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Day Three

Katie: We've discovered that the resort's Channel 50 shows an endless subtitled loop of the film American Beauty. As I eat breakfast, Kevin Spacey asks Annette Bening, "When did you become so joyless?" I pause midbite. It's a pregunta I often ask myself.

Today we're riding bikes to the resort's greenhouse. We pass the mangrove ("Do they call it that because mangoes grow there?" Meredith asks; our trainers snicker) that's home to Pancho and Maria, El Dorado's resident alligators, and then gum trees filled with monkeys. "Remember that song 'Welcome to the Jungle'?" Jorge says. We're having fun. I'm finally out of my head! Then my wheel gets stuck, and my bike gets horizontal: I fall. Again.

My knee is one big bruise, but I get up. And though the bumpy road has left me quite sore in the crotch, I keep having fun.

Meredith: Later we head to the beach. On a white stretch of sand overlooking aquamarine waves, Mauricio and Jorge have set up an obstacle course. I'm feeling renewed by our bike ride—"I've got this," I think. We dodge orange cones, sprint ten yards through the water, do a series of lunges while holding dumbbells, and shimmy on our stomachs (soldier-style) to the finish line. This is harder than it sounds, especially in wet spandex and tropical heat. Jorge and Mauricio call out encouragement: "Eh-squeeze your glutes!" "You are good soldiers!" But soon we're being heckled by portly sunbathers and I'm gasping like an asthmatic. I avoid eye contact with Katie lest we decide with a single look to go AWOL. When she announces she's done after six rounds, I manage to do one more. But all I can think is, "Ten was the goal. I did seven."

Katie: Meanwhile, I'm thrilled I even did six. Approaching the spa's beachside palapa for our massages, we're greeted by flickering candles and towels rolled into the shape of a heart. We've inadvertently booked the couples' massage. Our romantic evening continues with a candlelit meal on the beach. We order spinach salads with mango ("Hey Meredith, you think these are from the mangrove?") and just talk—no litanies of worries allowed. A saxophonist stops by to play Billy Joel's "Just the Way You Are."

Later I flip on American Beauty, and Wes Bentley says there's so much beauty in the world he feels his heart might cave in. I shower outdoors. I e-mail my husband that "my crotch feels like it's been whacked with a mallet." And I feel peaceful.

Meredith: What strikes me about dinner is that I never split a bottle of wine with a friend anymore. Even before my schedule crossed into death-wish territory, I'd spent the past decade struggling to pay rent, get promoted, fit into my college jeans. But at what cost?

Next: Finding inspiration on Day 4

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