The beach at Tulum located in the Riviera Maya district of Mexico. ##Photo by Hilary Berg

Braving the Element

Mexican adventure reveals water’s grit

By Hilary Berg

Water equals power. I was reminded of the element’s brawn while on vacation in the Riviera Maya in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. Thanks to my parents’ generosity, we traveled to the Caribbean to celebrate my mom’s 70th birthday with all 21 members of my family — no modest feat.

Editor's Note

Hilary Berg has been the editor of OWP since 2006. She graduated from the University of Kansas with a bachelor’s in journalism. She and her husband own a seven-acre vineyard and winery called Roots.

The ocean appeared so blue and calm, but the waves felt anything but gentle. As I walked into the surf from the warm beach, the battle began. No matter how I positioned myself, I could not stand my ground — soft, sinking sand under my feet.

Determined to reach calmer waters, I persisted into the choppiness but never won. Talk about being kicked while you’re down, the waves rushed over me, propelling me back onto the beach in embarrassing shoves, all the while in beached whale pose. In the end, I submitted to its power and headed to the pool — but first, I showered, attempting to eliminate sand in places I didn’t know the stuff could lodge.

The next day, I tried again. I lost, again. Back in the shower. Back to the pool.

To and from the buffet of the all-inclusive resort — with a margarita in my hand and a pocket of dollar bills ready to tip almost everyone — the path was lined with wading pools reserved for flamingos and swans.

And mosquitoes.

Water revealed its might, yet again, and I showed mine when slapping my father — sorry, Dad — across the face to squash one of the blood-thirsty buggers.

Water also proved its strength during one of the craziest storms I’ve ever witnessed — this says a lot coming from a native Kansan. The “show” started after retreating to our room for the night with lighting strikes that easily landed less than a mile away. The resulting thunder boomed so loudly, even my family members who still call “Tornado Alley” home were amazed by the sheer power of it all.

In the end, the trip reinforced how water demands the greatest respect.

As you’ll read in the cover feature, many Oregon vineyard owners feel the same way. Dedicated to keeping surrounding rivers and streams healthy, they are working with agencies to maintain watersheds, integrating their care into the vineyard’s overall management.

To disregard and pollute waterways that are part of so many vineyards would definitely be a losing game. 

Take it from me, you just won’t win.

¡Hasta el próximo mes!

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