Sleep was a good idea. I wake up to the sunshine peering through the translucent curtains of my hotel room. I immediately feel a sense of calm. The sun has healing qualities like a good hug... warmth and comfort (at least to a Chicago girl). I walk out on my balcony, my thoughts slowing, while my senses immediately absorb the sight and smell of the outdoors and the glowing turquoise sea. I now know, "This is definitely going to be OK!"
Pool time, but not without breakfast. I stop at the hotel cafe to pick up a yogurt parfait and a cup of coffee, and head to the pool with my book. "Beautiful Ruins" starts out with a 20-something female protagonist living in LA, working her butt off for what she thought would lead to her dream movie industry job. However, both her current job and apathetic "relationship" with her significant other are not living up to her expectations, and she is trying to decide which situation she needs to change first. I thought, this will be a good escape from my own feelings of disappointment and pain.
I fully take advantage of relaxing that first day and completely spoil myself, which I NEVER do (at least without a sense of guilt populating my thoughts: Do I deserve this? I'm so lucky to be here, taking a vacation, so few people get to do this, etc etc...). The moment I think about guilt, I create pact #2, "You will not let guilt interfere with enjoying this vacation; this has been an emotionally exhausting last few weeks, and you worked hard to earn this vacation; life is too short to not fully enjoy this special experience."
After a lovely day by the pool, I say, it's time to shower, get dressed, and NOT eat dinner alone in my room tonight... I am feeling the need to chat. So I head to the hotel bar; I figure, there's usually a bartender to talk to? I'll start with a drink and decide if I want to stay for dinner. I bring my book, sit like an anti-social nerd, READING, at a bar (in my defense, it was not a crowded bar, and it was relatively quiet). However, I am relieved to be distracted when the bartender asks, "What can I get you?" I say a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, and he comes back with two glasses. I asked him who the other glass was for? He thought I said I was waiting on someone else. I said no; just a glass of white wine for me, but since he poured two, I told him he could have the other one with me. I failed to mention, this was a very attractive bartender.
We'll name the handsome Venezuelan/Lebanese (great combo, btw) bartender, Tony. I talked to Tony on and off for awhile; he would leave to help other customers, and I would pretend to read my book. I was treating my book like people do their cell phones... when they're alone in an elevator, on public transportation, etc etc. I swear, society today has encouraged us to be scared of being alone; we have to look "popular" or "occupied" at all times or else we are freaks or outcasts, or SINGLE. Now when did a cell phone become good company? Or moral support? This led me to pact #3, "it is OK to actually be alone, with myself at times, not only on vacation, but at home too."
Tony made the most of what he did have (most notably a loving family and the cutest curly haired blonde little niece he enjoys breakfast with each day) and started working for a large American owned hotel company in hope of moving from bar-tending into management and possibly moving to the United States one day. Caring and providing for his family became a significant part of his life in Curacao. I could immediately tell Tony was a genuine, selfless person. I tell you this story, because it gave me perspective into another world and further reinforced the positive influences vacation and meeting new people can have on a person. Getting to know another person on a remote island, just about my age, living a completely different life, but being able to relate to and understand each other is special (thankfully he was fluent in English because Spanish, Dutch, and Papiamento are not my strong suits).
Coincidentally, Tony had also recently ended a relationship, so we shared each of our stories and bonded over new beginnings. He also happened to mention that he didn't work during the day, and that he'd love to take me on a tour of the northwest beaches (aka the amazingly gorgeous remote beaches that I was told I MUST see). I immediately got excited, but then that whole, "what if I get kidnapped, I don't know this guy, my mom would kill me?" fear came back. Who will win? Fear or adventure?
Have you ever met someone that you felt like you were supposed to meet? Whether its your significant other, or a new friend, an acquaintance, or a "Tony" who popped up out of nowhere and could relate to what you were going through? Please share your story and stay tuned for my next blog entry, "Faith Restored," which will be the final entry of the Curacao series. Thank you for reading:)