I’m spending a little time dwelling on my loveliest moments of 2011, so the whole thing doesn’t just pass by in a messy blur. In Part One, I talked about the wonderful rustic farm I visited with my family in the south of France. In Part Two, it was schvitzing in Istanbul. And for Part Three, I’m going to spend some time reminiscing about flying an airplane over the western coast of Mexico.
Okay, so my heart rate sped up when I wrote that because this wasn’t just the most exciting thing that happened to me last year; this was the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me. When I arrived at the tiny Puerto Vallarta airport and walked onto the tarmac in the blinding hot sun, desperately shedding my layers of Toronto winter, I couldn’t believe that I was expected to hop into a tiny, little red and yellow four-seater plane.
I first thought about my fear of heights. I thought about my refusal to go on roller coasters. I thought about eating pulled pork tacos with a little salsa verde. (But that was just my mind wandering!) But then I got into the plane, into the front seat and buckled myself in. The pilot, a salty and extremely kind retired commercial pilot, assured me that everything was safe as he flicked switches while we taxied out to the runway. When we took off, my heart was in my throat and it stayed there the entire time as we swooped over the ocean and searched for whales and as we spotted picturesque villages along the dramatically beautiful shoreline.
When the pilot offered me the chance to steer I hesitated again. I thought about how I had never done anything like this before. I thought about my lack of a drivers’ license. I thought about how nice it would be if there was some sort of in-flight service offering fresh margaritas and maybe a little queso fundito. But then I took the steering wheel and slowly eased the plane left, then right, then up and then down. I couldn’t believe it. I handed back the controls and we landed after about an hour, but my head stayed in the clouds for weeks.
When we arrived at our destination, the beautiful and dream-like Cuixmala resort, with its delicious organic produce, casually roaming zebras and elegant hillside villas, I couldn’t stop gushing about my experience in the sky. And what amazed me most was this: flying was not on my wish list and I had never considered it an experience I needed to have. It got me wondering what else is beyond the realm of my imagination and what else might I be able to find in 2012 to challenge myself and make my heart pound, both in the act and every time I think about it?