To catch you up, the girls and I are in Mexico and Dan is in the USA. Read the details here, but if you’re looking for the short version it’s this: Mexico is our last Worldschooling country, but just for the girls and me. Dan is back in the USA getting going on some business opportunities and helping his dad. The girls and I will enjoy our time here until December, when we will all be together again back in the USA for good. 🎉🎊🎈🥳
Vamos a Mexico
We arrived in Mexico after an easy transition from France. It was a long flight but I discovered a version of Bejeweled on the in-flight entertainment and now my beloved Solitaire has moved off my phone’s home screen. New country, new favorite phone game!
We decided to stay a few nights in Cancun before transitioning to Cozumel. The journey to Cozumel involves a taxi to Playa del Carmen, dragging bags onto the ferry and then a taxi to the Airbnb from the ferry port. We were not ready for that after a long flight. Besides, we had lived in Cancun before and at that time they were building a hotel in the area where we did all our grocery shopping and Spanish classes. The hotel is now done and we decided to stay there. It was fun to return to somewhere familiar! I even knew where things were in the grocery store!
We spent a few days re-exploring our favorite places, getting pedicures (because they are cheap once again!) and having good food (sit-down sushi for 3 is cheaper than European McDonald’s for 4). We even renewed our Sam’s Club membership! It *almost* felt like we were returning home, but not quite.
I was dreading the Bag Drag to Cozumel and it was about what I anticipated. The taxi can only get as close as 2 blocks from the ferry terminal. The rest has to be walked, along a busy tourist street with shops and vendors all desperate to sell you things or braid your hair. I haven’t even told you how uncomfortably hot and humid it is here right now. We each had two rolling suitcases + backpacks. We managed well enough but we didn’t love it. Thank goodness for suitcases with 4 wheels, and ferry security guys who let us pass without having to inspect our bags.
Our Airbnb host picked us up at the terminal in Cozumel and we arrived easily at our Airbnb.
And then we realized our mistake.
Usually it’s Dan’s job to book the Airbnb but this time I did it. He’s a little more detail oriented and I’m a little more GetShitDone. I had failed to examine the pictures thoroughly for an air conditioner in every room. An A/C was listed on the amenities but it was not specified that it was only in the bedrooms. We walked in and the downstairs living/dining/kitchen area was literally a sweat box. You should have seen our eyes when the hosts said “oh we just keep the doors and windows open for the breeze”.
Y’all, I said it before but I’ll say it again: the entire Riviera Maya is HOT right now. Like, SO HOT. You leave the house and instantly are wet from sweat. Having just come from cool-ish and comfortable Europe, we were dying. To make matters worse, the Airbnb was a ground-floor apartment, so leaving doors and windows open at night was not possible. The hosts said the neighborhood was very safe, but they showed us how to lock up at night, and there are TWO ADDITIONAL locks between the apartment and the street. #mixedmessages
We tried to be troopers and hang out downstairs for a bit in front of the fan but quickly retreated to our rooms, where we stayed the entire 6 days of our time there. We tried to cook most of our meals using only the microwave and even ate all our meals in our rooms, sitting on our beds, which is a huge pet peeve of mine.
If you’ll recall, I had a nice long checklist for why Cozumel would be our perfect spot. Well, Cozumel ended up being a bust. We looked around for days for an apartment that would suit our needs. We found one that was within budget and met our bedroom goals but we nicknamed it The Gross House. It’s a sad day when The Gross House was at the top of our list. We found another place we loved but it was literally double our budget. DOUBLE. That’s not something you can negotiate down. It seems that Cozumel doesn’t really have a low season and what we were looking for just didn’t come easily. We were also starting to understand the isolated nature of the island. For $11 a person ($20 round trip) we could get to the mainland, but that price (multiplied by 3) means it’s not something we are going to do each week. And a day of diving was quoted at $115. Also not a price we want to pay each week. And throughout all this apartment hunting, being hot and learning of island prices…? Jet lag. Serious jet lag. Like, awake at 4 a.m. every day jet lag.
