There are many beautiful places to see around the world, but there are only so many beautiful people we get to see in our lifetime. When work, schedules, budget, and travel arrangements are involved, it’s easy to fall into the cycle of “I wish I could, but I can’t.”
But when we decide to make it happen, the reward is truly incredible. I know, because last month I trekked out to a remote island off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico to meet a blogger I’d been friends with online for years.
It was just a hop, skip, and a jump away. Kidding…it was a plane ride, followed by a 2.5-hour bus ride on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere, then a half-hour ferry ride to get to the island.
And because the universe has a twisted sense of humor, this California girl gets seasick.
On bumpy two-lane roads when the van driver thinks she’s in the Daytona 500, I close my eyes and pray…and I also get carsick. As you can imagine vividly, I was a right mess on that ferry to Holbox Island—like a sweaty ghost.
Thankfully the boat ride was only a half hour, and Mr. H was gentlemanly enough not to document my misery too much. Misery that was heightened by the island music playing on the boat, which had a completely different effect on the healthy riders having the time of their life as they slathered on sunscreen and drank beer.
Once I got to dry land, I felt better. Scratch that—after I downed a gallon of water, swam in the pool, took a cold shower—and ate fish tacos I felt better.
What really worked was seeing this one’s face…Julie of Les Petits Pas de Juls. (featured image above…credit: Julie)
A lot of you already know Julie—you follow her travel photography blog and/or you caught her awe-inspiring Life Enthusiast post here. Julie is just one of those strong, beautiful beings you want to know.
She’s a world traveler many times over on a constant crusade to help the environment. The cool thing is that she shares her experience and encourages us all to do the same, to see more of the world and to do our part to save it before it’s gone.
Being Portlanders, Mr. H and I do a pretty damn good job with environmental consciousness. But we aren’t anywhere on the same level as Julie. We were joking that there would probably be a friendly pinch or slap from her when we botched up our earth-loving duties with some sort of plastic misstep.
No abuse happened while we were there (because she’s a sweetheart), but we did get the evil eye when we ordered bottles of water at dinner. Rightfully so, since we had our reusable water bottles in our hotel that we could have toted along with us.
“It is the nature of the strong heart, that like the palm tree it strives ever upwards when it is most burdened.” – Philip Sidney
Naturally, I had to capture these environmental crusade moments when I could—like this one, when Julie marched toward the shore to retrieve a cocktail glass. “Hang on,” I said. “Let me get a shot of you saving the world!”
Her husband had a good laugh with us, because he witnesses these small, heroic gestures often. But, this is Julie…the one we all know and love. She’s the person she says she is…take it, or leave it…I’ll take it.
You’d be surprised how much waste there is in paradise. The main culprit? Straws.
Really, it’s booze in general, with vacationers getting too lax and leaving glasses, bottles, and cups wherever they please. But, it’s also the restaurants using plastic cutlery, paper plates, etc…and more straws.
We began refusing straws, just because…
Do we really need a plastic straw to go with our plastic bottle of water? Ask Julie, she’ll tell you the answer to that one.
Julie and her husband, Raul, run a great, quaint bar on the island. Mal de Amores is plastic-free and proud.
Their answer to straws are reusable crystal or stainless steel options that allow you to stir things up without killing the planet. (see above…and yes, we received two crystal straws immediately from Julie as gifts, which we have put to good use.)
It’s great to see people like Julie and Raul sampling the island life at this point in their lives, coming together to operate a beach bar that’s enjoyable for people while being environmentally responsible. I respect that.
When they first opened the bar earlier this year, Julie said we should come down from Portland. At first the whole “I wish I could, but I can’t” song entered my mind.
Then, I thought…why in the hell am I turning down an opportunity to see a longtime friend and off-the-beaten path paradise?
So, Mr. H and I made it happen. We also decided to bookend the trip with a stop in Mexico City and Cuba, because also…why the hell not? (More on these places later!)
Holbox Island was the R&R segment in the middle of the trip. When I stumbled off the boat as a sweaty ghost, earlier that day was an interesting standby battle at Juarez Airport after several days navigating the magical chaos that is Mexico City. I couldn’t imagine another flight four days later to Havana, and wondered if my pampered American white ass would even make it to that leg.
But, Holbox Island has a way of healing you. Ve más despacio…Slow down, it said.
Have a drink or two, lay in a hammock, read your book, eat tacos and fresh guacamole, listen to the waves, laugh with your friends, kiss your husband’s salty lips, swim with the fish, burrow your toes into the hot sand until you find the cool part beneath the surface. Just be.
Have it your way…
You win, this time…
There are a lot of beaches to choose from in Mexico, and most of us Americans choose the usual: Cabo, Cancun, Cozumel. Previously we had been to Playa del Carmen, which is more popular with European tourists.
People don’t know about it. Hell, people don’t know how to say it and my phone kept autocorrecting to “Hotbox” (teehee!). For my friends who don’t smoke weed and/or aren’t from the West Coast, here is hotbox…defined. (Remember…you’ll always learn useful shit on this blog.)
