Usually when I mention Mexico City to friends or family they say either one of two things: 1. oh it sounds dangerous and crazy! or 2. oh i’ve always wanted to go there! And now that I think about it, i remember doing some extensive googling relating to the safety of the city before our first visit nearly 4 years ago. And after our visit I remember feeling like I’d been let in on a secret.. I was so amazed by how safe and peaceful and cool it is. But then both times I’ve visited it’s been after being in Ciudad Obregon, which would be similar to hanging out in a small town in Arizona or something and then going to New York. Maybe my amazement is just relative.
Anyway, this visit has felt so different to last time. With a nearly 5 year old and a 14 month old, we were definitely slaves to the nap-time but also during that nap-time we had a nearly 5 year old who needed attention. Traveling with small kids to a city where you know nobody can be quite exhausting. In Seattle we rely so much on our community and we hardly ever feel as though we don’t have enough time for each other or ourselves. I know it was only for a week, but it made me think about if we were to be traveling for longer to places where we knew nobody and what we would need to do in order to have time for just Ivan and I.
We arrived last Friday and we had a weekend with Ivan just exploring the city. We walked until our legs and feet hurt and I was still feeling quite unwell but I so desperately wanted to keep up. We have eaten so well but we don’t feel like we’ve overeaten. Most days we had breakfast at home (obsessed with this, topped with chopped dates, cacao nibs, hemp seeds, chopped apple and cinnamon) with a black coffee and then we would choose one ‘big’ meal for the day (either lunch around 2 or dinner around 5). I’ll write another post about all the great places we found to eat here.
So we hung out together for every minute of the weekend (and Teo tried to nap on-the-go, which is so much harder for him than it ever was for Mika) and then on Monday Ivan had to go back to work (remotely) so I spent the week with the kids mostly from about 10-5 with a lunch break with Ivan. We explored the library and walked the city and ate the food and drank the coffee. We played in the parks and watched the water fountains and tried to see who could spot the street art first (Mika would sometimes point out actual graffiti and say ‘ohh mama, look how cool that is, all the pretty colors!).
Some things about our trip to Mexico City, because a list is easier and my brain is exhausted:
- We stayed in Condesa again. We used AirBnB and this time we stayed in a HUGE house right on Parque Mexico and it was so dreamy. We had three rooms to ourselves, mostly we slept in the king bed and Teo had his travel bed in a different room and then Ivan used the other room as an office. I definitely played out in my head how it might feel to actually live here for a year.
- People drive like CRAZY. Being a pedestrian feels dangerous here, oh so different to Seattle.
- It’s not super easy to be here if you don’t speak some Spanish. I’m sure you would get by, but most people here only speak or prefer to just speak Spanish, which kinda surprised me considering what a huge city it is. But it’s great if you wanna practice your Spanish!! (Like I do).
- We visited the Children’s Museum (Papalote) and it was under construction! Only 4 spaces were open and since we had walked 2.5 miles (up and down stairs with a stroller) to get there, I decided to make the most of the trip anyway. Mika had a really great time, but if you don’t speak any Spanish I’m not sure if you would really get as much out of it as you could. The helpers all mostly speak just Spanish and the instructions for the activities are all in Spanish too.
- The street art!
- It’s very strange (to me) that there are no public swimming pools in Mexico City. There are fitness clubs, but you have to belong and they don’t offer day-passes for visitors.
- People love their dogs. There seem to be people walking their dogs everywhere and also, a lot of people walking other people’s dogs. On the street we were living on there were FOUR shops just for your pet (dog).
- I’m so glad we actually made it to Coyoacán this time. The markets there are very much worth the trip (we took an Uber) and we spent at least 3 hours walking around.
- And finally, we saw the pyramids! I will write a separate post about this, but yep, I am so glad that we did it.
And here are some photos:
View from the kitchen table.
Our sweet little kitchen.
The water fountains!
The sweet little library in the park by our house. It was open early every day and had so many great resources in a little ‘kid’s room’. On the day that it rained we hung out here for a few hours and met some interesting homeschooling families.
When we didn’t have a highchair, the stroller had to do. He’s all like, ‘don’t touch my food!’
The house we lived in! So old and so beautiful. They were actually filming some scenes for a television show there on the day we left.
In the Coyoacan markets. A little bit crazy, a lot of the same things, but also a lot of cool things. We bought a little wooden toy for Teo and a dress and a bag for Mika.
