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Wehrell-ed Travel, Mexico

Buenas dias

Having a baby has turned me into a morning person. I'm up everyday by 7 a.m.--even though Des doesn't get up until closer to 7:30 a.m. on most mornings. I should point out that I didn't specify "functioning" morning person. Just morning person. If you knew me as a teenager you'd be shocked at this change. Hell, if you knew me a year and a half ago you'd be shocked at this change.

I've been to Mexico twice now, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Peru, Spain....in all my Latin American travels I don't recall often saying "buenas dias." By the time I would wake up, get ready, and head out into the world on my travels we had passed the "buenas dias" and moved into the "buenas tardes" time of day. Now that I'm a mom I'm a buenas dias kinda gal. Who'd have thought that would happen?

This morning I decided to take advantage of my early morning rising and head into town before Zac or Desmond woke up. I wanted some coffee and I wanted to explore some more. The sunrise was beautiful (to note, Cabo is one of the few places I've been where you can see both the sunrise and sunset over the water), and it was surprisingly quiet in my surroundings. I heard birds singing and roosters calling in lieu of loud music or calls for tequila. Men and women at the docks of the marina gave nods and greetings without trying to sell me anything. I saw these same vendors, just twelve hours before, aggressively soliciting business from passerbys and now I saw them setting up, talking with one another, being laid back, and paying no mind to my presence. Nobody wanted anything from me, and I just enjoyed my walk. Outside of the marina and well into the center of town was equally as enjoyable as shop owners swept sidewalks or began setting out chairs for breakfast. I stopped and had some coffee, chatted with a few locals, and enjoyed seeing only one other woman who clearly was as much of an outsider as I was.

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Quiet morning

This is what I like to see in my travels. I like having conversations with passerbys about my desperate need for coffee because I have a one year old waiting for me in my hotel. I like practicing my Spanish with people and not feeling rushed or pressured to spit out what I need to say. And there's something incredibly endearing about watching a woman mop the steps of her shop or a taxi driver wash his car because they take pride in their work. These quiet moments are hard to find in places like Cabo San Lucas, a place where tourism reigns and over saturation is common. Beaches aren't quiet, sidewalks are full, and shops are desperate for business. To have a moment where all of this seemed to disappear and to see the life that exists when people like me aren't around was a really great way to start my last full day here.

Yeah, last full day. Vacation always moves far too fast. I'll miss the weather. It's been perfect here. Plenty of sunshine, just a tad too hot, but not overwhelmingly so. Temperate evenings on the beach. Cool mornings requiring just a light sweater as the sun rises. We leave tomorrow in the early afternoon. By tomorrow night we'll be back to cold, dark skies. It's been great just getting Des up and not having to put him in layers or even shoes.

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We had originally planned on taking a bigger, 3 week trip in March before I go back to work. After our time here we've decided to push that trip back to the fall. As wonderful as it has been to be on vacation, and as possible as it is to travel with a baby, there's simply so much time spent back in the hotel just waiting for naps or bedtime. In two and a half months Des might be down to one nap, but it's likely he'll still be on two, and quite frankly I don't want to pay $5000 in airfare for us to fly somewhere only to spend 3 weeks in our hotel room.

Des is a champion traveler. He's adaptable, in good spirits, and sleeps so well everywhere we go. However he's so well sleep trained that he doesn't nap outside of his crib or pack and play unless he's exhausted (and only then in the Tula), so taking him all over the place with us while we're out during the day just doesn't work with naps. Could we do it? Of course. Do we want to do it? No. Again, if we fly to Australia (my top pick for our next trip, though Europe and Southeast Asia are on the table as well) I don't want to be stuck in a room. We want to get out, and we want Des to get out too. Mexico and Hawaii have been perfect vacations for Des this year. Stay somewhere central, venture out between naps, hang out at your beachfront hotel and watch the waves as he sleeps. So our options are another place like Mexico or Hawaii, or wait a few months longer than we'd planned and be able to do more. It KILLS me to push back a trip, but it was my suggestion. Can you believe it? I can't either. As soon as the words came out of my mouth I thought "who the hell is this person saying these things?"