By the way, it’s pronounced Hol-bosh.
It’s more of a beach destination for Mexicans. Europeans are catching on a bit, along with a handful of Americans. There are no cars on Holbox—after the traffic insanity in Mexico City, this was a refreshing sight to see.
People get around “quickly” on the sandy roads with four-wheelers, golf cart taxis, and bicycles. Most walk, barefoot. The staff at restaurants and hotels don’t bother with shoes, and after acclimating to the pace, you swear off your sandals eventually too.
Holbox Island is raw and gorgeous.
It’s an island, sure. But there’s something about the vibe that is unique, pure, and captivating. It’s one of those places you hope will stay that way forever, and it’s one of those places you never think you’ll end up in.
Opportunity came with the chance to meet Julie, and I’m so glad we made it happen. I’ve met two bloggers now in person, and I’m happy to say that the friends we make here in this blogosphere space are legit.
I’m not sure what it is that makes the bloggers I know such genuine people—if it’s the words we all share from our souls, or what. I’m happy to know so many of you, and I hope to meet you some day.
49 thoughts on “So Many Beautiful Places, Only So Many Beautiful People”
Wow – thank you for bringing us to this beautiful place! That’s great that Julie is out there saving the world. There’s an Ocean Conservancy campaign going on to tell restaurants to skip the straw – some coastal restaurants have pledged not to use them and the group will be reaching out to others so that’s good news. Like Letizia said, the other kind of trash that ends up on the beach all the time is balloons and their curly strings and those are really dangerous for sea turtles. Hopefully people will think about that more often before releasing balloons. Even if they aren’t released near the ocean, they can still end up there.
Yeah! You and Julie together could do a lot of earth saving together…I can be your sidekick!
I didn’t realize balloons were such a thing still, but I seriously think they don’t sell them here in Portland because of the plastic policy. I also haven’t been around kids much…maybe that’s it? 😉
What a nice post Britt – a bit surreal seeing both (all) of you popping up in one post. Yes I think you and Juls have much in common, especially the ability to look through and beyond the business of living and surviving and to see those things that enhance our lives. And those things are priceless and can’t be bought.
Isn’t that fun?! Lookout, Britt and Julie…double trouble! Awww…that is very cool of you to say, Roy. Thank you.
Awwwww. What an awesome adventure! And it is so SO awesome that you got to meet Julie. I’m not sure the island knew what to do with all that fabulousness you two bring. 😉
Also – every single one of these pictures is absolutely lovely! (not envious at all, haha)
Such an awesome adventure, indeed! Haha, stop it. We’re certainly a handful, that’s for sure. The island was an easy subject, so I didn’t have to do much. xo
Wow! What a wonderful experience and beautiful place. It’s the Life Enthusiast in you, Britt, that made you say ‘why not?’ and make the trip. Now I want to follow your instincts, too!
It was truly an awesome trip, doll! I learned the best life enthusiasm from wonderful friends like you. xo
Britt, lovely post and I loved the pictures. It’s wonderful to travel somewhere as you did to meet someone you’ve only known virtually. And yet … you knew you would get along somehow.
I’ve forged friendships like this as well, as so many of my interactions since becoming a writer have started out this way. Sometimes parts of the world seem impossible to get to, but when you’re able to connect with a few important people … that world is really not so big after all. 🙂
Yeah, I think it’s kind of a given that we will get along with our close blogger friends. We’ve gone through a lot together over the years, so it makes sense that a true friendship is there for the taking.
Agree that some parts of the world can seem impossible to get to. I’m glad that we did it. And, I hope to meet you one day soon!
I love this.so.much! So happy to see that you and Julie finally got to meet, and in this paradise no less. Julie has also inspired me to be more environmentally aware and I have the utmost respect for her and everything she does to make this world a better place. As I do for you, my friend. Our home is always open to you if you can make a way for Japan to happen some day. x
It was SUPER cool! Being in paradise was even better. I keep telling my family we need to just meet up in fun places instead of visiting each other in our home states. More memories to combine travel and quality time, I think!
Julie has definitely made me better at saving the environment. I’ve always worked at it, but now I’m more thoughtful.
We shall make it to Japan one day soon! xo
At fist I thought that guy was Tom Selleck 🙂
Haha, that’s too funny. No, just my husband! 🙂
Well, you never know! Does he own a hawaii-shirt or does he smoke cigars? Do you sometimes hear the Magnum theme when you are around him?
Ha! I have plenty of pix from our Cuba trip with him smoking cigars! Stay tuned for the blog post on that. 😉
Alright – I will just do that! Can’t wait for it!
Holbox looks so pretty. No shoes required on that island at work? That would be amazing😄
It is super pretty! Haha, I know…that’s my kind of working. I think better without shoes on anyway.
Right? Think of just how much more work would get done if we were able to take shoes off at one’s leisure.
[…] on my wanderlust list. It was high up there, so Mr. H and I decided to go. We had planned a trip to Holbox Island to visit my wonderful blogger friend, Julie, and we decided to bookend it with two places we were […]