The addiction began in February 1994. After discussing the merits of a beach vacation with other moms at the Peanut Butter and Jam playgroup, we headed to Kihei, Maui. This was my first tropical vacation, and we had an amazing time. Colin was 3 and Katie was 1, and mom came with us. Two weeks of sun and sand, beautiful scenery and I was hooked.
We visited Kihei again in 1996, with the Sr. Burd's, and 5, 3 and 1 year old kids. Weather wasn't nearly as good and the Sr. Burd's didn't like chilling (literally) on the beach, and so we looked for a new paradise.
In 1998, it was Club Med in Ixtapa, Mexico and the addiction changed to include not just tropical beaches but All Inclusives!
In March 2000 we returned to Kihei. Alex came down with Chicken Pox, and came home to be diagnosed with diabetes. We have not returned but I can hear Hawaii calling my name!
In 2002 we had an amazing, fabulous time at Club St. Lucia. Saint Lucia is a paradise and everyone in our family would rank our time in St. Lucia as the best family vacation ever, I believe. Saint Lucia also calls to me.
2003: California for both San Diego and Disney.
2003/04: Sirenis Resort at Punta Cana, D.R. Our first time traveling at Christmas, another tradition I would love to keep. This is where the biting insect troubles begin. Our first day at the resort, a rain storm clears the beach. Daryl and the kids go out into the surf. I watch from the comfort of a beach chair, oblivious to the sand flies biting me to bits. Covered head to toe in tiny, itchy bites that blistered and popped before drying out. :( After this trip, mosquito bites at home became a problem, swelling and blistering. Deep Woods Off became my best friend.
2005/06: Grande Bahia Principe at Punta Cana, for Christmas and New Years. A good trip, but it is here that the bug bite allergy causes a problem. After the '04 trip, I knew to wear repellant in the evening, but didn't realize I was at risk daytime in the sand. Pool side sun loungers became necessary, after a day on the beach resulted in some very large, ugly bites that got infected. A trip to the resort doctor was needed for IV antibiotics. I am not anxious to return to the D.R.
2007/08 New Years Eve at the Grande Bahia Coba on the Mayan Riviera. Pretty resort but much too large, and resort food continued to be disappointing. Good news this trip - very few bugs. Bad news, coldest weather on record for that area in 30 years. This trip was one of the least enjoyable, and my love affair with All Inclusive resorts came to an end.
All Inclusives certainly have their benefits. The kids clubs are fabulous with younger children. Proximity to other families with teens is another. The ability for the kids to forage for their own food, yet another. But a resort cannot provide the glimpse into the real local conditions: it isn't the way to find a permanent bit of paradise.
So when the opportunity arose to spend a week in the village of Sayulita, Mexico for SmugMexico 2010, I was thrilled. I work for a wonderful company, SmugMug, and really enjoy my job. SmugMug is renowned for customer service, and have a philosophy that is completely in synch with mine, so doing my job is a pleasure. The fact that SmugMug believes in treating their employees with a corporate retreat is an amazing bonus!
I had never heard of Sayulita, and would never have found it on my own. I doubt I would ever have ventured out of a major resort city in Mexico on my own, so am so grateful to have had this opportunity. Sayulita is a gorgeous village; the rental properties amazing, the beach beautiful, fantastic restaurants, safe and friendly and inexpensive. Sayulita could be my personal nirvanah. There is only one thing that keeps it from being so, actually. Biting insects! Despite my best efforts to keep slathered in DEET, the little buggars got me 4 times on the first night, and another three times later in the week. The bites follow the exact same pattern of swelling, blistering and popping. I feel ill as my body goes into histamine overdrive. Antihistamines help, but make me dopey and nauseous. Tequilla helps too. :D
And so the quest continues, to find the perfect location for a long term, semi permanent, tropical beach to call my own. Only thing necessary is for it to have no biting insects! I am open to suggestions, and quite willing to do mas research over the next few years. Will it be on the Caribbean Sea, or the South Pacific? As my dad says, only time will tell.