Enough of that though. Let's end on a positive note. I had the best fish tacos in Cabo today, hands down. After multiple trips, numerous tacos, and plenty of comparisons the clear winner of best tacos in Cabo is.....Gardenias. If you're in Cabo, go there. Runner up is the tacos al pastor at Taco Guss.

You're welcome.

Posted by JorieW 21:56 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Wehrell-ed Travel, Mexico

Adelante

Onward our vacation continues, sans stomach bug. The relief we feel is wonderful, but I can't help but wait for the other shoe to drop. Or my small intestine. It's hard not to worry about being sick when you've already spent time on vacation sick. Today was another salute to that concern with one big middle finger as I refused to give in and avoid enjoying the rest of my vacation.

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It was the second day in a row of eating street tacos. How much more blatant disregard can be given to concern over illness while in Mexico than eating at a street taco vendor? I can only think of one other, and that would be eating ceviche sold out of a bucket by a ten year old for .$25 from a landlocked city in Nicaragua, and since we've already done that...street tacos will have to suffice. Not even just the tacos either. The toppings. The raw vegetables, slaw, carrots, onions....table salsas. All of it. Why? Because it's delicious, that's why. Because I'm in Mexico, that's why. Because I don't think I could possibly get much sicker than I did while in Peru a few years back and I survived that, so why the hell not?

We'd heard a rumor from the locals about the best place to get fish tacos in Cabo and we opted to investigate this bold claim. Food in Cabo is very hit or miss, and more often miss. Which is a shame, because we're right on the water and fresh fish comes into local restaurants daily. I've had some absolutely delicious sea bass while here, and some absolutely atrocious chunk of something that was rather gray. I've had tasty and tender grouper that flaked in perfection, and I've had what I think might be talapia, so overcooked it was mistaken for chicken. Needless to say, I was skeptical of these rumors. Though in good spirit I thought I'd give it the old college try, and together Zac, Desmond, and I found the concrete shack we were looking for.

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I must say, any place that has huge, painted advertisements for fish, shrimp, and tacos on its concrete walls to draw attention from far off places is a winner in my book. For brevity's sake I won't draw it out, but here's what you need to know: the fish tacos were indeed delicious, the cut of fish was cooked perfectly, and the barbacoa taco I had was also quite good. Were they the best I've ever had? No. Were they the best I've had in Cabo? Yes. Is that saying much? No. Here's what made it wonderful, though:

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That's right. These condiments all go with your tacos, so load 'em up, pile it all on, and enjoy yourself.

Our second taco stop was this afternoon when we wandered a short distance away to another highly recommended establishment. The open seating, hot stove, handmade tortillas, and spit roasting pork was exactly what I'd been looking for. Authentic street tacos. Flies and all. No kidding, you really got a lot of them. Now, when comparing establishments I will say that the first won me over. It was large, open, and had a pleasant breeze. It was easier to find, cleaner, and the staff had everything as advertised on the menu.The second establishment had charm though. A dirty bathroom tucked in the corner of a small open dining area, sticky table tops, no English anywhere, and most importantly, this:

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For comparison's sake, the second taco joint had incredible tacos al pastor. I've never had any so good in my life. I'm certainly no expert in the way of tacos, but this pork was somehow crispy and tender at the same time and had such amazing flavor that it was worth the possible parasite.

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Tomorrow we investigate further. So many taco stands, so little time. I'd go for every meal, but Zac insists we eat other things while here as well. This evening we'll be returning to the marina for a stroll after Desmond's nap and I imagine we'll get something there. The marina itself is certainly touristy, and the vendors and solicitors reflect that. However it's lovely, the evenings here are perfectly temperate, and Desmond loves all the lights that are up for the holidays.

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So, adelante.

