The Coast News (Page 1)

The Coast News (Page 1)

The Coast News (Page 1)


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OCT. 19, 2012


Reflections and serenity in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico




Machel’s Ranch

I brought a wardrobe

with me to Playa del Carmen.

Usually when I travel to

Mexico, I travel light. As my

husband slept last night, I

arranged my outfits perfectly

in the wardrobe. I tried on my

various outfits for the trip

under the silence of our

thatched roof in our hotel


The humming of the ceiling

fan added that “white

noise” effect that felt like a

Zen meditation moment in

the wee hours of the morning.

Then I actually did meditate.

You know, like Julia Roberts

did when she played

Elizabeth Gilbert in “Eat,

Pray, Love.”

I sat with my legs

crossed, my back straight and

I took in those deep types of

breath you forget to breathe

in everyday normal life. The

cold Spanish tiles added

another layer of mystery to

the ambience surrounding


During this time of

reflection much gratitude

emerged from my heart. An

overwhelming sense of how

special it is to be alive; to

share, to experience, to commit

to this moment and open

your soul to feel the power of


After meditating, I laid

down on the hard mattress in

the darkness of the night. I

could see bits of light streaming

in from the outside

behind the drawn curtains. I

stared up at the A-frame

thatched roof with thoughts

of how my journey has taken

me here to Playa Del Carmen

in the silence of this place,

the foreign surroundings with

the smell of sea salt mixed in

with moisture dangling above

me. The white sheets seemed

oddly ethereal in the dark.

What is this life but a

vapor? Do you know that passage

from the Bible? That’s

how it feels right now. Like

life is so precious. Like each

moment needs to be savored,

loved, held onto so I do not

forget the textures, the smells

and the feelings that imbue


Life can be incredibly

short. That’s what I want to

tell you from Playa del

Carmen. So make each

moment count. Be soft. Be

bold. Be real. Feel something.

Don’t numb yourself to the

beauty because there is so

much to be thankful for each


Tell someone you love

them. Thank you for reading

my column. I am grateful for

you. Thank you for that.

Around town

On Oct. 13, Robin and I

crossed over an International

border by foot. What we did

not know is that the border

we normally cross over was

being remodeled. This meant

extra walking involved.

Picture me running in

high heals in my black mini

skirt with Robin close behind

running as fast as we could

across the new makeshift

ramps to cross over into

Mexico. When I saw the sign

ahead, you could say I felt a

sigh of relief.

Next was the quick cab

Just one example of the Mayan ruins in this region Photo by Machel Penn


Playa Car in Playa Del Carmen in Mexico. Photo by Machel Penn Shull

Robin and Machel Shull on vacation in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Courtesy photo

ride through Tijuana. Robin

spoke to the cab driver about

their newest president in

Mexico. Then he asked about

our election. It seems as if

there is no escaping the political

banter right now, not

even in Mexico.

We arrived at our gate to

find the doors locked. Luckily

for us, the flight attendant

took pity on us and let us

cross over onto the tarmac to

board the plane. We soon flew

off into the sky with beads of

sweat still dripping off of our


Our plane first landed in

Puebla, Mexico. Luckily we

didn’t have to connect there.

This flight was headed to


Later that day, we

arrived at Cancun airport. We

found a shuttle and then rode

with a Polish couple to Playa

Car in Playa Del Carmen.

Playa Car is like The Crosby

of Rancho Santa Fe. Cobbled

streets, lined with Mexican

villas amidst the most beautiful

tropical jungle. “Where

the jungle meets the


We tried to make small

talk with the other couple,

which failed miserably. I've

never felt so “Californian” in

my entire life in a way that

did not feel appealing. The

good news is we did not stay

at the same resort with them

Morning in on the beach in the Mayan Riviera. Photo by Machel Penn Shull

and were able to wave goodbye

forever once we made it

to our resort.

On Oct. 14, Robin and I

walked through Playa Car to

the nucleus of town. Imagine

bright colors, palm trees and

balmy weather lining the blue

sea. We walked everywhere.

We had researched many boutique

hotels before coming

here. So we stopped in at each

one just to see what they

looked like in person. What


We then had the most

delicious Americana over ice

at Starbucks. (Hate to say it,

but I've never been happier to

be inside of a Starbucks!) We

shopped. We walked. We ate

delicious skirt steak with a

mean hot green salsa on the

Crossing over the International border into Mexico. Photo by Machel Penn Shull

side. This trip has felt like a

variation of wonderful side

dishes. The little things that

add so much to the experience.

Later that day, we

walked back to our resort and

swam in the green sea. The

sun had set with streaks of

orange bursting through the

clouds. The gentle waves

lapped over us late in the

evening. It seems as if we

were on a different schedule

than the rest of the resort.

Everyone had gone in for

dinner and we were now

swimming in the sea. The

white beach lined with

lounge chairs were empty. I

floated with my ears submerged

under the crystal

clear water, while watching


the small clouds float above


Another peaceful

moment where life felt as if

all had added up to that one

moment of perfection and I

felt nothing but love for all.

Then the sun had set.The

lavender horizon met the

green sea in such tranquility I

cannot fully describe the

beauty of it in words. Some

fear Mexico. However, the

trick is to know where to go,

how to travel and what to do.

I am writing this to you

right now from the hotel computer.

This moment is fading.

The one of writing my column

in a new and unfamiliar setting.

This moment is magical

for me. I want to say thank

you dear readers for reading. I

look forward to returning to

Rancho Santa Fe and sharing

more stories with you.

If you have a wonderful

one to share, please contact

me. I would love to hear from


If you have a fun event you would like

Machel Penn to cover, contact her at


One of the many excursions to do

when you visit Playa del Carmen.

Photo by Machel Penn Shull

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