Margarita Mentality and Mexico Memories (or How to Maintain a Vacation State of Mind)

by Belinda Munoz on July 26, 2010


Husband, son and I recently came back from a wonderfully relaxing vacation at a favorite spot in a beautiful coastal town south of the border.  There was much lazing around — in bodies of water, along sturdy seawalls and at tables of delectable goodness.  There may even have been a rare two-for-one noontime cocktail indulgence (moi), dancing on chairs (son and moi) and happy hugs and kisses (husband, son and moi).

When we arrived home safe and sound (and all sporting a decent tan), I half-joked that I never want to do anything hard ever again.  Because one can argue that easy can be just as effective as hard, if not more.  Hard doesn’t necessarily mean right, or good or judicious.  And when you’re lingering on holiday mode like I am, hard holds no appeal.  It just sounds like too much trouble for no guaranteed payoff while easy offers virtually no hassle and presents just as much promise.

In an effort to promote the efficacy of easy (as opposed to the hype of hard), I’ve pulled together a few vacation-state-of-mind epiphanies that I haphazardly wrote on cocktail napkins (aka margarita mentality or mojito mindset if you prefer).  Because I believe that a little sprinkling of happiness doesn’t have to be hard to have or hold.

  • Walk. It’s such a simple way to feel connected to the land, to experience the vibe of a place and to notice the little things easily missed when zooming around in a motorized vehicle.  And aside from the obvious health benefits, it’s a great way to duck in and out of traffic.  There is always an alternate route and traffic jams are rare on foot.  The only requirement is good shoes (and if you’ve got a little bit of that California casual in you, flip flops go with everything, everywhere).
  • Hola. Greet everyone I make eye contact with with a happy hello (or bonjour or buongiorno or whatever language is appropriate).  It seemed so natural for Mexican locals to say hola with a smile, and many of them did not have the ulterior motive of selling time-shares.  In contrast to my fast-paced, non-vacation life here at home, often the niceties toward strangers are squeezed out, I admit.  Friendly hellos are few and far between compared to the impersonal and cold eye contact avoidance and non-interactions that take place on busy sidewalks.  I’m not sure why and I think it is sad because saying hello is a basic human interaction that is pretty hard to screw up and could potentially go a long way.  (In the same spirit, gracias and por favor in any romance language are pleasant sounds.  Scoring free drinks and great service are an awesome bonus.)
  • Respect. For myself, others, the natural pace of things, and so many more.  For example, honking that horn incessantly in traffic.  Is there any need to add stress to any commute?  Does anybody sitting in a traffic jam choose/want to be there?  Another example, siesta.  What’s the merit of getting uptight over the long established tradition of siesta?  Wouldn’t it be infinitely easier (and pleasurable) to sit somewhere and read a book instead of stewing because shops and restaurants are closed for a few hours?  Between a sense of urgency (or impatience) and the natural pace of things, I have a pretty good guess on which one is easier to flow with.
  • Watch the sunset. It takes place everyday but it’s far too easy to miss when I’m home.  But away?  Even my son, ever the mini busy-body, was mesmerized by its breathtaking vista, unique every time and gone all too soon; but often so very memorable.
  • Enjoy. The little things and the not so little things.  As much and as often as possible.  Sounds easy enough but without a margarita mentality, gets a bit tricky, no?
  • Ponder the foreigner versus indigenous concept. This one may not be so easy, though it bears mentioning.  Our pragmatic needs have us all touchy, tangled and torn apart over border concerns, territorial myths and xenophobic fears.  Yet the world belongs both to all of us and none of us.  Lands have been plundered, raped and colonized for centuries and ownership changes overtime.  In a sense, are we not all foreigners and indigenous simultaneously?  And in a way, the thought of selling, buying or owning land is not too dissimilar from selling, buying or owning air, is it not?  Sometimes, we draw the line of ownership wherever it’s convenient for the sake of feeling secure.

Once, husband and I witnessed an interaction between two people where an American man defiantly said, “I am not a foreigner” on a plane to another country.  He was questioning an item on the immigration form.  Clearly, this man thought the word foreigner was beneath him.  My point?  A vacation state of mind does not also mean civility and humanity go on holiday.

The other day, I overheard a woman whom I assumed as being a mother of a bride-to-be on a telephone conversation as I was crossing a busy city street.  She was expressing how stressed out she was over having to find two dresses, one for the rehearsal dinner and one for the wedding as I listened to the heavy-heartedness in her voice.  I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of stress she would’ve been under had she been preparing for a less joyful occasion.

Our capacity for human-made, self-inflicted stress/suffering, it’s a trap to which we all too often unwittingly subject ourselves.  I’m thankful I’m not in it at the moment.  The question is, how long can I stay out of it?  Perhaps memories of margaritas and mojitos, virgin, virtual or not, will do the trick.  At least until it’s time to create new memories.


  1. Do you ever find that you’re a different person when you’re on holiday than when you’re not?  If so, why?  Does it have to be so?  Would meshing the two create conflict?  Which do you like better: your holiday self or your non-holiday self?
  2. Do you have any holiday epiphanies or observations you’d like share?