Posted by JorieW 20:38 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Wehrell-ed Travel, Mexico

Baby Love

It never ceases to fail--my visit to any Latin American country almost always seem to leave me with some sort of unpleasant illness. This trip has proven no different. This time, however, it wasn't food or drink that took me down. It was my child. My flesh and blood. My baby love.

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Don't let his cuteness fool you. This kid can pack a mean hit of germs. That stomach bug that led to two power pukes en route to Mexico? Well that led to multiple power pukes, fevers, chills, and all around incapacity for both Zac and myself. We didn't maintain Desmond's good spirit while sick. We were too tired and too weak to muster much enthusiasm for anything. To say it was a rough day with both Zac and I sick was an understatement. We both agreed it's the worst day we've had since Desmond has been born.

Not to keep on with it, we're better--we've recovered. No one has vomited in 36 hours and our electrolytes have been restored. We're eating food and playing with our child again. The babysitter (aka TV) has been shut off for good, and making a bottle is now a perfectly doable responsibility and not a rock-paper-scissor to the death.

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Since our recovery from our (thankfully) relatively short stomach bug, we've been trying to win back good parenting karma points by taking Desmond to the beach to play in the sand, going out with him to explore at any opportunity, and letting him tire himself out while running the long halls of our hotel. We've already passed along a bottle of wine to our neighbors, and we're hopeful that as a result they'll forgive us.

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I mentioned before that Zac and I came to Cabo back in October of 2008. We did all of the things one would do in Cabo. Swim, snorkel, booze cruise, boat rides, horse back rides, walks at sunset, tequila shots, etc. With Desmond most of these activities prove to be difficult, so our days are spent relaxing, reading, playing, and repeating. There's not much to say other than travel with children is drastically different than travel without. In both wonderful and lame ways.

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Cabo itself was never somewhere I thought I'd return to. There's nothing that really sets it apart from other travels, and its real winning ticket was the fact that it has gorgeous weather, beautiful beaches, and is a relatively short flight away. However it's exactly the kind of vacation that works with Desmond at this current stage in his life. No plans to work around, no long days traveling around, and prime time real estate to enjoy while he naps. It's a great break, even when sick.

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Unlike our last trip to Mexico, however, the accompaniment of Desmond has really added some benefits. For starters, all those annoying beach vendors trying to sell you all kinds of things you don't need? They leave us alone. People trying to sell tours or timeshares? They accept "no." Strangers want to say hello to Desmond, people always want to rub his head, and strangers are more than willing to go out of their way to help us out or accommodate us. There is a genuine interest in Des, from his name to his age to his weight. Oh, and the big baby thing? It's endearing here. Back home we get comments all the time about how big Des is (undeniably--he's 98th percentile for height and weight!), and they're almost always followed up with "but he'll slim down as he's more mobile and active." It's as if there's this consolation to us. People are already body shaming him and he's not even old enough to understand it. Here? In Mexico it's "He's a big boy," followed by "Congratulations. He's beautiful and healthy." Truly, that's all we've heard. I'm blown away by it.

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Mexicans are truly friendly people, and Latin American culture is very family friendly. We've been approached by many staff here at the hotel who have applauded us for bringing Des with us. In part because it's good for him to travel and see the world, and in part because (according to them), many parents take trips to Cabo without their children, and in Mexico this is not common. Parents take their children with them wherever they go. At least three women working here have stopped me and shared this same story with me. Family is important, and as such children are seen as special, adored, and treated kindly.

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So, while Cabo itself never stole my heart, the people here are wonderfully accommodating, very thoughtful, and truly kind to Desmond. I've never seen so much interest in him, or so many people trying to steal smiles from him. It really blows me away, and I absolutely love that they love my baby love, too.

