alma bar

So Many Beautiful Places, Only So Many Beautiful People

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.”

sunrise on holbox

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.

holbox ferry

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.

ferry seasick

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)

les petits pas de juls

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.

mexico palm trees

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!”

beach litter

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…

mexican michelada

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.

pox

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.)

beach bar

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.

americans in holbox

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?

las tortugas

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.

hammock reading

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.

Okay, fine…

chilling on the beach

Have it your way…

holbox island at sunset

You win, this time…

hammock in the pool

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.

But Holbox?

holbox brunch

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.

salsa on the beach

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.

sunset in mexico

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.

friends with bloggers

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.

51 thoughts on “So Many Beautiful Places, Only So Many Beautiful People

  1. Raj says:

    Wow lovely post… superb pictures!! The second from the last is my favorite! 😍 Yes I agree .. there are very little beautiful people!

  2. Les Petits Pas de Juls says:

    I knew it! I knew this post would bring tears to my eyes and make my heart jump with joy! Because you always find the best words to talk about a place you liked and the people you love!
    Thank you for that moment on Holbox and those moments on your blog.
    Thank you for shining and showing the way.
    Thank you for being such a lovely girl/couple and glowing love.
    Thank you for knowing how to enjoy yourself and letting go.
    I’m so glad you liked Holbox! I’m so glad we finally met! And I can’t wait for that moment when we do it again!
    (And show off that Cristal straw when you go out for a cocktail in Portland! 😉)
    Xoxoxox
    Jul’

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Julie, you are truly the best in so many ways. I’m so happy we finally got together…and in one of the most beautiful, off-the-beaten path places I can think of.

      You guys should come to Portland, then we can show off our awesome straws together. xo

  3. roughwighting says:

    HOW. MUCH. FUN. I’m jealous of your time away, meeting beautiful wonderful people in a beautiful wonderful place. I, also, get terribly seasick and carsick, which has kept me from travelling to some far away places. I applaud you for going on anyway. And the straws! I had just read about the horror of plastic straws, and how much they add waste to our waters and lands. We should either not use straws, or insist on paper straws (they have those, you know). Beautiful photos and post. And yes, bloggers are beautiful people. xoxo

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Sounds like it’s time for Miss Pamela to pack her bag! 😉

      I hear ya on the boats and cars. I keep ginger candies on me and that helps a lot (have you tried them?). But this was one of those perfect storms with the combo of transportation strung closely together—and I was dehydrated and hadn’t eaten much that day. Sigh…oh, well! I know better on a couple of those things that I could have avoided. Otherwise, I “woman” up and go to the places I want to go—come hell or high water.

      We usually drink beer and wine, so we don’t run into the straw situation much. Cocktails are typically the culprits!

      • roughwighting says:

        A good reason to stick to beer or wine!
        And yes, I’ve tried ginger sticks and ginger pills and all manner of de-nauseating travel props (like pulse beating wrist bands, even). No worko, so I even stay off docks. BUT I watch my friends sail and motor from the deck of a water side bar. 🙂

  4. Carrie Rubin says:

    “Let me get a shot of you saving the world!”–Ha, I love that. How nice you two were able to connect, and in such a beautiful place too. I’ll definitely think twice before using a straw now.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Haha! I didn’t want to miss it, so I had to blurt out something that would stop Julie in the pose. It was super cool meeting another friend!

      Yeah, straws are no bueno. Plus there’s the whole straw wrinkle thing too. Plenty of motivation to go without in general. 😉

  5. danniehill says:

    So cool! Glad you survived the car and boat ride, but the pictures were worth the effort. So nice to meet people you are friends with but have never actually met, but we writers know that meeting fact to face is not necessary to know a person, I love the sea and have never been sea sick, but I do feel for those that have been in that situation. Wonderful post, Britt

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Glad I survived too! I think I’m one of the lucky ones with seasickness in that I recover in about an hour after I’m on dry land. But it does stink, since I love being on the sea. Sailboats and smaller boats are totally fine. So, thank goodness for that!

      • danniehill says:

        I forgot to mention that if I’m out, sailing, for 4 days or more I get “land sick” when I set foot on dry land. Usually last for a day and not quite as bad as being sea sick, but no fun. Lately I just go offshore for the day fishing so no problems

  6. Letizia says:

    What a beautiful place! And I love that you wrote about plastic straws – something that drives me crazy (don’t get me started on balloons….). The photos are so beautiful- looks like you had a lovely trip!

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Holbox is truly beautiful and it was a great trip…lots more to share about Mexico City and Cuba still! Er…just trying to finish my novel in here too so I need to prioritize. 😉

      Haha, don’t get me started on balloons. I guess I haven’t thought about them, but I rarely see them anymore. Probably banned in Portland, along with plastic bags.

  7. lillianccc says:

    I love this. I too, made a semi-spontaneous trip (out to cold Toronto) to see a long-time blogger friend and it was the best decision of my life. I feel like when you do these kinds of things, you automatically just open your mind up to anything that can happen because you already made that first big step. And then as a result, you experience more amazing things because you become just one big sponge that’s waiting to soak in all the greatness that comes from just making things happen. So happy that you had a great time and those photos are all gorgeous!

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      That’s awesome, even in cold places. Kind of fun because you can be as conversational as you like over tea or pints. In paradise, there is a lot of music you have to compete with everywhere. Not a bad thing, of course…just have to talk louder! We had our fair share of mosquito mishaps together in the evening as well. 😉

      This was my first trip that I made happen around meeting a blogger pal, so it was a big commitment. VERY glad we did it!

  8. diannegray says:

    Wow – what an awesome destination, Britt! I’m glad Julie is so serious about the environment and banned those awful plastic straws. You look like you and Mr H had a ball (apart from the boat trip but we won’t mention that) 😉 xxx

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      It’s super awesome, Dianne! We do our part, but I’m glad to know someone like Julie who challenges me to do more. I’ve learned a lot from her, and I certainly have been thinking twice about the lingering plastic in my life. Like…how can I do better?

      Have you ever read “Zero Waste Home,” by chance? Julie recommended it on her blog a while back and I thought it was terrific. Based off the woman’s popular blog, there are some excellent ideas in there to help you reduce in ways you never considered before.

  9. Andrea Stephenson says:

    What a brilliant trip Britt, not only the obvious paradise of the island but for having the courage / motivation to go and meet Julie in person and to make every moment of it count 🙂

  10. Sheila says:

    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.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      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? 😉

  11. Roy McCarthy says:

    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.

  12. Zen A. says:

    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)

  13. eden baylee says:

    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. 🙂

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      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!

  14. Jessica says:

    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

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      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

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