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July 26, 2010 at 12:31 pm

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jarrod - Cultivating Heroes July 26, 2010 at 1:32 am

Something I found interesting on my trip to japan was that it is easier to not be concerned with the time as there are so many ‘new’ things you are busy experiencing.

Apart from being more mindful and aware I also use timeboxes to turn work/activities into more of the fun stuff. So at work I will ‘just have a go at solving this problem for 3 minutes and see what happens’, if I didn’t solve it then no big deal, let’s try again.

Take the pressure we apply to ourselves right off.


2 Kate July 26, 2010 at 3:34 am

Hi Belinda,

This is particlarly relevant to me as I have also just returned from holiday!
We had a great break, not so relaxing as it was more of a city holiday, but definitely a time to switch off, and look at everything. Long breaks for coffee in outdoor cafe’s just watching the world go by, lazy dinners with a bottle of wine and plenty of time to reconnect with each other. We find that we are both so busy, some days we barely have a 10 minute conversation so that is something that will definitely change after this break.

We also noticed how we were marvelling at the architechture, the churches etc, but we never do this at home – despite living in London which has some of the most amazing architechture in the world. We have vowed to spend at least one day a month being tourists in our own city (with a cocktail or 2!). Can’t wait!

Best wishes,


3 Tracy Todd July 26, 2010 at 3:54 am

Hmmm how to maintain a vacation mind? What about those who are not privileged enough to afford a vacation? What about those who have never had a vacation in their lives? I often wonder how those people cope with the stresses of everyday life. I think that we can learn much from them.
But, I think that one needs to make a conscious decision every single day to be positive and not allow the challenges of daily life to bulldoze you.


4 Tony Single July 26, 2010 at 5:36 am

Welcome back, Belinda. Hopefully you can stay in holiday mode for good this time, and then there’d be no more need for holidays because your life would now be one continual holiday! Ahem. Well, it’s a thought… :P

There’s really no holiday me or busy me as I do try very hard to just be “me” at all times. I mean, what else can I be, right? I try not to move or act faster than I absolutely have to. I prefer space to think, and then act. I get that space by deliberately setting my own pace. I admit that this does frustrate a lot of folks, but I do it because I absolutely have to for my own sanity! :)


5 TheKitchenWitch July 26, 2010 at 6:38 am

Welcome home! It sounds like a wonderful vacation! I think the thing that bothers me the most is that it takes me at LEAST a day, if not two, to turn off my brain and my stress and actually enjoy my time off. I think that margarita would help. :)


6 Jenny July 26, 2010 at 10:11 am

What a lovely post with fantastic advice for anyone!
I am not able to afford holidays much, but I do try to maintain a mentality similar to your fabulous list all of the time.
I do find however that when I travel, I am far less inhibited. I am much more brave and outgoing when I’m not at home. This, is something I would like to cultivate more in my daily life.


7 Aging Mommy July 26, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Wonderful post – why is it that we have such a different mentality when away from home on vacation? Yes, we have more time, are less harassed and so forth and it is all new and somehow more exciting to discover on foot than familiar territory at home. But attitudes, taking a moment, respecting and acknowledging people, well these are things we can and should always do. Note to self, after trying to ignore the lady at the doctor’s this morning so very desperately trying to strike up a conversation with me.


8 rob white July 26, 2010 at 1:32 pm

Hi Belinda,
I do love going on vacation but the only thing I enjoy more is getting back. I find that I start to miss the energy of daily life.


9 Eva @ EvaEvolving July 26, 2010 at 2:15 pm

Ohh, this sounds lovely. Thank you for sharing a bit of your vacation joy with us. And your lovely alliterations – I can’t get enough!!

For me, the vacation mentality is about keeping things in perspective. When I’m on vacation it seems easier to let things go – or to not make such a big deal about them. That’s harder when I’m wound tight in the regular world.


10 Justine July 26, 2010 at 8:35 pm

Welcome home! I was wondering about you all of last week. Seemed pretty quiet over here. Glad you had a good time on what sounds like a lovely vacation.

I quite enjoyed this post as it made me think about my own vacation mentality. I’m mostly the same person here or there, except that I vacation at a much more leisurely pace. One that is almost alien to me because I’m all about efficiency when I’m home. In fact, I have to force myself to slow down and to not sweat the small stuff. It’s a vacation not just because I want a break from routine, but perhaps even a break from myself. To find a way to exhale.

Oh and your last bullet point (Ponder the foreigner versus indigenous concept) is pitch perfect. Thank you for that. I hope more people will realize it too: “… the world belongs both to all of us and none of us… In a sense, are we not all foreigners and indigenous simultaneously?” and show respect and kindness to all they meet, not just those they deem are worthy.


11 Rudri July 26, 2010 at 8:54 pm

Welcome back Belinda. I am intrigued by your last bullet point, the juxtaposition of foreigner vs. indigenous. I think we get carried away by becoming territorial. I don’t know the remedy for this mentality, but it is certainly worth pondering – Is there a pure ownership of any piece of land?