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Posted by JorieW 16:58 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Wehrell-ed Travel, Mexico

And away we go

Leaving for any trip always feels to be a meticulous act of planning, organizing, and lining up rows of proverbial ducks. My general course of action is to find us a place to stay before leaving. Because, let's face it, if you show up in Paris at 12 a.m. with nothing booked you're definitely not going to get the 3 bedroom flat in Le Marais for less than a hostel. I take care of any important or necessary booking needs, such as buying in-country plane, train, or ferry tickets if we need to be somewhere on a specific date. Because, let's face it, nobody wants to miss the ferry that comes once a week to that remote island in Nicaragua when you're dying to get back to main land civilization so you can just buy some anti-diarrhea medication because you really believed your then-boyfriend, now-husband that it was okay to have ice cubes in your beverage as long as there was alcohol to accompany it.

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hypothetical remote island in Nicaragua

Of course in order to execute these two areas of planning, I must take other factions into consideration. These are things like how long to stay in a certain city, our mode(s) of transportation while there. These things then require consideration of even more factors, such as what there is to do and see, places to eat, if the town or village we're at requires any malaria prophylaxis, or what the weather conditions will be like for time of travel.

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Not exactly ready for the weather

So yes, while I really only plan to plan two things (accommodation and major travel) it ends up snowballing into about a thousand.

It's my own fault, really. I'm a secret Type A, a control freak, and an avid Googler.

Let me just say, however, that planning for an international trip with a very busy, active, and mobile one year old (oh, and loud--we cannot forget loud) takes it all to a completely different level. We've traveled with the wee one before. We went to Florida when he was 4 months old, LA when he was 5 months old and Hawaii when he was six months old, but we have not left this country with him, and certainly not been to a place where we have to vigilant about what he eats or drinks while traveling, whether we'll be able to get organic milk because we're Yuppies, or whether we'll be able to steam and puree his solids.

Do babies really need all of this? No, of course not. People have traveled with babies before us, and the world has not always had such modern conveniences as bottle steamers. We would survive without organic milk, and we'd make due with a good old fashioned fork to mash food if we needed to. Babies live everywhere. They're hearty and adaptable. It's why there's so damn many of us on this planet.

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Surprisingly, I relaxed all of my planning. Aside from plane tickets and accommodation, I planned nothing for our trip to Mexico. Let's be fair, though: Zac and I have been to Cabo San Lucas about 6 years ago and...it's Cabo San Lucas. We're pretty much surrounded by white people, English, and a tourism industry that will connect you with whatever you need. This isn't Hluhluwe, South Africa where the nearest medical clinic to treat that mamba bite is two hours away by helicopter.

In fact, I relaxed my planning so much that I left a lot of things that, historically when traveling with the wee lad, we didn't even need. Things like two spare outfits for me during our course of travel. Sure, I brought plenty of spare clothes for him. He shits his pants. There is an actual risk that he will need them. Me though? I don't remember the last time I shit my pants*

So, with relatively little planning, a lighter load, and lots of enthusiasm we left for our first international trip with the kiddo.

Fast forward 13 hours:

One power puke on the way to the airport that resulted in having to turn the car around and change and shower both kid and mom while dad did his best to clean the upholstery in the car seat because cow's milk vomit is the most putrid smell ever? Um, check.

Managing to get the the airport in time, breathe a sigh of relief as you make it to your gate in time for boarding, and then being power puked all over by your kid while wearing him in the Tula just as you're about to board? Um, check.

Rushing to the family bathroom that, thank gods, finally isn't occupied by a single male taking a massive dump that he's too ashamed to do in the actual bathroom that is intended for him, taking up what precious family bathroom time that is so desperately needed because you're covered in PUTRID STINK? Um, check.

Realizing that you didn't actually pack an extra outfit for yourself that would take care of such a mess because you're literally soaked in vomit from face to thigh, having to wear your husband's shirt while he wears only his undershirt and looks so trashy that he must wear his rain jacket the entire flight? Um, check.

And this was before we even left Seattle.

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Let me fast forward even more here and save you some time. We managed. We made due. We prevailed. We arrived.

We showered.

