What you expect of a Mexican vacation: great food, lazy days at the beach, haggling over jewelry and clothes, a full head of braids, and lounging by the pool. At least that is what I expected, and that expectation was the itinerary of my first trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. But as I, and my family, would learn, you really cannot have the same vacation twice. When we first got there everything went as planned, we haggled, bodysurfed, and rode horses. But on day two things started to take a turn for the worse.
What Happened: I had noticed a burning pain on my upper back/shoulders, which I attributed to an ordinary sunburn (nothing novel about that for me, I ALWAYS burn on vacations). Mexico has the power to make you believe no time has passed and while it is charring your skin, you still think you’ve only been out ten minutes when it reality it has been hours.
Later that night when my mom went to put aloe on it she noticed that it was no ordinary sunburn, it was a second-degree sunburn. At first it didn’t faze me much because it still felt “normal”, but that quickly changed. When nothing was on it felt fine but that proved challenging since I always needed to wear a shirt. It was particularly bad when I was in the water with a wet T-shirt stuck to the burns on my back. Every time I took my shirt off it felt like I was peeling off another layer of my skin. When I went to sleep I would start out on my stomach and wake up on back with a renewed burst of pain. And while all of these experiences massively sucked, nothing was worse than when I had to take a shower.
What Should Have Happened: As I am wriggling around in the shower trying to find a spot where I am not being pelleted with water, I remember my first trip and the way this day should have gone. My sister and I are running on the beach, trying to outrun my cousins and avoid the dozens of other pedestrians. I stop short and my sister crashes into me. Our cousins could care less and keep running. My sister and I don’t even have a discussion, we just look at each other and go running back to our father.
Within thirty minutes we are sitting down and having our hair braided, something Mexico has become famous for. Now like most kids all we see is the fun, we don’t think of the pain, but within minutes it becomes evident as we start squirming. I would have expected we would be there for at least an hour, our hair was pretty long, but it is unbelievable how fast these women can braid. But for some it is their job, to come and sit out on the beach and wait for little girls to convince their parents that they need a $20 full head of braids.
What Happened: We were about halfway through the first week when my older cousin started noticing red spots on his skin or as he put it “little volcanoes all over”. My aunt recognized it as chicken pox and he was forced to stay inside for the next week.
What Should Have Happened: On our last trip, like he was expecting to do on this trip, my cousin rode the mechanical bull that our resort had. Mexico is known for its bull riding, and for this resort this mechanical bull was as close as it could get. On actual bulls it was originally a practice to ride the bull literally to death. Eventually bull riding became a test of courage and riding skill, meaning that the goal was no longer to kill it but to tame it. A bull rider “won” when the bull stopped bucking, similarly today mechanical bull riders “win” when they stay on the bull until the “bull” decides to stop bucking them, demonstrating their bravery and talent. This was something my cousin should have been doing, instead of lying in bed for half the week.