Beautiful beaches, lively nightlife, and its signature drink, tequila. You guessed it, I’m talking about Cancun. But as I reminisce on a recent trip there with my friend Teresa, what lingers on my mind are the people — my Mexican family, to be more specific. From the moment of our arrival, even the sunny 80-degree weather could not upstage the warmth and love exuded by the hotel staff.
At check-in, friendly greetings, hugs, and familiar faces surrounded us. Alberto, the manager wanted to personally escort us to our beautiful ocean-front accommodations. As we approached our room, his grin widened and it became obvious that he was up to something. A “Happy Birthday” sash on the door brought immediate smiles to our faces as we both would be celebrating birthdays during our stay. We were so touched and had no clue what awaited us inside.
Upon entering the room, the turquoise Caribbean waters in direct view ahead immediately captured my attention – but it was the bright colors from the corner of my eye that triggered my curiosity. As I walked closer, emotions overcame me as I discovered a spectacular work of art created on the bed. The design read “Wizard of Oz,” and the colored-rice image was complete with an emerald city in the middle, rainbow, yellow brick road (of course), and Dorothy and Toto too! Not only was it beautiful, it was steeped in meaning since it was inspired by my “Tales of Oz” blog. I had no idea my Cancun friends even knew about my work let alone read it!
As I studied the placement of each grain of rice, I was in awe — and actually in shock — as I imagined the time it must have taken to create these intricate details. What’s astonishing is that it was a gift from a group of people I had spent only limited time with on previous trips. Despite not knowing them very well, they treated me like family and went out of their way to make us feel special.
Although this artistic creation was one of the most thoughtful gifts anyone had ever given me, it was only the beginning. A few days later, on Teresa’s birthday, another treat arrived in the room as we relaxed poolside.
This time it was a bottle of wine, tiramisu and red velvet parfaits with candles, and a custom-made towel cake arranged on our coffee table. Tears began to flow -- again.
Thank you, my Cancun friends, for welcoming me into La Familia. I have bottled up your masterpiece and it will remain on my desk as a reminder of your kindness, welcoming spirit, and love. When I think of you, one word remains — family.