Sort of on a whim, we planned a trip to Mexico. A friend of mine suggested it, so in January, we found a cool resort called Sandos Caracol Eco-Resort in Riviera Maya. We made reservations. But then about a month ago, our friends found out they could not make the trip. We thought about canceling our trip too, but the boys were so excited. Admittedly, I was too, so we decided to make the vacation happen.
It’s been a long time since I’ve left the country. Whether backpacking through Europe or snowboarding in Canada, I was consistently out of the country in my younger years. Then once marriage, kids and life took over, all of that stopped. I’ve still done my fair amount of traveling in the States but haven’t been out of the country in a very long time. Needless to say, I was pretty excited about the opportunity to experience Mexico this week. I have a thirst for adventure that’s sometimes hard to squelch. And Riviera Maya has not disappointed. Every morning (except one) while here, I’ve woken early and walked on the beach alone which has been very healing. I mean, who couldn’t feel relaxed in this setting?
My sister lived in San Diego right after college and when I would visit, we always enjoyed going down to Tijuana and shopping or just hanging out for the day. Tijuana was my only experience in Mexico and while that city is busy and interesting, it’s nothing like Riviera Maya. This is my first all-inclusive vacation. I’ve resisted them up to this point because in my mind, they just involved glutinous eating and drinking and partying. I thought doing the all-inclusive thing would feel “fake” compared to my other experiences traveling.
It’s sometimes very refreshing to be proven completely wrong.
From the time we flew into Cancun, went through customs, found our ground transportation and rode the 50 miles to Riviera Maya, I felt the same adrenaline rush I always feel when traveling. The boys’ eyes were huge as they took in the multitude of languages and cultures and watched all the adults communicate in broken English and broken Spanish.
We’re staying at an eco-resort which is beyond intriguing. This resort is all about sustainability, animal rescue and utilizing low-carbon materials and foods. There are animals everywhere. Turtles, monkeys, lizards, raccoons, cats, donkeys, deer, etc. They are rescue animals that now live on the resort. One of the people on staff told us they strategically place fruits and other foods in trees and all over the resort so the animals still have to forage for food. I must say, it’s very unique to be eating breakfast and for a monkey just to walk right up and hop on the bar.
At this resort, they compost and ensure very little trash is consumed. There are hardly any paper towels, napkins or any type of disposable items. Resort cups are made of a sustainable hard plastic that can be washed and reused. I could go on, but I think you get the point. As someone who believes whole-heartedly that global warming is a real problem and tries to live a sustainable life myself, it’s so nice to see an entire resort working toward these goals.
We have seen some amazing shows. Some have been about Mayan culture while others are very Americanized and involve superheroes, Micheal Jackson, etc. I thought the boys would say the shows or the pools were their favorite things. I asked Brooks what he has enjoyed the most and he said he likes how nice the people are. It was the best and most true answer he could’ve given.
I could write an entire blog post about how friendly, nice and cordial everyone has been. Alberto, Francesca, Margarita, Ricardo, Samuel. These are just a handful of the friends we’ve made on staff here. They truly act like it’s a joy to serve their guests and help in any way. Their genuine smiles say it all. Our housekeeper has started playing around the boys. She can tell kids are staying in the room from Case’s figurines everywhere and the boys blankets and stuffed animals, so each day she creates a new animal with the towels. Case giggles every time we walk in and see the new towel animal. Brooks got really quiet yesterday. When I looked to see what he was up to, he was writing our housekeeper a letter telling her how great she was.
I asked Case the same question about his favorite part, and he said Kids Club. They have an entire kids program here where children can watch movies, play on this huge obstacle unit, do crafts, go the beach with other kids, get their faces painted and so on. Anyone who knows Case knows how much he loves to play, so he’s had a ball going to Kids Club and meeting kids from all over the world. Each time he tells us about a new friend he’s met. He’ll say, “He doesn’t speak English, but that’s okay. We can still play together.”
And how right he is. I’ve heard so many different languages while here, but people are just people. The adults act like us, lounging, reading, relaxing. And the kids, no matter where they’re from, are jumping, diving, giggling, playing.
There are so many stories I could tell you from this week and so many things I could write about. I have tons of beautiful photos I hope to share in the coming days, but I wanted to write this post this morning. As I write this, I’m sitting on an outdoor veranda drinking Mexican coffee and listening to the staff chitter-chatter in Spanish. And couldn’t feel more at peace. With everything going on in the world, this trip has really warmed my heart. I’m especially happy the boys have gotten to experience it at such young ages. They often hear blurbs from NPR Morning Edition or catch things on the news, and I worry they’re getting a skewed sense of other parts of the world. I fully believe traveling with children helps alleviate these misconceptions.
I just wish everyone, especially those who are skeptical of other countries, could experience what I’ve experienced this week, especially the human connection that transcends nationalities and political shenanigans.
We leave very early tomorrow morning, so I’m going to sign off and enjoy our last day. This trip has reignited my thirst for international travel and specifically made me excited to travel more with the boys.
I saw this quote by a writer named Mary Anne Radmacher. She said, “I’m not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.”
I couldn’t agree more.