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(un)Productive in Tulum

Productivity, Relaxation, Yoga, Kiting, Reality vs Expectations. Basically, me....rambling.

When we have the interweb, I love it with my whole heart. I love being informed with up to the minute updates on the markets and news and stock prices. I drink it in with the satisfaction of, of well, being up to date. Other than checking in with the finances and emails, I am really wasting a whole lot of time under the guise (my guise) that I am doing something productive or worthwhile. What a delusion. I’m that way sometimes, delusional.

Interwebbing in the camper. Heaven when we have it...

We (maybe mostly me) are still working through the notion of productivity. When we were working we always longed for extra time to do stuff – photography, writing, Spanish lessons, guitar etc. We did more of these activities when we were on the road, but now in Tulum we have time and we aren’t doing much. That said, we have focused on our health these two weeks and are doing yoga, riding bikes, TRX, swimming, and kiteboarding lessons. I made that sound like a lot of activity, but it is typically only one of those a day preceded (or followed by) reading, interwebing, daydreaming, napping and having meals at home. I’m not sure yet if any of this is bad, but its different than what I expected. And quite honestly, it is different than the goals that I have for myself.

Reading, napping, daydreaming. a.k.a hammock surfing.

So, as I write this over morning coffee when I’m usually on the interweb, I am grateful to be doing something else. But truth be told, the internet is down. Lightning hit it. Seriously!?! And I know that it is still down because I just checked and I keep checking. This is the definition of a problem and I guess acknowledging a problem is the first step to fixing it. So, as long as the internet stays down, I’m going to work on fixing my problem.

Back to productivity, this word has positive and negative connotations that may just be the opposite of what I believe them to be. While working, productivity is paramount to success. One must be productive, feel productive, pretend to be productive and above all else make sure you boss believes you to be productive. And this should happen 24/7, for even while sleeping, the mind will work on solving problems and will thus be – productive (as long as you nod off while thinking of these problems). This was how I lived during my career – mostly. There are tools one can employ to trick one’s mind into thinking productivity is overrated, like drinking.

After years of being productive, one tends to change the brain’s wiring. This is the negative of the positive connotation of productivity. Being productive is paramount not only to success but to fulfilling one’s life goals. It is the byproduct of ambition and that is an incredible duo that tends to lead to achievements. But I now wonder at what cost is all of this productivity to personal development. Sitting on a beach and watching birds fish or palm fronds rustle is not at all productive by the standard definition, but is it bad? I suspect most would say absolutely not as a respite from the hectic lives we all lead(led) would be quite welcomed. But if you did this for five months, would your opinion change?

What I think is that productivity is inherently very good and necessary to achieve life goals. But to really drop out of society like we have done in order to change our perspective on life, the standard definition of productivity must change. And it is this shift from my productively wired brain to a new unstructured lifestyle that has created friction in my cabeza. And hence, I have these occasional bouts of perceived productivity via the interweb. I guess what I am learning is that not being productive is OK. I will say that I hope to rewire my brain so that I enjoy being productive for what it is – the process of working toward achieving a desired outcome, which is for now, under my control.

Note to the reader: If I were reading this, written by someone else last year, I might think this dude has the luxury of not being productive and therefore is just a privileged punk (yes, that is likely what I would have thought). Well, for the next two years I am a privileged punk, but one who has tremendous gratitude for this respite in my life, to stop and think for a while.

So, about Tulum. We have been here before, Paula in 2007 and both of us in 2009. It was a cool, funky town with a few great restaurants, a few funky yoga studios, and an amazingly beautiful beach. We absolutely loved our time here and felt it was one of those places we could spend an extended period of time one day. For years while planning this trip, we knew we wanted to spend some ‘off the road time’ here and rent a small house.

We found a place on VRBO last minute, which is how we need to schedule everything now. To our surprise, we knew it was perfect as soon as we walked up. It was a one-bedroom studio with a full kitchen, set in a field of coconut palms thirty meters away from the beach. It would become the center of our bubble during our two-week stay in Tulum. We got to hang out and play house for a while and it felt really good.

Our perfect little house in the jungle on the ocean. We really loved it here.

Path from our house to the beach. Coconut wrangling was one of our activities.

A little help from Alberto to get them down.

So I bought a machete. For $5. After 30 minutes of this nonsense, Alberto took it away and sharpended it with a grinder.

We cooked a lot at home.

Our little house was probably 500 sq. ft. but it felt huge to us. It was part of Rancho San Eric...a very cool collection of homes and people who have been here for over 20 years.

Lots of time - both "productive" and unproductive was spent at this table.

We rented a scooter to get around. Lojo again too big to park.

Our beach

We ventured out from our ‘bubble’ once a day or so to do one or maybe two of any sorts of activities be it yoga, bike rides through Sian Kaan, kiteboarding lessons or lunch with other overlanding friends. Once done with said activity, we made a beeline for home. It was our comfortable haven (with the interweb) that we thoroughly enjoyed. We could stretch out a little and live with all of the modern conveniences of life, like a large refrigerator, a flushing toilet and a hot shower where you didn’t need to wear flip flops.

Simon and Karie and their boys Jaimie & Ty, were in town the same time. We had lunch at Chimico's. A cool little spot on an out of the way beach. We grabbed one of the rickety plastic tables in a thicket of palm trees and settled in. Our menu choices were lobster, or ceviche of whatever was caught that morning, followed by icy Sol beer. And a post lunch swim.

Thank you, Karie and Simon, for turning us on to this magical spot. It was a great day.

karie and I talk high finance. And life.

Fancy yoga studio. We did yoga 5 out of the 12 days here. I love the yoga!!

Yoga view.

Kite boarding lessons in Tulum were tough. Big waves, seaweed. Esta no bueno!

Tulum has changed. It has become a destination that well-to-do tourists visit in order to get ‘off the beaten path’. The beaten path in this area are the t-shirt shop laden, Senor Frog on every corner kind of places like Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Tulum has warmly accepted these tourists and has built many more chic and trendy hotels, restaurants and yoga studios – a lot of them. It’s not actually a bad thing; it’s just not what we loved about Tulum. It used to be cool and hip, but much smaller and much less expensive. We won't stand in line for an hour in order to get a reservation at the current hot new restaurant, although we seemed to be in the minority. Tulum has "gone Hollywood" or Manhattan, we’re not sure which. Again, this isn’t a bad thing as we love the scene in both of those locales when we are there. We just don’t love it here.

Tulum was different than what we had originally experienced. But one of the Burning Man axioms fell true – you may not get the experience you want, but you will get the experience you need. We were healthy, got to play house, use the interweb and just sit and think. Our time in Tulum was exactly what we needed.

Maybe we were productive after all.

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