Man, I used to be able whip up these vacay posts and videos in no time. Note to self: don’t wait 5 months to post part 2 of a trip that was 9 months ago. ANYWAY.
So we unload everything into the condo and leave the kids with D’s sister and hit up the local market. I wishhhhh I took a photo of the produce department. Everything was giant and we made tacos that night because Mexico.
The condo was so perfect for what we needed. 3 bedrooms— 1 room with a king size bed for me, D, and Prim; a room with bunks and a trundle for Olivia, Ollie, and Atlas; then an upstairs suite that connected to the patio for Scott. It was in the perfect location, too. Tulum is split into two areas that are laid out on these 2 parallel roads. There is the hotel zone that runs along this narrow road along the shore, then there is the main road that connects it to Playa del Carmen/Cancun that runs through their downtown. The condo was off the road that connects these 2 parallels roads so it was super easy to go to either. Also this giant lux, gated condo for 7 people was only around $130/night which also saved us money in the long run since we were able to prepare most meals at home, but even when we ate out everything was so affordable.
The rest of the trip is kind of a blur of what happened (maybe because it was 9 months ago, but again, I digress). The hype is legit because Tulum is amazing. The locals said that May is the perfect time to come because its the end of the tourist season and the start of the rainy season but the weather is still nice and crowds are gone. It was the best vacation I’ve ever taken… okay maybe tied with my honeymoon to Oslo because duh, Norwegian honeymoon. But really, I have this deep, deep love for Mexico and Mexican culture now. Since I bring up the enneagram any chance I get… being a 4 I have a tendency to romanticize the past and have so much trouble being present and actually enjoying the present. Yes, I was moody and we had plenty of bumps on our trip, but honestly it was one of (if not the only…) trips where I actually was so happy in the present. I had a good time WHILE IT WAS HAPPENING. Huge. Which means that thinking about this trip and making the video almost brought me to tears because it was that good remembering it all.
Anywho, let’s leave the sap there and we all want to hear about the food, right? Food highlights in downtown Tulum were El Pollo Bronco where they just serve rotisserie chicken, tortillas, rice, salsa and liters of Mexican coke and sprite. I could eat this everyday for the rest of my life. Not exaggerating.
We fed our group of 7 dinner and lunch the next day for $13. Burrito Amor, bombbbb. Also Batey Mojito Bar. They press the sugar cane for their mojitos out front in a VW Beetle so….
As for the hotel zone, we ate at Casa Banana with the whole family and everyone was super sweet and accommodating. It’s a pretty fancy place and when we were ordering some fancy skewers for the kids they said, “No, they don’t want that. They’re kids. We’ll make them something.” and they came back with grilled chicken, mashed potatoes, and steamed veggies. I’m telling you, being in a culture that fully embraces children and the family is eye opening. When we were hanging out with only Prim on the beach at some hotel one day, this big guy working at the bar with an Our Lady of Guadalupe tattoo on his forearm asked her name and we had been saying Rosa because it’s easier then explaining Primrose and the guy started tearing up saying that was his grandmother’s name and how sweet she was and how sweet Rosa is in the most sincere way. Everyone just loved on the kids in a real genuine, familiar way. No one was put off by them being around and everyone knew how to act towards them. I know I’m not alone with other American parents who experience the most awkward interactions going out to eat with kids in our culture. Asking if tiny babies need a highchair or a kids menu. Talking like a baby to a 4 year old. Just off, and none of that happened in Mexico. Get it together, America. End rant.
Anywho, you can’t go to Tulum without experiencing Hartwood Hartwood Hartwood. To be honest, when I heard about having to line up around noon and staying there for a few hours until they show up to take reservations for that night, I rolled my eyes hard and felt like they were being so pretentious and no meal would be worth it. So we decided to split up the wait and Scott got the first shift so he borrowed a chair from our airbnb, brought a beer, and posted up outside.
Luckily they came early and we got reservations NO PROBLEM. Now that I was done being annoyed, I was super excited because it really is supposed to be amazing or dare I say, world renowned. So me, Daniel, Primrose, and Scott get there and we are blown away. They have no refrigeration and cook everything out on open fire so everything is harvested day of so it is a legit farm (or more like sea) to table experience. So we sit down, Prim has the cutest highchair, and the very limited menu is presented to us. Everything about the hosting, seating, ordering was seamless. Prim was starting to fuss and I turn to see what she needs and the waitress was already on her way over and gives Prim a stick of raw sugar cane, coddles over her, and walks away. Family culture at it’s finest.
We feasted on fish we can’t remember the names of, Scott braved the octopus, and we all had the best meal we’ve ever had. Every time we went out to eat at night we got bit up by mosquitos, but not here and you know why!? Because they would walk up and down the aisles swinging burning sage in a bucket. V effective, v Catholic. Again, lives up to the hype.
