Most mornings the waves pound in on the rocks here where my family and I have temporarily relocated in Akumal, Mexico. Most mornings the waves are a steady reminder to me of their power and their continuity. As each wave rolls in so close that I can almost feel it crashing on to the shore, it brings a cool relief from the heat, from the relentless humidity and from the mosquitoes that fill the jungle only just across the road. Each wave makes this a beautiful place to be. And wave after wave, each one loud and thundering, demands that I pay attention.
I love the waves but at the same time I am frightened and awed by them; And in the same way, I marvel at the power and force of the continuous waves of change in our world though they too command my respect. The change has let me do so much. Yet, have I done enough? Do I keep up? Do I know enough? Am I outdated? Is it all moving too fast? Am I being carried by the current in directions I don’t want to go? Can I see where these waves are taking me?
This morning’s calm is providing me a pause in the urgency in the same way that this time-out year, this space away from the rapid waves of change in our society, is giving me time to think.
Our time in Spain before this was a transition and a true break in the waves, but now here in Mexico as our trip away wears on, the waves are starting up again as surely as the waves in the ocean will pick up as this day too wears on. It won’t stay calm. All around me I’m seeing the impact of change. Being Canadian, coming here to Mexico I am often aware that I am riding high on the waves. I’m in a very privileged spot. I should have a clear view. But the time spent here is starting to let me see the lows as well as the highs. Change here has a power and force all its own. It has a current that we can’t control. Change brings money and tourists but at the same time it brings poverty and an odd twist in the state of happiness. The change that put this beautiful place here for me to stay and enjoy meant others were moved off to make room for me.
Akumal, Mexico is a beautiful tourist “town.” There are two gorgeous sandy beaches within a short walking distance of our rented ocean side property. One of the beaches has a strip of condos on the water side, the other, three hotels and a bit of a “town” with two dive shops, a couple of small but expensive grocery stores, a handful of art and souvenir stores, the obligatory silver store, four or five restaurants, a bakery, a “gringo” gym and yoga studio as well as hotel offices. I believe there is even a hostel back behind the basketball court and the outdoor stage. Behind that, in the jungle across the highway is a small pueblo.
The “pueblo” of Akumal is easy to spot on Google Earth if you follow the single highway straight south from Cancun to a small carved out grid away from the water side, just 4 blocks long, by 8 blocks wide. The pueblo was created in the late 1990’s to move the “locals” out of the beach area, not all bad apparently but in that 32 square block area, over 3,000 “locals” live. The gap in the differences between tourist life and local life here is constantly evident, like the peaks and valleys of the waves on the shore. And as with the waves, there is tension too. There are quieter days when the water is calmer but the waves always come pounding back.
As for me, I’m here with a purpose. Naive as it may be, I’m trying to involve myself in the local community. I’m trying to find real ways to help with education and to learn what I can about the people here. I’m trying to find out how with limited (but improving) spanish and all my technical wizardry, my fancy teaching experience, my cutting-edge knowledge of teaching methodology, how I might possibly have something to offer that is of value to the people here. I’m trying, with my sixteen year old daughter, and my husband to not just tour the area for the five months that we’re here, but to sort out what in this constantly changing world we’ve catapulted from, is of value in what we know and can do, that might make a difference and be of real use to this community. I’m trying to learn about the waves here, when and how to dive in to swim without being completely carried away.