Traveling to a new destination is always a thrill. I’ve made several repeat visits to a lot of places over the last 10 years. I’m never bored in the places I return to again and again. Often times, I relish the thought of returning to some of my favorite spots – hello, 11th Moon in Laguna Beach! But it is always good to shake things up a bit and explore new territory. That is precisely what happened on my trip to Real Del Mar, Mexico.
Technically, it was a work trip—my first shoot for the Meet Me There series. But it couldn’t have come at a better time. I was reeling from my father’s recent death. My whole world had been turned on its head. When I traveled to Real del Mar, I was just coming off of my Dad’s funeral the week before. Some alone time on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, even with some work thrown in, was just what I needed. In fact, I’d never needed it more.
I was excited for this first shoot, and a little nervous. As the first one to arrive at the house, I had the views all to myself, and I settled into a lounge chair by the infinity pool and took full advantage of the solitude. It felt nice. Really nice.
I couldn’t help but think about my Dad and the trips he’d taken with me over the last 8 years. He would have LOVED Real Del Mar. Dad was the kinda guy who liked to sip on a cocktail and “shoot the breeze” about everything from his latest building projects to his new favorite recipe. We had done just that very thing on every trip we’d taken together. Dad was thrilled about the Meet Me There series and knew how excited I was about the project, too. It broke my heart to think he wouldn’t get to see any of it come together.
But as soon as my feet hit the ground the next morning, the team and I were off and running on an unforgettable Mexican adventure. It was my first time in Real Del Mar, so I signed myself up for some other firsts—like surfing!
I confess—I am not a huge fan of water activities. Sure, I like to swim in the pool and hang out at the beach, but you’ll never catch me clambering for a boogie board or spending hours playing volleyball in the pool. I’m a leisurely, poolside kind of gal! The water is a side attraction, not the main event.
But I’d recently made a list of my personal 10 Commandments—at the top of the list is a promise that I will take the leap, every time—no matter what. I couldn’t break my own Commandment.
Nothing motivates you to get up on a surfboard like a video crew “audience” on the shoreline and a photographer floating next to you a camera up your ass, it really motivates you to get up on that surfboard. I knew I had to deliver…something…or I’d have brought us all out here for nothing. So I went for it and found myself surfing! In the Pacific Ocean! On my very first attempt to stand up. Mission accomplished! And I looked amazing (thanks to Henry, a whiz with the camera!) I never dreamed I could do it. Sadly, my honors performance on the surfboard really cut down on the number of water-soaked, four-letter rants for the blooper reel. Sorry kids!
Mingling with the Gypset
I’ve met a lot of characters while traveling, but I had my first real encounter with a gypsy in Sayulita. But Natalie is not just a gypsy—she’s part of the Gypset. What the heck is a Gypset? According to Urban Dictionary:
…Fusing the ease and carefree lifestyle of a gypsy with the sophistication of the jet set, Gypsetters are artists, surfers, designers, and bon vivants who live and work around the globe, from Jose Ignacio, Uruguay and Ibiza, Spain, to Montauk, New York. Gypset Style explores the unconventional, wanderlust lives of these high-low cultural nomads and the bohemian enclaves they inhabit, as well as their counterculture forbears, such as the Victorian explorers, the Lost Generation, the Beatniks, and the hippies.
Natalie is a gypset lifestyle guru and the eccentric owner at Pachamama, an amazing little shop and gallery. As soon as I stepped into her store, I was totally mesmerized. I couldn’t stop touching things, like the black tahitian pearl jewelry strung on leather cords and the handmade, locally designed bags. I played dress-up in a hand-embroidered dress that ended up coming home with me. I also snagged some amazing gold spiral earrings! I haven’t decided if I’m going to wear the dress or hang it on the wall. It is simply stunning and so colorful!
Natalie was dressed like a gypsy goddess. Not too many women can pull off a look that includes no shoes, a slinky slip dress, face paint, and an enormous feather in the hair, but she did just that.
When I think of Mexico, my monkey brain immediately goes to tacos and tequila. Mama Lucia tequila factory was an essential stop on our trip. We took a tour and did a little tasting. Well, maybe more than a little. But the tequila did not disappoint.
You can’t drink tequila without a toast. So with each shot, we did a different toast. I had to stop somewhere after four or five “toasts”. After all, I was working, and the fear of an embarrassing blooper reel surfacing still loomed large in my head. So when you see me swirling around in the episode with a shot of tequila in my hand, I’m not drunk! That was all part of one of our hula/shake-your-money-maker/throw-back-a-shot-of-tequila toasts! I promise.
The food in and around Real Del Mar was yummy. I’d spent the previous week in Arkansas with my family, eating more than my fair share of Southern comfort food. I was reluctant to overindulge on food while on the shoot—I had a swimsuit to wear, after all, and the camera doesn’t lie!
But when I arrived at Tacos on the Street, my dreams of moderation went straight out the window. The restaurant delivers exactly what the name suggests – Tacos on the Street. The food was fresh and the flavors melded together brilliantly. The tacos were so good, I ordered seconds and ate every last bit.
After two weeks in shock, a trip to Real del Mar was exactly what the doctor ordered. It was relaxing, invigorating, and never, ever boring. I learned a few new tricks and got way out of my comfort zone…and liked it. I’d go back in a second. But next time, I’ll work on my surfing and indulge in a few stiff margaritas and a few plates of tacos. But this time, I’ll leave my cameraman behind. My adventures—and my bloopers!—will be mine alone.