Paradises visited so far
25.04.2013 - 25.04.2015
In high school I remember my mom listening to the song "Just Another Day in Paradise." It didn't matter where you were, as long as you were with the people you loved. It was a sweet song, that made me feel like even though I wasn't dating one of the Backstreet Boys (okay, I had really bad taste in music) or beating Venus Williams (my idol at the time) at Wimbledon, that my ordinary, boring life was still something special. But what is paradise, really?
Since we've been working on a short film called Paradise (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/694362253/paraiso), the topic has come up quite a bit in conversation. Some people prefer to visit paradise, stay a few days, and then return to their reality. Maybe their goal-oriented, work-hard mentality just won't let them be lazy and subsist on Coronas and coconut. Other people think that it's hell to actually live in paradise, because unless you are on vacation, you still have to work and clean while you watch everyone else being happy.
Although I still have quite a few paradises on my map of the world that I'd like to visit (Cuba, Brazil, Bora Bora, etc. etc.), here's a list of 5 places I've visited so far that I would call Paradise. It just so happens that they're all beaches, but one.
1) Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica. PV comes in number 1 for several reasons. Mangoes, dreadlocks, flat roads for jungle bike riding, hammocks, big waves, chocolate, oh and SLOTHS! My favorite day in this sleepy, Afro-Caribbean town was when we woke up, got breakfast at Bread and Chocolate, and rented bikes to go explore some beaches. I hadn't been on a bike in years, and I felt like I was in a Hardy Boys book, about to discover some unknown territory listed as a side note in my Lonely Planet.
2) Siesta Key, Florida. Been going here since I was a child, but never really explored the town until I was in my 20s. This beach on the Gulf Coast of Florida is best before most snowbirds arrive. Rated the #1 beach in the US, the yards of fine white sand lead you to calm, turquoise waters that almost always promise you a dolphin or two. Town eats include Big Olaf's for ice cream and the Salty Dog for a beer and corn dog bites.
3) Puerto Escondido, México. One of those paradises that have become more popular since I last went there: now you can get cheap flights within Mexico to this surf town on the Pacific Coast of Oaxaca. With an undertow to kill (SERIOUSLY) and fresh seafood to boot, this beach offers lazy days and thumping nights. Also, it's a great base camp to then explore more isolated beaches such as Mazunte and Zipolite.
4) Peñitas, México. Although these two beaches share the same coastline, Their vibe couldn't be more different. Peñitas, on the Pacific Coast of Guerrero, is more for families, although you still drink the same amount of beer to beat the heat. Here, we camped, lazed in hammocks, ate freshly caught seafood and ripe plantains, and then followed the heavily palm-treed coastline to watch the sunset. Football and yoga on the beach and bonfires at night.
5) Cuernavaca, México. This is where I've chosen to call home, along with a few hundred other expats. We wake up to green parrots squawking and birds chirping, it's appropriate to have a barbeque and drink a beer at lunch every afternoon, and we can enjoy a view of the smoking Popo volcano in a hazy pink-purple afternoon. Trees flower year round, and in every neighborhood you can smell the local comida corrida and piping hot tortillas fresh off the comal.
Yes, I know I'm painting a pretty picture for a place that is now one of the most dangerous cities in Mexico. But as you actually get to know a paradise, you realize that each place has its dark side. It's up to the people who live there and the tourists who visit to make sure its a paradise for everyone. Where have you been that's paradise, and what makes it a paradise??
Check out our Kickstarter project, an exploration of the War on Drugs in Mexico and one couple's search for Paradise: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/694362253/paraiso