Amistad is Spanish for friendship. I just returned from a short and intense burst of Amistad in one my favorite cities in the world, La Paz, Mexico. I used to live on a sailboat in La Paz and during that time I made many wonderful friends. Brian and I sailed our boat across the Pacific last spring, which meant we would not return to La Paz by boat anytime soon. Now, to see this beloved place I would need to visit by air, car and hotel.

I haven’t taken a solo trip since Brian and I got married, but buying a ticket and flying to an exotic place on a whim is something I used to enjoy pre-marriage. I have pulled off big solo adventure trips to Thailand, New Zealand, Belize, Guatemala and Canada. Not to mention Alaska. I enjoyed reconnecting with my independent travel self in Mexico. It was a thrill to pick up my rental car at the Cabo airport and start driving around by myself. Cabo had nothing of interest so I headed straight to La Paz.

Soon the feeling of Amistad would fill my heart and make my feet feel light as air. I drove to the marina where Brian and I used to spend a lot of time, Marina de La Paz, and met up with our dear cruising friends Jack, Leanne, Ally and Patsy. Hugs! Champagne! Dock Party! It felt like home, chatting so easily under a colorful sunset sky. The hours pass quickly with these friends. We laugh, share, and remind each other this is a safe place to tell the stories of our lives.

The next morning I went to Zumba with Leanne and Ally and as soon as I walked into that peach colored concrete building I felt the same excitement, love, energy, and strength I always felt before. Zumba was a special ritual for me when I lived in La Paz, and it felt like nothing had changed.

Zumba is great because of the people. The Mexican instructors are excellent. After all, they came out of the womb shaking those hips. This white girl had a lot of trouble keeping up at first. I also look quite out of place in the class due to my towering stature: I stand 5’11” tall. There are few Mexican ladies above 5’5”, and most are closer to 5’0”. Just imagine my big blonde head, bouncing a foot above the rest of the ladies, slightly out of step, with sweat pouring down my face. I love dancing at full intensity to the loud, energetic Mexican music blasting through the speakers.

I picked up a little Spanish along the way, but still cannot conjugate a verb or form a complete sentence. I must have sounded pretty stupid when I spoke Spanish with these ladies.

But none of that mattered. They always gave me so much love. They hugged and kissed me with gusto when I walked into Zumba, invited me to their homes, fed me, let me meet their families. They included me. My heart felt so full after spending time with them.

That feeling kept me coming back. I would do whatever it took to attend the Zumba class at 8 AM, even if it meant an early morning dinghy ride from our boat at anchor and then a thirty-minute walk. I would find a way. It was always worth it.

And now, flying to La Paz to immerse myself in this delightful ritual again felt completely worth it. Sara, one of the instructors, planned a going away party for me at the end of the week with homemade empanadas. Wow. I cannot remember the last time a party was thrown in my honor. It was at least ten years ago.

Friday came and it was a special day I will never forget. Before the class Sara gave me a beautiful yellow lotus flower symbolizing the belly chakra. My heart soared. I love little presents. Dancing and Zumba had never felt so good, and Ally shot a video of all of us dancing together with the Mexican music blasting and all of us shaking our hips with big smiles. I love watching this video over and over!

After class Sara’s husband, Manolo, showed up with a basket of the most delicious chicken empanadas. Everyone had so much fun looking at my Crossing the Pacific book that I ended up giving Sara my only copy of it. After all, she is in it and was so excited to see herself and our friends in the book. I wrote about preparing to leave my friends behind when I crossed the Pacific, and how can I ever find friends like this again?

But now we’re back together like nothing has changed. We feasted on great food and posed for dozens of photos together. Usually I try to be in the back row of the group photos so I don’t block anyone. But not today. I lined up in the back, and there was a chorus of “Lisa, Lisa, Lisa” and everyone pointed to the front. I posed in front of the group and everyone cheered.

It was a touching day which I will never forget. I managed not to cry, because I know I will be back to see them again.

You know that phrase, “you can’t go home”. Well, you can if home is La Paz, Mexico.

This trip was already a heart bursting experience, and friend fest part two was ramping up. Several friends who crossed the Pacific last year with us also returned to Mexico, and they were only an hour drive away. I had plans to head their way next. Mike, Katie, Rob and Nancy were staying in La Ventana, and I spent my last night at Mike and Katie’s beautiful vacation home overlooking the ocean. We went out for a delicious dinner and then Katie and I soaked in the hot tub for hours, talking under a starry sky.

Katie and I share the same birthday, and our many similarities are uncanny. I have never met someone so much like me in so many ways. I constantly find myself saying “me too” around her. Among other things, we both love baths. Recently I published a blog post about writing my latest book in the tub. Katie said she loved knowing I wrote my book in the tub because she read it in the tub.

The next morning we went out for coffee with Rob and Nancy, and it was wonderful to reconnect with these special friends. We have shared many amazing days in the South Pacific and we all share an enduring connection with Mexico now, too.

I’ve been living a nomadic lifestyle for eight years, and sometimes I am lucky enough to find friends who create that feeling of home. They feel familiar, safe, and supportive. We’ve spent enough time together we know we can rely on each other. These friends fulfill a longing for stability and home that will always be a part of me, no matter how long I’m a nomad.

Thank you, friends. My trip to La Paz was short but extraordinary.

Category: Uncategorized
Lisa Hackett

About the Author

Hi, I’m Lisa. I’m a tall, blonde superhero and I live in a van. I do it all. I rappel big waterfalls, drive from Idaho to Alaska solo, live and work in a van in the wilderness and dodge encounters with wolves and bears. Seriously. More

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About the Author

Hi, I’m Lisa. I’m a tall, blonde superhero and I live in a van and on a sailboat with my superhero husband, Brian. I do it all. I rappel big waterfalls, scuba dive with sharks, dodge encounters with bears and wolves, and work remotely as a full time computer programmer.
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About the Van

Hi, I’m Vanifest. I’m a big, 4x4, off-the-grid van complete with solar panel for power. I'm a 2000 Dodge Ram Van and Lisa has had me since 2009. Read more about me here.


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