness to experience at least a small degree of discomfort for the sake of genuine contact with the culture one is visiting. It involves a suspension of belief that one's way of doing things in the Motherland is the only way, or even the best way. It involves leaving the resort, preferably by bike or bus rather than taxi or air-conditioned shuttle. And I daresay, one should at least make a stab at learning the language. And practicing it, even if you're tripping over your words and trying to remember the rusty verb conjugations you absorbed in high school.
Either way, I think the secret is keeping the expectations flexible, not demanding perfection and maintaining a sense of humor, even a sense of the ridiculous.
I'm glad this trip's had a bit of both.