180, a cool shop in Roma Norte with lots of cool made in Mexico things.
All the dogs! It was like a doggy playdate/day-care at the park in the mornings. Teo LOVED it (he loves dogs).
He liked riding like this but he most definitely could not nap like this. (He had to be on my front for nap-time).
The kitchen balcony. The plants made this place feel extra wonderful.
Playing in the park opposite our house.
In Coyoacan, the city named after the coyotes that used to roam there.
I’m not sure why we thought it would be a good idea. Probably because it would save us roughly $1600 and yes we do need to visit family because of course, family, and so we just went ahead and booked the plane to Phoenix instead of all the way to Obregon. The plane ride to Phoenix was only a 3 hour flight but it was an 830pm flight which is, of course, right at the time that Teo needs to be sleeping. Unlike his sister, who could sleep anytime and anywhere, Teo needs his own space to sleep and most definitely does not fall asleep on the boob. There was a lot of crying and kicking and wriggling and then just as we were about to land, he fell asleep. And subsequently awoke as the plane landed. Ergh.
We caught a taxi to the bus station and we managed to get on the 130am bus (instead of the 4am bus). We sat at the very back, which is awful because it’s where the toilets are, but those were the only 4 seats left. The ride is very comfortable, especially if you remember to bring lots of blankets (which we didn’t) because riding through the desert in Mexico overnight is in fact freezing. But despite the cold, (which was very hard to ignore) the seats recline almost entirely, there is plenty of leg room and the arm rests go up. Teo slept in his carseat reasonably well with my wool scarf keeping him warm and Mika curled up on my lap with the only blanket we had and Ivan and I did what we could to get a bit of sleep. We arrived 12 hours later in Ciudad Obregon, Ivan’s hometown.
Everyone here is here because of family. They spend a lot of time together, eating and drinking and reheating food to eat again. The tortillas are out of this world delicious and of course avocados and limes are plentiful. Children are everywhere and children are loved and played with and cooed over. People are warm and kind and there is a lot of laughing.
The best thing is that Mika is speaking Spanish and she loves her cousins and abuelita and abuelo and her tias and tios. I asked her if she noticed anything different about the place and she said very thoughtfully ‘well, there are no lines on the roads.’ and she is right! I hadn’t even noticed. And then she told ivan that it was a lot like New Zealand (!). But then the other day we were walking home from the lagoon and i was holding her and she said ‘mama, i don’t think people here care about their planet.’ And i asked her why not and she said ‘well, a long time ago at school we read this book that said we need to look after our planet and that we should NOT put rubbish on the ground. and also we could plant trees, that would be good too. But people here throw all their rubbish on the ground.’
I’ve spent the last 2 and a half days completely horizontal with an awful flu. Today I feel better enough to eat some food and sit up, and tomorrow i hope i’m 100% because we get on a bus for Hermosillo and then hop on an airplane to Mexico City. We’ve been there before with just Mika when she was a baby and I am very excited to be back there. We hope to visit the pyramids and I’ve also been reading that there is a growing movement for plant-based food there, which sounds really exciting.
Here’s some pictures from our time in Obregon.
18 hours of travel….
We arrived to a delicious feast and fresh cartons of tomatoes and grapefruits and oranges! I ate a grapefruit every morning and Teo devoured the oranges.
Teo could not get enough of his abuelita and abuelo. Since we have been here, he has decided that walking is definitely his preferred way to get around (no more crawling!) and he has eaten his fair share of flour tortillas and beans!
There was a lot of cousin time. Mika was very impressed with the gigantic toy collections her cousins have, including inside trampolines, outside bouncy houses, swing sets, and huge doll and dress up collections.
NYE! Sparklers, firecrackers, pinatas, and lots of food. And kids who fell asleep on the couch.
Fresh coconuts at the lagoon.
We hand washed most of our clothes with a bar of castille soap until we could find a natural soap to use in the washing machine. It was definitely a highlight for Mika!
I’m pretty sure ALL of the corn tortillas here are made with MaSeCa which i’m pretty sure is GMO corn, but despite that (very awful fact), these freshly made hot corn tortillas are out-of-this world delicious.
Outside baths are always better than inside baths.
