Full circle.

Jeff and I took our final trip (before I started my new job) of this journey last weekend. We decided to sneak off for a long weekend in Tulum. We chose the location because it was easy, we love it and we needed a break from the cold and rain. It wasn’t until we were there that I realized that our first trip, upon my leaving my job, was Tulum. A couple of weeks into my sabbatical, we hosted a birthday party for a friend there. Completely by accident, we came full circle and book-ended this year in the same location.

However, as we ate, drank, yoga-ed and sun bathed our way through the weekend, I made a startling second realization. Tulum embodies all of the cultures that we experienced during our year of Finding Ubuntu. The Indian culture was evident in multiple ways - in the yoga culture and the occasional Ganesha sighting while strolling about. I even realized that the kite surfing school’s logo was in Sanskrit - seen on the Taj Mahal and the temples of Japan. In addition to this, for every Ganesha, there is a Buddha around the corner. You don’t have to go far to see wind flags like those dotting the terrain of Bhutan. That and incense and copal abounds. The fresh grilled sardines at The Real Coconut, made me long for lazy lunches in Croatia. Jeff craved Nutella crepes as good as any in Paris. Lastly, I would be remiss to not mention our old favorite, Posada Margherita, a little slice of Rome on the beach.

Tulum also has its own unique special offerings: pristine beaches, cultural diversity, my favorite restaurant in the world and a hippie, spiritual, hipster vibe that takes the best of some of my favorite cities and mashes them together.

However, the most meaningful part of our trip was the ubuntu. Jeff and I decided to pop into Casa Violeta, where we hosted our guests last year, in search of Damien. A year earlier, he had made our trip with his antics and really embracing our group’s celebration. Low and behold, he was there behind the bar. He was quick to greet us with hugs and kisses, join us for part of our breakfast and invite us back. He told us how much he missed waiting tables and connecting with the guests, something his new management role had taken him away from. He updated us on his travels with his mom and his hopes and dreams. He continued to tell us that he wanted us to consider his place our home and invited us back.

One thing is for sure. This year has changed me. It has pushed me off of my center and given me a new, more solid foundation. I feel like I was stripped down raw and built completely anew. It was hard. Very hard. And rewarding. I am still me; but, perhaps, more so than ever before. And, I have learned that “Our life (really) is shaped by our mind; we (do) become what we think.” Bold thinking enabled this crazy year and joy did follow, albeit “like a shadow”.