Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Mexico 2009

We spent 10 days in beautiful, sunny Mexico. It was a great trip! Our longest vacation ever. Oh, so, so nice to be gone for that long! After going back and forth about it, we decided to not worry about the 'swine flu' and just go for it-- the trip had been planned for months and we weren't easily going to give it up. And boy were we glad we went. It was awesome. The travel was great, and much to our delight we can officially say that Little Miss Meera is shaping up to be quite a little traveler just like her brothers. She was just as easy-going of a travel baby as they always were. And, just like K & O as babies, she sleeps great on airplanes! :)
We split the trip into two parts. We flew into Cancun, rented a car, and got on the road for a 5 hour drive across the Yucatan. We knew it was going to be a crazy trip and we were not wrong. Not wrong at all. It was crazy. This was not travel for the weak-of-heart. The drive was on a stretch of road cut straight through the land... with nothing... and I mean, NOTHING, there. Not a thing. Nothing. For five hours. It was pretty wild. At one point we actually drove straight through a forest fire. No kidding. We stopped on the road when we realized the smoke was so thick we couldn't see more than a few feet ahead of us. But there were only two options: go straight through it, or turn around (there were no side roads). Braydon gunned it and we sped through it with our three bambinos in their carseats. CRAZY. C-R-A-Z-Y. Here is a nice clear stretch of the highway:
Here are our great travelers livin' it up in the back of the rental car:
The first six nights we were way off the beaten trail, in the real Mexico, deep deep deep in the real Mexico, on the gulf coast side of the Yucatan in a tiny little place (I can't even legitimately call it a "town" because there was no town there, just a strip of land along the ocean) called Uaymitun. We rented a house on the beach--- the vacation home of a wealthy Mexican family. Nobody was there. NOBODY anywhere nearby. We had acres and acres and acres and miles and miles and miles of sandy shore all to ourselves. It was surreal, to say the least. The views from the house were truly spectacular.
And the house itself was SPECTACULAR.
And the beach at the house was SPECTACULAR!
Our favorite pastime was long walks on the beach. We would see no other human for miles. We would stop to watch pelicans diving for fish. We would stop for the boys to chase crabs. We would stop for swims in the ocean. Otherwise, we'd just walk and walk and walk (and Meera would sit in the backpack on Braydon's back chewing on shells). It was glorious and almost unimaginable.
Really, just unimaginably glorious.
And the sunrises were the best. Every morning.
About 15 minutes (driving) down the coast from the house was the town of Progresso. This is a port and fishing village. It was the real deal. This was our first trip to a non-English speaking country with the boys. It was very cool to see them have to learn to speak some Spanish (absolutely nobody there spoke any English). And they picked up quite a bit while we were there. It was also very interesting to be -- all of us -- in the minority. No white people. No black people. Just brown-skinned Mayan/Mexican people. And we were quite the sight to them. Anywhere we went a crowd formed (literally) and followed us around just staring. It was interesting-- to say the least-- to be there. And the whole experience really got the juices flowing... feeding us lots and lots of food for thought.
And this was also our first immersion in a place of deep poverty with the boys. The last time Braydon and I were in a place of such desperation was our trip to get the boys in Haiti. Mexico is nothing like Haiti, obviously, and nothing (in our minds) can compare to the experience of Haiti... but... still.... it raised a lot of questions for all of us. As it should. And as we hoped it would.
And Braydon and I discovered that immersing in a place like that is quite different when you're bringing with you your three young children --- two of whom were born into circumstances that raise a lot of questions for them that are tough (tough!) to grapple with in a place like the depths of rural Mexico. We talked a lot, a lot, a lot. And Braydon and I decided that it will be quite a while before we bring the boys back to their birthplace of Haiti. They aren't nearly ready yet, we discovered, and that is o.k. We can wait. And we can keep talking and talking and talking.
But we spent most of our time at our little oasis of a house on the beach. And in our backyard local guys would sometimes play soccer in the evenings.
And Meera was LOVING vacation!
Another major pastime: boogie boarding! Kyle's favorite new sport.
And coconut collecting!
And shell collecting!
And, of course, eating!!! Amazing, AUTHENTIC (and I mean, really authentic), true-blue Mexican Yucatan eating. Ceviche. Octopus. Shrimp. Fish. Guacamole. Grilled Tacos. Beans. Salted Pineapple. Cactus Salad. Lime Soup. Plantains. Mango Mousse. and the creme de la creme...
Chiles en Nogada!
And, of course, quesadillas, quesadillas, tortillas, tortillas, tortillas!
We did something that we've never done before-- we hired a local woman to cook for us a couple of nights. We specifically requested that she make fresh, local, the real-deal food. And she did. She came to the house, bearing market-fresh groceries, and Chef Sandra went all out for us. And to top it off, she taught Braydon how to make the perfect margarita. The Perfect Margarita. Life will never be the same again!
But the highlight was, for sure, the beach. The deserted, beautiful, natural beach. Just us. For six sleeps...
and rejuvinating with some R & R, some sand & sun, some true downtime (there was nothing to do but lay low and take it all in).
But there were some "lows" to the Gulf-Coast-Side of our trip. The local people burned their trash, as all people in their situations do (i.e., little infrastructure, lack of trash processing, no garbage trucks [imagine K & O's surprise at that!-- no garbage trucks?!!!]). They'd burn the trash at sunrise. We had one air-conditioned room that we all slept in (four in the bed, and M in her port-a-crib). And when we woke up and opened that bedroom door, we were blasted with thick smokey air. It stuck around until the wind picked up off the ocean around noon. And then... boy did the wind pick up. Another "low" was that after about 3:00 pm we couldn't be on the beach because of whipping sand. And by 5:00 we had to be inside because of howling wind. And then there was the total isolation. We got out and about a bit, and we got a lot out of it, but we have never spent so much time alone. And four out of the five of us, it turns out, are true extroverts (getting our energy from social interaction). Guess which 4?-- all of us except Braydon. And Braydon's not really happy unless the rest of us are happy. Six night was enough. So, we were all o.k. with packing up and heading off to the next part of the trip... driving the five hours back across the Yucatan... the Caribbean side. Meera's first look at the Caribbean-- her brothers' sea roots.
But this was nothing like any Caribbean trip we've taken before. This was a mega-all-inclusive-RESORT. Resort with a capital 'R'. The Barcelo Maya Colonial Beach on the Riviera Maya. Waterslides, swim-up-bars, all-you-can-eat Buffets, and all.
And, the best part: the mega pools.
A bunch of years ago, before the boys came home, Braydon and I had sort of vowed to quit all-inclusives. But now we have a new found appreciation for them. It was a true vacation for our young family. It made everything so easy breezy. And it allowed us to really focus on simply having a ton of fun together. Which is what we did. Three nights and four days of nothing but fun. Snorkeling, pool-swimming, Caribbean beach loving, cerveza drinking, ice cream eating, laughing and loving-life fun in the sun. Seriously, it was great. It was not the "real Mexico." But it was absolutely great for what it was. And so, at the end of the 10 day get-away, we had had two trips in one: a true Mexican immersion experience, and a Caribbean resort vacation. And we got so much out of each, and soo soooooooooo much out of both.
By the end of the trip we were ready to head back to our reality, and get set to celebrate the 1st birthday of our little love bug, travel bug, happy-happy, ocean-and-pool-loving, smiley-bundle-of "que linda! que contenta! que gordita!" Little Miss.