We got back from Vancouver late on Xmas eve and the kids were totally asleep so we tucked them into bed, turned on some xmas music and stayed up til 1am wrapping presents and (finally) putting lights on the tree. Sometime in the middle of the night when M crawled into bed between us, she said to me in a super excited whisper ‘mama! the tree has lights on it! and there are SO many presents under the tree! i think santa came!’ and I nodded sleepily and squeezed her hand and i could feel her excitement. we fell asleep again and then in the morning i asked her if she thought all the presents were still there or if it was a dream and she replied ‘no mama, i KNOW they are still there, i just KNOW it’. Sure enough they were.
I had the idea of starting a waffles for breakfast xmas tradition, but ivan hadn’t seemed as excited as I’d hoped so I never ordered the waffle maker. Of course on xmas morning he was like ‘i loved the idea! did you order the waffle maker?’ and of course i had not. So we ate pancakes after opening m’s stocking and then we opened some more presents while baby napped and then i did my xmas day run and then we did our xmas day walk with our friends and then we went over to our friend’s house for a special xmas dinner. Everything was low key, relaxed and mostly just really enjoyable.
It can definitely be hard sometimes being so far away from our families, and at christmas time I really miss them all quite a lot. We were lucky this year to have Xmas eve with my grandma, aunty and cousins in Vancouver – and as my cousin pointed out, xmas is really so much better with children around and also I think so much better when the children have lots of people around who love them.
This was our third year going to this place for a xmas tree (first time here, second time here) and it was the first year I actually wondered if it was worth doing for the sake of tradition. It was pouring with rain, and the forecast was for rain all weekend/week. The drive takes about 45 minutes and the tree costs $75 before taxes. And Teo is in that wriggly let-me-down-but-i-can’t-really-walk-yet phase which isn’t so easy to manage when the only option other than being carried is to crawl on very muddy grass in the rain.
So but we did it anyway and we got soaked and Ivan cut down the cutest tree we could see without searching for too long and Mika fell over in the mud but pretended she didn’t mind (cause I had told her the ground was slippery but she said she wouldn’t fall) and Teo didn’t squirm at all (probably cause he was freezing) and we snapped a few photos and drove back home in crazy traffic (after a few wrong turns) BUT we now have the perfect tree in our living room. And it was totally worth it…maybe.
Definitely the best part of it all was when Mika got to talk to Santa. She had written him a letter and she was so, so nervous/excited to give it to him. This photo here melts my heart!
Here we are, one year later, and I find myself falling in love more every day.
I did not (and could not) know what loving two children would be like before I had two of my own. I loved Mika so deeply and fiercely and she was my first! And everyone said it would just work out and I would love two children equally deeply and fiercely and so I assumed that I would.
And then he was born and I was confused and I felt even a bit guilty because I loved him, sure, but it felt different to how I loved Mika. He cried and he needed my milk and I held him and he slept on me and ivan for the first few months and we loved him, sure, but oh how I missed Mika. There were times that I wished someone would just come and hold Teo so I could be with Mika but then she would ask me ‘why mama? why can’t we all just be together?’ and I wondered how she was finding this all so easy. And she loved him immediately and she loves him SO fiercely and she will often tell us ‘i love teo more than ANYONE else’ (which means both that she loves him better than she loves anyone else AND that he is loved by her more than anyone else).
She teaches us so much about so much.
But mostly this is about Teo right now and it turns out that everyone was right. This past year has felt like the longest honeymoon period of falling in love. From the first real smiles to the really big laughs and the open mouth kisses and the ‘mmmmmaaaammaaaa’ that he calls out in the sweetest little voice.
He has the eyes and the hair and the smile that will MELT YOU. He wants to be with his sister ALL.THE.TIME and if he’s not hanging out with her then he is on the boob or looking for the boob. And if Mika’s not there and the boob isn’t available then he is eating EVERYTHING. And he gets excited with toy cars or anything that resembles a ball. He loves music or anything that makes a loud noise (the vacuum cleaner and the blender both get him dancing). He loves to play peekaboo or chase. He loves to climb and climb and climb and he has no idea how many times we have saved his life already.
He is just the happiest boy (when he’s not teething or itchy) and he brings more joy and happiness into our lives that any of us could have imagined.
So here is to LOVE and to SONS and to BROTHERS and to the most beautiful boy we have ever seen.
Happy first birthday baby boy
(And here it is. A video of his first year in 7 minutes. I strongly suggest watching it full-screen for a better viewing experience.)