“How did I get here and where did this extra five pounds come from?” I am thinking as I walked past the palm frond umbrellas along the windy morning beach of our south of Cancun all-inclusive resort. It is the last day of Spring Break with ten 18-year-olds who are graduating in another month. This vacation is their plan and us game adults have gone along with everything, except the idea that they would take a cab at 10pm to another all-inclusive several miles down the beach where friends are staying.

The weather has been sunny and hot, perfect for pool and beach fun, karaoke and clubbing until 2am. To me, the wind this morning is a relief and it brings a welcome ruggedness to the waves. Several men are removing the seaweed, which has washed up on the beach, with rakes and a beach vehicle with a trailer. It’s going to be hard to make the sand perfect today.

I make my way down the beach past several cement resorts and finally come to the dunes where the loads of seaweed are being piled. As I round the bend out of view of the resorts, I am immediately reminded of the mess we humans have made of the beaches and oceans around the world. Plastic bottles, beach toys and unidentifiable bits and pieces are scattered everywhere. Someone has created a sculpture of sticks with water bottles perched on each branch. Sad.

But there is more. Bugs are buzzing and flitting. A pair of yellow birds is chasing one another and a flock of tiny sand pipers look to be playing as they run from the waves. Driftwood is abundant and beyond the beach, bushes and vines are thick. All of this is absent from the manicured resort beaches. The familiar smell of the coast encompasses me; salty and heavy and for moments putrid because of something dead washed up in the waves. I welcome it all. Beyond the waves breaking on the beach I know there are schools of fish, turtles, rays and more. Here is nature. What a relief. I’m so grateful to have found what’s been missing most of the week.

By: Paige Boucher