Lori said...

WOW! WOW! WOW! That was one AMAZING vacation. The pictures are priceless. WOW!


p.s. Happy 1st b-day Meera Meera. Tomorrow is the big day! We love you!

Jenn said...

I should probably have read this post before asking where you stayed...We have only been to the Caribbean side of Mexico once and all other times have been in Puerto Vallarta, Nuevo Vallarta, and Cabo. I will have to look into the resort you stayed at....nothing beats the warm Caribbean ocean.

Candis said...

What a bonehead I am! I didn't even think about the Carribbean. You guys were just north of Belize (my husband is Maya and from northern Belize. We've spent time there). Looks like a fab. holiday. You guys looks so relaxed even I feel better. Thank you for the vicarious break.

Emmers said...

Wow, what a wonderful vacation! What an Adventure! My only experience going to Mexico was stumbling across the border, drinking in a border town and then stumbling back into the US before the border closed. Not exactly any kind of amazing cultural vacation...

Ani said...

What a wonderful vacation! Glad you all had fun :)

Chatter said...

Thank you so much for sharing the story of your vacation and of course all the beautiful pictures. I can't get over how much Little Miss Meera reminds me of Landon. I think it's their sandy blond hair and big grins.

Your trip sounded wonderful. I admire the first half of your trip. I don't think I could do it with three kiddos. Way to go!

Happy Birthday Meera!!

M and M said...

What a glorious adventure you had! Will you please plan all of my future travels? (And I consider myself a really great/independent travel planner - so this request is true homage to you and your family destinations).