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  • *Travel induced gastrointestinal distress excluded

Posted by JorieW 07:23 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Wehrell-ed Travel, Hawaii

Skinny Dipping, Sunsets, and Cheesecake

A storm passed through Kona earlier this evening as the sun was setting in the distance. I now watch lightning flashes cut through the dark skies over the water as the storm passes over Maui. It’s surprisingly peaceful.

Today was our last full day of vacation. We leave tomorrow afternoon and will be heading back to a soggy city in the midst of spring, residents eagerly awaiting summer--a summer warm and beautiful like the weather we’ve been fortunate to have for most of our eleven days here. It’s hard to want to leave, but our bills won’t magically pay themselves (darn), so it’s back to the grind. The wet, cool, soggy, damp grind.

Kona has been gently shoving us toward adjustment for the transition home and there was rain through various times of the day. It was intermittent and interrupted by plenty of sunshine to keep us happy. As the evening wore on and the storm began to head our way we were fortunate to experience a beautiful sunset to one side and a cloudy and angry sky to the other. Each were stunning.

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The morning started off with a jaunt to coffee. We’re getting good at getting D up quickly, changed, fed, and loaded up for exploration before his first nap of the day. We enjoyed some delicious caffeine and a short walk before D went down. Once he was peacefully settled we took turns going out. I enjoyed a morning jog through the south end of Alii Drive. It was so humid that I felt as if I had jumped in the ocean. I can hardly believe that people regularly do this, let alone that thousands flock here once a year to participate in an Ironman competition. Running marathon mileage in this weather sounds awful.

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Along my run

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Once back, Madame Cockroach and I showered, got D up and ready again, and grabbed Zac to go out to breakfast. I couldn’t decide if I wanted lunch or breakfast, so I got a little of both.

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Fresh catch ahi with a pancake on the side

We also had a companion at lunch this morning.

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Perhaps Mrs. Gecko knows Madame Cockroach

D went down for another nap shortly after brunch and Zac and I again used the time to split up and take turns going out. When it comes to vacation it’s pretty clear that we get maybe ⅓ of what we did before D, and that doesn’t even take into consideration the fact that of ⅓ of actual time to have a vacation while on vacation is cut down even more by activities that are no longer realistic. Take what’s left and consider the fact that ½ of those unrealistic activities are now done solo because your partner is supervising your child and it’s pretty pathetic the amount of time that is actually vacation time while on vacation. Shocker: Parenting happens ALL THE TIME.

With all that said, it’s been a great trip, and having D along for the ride changes things for sure, but I wouldn’t want it any other way right now. He’s been adaptable, flexible, curious, interested, and has tried so many new things that I’ve stopped keeping track.

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Very interested in what was going on at the restaurant

This afternoon he had his first swim in the ocean, for instance. We stripped him naked and both Zac and I got into the water with him. It was a little chilly, but D adjusted without complaint and soon he was kicking and paddling like a pro. The biggest challenge was keeping him from drinking the salt water.

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After his skinny dip he gulped down his food in no time. All that work made him extra hungry, I guess!

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He then spit it up all over me

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Spit up all down the entirety of my leg

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We hung around the beach until it started to sprinkle a little, went and got Zac a slice of taro dough pizza, and then returned back to the condo for D’s last nap of the afternoon. When he was up again we went and grabbed some coffee, enjoyed a walk, and went to pick up dinner. We decided to get our food to go and sit on the lanai as we watched the storm pass us by and the sunset radiate through the late afternoon sky.

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It was a nice way to end the day, made even better by the sweet potato haupia cheesecake we picked up for dessert. If ever there were a treat worth the caloric guilt, this was it. I’ll be dreaming about this delightful dish all the way home tomorrow. With a six hour flight, that’s a lot of dreaming.

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The travel home is a bit dreaded, but we’re all going to bed early tonight and hoping for some good sleep to get us through. Wish us luck!

Posted by JorieW 00:10 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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