Veeder: Prairie people in Mexico
Columnist Jessie Veeder writes about traveling to Mexico with friends from Canada and Western North Dakota. She writes, "We are prairie people. The only waves we have up here are made of grain."
WATFORD CITY, N.D. — Do you know what it takes to get out of the great white north in March?
Ask anyone who tried it the past couple weeks of spring break, and they will tell you it was an act of God. Some of them never made it out.
We were the lucky ones — cue dramatic music — because for some reason, our tactic of driving more north to Canada to catch a flight to Mexico actually worked. I mean, the flight was delayed 10 hours, but the promise of a 100-degree temperature change and unlimited access to tequila kept our spirits up. And also, not one soul left behind in North Dakota will tolerate any complaints about a March trip to Mexico in the middle of the blizzard, so I wouldn’t dare.
Didn’t even want to send a picture of me blinding the country with my neon winter-white ranch kid legs blazing in the sun. My plan was to just slip quietly away with my husband and my sunscreen and giant hat to pretend for a week that the only care we have in the world is how many more chips and guacamole we could possibly eat before it was time to eat an actual meal.
I turn 40 this year. My husband had his turn in September. Mexico with friends was a gift we gave ourselves for making it this far. And now I’m scheming on what excuse I can come up with to do the same thing next year. Although maybe the only excuse a person needs to get away from it all is that, in the end, it makes you more tolerable to the people who have to live with you.
I will also take a moment here to plead my case for a week’s paid vacation in a tropical place for every person who has had to endure this 45-month North Dakota winter. I don’t know who is going to pay for it, but I’m sure we can work it out in a bake sale or something.
So that’s where we’ve been, my husband and I. We left our kids behind with the in-laws to do things kids do with grandparents — bake cookies, eat cookies, bake cupcakes, eat cupcakes, snuggle, watch movies, swim in the big community pool and, apparently, partake in major shopping sprees.
When they FaceTimed us to model their new outfits, with a margarita in my hand and my feet in the pool, it was hard to tell among us who was having more fun — and I threw my body down a 98-foot waterslide. In hindsight, the waterslide was a terrible idea, but I’ll never admit it, not to my kids, anyway.
Oh, vacation life! Where nobody knows you except the yahoos you brought with you, and so somehow you can convince yourself that you are the person who thinks 98-foot waterslides are fun and not just an un-prescribed enema/neti pot treatment.
In Mexico, it could not be clearer that the lot of us were northern folk. With one-half of our crew of 14 residing in Canada and the other from North Dakota, our combined complexions lounging in the pool could likely be seen from space. And if that didn’t give it away, one of us puking on the 20-minute ferry ride to the island probably did. We are prairie people. The only waves we have up here are made of grain.
But in Mexico, we’re different. In Mexico, I scuba dive. Yup. Just give me a 20-minute lesson on land and I’m expert enough to put my face underwater and not panic. And by not panicking I mean managing only to do the one thing required of me to not die while scuba diving and that is to breathe. Need me to actually swim, or push that button that releases air to send me up or down, or look at fish or pose for a picture or not float to the surface and need to be pulled back down? Can’t do it. Working on breathing here.
Oh, if just breathing were the only task. That’s the power of vacation mode.
If you need me I’m back home now, eating noodle soup, re-acclimating to my natural habitat and making plans for the bake sale.
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Greetings from the ranch in western North Dakota and thank you so much for reading. If you're interested in more stories and reflections on rural living, its characters, heartbreaks, triumphs, absurdity and what it means to live, love and parent in the middle of nowhere, check out more of my Coming Home columns below. As always, I love to hear from you! Get in touch at email@example.com.