12 Christine LaRocque July 27, 2010 at 4:55 am

So glad you are back and writing again!! Really, I seem always just at a point when I can relate completely to what you have to say. Unfortunately I am NOT on vacation, but I am working toward a new sense of self (as you know :-) which I’m hoping involves so much MORE of LESS. I’m not sure how it’s all going to round out, but all that you have to say here just resonates. It says something about the life I want to lead. Particularly the parts about walking, enjoying a sunset and enjoying. A whole new life motto! Couple them with a margarita and I do believe one would be set.


13 Donna Brogan July 27, 2010 at 5:29 am

I am so glad you had a wonderful vacation and very deserving I might add. Love your blog. I try to keep a positive mindset each and everyday as if I was on vacation. Of course, it doesn’t work every day but most times. You always seem to be talking about something I really need to hear. I haven’t had a vacation for a very long time but it seemed like I went on one with you while reading your post. Thanks. And the margarita and sunset was awesome. I enjoyed them immensely. Looking forward to your next post. Have a great week.


14 Roman Soluk July 27, 2010 at 6:30 am

Really tasty picture! :) And, as always, nice info! Thanks for sharing!


15 Patty - Why Not Start Now? July 27, 2010 at 10:56 am

Hi Belinda – Welcome back! Now when I think of you I can call up a picture of you dancing on those chairs. Anyway, we actually have a joke about this in our house (not the chair dancing part but the vacation part). We have “Vacation Dave” and “Regular Dave.” I much prefer Vacation Dave. He’s loose, fun, zestful. Regular Dave is more serious. We’re working to get the two to find that happy middle ground, and we definitely like our vacation selves the best. I think you hit on something with the easy/hard thing. When I continually ask myself, “How can I make this easier?” then I’m more likely to keep that vacation mentality going.


16 BigLittleWolf July 27, 2010 at 12:30 pm

I love your suggestions for extending the vacation mindset. (And that margarita looks positively decadent.)

Unfortunately, a vacation hasn’t been in the cards for some time, but even small breaks now and then offer the change in routine that can help refocus. I know myself well enough, however, to realize that only when I leave town do I actually breathe more deeply, distance myself from the worries, and find my truer, better selves.

It can be almost anywhere. The newness of the place allows me to find reflection more easily over a cup of coffee, a short walk, the quiet. If it’s France, there’s so much pleasure in the language that I become a more “whole” self. A self I only seem to find in that country, as has always been the case for me.

Still – any change offers some benefits of a break. Perspective. Renewed strength. Appreciation for what I have.

We missed you. Glad to read you again. :)


17 Sara July 27, 2010 at 1:16 pm

Belinda — I LOVE this post. I love that you put down your thoughts as they came and each one had it’s own beginning and end… like mini-stories. I really enjoyed this. You make such wise points in each of your stories:~)

Welcome back and I hope you will keep “easy” on your mind; let “hard” find a new home!


18 Giulietta July 27, 2010 at 4:13 pm

Hi Belinda,

Great post! Yes, we complicate our “easy” lives and create our own stress. No one’s following us with a whip. We’re holding the whip! I love vacations because I feel ALIVE big time. My sense are heightened. It always feels like an adventure because we wing much of our vacations. Usually, don’t even get a hotel, just drive around seeing what attracts our attention.

And you SLOW down. On day one I’m a bit hyped out to sit in a cafe, by the end I’m loving hanging in a cafe watching folks.

We are in a hurry to get to the end of our lives! How silly is that? Let’s slow down and be on vacation all the time.

Thanks … G.


19 Aileen July 29, 2010 at 2:07 pm

What a lovely post! I feel like I went on vacation just reading it… and now I have a light craving for a margarita. :)
“Our capacity for human-made, self-inflicted stress/suffering” – uue, I do that one quite well. If don’t pay attention it’s all too easy to go into that self imposed stress. I remember planning my wedding last year and being determined to just enjoy it and not stress about it – it amazed who was stressing about it – very strange. I thought of that when I read your words “I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of stress she would’ve been under had she been preparing for a less joyful occasion.”


20 The Exception July 31, 2010 at 9:57 am

Oh I love this – and have had several similar thoughts throughout the week. I haven’t been on vacation, just commuting into DC for a change. I think we slow down when we are not in our usual, regularly scheduled programming – whether that be on vacation or not. We take life much more seriously during that normal day – and yes, believe it or not – people around here do choose that commute in bad traffic in order to live in their neighborhood or in order not to ride the metro… something that boggles my mind in a way.
Your thoughts are great – walking, the little things – for me it is also remembering to breathe. It seems on vacation (or out of the office) I have room to breathe deeply where during my regular life, perhaps I don’t think about stopping to breathe as often.

Great thoughts.


21 Alexandra August 11, 2010 at 7:03 am

Loving this site. Followed you over from Justine’s rec. These are the types of blogs I want to follow.

Thank you for your words.


22 [email protected] from a Peaceful Divorce August 11, 2010 at 5:57 pm

I would like to echo Alexandra’s sentiments. I am always striving for positivity and LOVE to find blogs that are circulating good vibes, as it were (okay so I’m from California).


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