I reconnected with some old friends from Playa del Carmen and took their advice to expand our housing search to Playa. But not before I had a massive meltdown one night wherein the girls had to alert Dan on Whatsapp, they made me dinner and watched me ugly cry. I enlisted my sister-wife from Medellin, Jamie, currently in London, to help me research apartments. It takes a village, amIright?
I really should have known the meltdown was coming. The no-mans-land between temporary housing and permanent housing is always my kryptonite. But we’ve done it 8 times before (Panama, Mexico, Spain, South Africa, Netherlands, Thailand, Colombia, Dominican Republic) and it has always worked out. Dan was his usual optimistic self when it comes to housing adversity. Even from 3,000 miles away.
My fam quoted my own saying back to me: “Just put one foot in front of the other.” And so we persevered and by the end of the week we had found an apartment that seemed to meet our needs in Playa del Carmen, in an area where we used to spend a lot of time. All the credit goes to Jamie for finding it!
We have never lived in Playa but we spent a lot of time with friends there. The apartment Jamie found is blocks from our favorite restaurant, a well-known grocery store, my favorite hair salon, and a lot of other spots we knew. We did what we have never done before: we left our Airbnb early. To hell with the 3 days we already paid for, we were outta there. I even got early check-in at the apartment in Playa to not spend any additional hours than were necessary in The Hot Box.
After looking at dozens of apartments in Cozumel and comparing them to the pictures, we started to use the formula of “in person it will be 30% less nice than the pictures”. So, upon seeing the Playa apartment in pictures, we said “even if it’s 30% less nice, we like it!”. But we still wanted to live in it before we committed to the entire 4-month timeframe so we booked it for a month. Even a month felt like a risk after the Airbnb in Cozumel. I confirmed A/C in every room, however. Even monkeys learn from their mistakes.
Playa del Carmen
We did the Bag Drag back to Playa, which I was dreading with all my heart and soul. Other than the ferry security guys trying to TAKE OUR NEWLY MADE SWISS ARMY POCKET KNIVES (I used every ounce of begging and pleading in Spanish and they finally let us pass), the process was OK. I’m pretty sure I got hosed on the taxi price but I didn’t care. $7 to get us out of this pedestrian tourist zone and to our apartment 10 blocks away? SOLD.
Alas, the apartment is only about 10% less nice than the pictures. We can live with that! We walked into the place to find the A/C blasting, a welcome basket of treats on the table, the big TV on and playing soft music and a huge bottle of water already chilling in the dispenser. This is what I’m talkin’ ’bout.
This apartment only has two bedrooms and Zoe and I decided to share a room to give Haley
less Zoe some privacy. It actually works well because in our room there are two double beds with a big closet and plenty of space for two people. I hate spending any time in bed that is not sleeping so I have no problem sharing a room with Zoe as long as it’s kept neat. There was even a decorative room divider in the living room which we promptly moved into the bedroom so Zoe and I don’t even see each other. Haley is appreciative of the large master bedroom with her own bathroom.
It only took two sleeps for us to say “Where do we sign?”. We want to stay in this apartment the whole time we will be in Mexico. It’s so convenient to the grocery store (multiples), the main street with all the dive shops, malls, pharmacies, etc. And zillions of restaurants nearby. And the A/C works like a champ, in every room.
Within the first week we found the animal rescue(s) for Zoe, Pilates for me and next we’ll work on activities for Haley. Until then Haley is happy with an oven and a washer and dryer, both of which were missing from Sweatsville, Cozumel. However, it’s still so hot. REALLY HOT. But we can get a respite from the heat by staying indoors and going out when it’s cloudy or later in the day. We’ve coined the acronym MIM: Movie in the Middle (of the day!).
We are also excited to reconnect with two families we knew when we lived in this area in 2016. They are also home / un / world schoolers with teens. They both have left the area until September (because… smart) but we’ll enjoy seeing them again when they return.
Dan Does Arizona
Dan is back in his beloved Arizona. He has been busy buying a car, visiting his dad and trying to find his own place to live before he starts on his real estate trajectory. But we are in close touch and we are already planning the first care package that will be mailed to us. He likes to brag about iced fountain drinks and wide roads but we just smile and eat yummy tacos.