What I did not expect to learn from Playa del Carmen

We just returned from a long weekend in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. The springtime weather was beautiful and it was the perfect place to reflect, refresh and recharge. The most amazing part of our weekend came on our very first day. It was on this day that we witnessed several moving views of humanity.

It started with a death.

An elderly man died on the beach our first morning in Playa and he was covered in a blanket, lying peacefully in sand.

I felt a mixture of curiosity and sadness. We walked past the same spot just over an hour before and we stopped and marveled at the site of the sea as the waves rolled onto the shore. There was a breeze and it felt good to inhale the fresh air. We watched kids and families, friends, and locals wandering along the beach and splashing in the water. And there was a group of locals playing a pick up game of soccer just 15 feet away. I hope he saw this too.

We witnessed compassion.

A compassion that was truly breathtaking when two young men picked up and carried a disabled man from his wheelchair and into the surf. They held him up as the waves lapped his feet and legs.

We witnessed community.

Carloads of families with kids jammed into the backseat with car roofs stacked high with styrofoam coolers. There were pushcart vendors selling corn on the cob, fried snacks, and drinks. And a group of at least a dozen locals gathered around a guitarist as he picked and sang sweet songs from years past.

And then, it ended with pure joy – a wedding!

A beautiful bride in white and her soon-to-be husband in grey stood barefoot on the beach surrounded by family, friends and beachgoers all around.

I don’t know anything about the people we saw throughout our first day in Playa del Carmen but I do know this – each of their moments was filled with the beauty of what was happening around them. I hope that the view of the sea, the feel of the breeze, the sound of the waves on the shore, and the laughter of friends and family were exactly what each of them needed as they experienced their own moments.

Our visit to Playa del Carmen was profound because it was a vivid reminder that life is precious and that living each moment matters the most.

Dorothy Hoffman is the creator of the travel blog, Squirts and Seniors. She is a Gen X-er who writes about traveling at home and abroad with her young son and aging parents.