Lessons from a Hacienda

lessons for clara

Dearest Clara,

Traveling to Mexico has been one of my most wonderful discoveries since returning back to the US.  After going for the first time last year, I can’t believe that it’s taken me so long into my adult life to discover the richness of this country that’s but a couple of hours flight away.

This year, we went beyond just the beach and the coast to head into the interior jungle and stayed at a Hacienda as a home base, while we explored throughout.  Initially, I had been worried that maybe it wouldn’t be as exciting as the beach, but so quickly, we realized we could have easily stretched out our days into weeks.  The peace of the overall experience is something I will always remember, and the grounds had just enough touch of the mystical that explains so much literature from this part of the world.

In just a few days, I also learned at the Hacienda:

  • Always check your shoes before putting them on: While I didn’t actually see any, this is tarantula country.  And scorpions.  And all sorts of critters.  Whenever you’re in terrain you don’t know, it’s good habit to check the insides of your shoes, or anything else you can’t see the interior of.  Just in case.
  • And remember that you’re in their jungle, not that they are in your shoes: Our temptation will always be to expect that a hotel or home or our life should have prevented an animal or critter from being in our space.  But in a jungle. . . or other nature environment, that’s not always possible.  And should it be? They were there first and you came to see, not the other way around.
  • High ceilings keep you cooler: This makes perfect sense from a scientific principle but I never really thought about the practical application of this.  When we checked in, the head of hotel specifically pointed out that we received a room with one of the highest ceilings---heat rises and there’s better chance for air circulation.  So when in hot climates, seek out the spaces with high ceilings---you’ll need less external intervention to be comfortable.
  • People aren’t just part of the landscape: I read this in the hotel’s guide to how to think about when it was appropriate to take a photograph.   Whenever you visit a place, there are people that live there. . . they’re not like statues or landmarks, and they might have different reactions to you taking pictures of them.  Don’t assume that people, regardless of how fascinating or different they might seem to you, are just part of the passing scenery.  When in doubt, always ask permission.   Not everyone will say yes, and it’s okay to respect that.
  • Everything re-invents itself over time: The hacienda that we stayed at originally started as a cattle ranch, then a sisal farm, then it fell into disrepair. . . Now it is one of the country’s best hotels and regularly welcomes heads of state.  Where we start is not always where we end up, and where we end up is an evolution.  If we want to stay relevant, it’s our job to figure out where we want to go and who we want to be next.

All my love,

Mom