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Why we’d gladly return to this oasis land
“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
It’s hard to believe we’ve been in this incredible country for six months already!
We’ve met so many kind, welcoming people, had countless interactions with perfect strangers who smiled & greeted us like we were friends, & had many great conversations with taxi drivers in various cities too, despite our broken Spanish. It’s difficult to leave after having such amazing experiences in a place. In our six months here we’ve been in four states & several towns & cities, many of which we’ve stayed in for a week to a month at a time.
We started our journey not sure what our plan was, but several of our taxi drivers in Puerto Morelos (in Quintana Roo) recommended we go to Merida, in the state of Yucatan. So we bussed there & stayed for the month of December. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay in a lively little neighbourhood, our house near a bbq chicken stand. The friendly couple running it would smile & say “buenos días” or “buenas tardes” each time we came by. Whenever we’d walk the street, a few scraggly dogs & cats would greet us & most were happy to have someone pay them a bit of attention, so we’d occasionally bring them a little snack. Just around the corner & down two blocks was the little fruit & veggie stand we frequented almost daily. The welcoming family who ran it was grateful we could speak a bit of Spanish & always curious to hear about our journey.
Our backyard had an orange tree which we decorated with multi-coloured lights, flashing festively in the dark evenings. The tree shaded a little table where we’d often eat our lunch during the hot days, & our tacos in the evenings. Next to that, we had a small wading pool, just big enough for us all to cool down in. Our girls enjoyed splashing around in there for hours every day. The house also came with several indoor hammocks, so that was a source of relaxation for some of us, & crazy tricks & flips for our girls 😅
To get into the city center, we’d hop on a big bus with the locals for 20 minutes, observing beautiful colonial buildings mixed in with the more recently constructed, brightly painted ones. The center plaza, with large trees for shade & a huge Nativity scene, was a nice place to get an ice cream & walk around. We mostly avoided the busy, narrow sidewalks, as they were hard to navigate with kids. One afternoon, we wandered into a huge Mayan artisan shop & were given a personalized tour by the friendly guy working. Such beautiful art & textiles!
A few times during our stay, we ventured out to some of the Yucatan’s amazing cenotes (“sen-O-tays”). These are Mexico’s beautiful clear blue, fresh water holes found deep in the ground. They’re fed by underground rivers, & perfect for cooling down on a hot day.
From Merida we also made day trips to the spectacular Mayan ruins of Mayapan and Uxmal. We were in awe of how the ancient Mayans made these intricately designed buildings & temples, & even used the sun & moon to figure out the time of day & make their calendar. But we were also in shock at how they believed in human sacrifice, even to the point of sometimes choosing the “most beautiful” woman as an offering to the gods.
We enjoyed some beautiful beach towns, & even stayed a month in a scenic & friendly Mayan mountain city, San Cristóbal, in Chiapas, where it dipped down to 7*C at night. Our log cabin came with a cute fire place that seemed to provide more smoke than heat, but we’d often use it in the evenings, when the cold set in. Then we’d wake up, layer up (in clothes we hadn’t worn in months), & make coffee for ourselves & tea for the girls. The yard was just big enough for us to play soccer, so that kept the girls entertained during the warmer, sunny hours of the day. Our hosts there were welcoming, helping us whenever we needed anything, & even letting the girls play their marimba one day. Just down the street was a market with fresh local fruit & veggies, so we always had a delicious supply.
We got to know the young ladies at the lavanderia (laundromat) across the street, who were happy to wash our smoky clothes, & we often chatted with them a bit. We spent half of our month there battling a parasite, so that dampened our spirits a bit (see my first blog), but we were all happy to finally be better & explore again. From San Cristóbal, we visited El Chiflón, a majestic waterfall a few hours away. Its lower falls feed into aqua-blue swimming pools below—a refreshing way to cool off during the hot climb & descent.
Our most recent stay was on a cute little ranch near the town of Tehuantepec in the state of Oaxaca (“wa-hawk-a”). It was our first actual home stay. And probably the best experience of our time in Mexico. José & Flor are a middle-aged couple who love their ranch, but mostly they love people. They are some of the most present people I’ve ever met. The first morning we were there, I said something to Flor in the kitchen, & she stopped whatever she was up to & made me feel like I was the most important person in the world. For a few minutes, she just stood there, asking me questions & making me feel like a welcome guest in her home. She ended up bonding closely with our youngest, Annika, by playing games with her & teasing her, like my mom often does to win her affection. The girls loved being around so many animals for nine days straight, especially their playful dog, Nahla.
Here’s a journal entry my husband, Tom, made while there:
“I had a big realization yesterday as I talked with José. It was mostly me listening and watching closely as he led me around his property to feed animals and water plants. I got to see his joy and excitement when he saw flowers starting to bloom on an orange tree and when we came across a lime tree bursting with little limes. Several times throughout our walk he said “preciosa” (precious), as he admired his beautiful plants. I guess in watching and listening to José, I realized something—that I want to have the same kind of joy and excitement in my own life on a daily basis. I want to be as completely present as José was with me and with those animals and plants.”
José’s friend & faithful worker, Pablo would show up every morning at the crack of dawn to put in long days in the 37* heat, mowing lawns, watering trees, feeding the dozens of sheep, several chickens, & spirited horse.
It was such an inspiration for us to be in a place like that, where chickens were producing nourishing eggs, & fruit was so plentiful, it was falling for the birds to eat. In fact, we’d toss many mangoes into the sheep pasture each day for them to fight over.
Waking up the other morning, after flying into Mexico City, knowing it was our last day in this country for awhile was bitter-sweet. Our time here has been so full of awesome experiences & people. What’s next..?! Isn’t that what makes life so interesting & exciting…the great unknown..?! We are trusting our journey to our Maker, & asking for wisdom & grace to know the way each day.
Right now we’re in El Salvador for a couple months, & so far enjoying eating pupusas—their delicious cheese & bean-filled corn flatbread. And we’ve already been pleasantly surprised by the kindness of strangers. On Sunday we attended a church service that was happening right in our hotel, & everyone treated us like family, even taking our girls to the kids’ church & helping them in English. Yesterday we moved into our rental house near the coast, which has a pool the girls can’t get enough of, especially in the heat. We don’t have access to a grocery store, unless we get a taxi to a nearby town, but wherever we go, there are hurdles & blessings…“así es la vida.”
Mexico has been such an oasis for our family, welcoming us when we didn’t feel welcomed by our own country, due to mandates & divisiveness. We’ve grown so fond of this incredibly diverse & beautiful country after six months, that we plan to return & possibly even settle there for awhile.
¡Muchas gracias, México! 🇲🇽
You’ve captured our hearts ♥️