We went out and explored the ruins in Coba. Climbing a Mayan pyramid is probably the coolest thing I’ve ever done. I wore tantruming Prim on my back, Daniel wore tantruming Atlas on his back, and poor Scott carried Ollie up and down it wearing loafers. Amazing again.
There were Our Lady of Guadalupes everywhere and it was amazing. We went to 8pm Sunday Mass at the open air Our Lady of Guadalupe parish and it was our first time as Catholics really experiencing the universal church. Yeah, we’ve gone to Mass elsewhere while traveling in the US, but seeing how a different culture celebrates Mass and the Eucharist was emotional! Kids were running up and down the aisles. It was SO loud inside. The cantor was a teenage boy with his guitar bellowing from the balcony. Only like 60% actually went up and received communion even though the church was packed. So much respect for the Church.
We also checked out the Grand Cenote. The kids were starting to come down with a fever and a cold, so they didn’t do too well with the freezing water, but otherwise it went pretty well! We felt so refreshed from swimming in the mineral rich water.We swam through caves with birds and bats flying around, turtles and fish in the water. V dreamy.
So to access the beach, you post up at a hotel and pay for a palapa and order some food and drinks while you hang. Our favorites were Posada Margarita and Papaya Playa (con niños) and Coqui Coqui (sin niños). Posada Margarita was so cute. Painted doors, lush foliage, ice cream cones, swing palapas, and a bunch of coral that Ollie collected to bring home. Papaya Playa was super cute and had a few wild cats roaming around in a not gross way that the kids named and chased. Coqui Coqui is wabi sabi perfection. If you were going to Tulum without kids, this is where you want to be. And order a daiquiri, their house ceviche, and a bottle of rosas secas perfume. You’re welcome.
As far as media sensationalized Mexico sketchiness and corruption, we only had a couple weird experiences, but never felt in danger at all. The airport situation was unsettling, but that could happen anywhere and it got settled. One time Daniel and Scott went out to pick up lunch and they were waved down to not drive down a certain street where the restaurant was because it was closed and to pay for parking there so they did and it was a complete lie. The lot next to restaurant was open so they totally scammed them. And overall, we all had a couple of tummy probs and bad poops (TMI or JEI?) but no one was ravaged with Montezuma’s revenge. We stuck to bottled water (even for brushing teeth) and learned the ice cube trick which was helpful. So, nothing to
write home blog about concerning that. But we did have a Mexican police situation that was really uncomfortable but worked out. Scott was driving us all back to the Cancun airport to fly home and there was a really confusing intersection where we had a red light in our lane but we thought it was green or something and drove through. Anyway, we get pulled over and the officer asks Scott to get out of the car. They go behind the car and talk. We all are trying to keep cool and not lurk but are sweatingggggg. So the cop asked where we were going and explained how we ran the red light and how he would have to take Scott’s ID to the station and Scott could come pick it up and pay for the ticket in person at the station to get his ID back. Scott said how if we did that we would miss our flight and if there was anything else we could do. When he says this the cop puts his hand on Scott’s shoulder and turns away from the road and says, “Well you could pay the ticket here for 2000 pesos” (I think it was 2000 pesos, something like that). Scott pulled out all the USD we had and said, “We have $127 dollars” and the cop took it and said that was fine and sent us on our way!!! SO SKETCHY.
I can go on and on forever, but this trip really meant so much to us. Traveling is really important to me and Daniel (and I’m sure most people) but it’s really a huge bonding experience for us and nurtures our marriage. Honestly, I don’t enjoy doing much, ha! But I love traveling. I wanted to be a travel agent for a good amount of time while I was studying geography before it became a somewhat absolete profession, and I just find so much joy and fulfillment in planning a trip and come out of it a slightly better person when I travel. It’s something I really, really enjoy doing. It’s hard with kids, yeah, but we got through it and it’s important to me and Daniel so we find ways to make it work for us. You set your expectations as low as possible and really research and plan. You still get things way out of your control (part uno, or my new rx sunglasses getting run over, or the life proof case not working and Daniel’s phone not surviving his cannonball into the condo’s pool), but you just deal with it and learn. Even though the kids don’t remember much, it was so worth it to bring them. Ollie remembers how he climbed a pyramid and ate ice cream on the beach. Atlas says he remembers riding on the bikes with Scott and Aunty Olivia. Prim deep down probably remembers that bomb honey and cinnamon sweet potato from Hartwood. Now that my wanderlust heart is aching, I’ll end it here with the video (yes I know the song is in Italian -_-) and go lookup flights to Mexico, Adios!
$240 roundtrip…oh no….