The look on the kids faces was questioning at best. I did my best to portray a look of assurance, all the while giving Mr. PTM frequent glances of “where in the world are you taking us,” and still wondering if we were lost.
We had started our day by waking the kids just after 3am, having no idea of the adventure that lie ahead. We haven’t ventured far from home since being pregnant with my youngest three-years ago. But there we were disturbing their peaceful slumber with John Denver’s “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” telling them they need to get up so we could get to the airport on time. With confused glossy eyes, wobbly knees, and some pretty epic “bedhead” they excitedly began to ready themselves, but for what they had no clue.
The kids were not the only ones left in the dark. Besides a travel agent, we told no one in the world where we were going. Our day consisted of two airplane rides, two time zones, and nearly two miles of a rocky dirt road in a foreign country. Although excited, I was a bit unsure what Mr. PTM had gotten us into. This isn’t route you would take to a vacation “resort.” Over the next week, I came to learn that treacherous road led to something special. While visually stunning, the real beauty extended way beyond our surroundings.
An hour south of Ixtapa, Mexico and nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra Madre Mountains, we found our paradise. An eight-room eco-resort that brought us closer to nature and closer to each other. No phones, no television, and no digital distractions (okay, there is internet, but we chose to limit our use to a few minutes each night to check emails and keep up with PTM customers needing assistance). Playa Viva would become our home away from home for a week.
While the ocean breezes and waves crashing outside our room were gentle and comforting to us grown ups, I’ll admit those same senses were lost on the kids the first night. Our open air palapa offered all the luxury one could imagine, however, with a thatched roof, half walls, no windows, and only a thin veil to protect us from the critters we could hear howling outside, I’m pretty sure the kids thought we’d all be eaten during the night. You’ll see from the photos below that these fears were quickly eased and catching up on sleep became a theme for the remainder of the trip.
Sleep has become almost a foreign thing to me with three kiddos and a business that tends to have 10pm to 4am as primary work hours. After postponing this time away four times in order to keep up with work and life in general, it was an amazing feeling to actually sleep through the night. Usually getting by on around 3-4 hours a night, I think this was the first time in 10 years that I’ve actually slept all night (solar power that ran out at midnight and very spotty internet helped nudge that along)!
The children’s fears quickly vanished the next morning when they realized the main attraction of this resort. Beyond simply being a beautiful oasis, the place we were staying at is a turtle sanctuary. Nearly everyday we would release baby turtles into the ocean. Over the course of the week we released hundreds of Olive Ridley turtles, and watched as they miraculously fought their way into the sea. Threatened by predators and poachers it is estimated that only one out of every hundred baby turtles will make it to adulthood. The sanctuary helps increase the odds of survival and it is amazing (and ridiculously adorable) to watch these little creatures instinctively march towards the ocean, only to have a crashing wave carry them further up the beach. They continue this dance with the sea for nearly fifteen-minutes until they successfully reach their new home. It’s a lesson in perseverance for sure. We’ll never know how the turtles we released ended up, however, it was quite a learning experience for all of us and the kids loved being turtle rescuers.
As you look through the photos, you’ll notice there are a few images that include a before and after feature for the edited photo. If you see a white line on the right side of the photo, you can slide this to the left to see the before, and back again to see the after (hover over the image and the little orange “grab” bar appears). All photos from these sessions were edited with the Reverie Collection Photoshop Actions and Overlays. In fact, the photos I took on this trip inspired the creation of Reverie (rev·er·ie: noun: a state of being pleasantly lost in one’s thoughts; a daydream).
Who doesn’t love a little sun?
Our Pacific Northwest winters can be a little dreary to say the least. So yes, it was wonderful to spend some time enjoying the sun from the beach and pool. Our snow white skin wasn’t the only thing taking advantage of the sun. One of the things we love about where we were staying is the resort is 100% solar powered. This was a great learning experience for the kids – really, a wonderful experience for all of us. We quickly learned first-hand just how precious energy is as it only took us one power outage to learn this lesson! Watching our power usage each day led us to make very conscious efforts to conserve energy. It has helped us be more mindful of how we’re doing back home so we can make more of a difference.
