by Janie Emaus, AARP
As we pulled up to the house, the first thing I noticed was the sign hanging on the fence: For Sale. A million many memories weaved between those two words.
This beautiful three-bedroom home with a casita, overlooking the Sea of Cortez, has been the destination for our girls’ trips for the last 15 years. Yes, 15! Before I experienced my first personal summer, otherwise known as menopause. Before crinkly thighs became part of my anatomy. Before sunspots appeared on my arms and hands in unnamed geometric shapes.
During those early trips there was no internet, no phones, no TV. Our showers were limited to three minutes, providing there was water in the pila. If not, there was always the pool.
But whatever the conditions, there was never a day without laughter. Because it's a known fact, girls of any age make the best of their situation.
So, on this recent trip, the first thing we did was cover up those signs with towels.
Next, we opened the windows and doors, letting the fresh sea air permeate the rooms. We kicked off our travel clothes, changed into shorts and tank tops. We woke the quads from their resting stations in the garage, gathered what we needed into our backpacks and rode toward adventure, vowing to make this one of the best trips ever.
Something magical happens when women travel together. The group itself becomes an entity, with a collective consciousness. Around town we became known as the “ladies on the quads."
This time, being a year older and having passed into a new decade, we had numerous body malfunctions: swollen ankles, weak knees, neck cramps, eye migraines, digestive issues. Fortunately, these aches were dispersed among us and not residing in one body.
And not one single ache or pain held us down.
We rode through the dust, down bumpy roads, with the wind in our faces. No makeup. No fancy clothes. No worries. It was a time to recharge, rewind, relax.
Of course, riding curvy dirt paths like middle-aged Wonder Women can result in terrifying moments. One of mine took place on a pleasurable drive along the coast. I was riding on a quad with my friend bringing up the rear of our group, when up ahead loomed a very steep hill.
I wrapped my arms around my friend's waist, hanging on for dear life, while she maneuvered the quad. Up. Up. Barely up. And then — we stopped.
"Should I get off?” I asked my friend.
"I want to get off,” she shouted over her shoulder.
Of course, neither was a viable option, unless we wanted the quad to slide backward.
My heart rattled in my chest. I held on tighter. She revved the engine. Dust flew in the air. The wheels dug deeper into the earth. I dug deep inside myself, reaching for one of my teenage magic spells to propel us forward.
After a few minutes, which seemed like hours, we climbed slowly toward the peak. And, let me tell you, that margarita at the top never tasted better.
That night at our regular palapa bar, we told the fishermen, most of them half our age, about our day.
"You women ride around like that?” a 30-something guy asked, his eyes taking in every one of my wrinkles.
"Why not?” I said.
He looked shocked. “Well, you're not that ..."
"Young,” I finished for him.
He blushed, looking away. And I knew I had to set him straight.
"Fun doesn't end,” I said. “In fact, it only gets better."
There is no rule or regulation in any travel book stating adventures stop as we grow older. Younger generations can grimace all they want at our behavior. Whisper behind ours back that we should act our age.
One day, they'll be at the age we are now. And I can tell you we hope to continue living life to the fullest until our last breaths. Not merely lasting until our breathing stops.
We ended each evening on the deck, watching the stars salt the sky with promises, leaving us hungry for a new day. We bonded as women do when living under the same roof for a week. Sharing stories of our lives along with anti-aging night creams, herbs and teas. We fell asleep listening to the waves carry us into our dreams.
The week ended too soon. As it always does. The quads were put away. The windows closed, leaving the sea air brushing up against the glass. The last door locked with the echoes of our girl-chatter settling into place.
As we drove away, I glanced back at the house, the sign once again visible. Next year, this house may no longer be available for girls’ trips, and we'll have to find a new place to make memories. But the ones made while staying at this house will never be For Sale.