The flights to and from Cancun went fine – long but endurable. I had my usual in-airport freak-out about leaving the kids – for some reason children in airports make me fairly frantic for my own. I definitely missed them, but this was probably the least painful trip so far from that perspective. It helped that I knew they were being very good for Steve while I was gone. They are 'finally' old enough to be not-totally-exhausting-on-one-parent-duty.
My cell phone didn’t work except for one call when I landed to Steve. Thankfully, Stephie’s bb worked, so I used that. It was a weird feeling, though.
We drove down the coast about 2 hours to get to Tulum, through Playa del Carmen – the highway was lined with big resorts for most of the way down. The greenery was lovely although there was a lot of litter. “You should see Haiti if you think this is a lot,” commented my sister. It did make me think a lot about how fragile the environment is, especially although not exclusively in developing countries.
Stephie speaks Spanish so life was very easy for us in that way – I think I could’ve gotten by on English since so many people speak it, but it was nice not to have to. She impressed many people.
The first day or two were lovely, weather-wise. It was windier than I expected and at first we were a bit dismayed, but then we realized how cool that kept the beach and once I’d resigned myself to hair bands and clips, I was fine. The waves were gorgeous those first few days – even and gentle. We got out past where they were braking and just bobbed up and down for what felt like forever. That may have been the most relaxing part. The waves were much choppier our last two days there so it wasn’t as relaxing to be out in them.
Our little hotel/motel was the best of all the ones we saw, I think. It was private without being too far separated from the beach or the restaurant. We had our own cabana (purple, #8). It didn't have a view of the ocean which ended up being fine since the sand dune gave us a wind and water spray break. There was electricity in the cabana which was nice for lighting and fans. We had lovely mosquito net-canopied beds. The bathroom was definitely adequate, although there wasn’t nearly enough hooks to hang things for drying, and there wasn't much privacy. Toilet paper had to go into the trash, not the toilet.
Lots of sticky sand, which took some getting used to, but I hardly noticed it after the first day or so. The sand itself was pretty – white and clean. We claimed beach chairs early in the day and kept them until the afternoon on most days.
We had wonderful food – fresh and well made and correctly portioned. It was lovely. It was an adjustment for me not to have cold water or diet coke on hand whenever I wanted it – I’m more dependent on those things than I realized.
Our big adventure was going snorkeling IN A CAVE. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done – seriously, unless I'm forgetting something truly terrifying from my early childhood in Africa. We had planned to snorkel over the reef out in/on the ocean, but the wind was too strong and the port was closed in Playa, so the guide offered us the cave tour. We accepted because we’d driven all that way. It was beautiful and scary – the peninsula has thousands and thousands of cenotes – caverns – some filled with water. Once I was in and had figured out the breathing it was fine, but getting used to it was very very scary. Thank god Stephie was there. Lots of stalactites and stalagmites and not very many fish which made it bearable for me. I can’t stand the idea of fish touching me in the dark – in broad daylight I could handle it, but not in a dark cave. We held waterproof flashlights and Eddie, our guide, took lots of underwater pictures of us. I’ll post the pictures. Eddie said that there is a required ritual whenever someone discovers a cenote, which is to put a candle in the opening, and wait for it to go out before entering the cave. This was thought to be the sign that the gods gave that the cave was now safe/blessed. It turns out that the candle flame also burns up any poisonous gas from excessive bat guano, which is the scientific component of that ritual. Either way, or both ways, I liked the story and idea.
We really enjoyed Eddie and had him to ourselves. He took us to a Mayan restaurant for lunch afterwards and the food was incredible. Residual terror does a number on a person’s appetite.
We also visited the ruins at Tulum – they were beautiful. It was incredibly hot and humid and I kept thinking about how NOT acclimated I am to that type of weather – it felt nice to Stephie since Haiti can be so much muggier at times. I envisioned the ancient Mayan people living and working and worshiping in those ruins with such a gorgeous view… it was also interesting to see how the thinking over time has changed about what certain buildings were used.
We ate lunch and dinner at a few different places along the beach frontage road, all yummy but the food at La Zebra (our place) was just as good as anywhere. We LOVED our breakfasts of eggs and toast and coffee and fresh fruit juice.
We each read a ton – I think I’ll get a Kindle before my next trip.
I can’t say I loved how I felt in my body – I actually forgot my regular swim suit ( can you believe it?! ) but Stephie loaned me a bikini which was very small compared to what I usually wear. Part of my body saw sun that have NEVER seen sun – at least not since I was in college. I’m not sure I could ever feel completely confident physically in a beach swim suit, but I do think I could feel MORE confident. Not that every trip has to be to a beach but that’s about all I can fantasize about at the tail end of a MN-winter. Poor Stephie, she'd probably prefer to go to Iceland or its weather - equivalent.
I had a lovely few days at home before the week started – everything and everyone just worked well. Ellie is several weeks out from any accidents, which is HUGE. Will is his happy cooperative good natured little self. Steve seems happy and had friends over on Saturday night, which was nice. I had a play date on Sunday afternoon – it was the first one where the moms got to spend the majority of the time talking to each other rather than running interference with the kids, which means they are getting big!
I have this sense that now is the precious time for Steve and I relative to Will and Ellen – we will be looking back at these ages with such nostalgia and bittersweet longing, I think. They are just so amazing right now. Not that they won’t be in the future, but my gut tells me THIS is the time to remember and appreciate and focus on.
I’m back on track foodwise as of today – it was a good break, but I appreciate routine, too. I forgot to pack lunch last night so I had to go to the cafeteria which was okay but higher in carbs that I’d like. I’m off to Orlando in two weeks for 4 nights, which is a lot for work – I’ll try to plan well for that trip. No trips after that for a while, unless something comes up unexpectedly.
How is it that it already feels like way too long to have to wait until spring of next year to take a trip and see my sister?
I could and do beat myself up for feeling ungrateful for what I have which is more than many, but I also don’t have family around during my ‘regular’ life, so I think there is some offsetting of my blessings. Or that could be a ridiculous justification I just tried to make.
Alright, back to the grindstone.