As all best trips start out, this one was completely spontaneous.
It didn’t take much for me to say yes to it. I had heard such great things about the island and the company going was even better. Together with 4 companions, I packed a bag of clothes and 0 expectations.
To get to the island itself was already an adventure. After 3 communal transports, a boat ride, and a 20 minute walk later, we arrived at our guesthouse.
Life on Chacahua was quiet and tranquil. In the early mornings, we woke up for the sunrise, and watched turtle hatchlings crawl their way to the ocean. Most of them don’t ever make it past their first day, but in this moment, every one of them is fighting for their chance to survive.
The village is sleepy and happy. We ate good home made food cooked by our host and took long walks along the beach. It was a few days of letting our minds rest. The constant breeze across the island made napping very easy on any of the many hammocks around.
I asked myself why Chacahua left such a significant mark in my travel memories. I think it was the combination of being detached from the world and the people we met there.
There was almost no signal on the island so we left our phones in our rooms and were freed to let our minds explore along with our eyes. With space created in our minds, I came to quite a few revelations on that island. Including the fact that I am indeed a free spirit. I don’t know why I always denied being one.
In Singapore, having no concrete career goals and no “hard skills”, I often felt like a failure. It was incredibly hard to feel like one especially when I had good academic results and often achieved awards while growing up. At 12, I was a UN youth ambassador for Singapore and by 16, had represented Singapore for multiple conferences overseas. You get used to people telling you “you’re going to grow up and become someone” and then realise there’s no one to teach you how to become someone.
I remember meeting an Australian girl, younger than me by a few years. She had yet to attend university but had already spent about six months traveling around Europe. She spoke fluent Spanish and just exuded peace. She smiled with her eyes and listened to people intently when they were speaking. She had a beer belly but walked around with a bikini proudly. I wanted so much to be her. But the point was – that I needed to be myself. And I needed to learn how to love who I was, even if I didn’t know who I was going to be. I needed to love my flaws, my insecurities and recognise that I was on a journey.
Even just the act of watching the sunrise together was special to me. We didn’t set a time to meet. The walls and floorboards were thin. Once one of us started walking around, the rest of us got up at our own time and made our way to the second floor. Two people offer to grab us all coffee, remembering our preferences, and then we all sit in silence. Together, side by side, but each in our own thoughts.
The rest of the day is basically spent napping on hammocks, walking around the island, surfing or reading.
There were maybe 10 of us that night, and one of us suggested taking a boat to the side of the island where we could see the sunset. Of course, like all things in Mexico, there is never a fixed time to do things. We move alongside each other – someone takes the first step getting out of his hammock, and the rest of us follow suit.
By the time we actually get there, the sun has gone down, but the beautiful hues of an already set sun radiated across the sky.
That night, we gathered around a fire. Someone brought her ukulele along, and sang a few songs. I remember listening to her sing, and immediately connecting with her emotions, her memories, her history. The power of music is such that it removes barriers between people. The magic of gathering around a fire, is looking at each stranger beside you, across you, and seeing their faces glow.
Chacahua made me realise the strength that was brewing inside me. It helped me see clearly, the kind of life I wanted to lead. It also decided for me, that I wasn’t going home – not quite yet.
And it was really on this island, that I decided to continue my journey to Europe…..
Everyone who has visited Chacahua once, will always want to return.
See you again, Chacahua.