And away we go
24.02.2017 - 25.02.2017
Calling travel anywhere when accompanied by little ones is never a vacation. It doesn’t matter where you are going or what the agenda is. Spa retreat in Taos? What a vacation that would be! Unless you have kids. Then it’s just paying a lot of money to try and take a bath by yourself, only to be interrupted by someone whining, in which case you could have just stayed home and done the exact same thing for free. Food tour of New Orleans? What a vacation that would be! Unless you have kids. Then it’s just paying a lot of money to try and eat delicious food prepared by someone else, only to be interrupted by someone melting down and throwing a fit from boredom because there aren’t hummus and scoops on the menu. In which case you will be stuck in a hotel room eating granola bars and fruit leather because you can never leave the room.
My point? Travel anywhere when accompanied by littles is always a trip. That’s it. Trip. Not vacation. Not getaway. Trip.
Let’s just get that out of the way so there’s no misunderstanding.
We decided to take a trip to the Yucatan with the kids because it’s February and in Seattle that means we’ve hit our tolerance limit for gray skies and crappy weather. There are direct flights from Seattle to Cancun, so we booked ourselves one of them, packed up the kids, left the house two hours before everyone’s normal wake time, and flew six hours to get some sunshine. Lunacy, likely.
The kids were in good spirits when we woke them up. Des was excited to leave and Audrey had no idea what was going on, but was happy to tag along nonetheless. Surprisingly our morning went smoothly. Everyone was packed up, ready to go, at the airport, through security, and ready to board on time and with no hassle. The flight was delayed an hour because there was a peppering of light snow as we were leaving (or mixed rain, more appropriately), the plane had to be checked over, and finally we were clear. Taxing an hour behind schedule, a baby who hadn’t napped yet and had been up for four hours, a toddler who was getting impatient, and a mom with no coffee. Our crew. Audrey followed it up with a massive blowout, leaking diaper of poop, dripping some on Zac’s shirt, while we were unable to get up to change her due to ascending. We paged a flight attendant who kindly let us get out of our seats to change her, only to find I had forgotten to pack wipes. It had to be something of course. I manage to make due with dry toilet paper that I can’t wet because there’s no water on the plane that’s working. Audrey had another big poop an hour later, and was again at the mercy of dry toilet paper. No one could wash their hands and I was queen of the plane because I’d packed hand sanitizer.
Overall it was still a successful flight. Audrey, despite being over tired and napping very little on the flight, was a true sweetheart. She stole the affection of people passing by and was laughing and playing while awake. Rocking her in the carrier was uncomfortable in such closed quarters, particularly as our plane didn’t have any small pockets of space for me to stand, so there I was leaning slightly forward as I stood in my own seat space, resting one leg on top of the actual seat ala Captain Morgan style to try and balance myself a bit. Des was whiny and generally annoying, but he’s three and six hours on a plane is a long time, so he gets some grace. He enjoyed watching the scenery out the window, even when it was just passing clouds and ocean. Of course there was plenty of movie watching and toy trucks digging raisins, too.
Our first stop was a night in Cancun, mostly because we didn’t want to drive any longer than we needed to after a long flight. Our actual stay will be in Akumal, about an hour and a half south. Given the long travel day we opted to stay in a motel closer to the airport for a night.
We stayed in a neighborhood well outside of Cancun’s touristy hotel zone. As we drove by rundown yet bustling taquerias and mini-marts stocked plenty full of Fanta, I had a sudden longing for the old days of travel. The days of dusty roads frequented by few travelers and the challenging struggle of conversational Spanish with locals who speak limited to no English. The days when buying twenty five cent buckets of ceviche in Nicaragua seemed like a good idea and grabbing a beer mid day was refreshing instead of nap inducing.
As we left our overnight motel the next morning, really more a multiplex with communal courtyard, we passed by a swat team on what we presumed was a raid, machine gun poised atop their pickup, faces fully covered to hide their identity. I wondered which house in our neighborhood was their destination. I breathed in deep, taking in the nostalgia. This is my kind of vacation. In the morning as we packed up the car Des collected fallen flowers in front of the motel’s security gate. The beautiful fuschia petals were shedding in the warm breeze. Contrasted with the tan sandstone it was breathtakingly beautiful, and so sweet to watch him grab as many as he could. Behind this picturesque setting was another security wall, the kind I hold dear, a stone barrier ten feet high with shards of broken glass scattered on top. This is my kind of vacation.
We packed everyone up and left our questionable quarters to drive south. Along the way we stopped at Starbucks. We passed through Playa del Carmen and the Pueblo of Akumal. I counted numerous highway food stands I wanted to stop at along the way. My tired and protesting children disagreed.
We arrived at our lodging in Akumal. A self catered condo in a giant resort complex. Check in wasn't until 4, but we were able to use the pools and clubhouse facilities while we waited. I walked Audrey along well manicured paths as she napped and Des played in the pool with Zac, and I thought. I thought about those dusty roads and high fences. I thought about those buckets of ceviche and hang drying my underwear because I never packed enough (ummm...totally unrelated to the bucket of ceviche…).
That was my kind of vacation.
I walked to complex grounds and breathed in a new reality. My convenient Starbucks coffee. My suitcase full of enough underwear for everyone, snacks to last days, and the remnants of a careful and thoughtful packing list. There are no dusty roads where I am walking, but there are two happy children and this is my kind of vacation.