Nom, Nom, Nom.
The sun and a renewed passion for photography for me weren’t the only thing feeding our souls. The food here was absolutely amazing and one of our favorite activities as a family was getting into the open air kitchen and working along with the staff to help prepare the meals for the day. The meals were organic with nearly all the food being harvested on the property or sourced locally. The kids loved being involved and learning how to make yummy whole foods from scratch.
Before arriving we were a little unsure about communal meals, however, these were some of our favorite times. Unlike a lot of trips where we tend to come and go simply doing our own thing, it was a wonderful experience to sit down with people from all over the world to talk and learn about our various cultures while sharing a meal. When it was time to leave it felt as if we had just spent the week staying with friends. This is saying a lot coming from someone who is an introvert to her very core!
Renewed Passion for Taking Photos
Over the past year we experienced some heartbreaking, unexpected tragedies and I had lost a big part of the passion and joy that photography has always sparked in me. My heart felt so dark and beaten down that I actually put the camera down for a good long while. My heart breaking as I watched my daddy die … I just couldn’t bear to pick up my camera. I lugged all my camera gear along for this trip, even though I was feeling less than inspired and spent the first couple days glaring at my camera sitting on the shelf whenever I passed it. However, my heart started to open up and I once again felt the overwhelming need to capture the beautiful moments and to hopefully create something pretty. Photography can be a wonderful, healing therapy for the soul. I reminded myself of how proud my daddy was of my photography and how he would never want me to stop capturing those precious moments or to stop feeling the joy of being behind the camera. My dad was my biggest believer and supporter. And I remembered again that without all the darkness, there would be no light.
Sometimes you just need to drink from something bigger than your head.
Naps tend to be a luxury more often than not these days, however, being a turtle rescuer takes a lot out of you. 😉
It’s amazing how something so small can make such a big difference.
Any spare room in our suitcases we filled with school supplies for the local children. It’s amazing how excited and grateful these children were to receive such “treasures.” http://www.packforapurpose.org/ However, at the end of our visit, it became apparent we were not the ones making a difference. While it’s hard to look around and not be empathetic for the conditions they live and study in every day, it was amazing to see the energy and joy in their faces. You get the sense these kids are just happy to be in school and are enjoying life. They don’t have the luxuries we often take for granted (in fact, running water was only recently added to the school), but you could see from the smiles on their faces they were excited and ready to learn.
It’s hard to tell looking through the photos, but yes, I did make the trip. As often is the case, I worked hard to capture the memories but failed to be present in them. We should probably go back soon to make up for this, right? 😉 Maybe we can get Mr. PTM to pick up the camera a little more.
We all felt like this on the inside all week!
The goal of this trip was to reconnect by disconnecting (and to get some photos for the release of the Reverie Collection). As a family of five we are a tight bunch, we do almost everything together, however, as much as we are together there seems to always be something pulling us in different directions. We wanted, or should say we needed, to find something and someplace that would allow us to concentrate on the most important thing in our world – each other.
All images were edited using various actions from the Reverie Collection, including lots of play from the Soft Peach Skin Glow action and one my favorite actions for beach photos ever – the Dream Beach (All In One Mega Base) action.
Tags: Beach Editing, Beach Photo Editing, Beach Photo Tips, Beach Photography, Beach Photography Tutorial, Children Photography Editing, Dreamy Beach Photo Processing, elements actions, Family Photo Editing, Mexico Photography, Outdoor Photo Editing, Outdoor Portrait Photography, Photoshop Actions, Photoshop Actions for Photographers, Playa Viva, Playa Viva Photography, Travel photo editing, Vacation and Beach Photoshop Actions, Vacation Photo Tips