Many say you do not forget your first love.
That unforgettable twinge of the heart-strings.
The rush of endorphins at the first touch,
of adrenaline at first sight.
I’ll never forget how I felt my first night.
It was immensely dark. The drive in the car was winding through the trees, taking deep plunges down dark corners, bringing me to a place unknown. My mind spun, what is it like? How is it going to feel? Will I enjoy it? Where the hell are we?
The car lurched, the hill was steep. The car engine roared; its horsepower was not worthy of such a feat. We barely crested the hill when it was back down again. Lights up ahead.
Out of the car. The air felt cool, like it was embracing me, holding me gently to ease the shock of what came next.
“Do you have a flashlight? It will make it easier.”
A light clicked on and I caught my first glimpse.
A wooden path, shrouded in greenery, beckoned my bare feet. Slipped off the shoes. I stepped carefully, backpack in hand and flashlight in the other. Past exotic trees and shrubs, vines hanging down and tickling my hair. The air was full of life; without light I could tell that the green around me was overwhelming, bristling with energy. The rustle of brush caused me to pause, a swing of my flashlight. An emerald reptilian tail struck out. My first encounter.
We walked along the boardwalk and came to the stairs winding around a large pavilion. The clinking of glasses, metal and plastic were loud and assaulting my ears, still sensitive from the flight.
“This is the pavilion, it’s dinner time. Your tent is up here.”
We followed the girl up more stairs past the scene. I couldn’t help but stare at the people in the “pavilion” eating dinner. All shapes and sizes, colors, ethnicities, and ages. People wearing nothing but bathing suits, or sarongs, everyone barefoot. Those who clearly lived here were in jeans and sweatshirts, feeling “chilly” while the vacationers, fresh from the North were enjoying the sweat dripping off their limbs. Wine, beer, and cocktails littered the white tables. Children ran, jogged and weaved through chair legs.
Finally, our tent. Just around the corner. The sounds of life coming from the pavilion were like having friends over and enjoying the sound of conversation while you sat just far enough away to simply listen.
“Mom, can we come back next year?”
My brother was already hooked.
We hadn’t even seen the best of Maho Bay yet.
This is the beginning of a series about my first travel experience outside the continental U.S. To follow the series and keep updated, sign up for the emailing list.. or simply stay tuned.