Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Mexico, My Heart...

Adventure, it's the one word I used as a goal for our trip to Mexico and that is exactly what we got out of it. The kids and I took off alone across the country and then out of the country for nearly 3 months while waiting for my husband to join us mid-trip for a couple weeks. I told myself the entire time that it would be no big deal as I am a stay at home mom that takes care of my kids all day and every day, because not only am I a SAHM, but I am a HOMESCHOOLING stay at home mom...so I am literally with my kids all day and every day! How could this be any different? RIGHT?! The trip began in Dallas for a week before moving on and it was at that moment that I realized just what I was getting myself into!
The first issue was we 100% overpacked...this was only half of our luggage and almost every bag we checked was overweight! Having to lug our books around was ridiculous and that is what led to most of the weight. Before we came back home, I ended up hacking books and workbooks IN HALF to toss what the kids had already worked on and what had already been graded. The work that needed to be sent into our grading people was taken to an Office Max (Thank goodness for SOME sights of home!) and scanned, then e-mailed so that we could toss a lot of paper and weight. To do it all over again, I would go with 70% less and only bring workbook work that we could leave behind. I would buy all clothes and shoes while on vacation there AND we would do all of our text book work for that quarter in advance. Having to lug ALL of this luggage is NO BIG DEAL at an airport where there are carts and stuff like that....BUT I didn't think of the bus stations and the cabs to our hotels....we would need 2 cabs and I either would have to send my kids and some luggage alone or trust a cab driver with my luggage alone without any people....the dilemma was insane and I ended up having to wait  A LONG TIME for large van or SUV taxis or call private cars for help. This was also a pain when it came to getting settled into hotel rooms, we were 4 people in TINY hacienda rooms and then add in 16+ bags?! Yup, we were a mess! Adventure it was!!
The goal was at least 6 states in this amount of time and instead we did 8 and countless cities! It was a hellish schedule, but it was well worth our time and insanity. We never stayed anywhere longer than a few days and we were constantly travelling by bus. If there is anything I can leave you with from our story, it is to SPEND EXTA for first class and luxury class buses, they are 100% worth it...NO MATTER WHAT! 4 was the perfect number for most of this travel as I could put the 2 big kids on one end of the aisle and the little guy and I on the other side. We always got to choose our seats and we always went to cities large enough that the buses would run all day, this means that if the next available did not have seats next to each other like this, we would kill time in the surrounding area and wait for the next bus! This was the best part of NOT having a time schedule, just a day schedule and it worked in our favor each and every time. I must admit that I planned this trip religiously with a tabbed, torn apart, falling apart, highlighted, bookmarked and written in guidebook. This book was the BIBLE of our trip and though it was HEAVY, it was what we needed. My trip went almost 98% as I had planned and though we were overwhelmed, we were NEVER lacking things to do. We saw things most locals didn't know about and learned more than I could ever imagine. It was more tiring than our park commando touring schedule in Disney World where we go non-stop from park opening to park closing!
We climbed mountains, we walked miles, we hiked rock hills and every single night we slept like babies. We zip-lined, we whale watched, we took trolley tours and every single day we learned more things than we thought possible our brain could hold. We visited family, made friends, became close than we ever were before and every single morning we thanked God for this experience. It's not every sane person that decides to take their children away from their father and to a country that does not speak English for such a long time, but I am so glad that I did it. The things we said and did were not only amazing, they were life changing. I cannot tell you all enough how many times someone told me that I was creating memories that they would remember forever or that they wish they had the courage to do something like this. I cannot count how many times we were told how lucky we were and I know exactly what they mean. Not only is God 100% the one to thank, but so is my husband that works hard every single day to make all of our dreams come true. I asked him the things he wanted to see and do and made sure that HE WAS THERE with us for those things and then we just worked our schedule around that!
Though we were constantly on the move, we were always together. This meant that my kids and I slept in the same room, spent all day and every day together and ate together....you get the picture right? There was no play room, no friends houses, no upstairs/downstairs...no master bedroom....we woke up at the same time and went to bed together save for a few minutes of planning the next day late at night. It was all kids all the time and WOW, I never realized that even though I was a stay at home mom, how much of a break I got in the day. Going to the kitchen to prep meals or sitting on the screen porch to welcome the morning...there was none of that and though I did start to realize it, I  also saw something else happening. My kids were getting along...all the time! There were of course window seat spats, arguing over who gets the first cup of fruit that the man cuts or who gets the easy rolling suitcase and who gets the one the airline damaged.....but overall they were holding hands, hugging and best of all, they were talking! They would discuss what amazed them that day, they would help one another with their homework so we could get out there right away and they would giggle at night about what silly things we saw...
We traveled so much, I wish their bus lines had frequent rider miles! There was so much to see, I was glad for my guidebook and the maps that were readily available at bus stations. The one thing that many people from home were adamant about was the dangers of travelling to Mexico and let me tell you that I never felt it, not once and I am a 4ft10 woman traversing the country of Mexico with 3 kids all alone, with all of our luggage and backpacks it was obvious we were American, add in the fact that 2 of my 3 kids are whiter than Casper the ghost...and well you basically have signs on us that say we are tourists and are carrying money on us and are clueless....as if the maps didn't give that away! We never once felt unsafe or ill at ease. Were we travelling where the cartel was heavy? No, of course not, but we also did not take Mexico off our list of vacation places just due to what the media was telling us back home. I researched heavily and spoke to locals in each place and felt well informed.
We ended the trip with an all inclusive resort full of tours and delights abound. We chartered a boat to go whale watching and it was an experience that I will never forget, it made me so happy that we were able to show our kids this. We saw a mother, father and their baby and not only was it a bit terrifying as they would breach too close the boat but it was breathtaking. My husband and I had a go-pro and 3 camera between us and yet we found ourselves just stopping and watching. We ziplined in the forests of Mexico and not only was this beyond grueling, it was AWESOME! Our youngest did not want to go AT ALL, but we told him to take it one at a time and we could figure something out....well that did it, he had the most fun of us all!! It was amazing to see their smiles, hear them speak Spanish to the workers and listen to the screams and laughter as they would disappear from view and head down the mountain on a zipline...yes, it was definintely a trip of memories, love and laughter.
I am often asked, if I would do it again and just sitting there on the beach with my toes in the sand, the ocean in my hair and my family by my side, I know the answer...not only would I do it again, but I would go longer some years and for less time others. Next year we tackle Europe for one month but who knows where the wind will blow us after that. I have a true case of wanderlust and I can't say it's a bad thing. If there is only one thing that I pass on to my children, I hope that it is a desire to see more and do more. I never want them to grow roots so deep they are afraid to go, see and do. Never let anything hold you back, because you will hold onto that forever. Are we millionaires? Far from it, but we use our money on experiences, not on stuff. Any trip can be done with any budget, you just have to want it enough. Yes, I would do this again and I wish again was now. It was so hard being away from my husband and partner with these kids, but we spoke every single day in a way that we haven't spoken since we were dating. You know when you talk on the phone about anything and everything just so you don't have to hang up? It was pointless chatter but it was so nice. We would video chat as a family and discuss our days, we would snapchat all day long so that he could feel as though at least a sliver of him were with us and then every night we would talk until our eyes were heavy and maybe a few times we even fell asleep together on the phone. Yes, it was hard but in the end it was so worth it.
Enjoy every minute my friends, because it all goes far too fast.

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