Back from the beach

The six days we spent in Playa del Carmen, Mexico last week are already fading into distant memory. It was a fun, relaxing vacation in a beautiful place with a whole bunch of good friends. I ate a lot of tasty food, had some excellent afternoons on the beach, reading, swimming and drinking, and enjoyed wandering around the relatively laid-back city.

Now, I really have an urge to explore Mexico further from the beaten path. The ideal of a small town on the coast somewhere, with one hotel and one restaurant and one glorious beach, has been planted in my head and I want to go find that place.

I read Ian Frazier’s excellent Great Plains while we were there. It’s travel writing of sorts–I also read part two of his recent article about driving across Siberia in the New Yorker–though it features more history than adventure. I particularly loved how he was able to identify the seemingly obscure details of a story that he reveals to be the real truth of what he is covering.

It encouraged me to open up my eyes a little bit as I explored Playa, not assuming that the loudest voices or the biggest and brightest sights were the most important. Maybe even going to Wal-Mart in Mexico can be a foreign experience that tells you how ordinary Mexicans live, maybe aggressive street vendors can help you understand what it’s really like to visit someone else’s home, and maybe you see how big the world really is by going somewhere you’re told isn’t so far away.


  1. Dad says

    I read four very long excerpts of Great Plains many years ago in The New Yorker. And I mean they were very l-o-n-g. They must’ve totaled the entire book. (Great reading.) Since then the magazine has stopped publishing such long pieces, if you can believe that. Now they’re just long.

    Also enjoyed Frazier’s Siberia pieces. He’s a great writer. His Shouts and Murmurs pieces in The New Yorker are always hilarious (think The Cursing Mommy).

    Sounds as if you had a wonderful time in Mexico.

    • says

      I have “Great Plains” and thought you’d enjoy it. Let me know if you want to borrow it. Definitely great reading. I somehow missed the first Siberia piece, so I need to track that down. Really enjoyed part two. He’s a heck of a writer, sharp eye and a great voice.

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