Puerto Vallarta was absolutely breathtaking and I wish I could share all of the five-hundred plus photographs that I took on my trip. Olivia's family owns a time share in the city and the condo they have is located on the 24th floor of the building, with only the penthouse sitting above it. The view was absolutely incredible and when we first arrived, Rachael and I both had a hard time believing that it was real. The ocean was so blue and so close - literally right outside our windows- and the mountain ranges for which Puerto Vallarta is known were also in plain sight, usually shrouded in a light mist that only heightened the surreality of everything.
The views from the balcony (with Rachael).
We went to the beach rather frequently and I was surprised at how warm the water is! We went swimming in the ocean for about twenty minutes one afternoon and the waves felt so pleasant, lapping against our backs and pushing us gently forward with each pulse. The water was warm on the surface but toward our feet it changed dramatically, and if we pushed our bodies down toward the ocean floor our ankles and calves were instantly swathed in a cold bath that felt immensely refreshing. On our last full day in Mexico, we went on a day cruise out into the ocean and went snorkeling off the coast of the city. I have never snorkeled before but I have always wanted to, so I am so ecstatic to have finally had the chance to do so. The fish were swimming in hoards beneath us, among us, next to us, through us. I am sure that I accidentally touched them multiple times, though I was cautious not to intentionally touch them. (I supposed I could have but I guess I felt that would have been harmful? I also just did not want to get in trouble with the cruise managers, although I doubt they would have noticed.)
Snorkeling in the Puerto Vallartan bay.
The most amazing thing, though, was that moments after we all climbed back onto the boat, a huge humpback whale burst forth from the water just feet away from where we had been swimming. It was incredible!
Our humpback whale sighting.
The whale jumped out of the ocean eight or nine times before finally leaving the bay, and a boat full of stunned and enchanted vacationers, behind. We also had the opportunity to hug a sea lion in the marina. The South American sea lion, named Flash, was so huge and wet and so friendly! Although I am typically wary of such tourist traps (they take your picture with Flash and then offer to sell you the photo), I saw no harm in hugging him, since I figured I might not have the chance to do so again. As soon as I walked up to him, Flash threw his fins around me and placed his head on my shoulder before giving me a huge kiss on the cheek. I remember wrapping my arm around him to complete the hug, and feeling how simultaneously wet and dry his skin was. His fur was so soft and he smelled like salt water and fish. His whiskers tickled and I walked away feeling so genuinely cheerful. (At the end of the day, I could not resist buying the photo. It was too cute to pass up!)
Getting a kiss from Flash the sea lion.
We spent the afternoon of our cruise hiking up the mountains of a small island off the coast of Puerto Vallarta called Yelapa. The buildings were all made of stone and cement and terra cotta, painted vibrant shades of yellow, orange, and red. We hiked far inland and eventually reached a gorgeous, crystal blue waterfall hidden among a large mass of high rock formations. The water was cool but I have never swam in the pool of a waterfall before, so I did not mind very much.
The rest of our time in Mexico was divided between lazing around the condo, traveling into the heart of the city for dinner each night (I did not eat a single thing that was not absolutely delicious) and passing an afternoon at the market, where there was such beautiful craftsmanship on display. I discovered two things that day: that I am rather terrible at bartering with the natives (Even though I know that it is the whole point, I feel bad when I disagree with their pricing!) and that I am capable of carrying relatively substantial conversations in Spanish. I studied Spanish for five years prior to college, but I had no idea that everything I had learned would come back to me so quickly!
My first time trying fried plantains. They were delicious and did not taste anything like what I had expected.
The marketplace, mid-afternoon.
With Jesus, a vendor in the marketplace who decided to become my "Mexican boyfriend."
My last comment about Puerto Vallarta is about how stunning the sunsets are! The colors streaked through the clear skies were breathtaking and the sun always took its time setting beyond the blue-watered horizon. One evening we ate dinner on the beach in order to watch the sunset, and even though that evening a cloud cover prevented there from being any manner of terrific displays of color, the declining sun still looked wonderful.
Two separate sunsets, both fantastically colored.
Kelly, myself, Olivia, and Rachael at our sunset dinner, before the sun began to go down.
Despite a terrible layover in Dallas that lasted three hours longer than originally planned due to a lengthy delay of our flight to Boston, Rachael and I both managed to keep high spirits on our final day of travel. After spending over twelve hours in Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport, however, neither of us is particularly eager to visit the airport, or the city, any time soon. Which is silly, of course, since I am sure Dallas is a lovely place. Twelve hours in an airport, though, is enough to drive anyone crazy.
I am so incredibly grateful to Olivia and her mother for inviting me to share in such an enchanting trip! I felt so relaxed and at ease the entire time we were there, and the city was a welcomed departure from the hustle and bustle and vat of stress that is Mount Holyoke College. We have only been back at school for a week and already I feel stifled, overworked, overtired, and stressed out beyond comparison. I have been working on two different shows simultaneously for the past month, and this weekend the first of the two finally had its performances. The show, Play Dead, was written by a fellow first-year, Bailly Morse, and was twenty million times better written and more clever than I ever imagined it could be. The show was frothy fun but I had a great time getting to know a bunch of new Project: Theatre actresses and developing my very first southern accent for a show ever! (I was not so sure that it was very accurate, but a number of audience members came up to me after the shows to ask where in the South I came from, so I suppose I was more convincing than I thought.)
The cast and crew of "Play Dead." Writer and director Bailly Morse is the red-sweatered cutie pie in the front.
My family came up to see the play on Friday and even though I had only been back at school for five days, it was so nice to see them. I miss them a ton, all of the time. I also saw Leanne twice on Friday, first for a belated birthday dinner at Blanchard and then later in the evening for her Nineties/British birthday party at UMass, which was low key and fun. I have not been to UMass in over two months, so it was good to get over there again. (Leanne came to the show on Saturday and brought Jessie and Sasha with her. She is amazingly supportive and has come to every single one of my shows here at MHC. She is such a wonderful best friend!)
Now I just have one show to worry about. I am in the theatre department's Skin of Our Teeth, by Thornton Wilder, and I play both the stage manager, Mr. Fitzpatrick, and a variety of small ensemble parts. Though I have already performed in another Wilder play (I was Emily in Our Town sophomore year), Skin is so extremely different that the two do not seem as if they could possibly be accredited to the same playwright. The rehearsal process for department shows is obscenely rigorous. We have rehearsal five days a week (Monday to Friday) from 7 to 10 at night. Our show goes up April 14-17, and our tech week starts two weekends from now. Though I know tech rehearsals are vital for any show, I cannot help but feel bummed since I had been planning on coming home that weekend (April 8) to see Wachusett's production of Footloose. Alex and Leanne are both going to be home and I have yet to catch a single WRHS performance this year. (I have my fingers and toes crossed for Spring Blitz.) My director, Roger Babb, is growing on me, and by that I mean that he has gone from being a terrifying presence that I preferred to avoid to a slightly less intimidating oddball that I try not to attract negative attention from. For all of the uncertainty and caution that I feel, however, I will say that he is a brilliant man with fascinating ideas, and that watching him sculpt and mold the script into a visual spectacle has been and will continue to be amazing.
It is five o'clock in the morning and I am STILL not tired! I slept for ten hours last night because I was so exhausted from the show, and then this afternoon I accidentally fell asleep for two hours while reading The Quarry Wood for Scottish Literature. I do not know why I cannot fall asleep, although I do know that I cannot seem to find a comfortable way to hold my jaw, and my teeth are bothered whether they're clamped together or not. This is bizarre, I know, and I have never had this problem before. I do not know what is wrong with me but I would love for it to cure itself so that I can at least get two and a half hours of sleep in before I have to wake up and spend nine hours outside of my dorm room. Tomorrow (today, actually - how sad is that?) I have Scottish Lit, an hour to frantically try and get a head start on my English readings due Wednesday, French class, the prospective-majors theatre department tea, a lunch shift in the dining hall, rehearsal for a partner scene in my Acting I class, a one-hour costume fitting for Skin of Our Teeth, and hours of additional homework. I have a huge English paper due next Monday (it is technically due this Tuesday but my professor, being the goddess that she is, allowed me a week's extension) and a weird history midterm during which I must "interview with Colbert" for a spot in Louis XIV's court at Versailles. I would be much happier completing the take-home exam of essays that was originally going to be our midterm, but I guess I have no choice.
I also have to do all of my laundry from vacation, which has been sitting at the foot of my bed in a large white trash bag since I came back to school on Monday because I have yet to have had any time to devote to washing my clothes. Since I am running low on socks and have depleted my supply of jeans, however, I think it is about time to finally deal with it.
I have to do so much today and I am going to have only two hours of sleep to help me do it. Insomnia could not have picked a worse time to plague me.