Mar 16, 2010

Wherein We Went Crazy and Ended Up in Mexico for 5 Days, Part 2

(Have you ever had every intention of finishing Part 2 of a blog post, and then somehow 2 weeks go by and you still haven't gotten around to it? No? Funny how my resolution to write for 10 minutes each day has not translated into more frequent blog posts, or actually writing for 10 minutes a day for that matter. And I thought that was going to be one of my more realistic goals this year. Moving out of the country might prove to be easier, it turns out.)

So where were we? Oh, right, on a plane to Mexico. Would you like the detailed travelogue, or the witty, bullet-point synopsis version? Witty synopsis, really? You don't want to hear every minute detail of each meal we ate, a list of everything we took on the plane, pictures of our coordinated outfits, and lengthy, poetic descriptions of the Mexican scenery? Really? OK, have it your way. Synopsis it is.

  • A funny thing about Mexico is that sometimes it isn't hot, or sunny.
  • OK, only very occasionally is it not hot or sunny.
  • I think every 120 or so years, is what someone told us.
  • Also during the exact week that we took our trip there.
  • I'd like to know what we did to offend the sun gods, and what child they want us to sacrifice in order to appease them.
  • Lucky for us, 70 degrees and overcast is considered quite pleasant. (Take that sun gods.)
  • For the Mexicans, however, it's considered an extreme winter weather event which necessitates winter parkas and thermal underwear.
  • We didn't bring our jackets, or even long sleeved-shirts.
  • We were expecting to be sitting by the pool, sipping exotic smoothies.
  • Instead we were sitting by the fire pit at the hotel, drinking hot cocoa.
  • Did I mention the hotel? Oh my.
  • Wait, did I say hotel? I meant luxury hacienda.
  • When I say it was FANTASTIC, that means that we could never have afforded to stay there had we not used my parent's time share points.
  • Which is also why Mark was called Mr. Stovall all week.
  • Though if it weren't for Mark's Spanish skills combined with some serious luck, we might still be trying to find that hacienda today.
  • That is to say, we got ridiculously lost.
  • I mean the middle of the night, remote Mexican jungle, no cell phone coverage, bad directions, wrong address, vague maps, crazy roads, seriously had to pee, cranky and tired, arguing married couple kind of lost.
  • I would say Getting and Being Lost was the theme of the trip.
  • Which might have had something to do with a street grid system that looked like someone tangled all the streets up in knots and threw them back on the ground.
  • And because of a street numbering system that makes sense only if you have a PhD in completely random street numbering systems.
  • And it didn't help that the rules of the road seemed to be only that there were no rules.
  • Also because we never thought to buy a decent map.
  • Another theme of the trip was having meltdowns to rival anything you've seen on The Amazing Race.
  • OK, I had one crazy, hysterical, sleep-deprivation induced meltdown.
  • I learned it from watching my kids.
  • Yes, we were lost.
  • But you know what they say, whatever the hysterical American tourist does in the middle of the street in Mexico, stays in Mexico.
  • Or on Mexican YouTube.
  • I can't remember what the people across the street who were holding a video camera and laughing their heads off said.
  • But in the middle of all that getting lost, trying not to die in our tiny rental car, screaming at my husband in the middle of the street, and constantly making fools of ourselves at the fanciest hacienda we've ever stayed at, we also became completely enamored with the Yucatecan culture and way of life.
  • Do you know how many unbelievably nice people helped us when we were lost?
  • No less than 50.
  • Do you love fresh Mexican food?
  • You should try it with a Mayan flair.
  • You've seen all those pictures of ancient Mayan ruins in National Geographic?
  • They are even more amazing in person.
  • You know that bright purple house three doors down from you that makes you want to gag?
  • In Mexico, that exact same shade is "vibrant" and "cheerful."
  • And wouldn't you love to live in a place where hammocks are considered a piece of furniture and a must-have in every room of your house?
  • We would.
  • Really.
  • I can see how the adjustment could be hard; it seems impossible to get there; it's not a perfect place.
  • But ever since we got home, all we can think about is how we can't wait to get back.
  • One more funny thing about Mexico, is that it makes you wish you were a semi-professional photographer.
  • When in actuality you have no photography skills whatsoever, and have to hide that by making all your pictures as tiny as possible and arranging them in a collage, so as to hide your lack of talent.
  • Ta-da!
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Mar 3, 2010

Wherein We Went Crazy and Ended Up in Mexico for 5 Days, Part 1

Sometimes you just get silly. (Some people might call it "having a mid-life crisis", but I see no need to use proper names here.) You see, a funny thing happened when we went to the beach last Summer: we got super tan, and started calling each other "babe." No really, eww, we would never not be tan, right babe? Actually, we had an epiphany of sorts and set a goal to move out of the country in 1 year.

Let me back up. At some point, early in our marriage, we started started talking about wanting to live abroad for a while. For the life of me, I can't figure out why we didn't just pack up and go then. I guess we thought that being responsible adults was the right thing to do. In fact, we were looking into passports and visas and teaching English and such, and then along came Mia and going back to school and then getting a job and buying a house and having 2 more kids and here we are. Or rather, there we were on the beach on the Olympic Peninsula, 30-something parents of 3, with a mortgage, a mini-van, and a Costco membership up for renewal, and everything was just peachy. There was another family playing on the beach and somehow we got to talking with them. It turns out they were living the exact life we had always envisioned for ourselves, or at least a very close version of it. They moved to a different country every few years, working on projects for the US government. We mentioned that we had always wanted to live abroad. Do it, they said without hesitating. Even with kids? Absolutely.

This is where the epiphany comes in. As we drove home, we talked more about it, and decided we were tired of just talking about it. Why not just say we're going to do it, and then make it happen? It was time for less talking, and more doing. I think we heard someone say that in a movie once, and it worked for them. And since movies always mimic real life, it seemed perfectly logical and sane to think it would also work for us. Not crazy at all right?

So we came home and threw ourselves into this crazy dream during the 15 minutes or so since then that real life hasn't gotten in the way.

There's just been a few teeny snags.
1. We don't exactly have international opportunities jumping in our laps. It would be nice if we had degrees in International Finance, or Living Abroad, or something. But we don't; we have extremely practical degrees in Information Science and, um, Performing Arts. And the chance that Mark's company will move him to one of their international offices is pretty slim. We looked on the government's job listing site, and tried to apply to a few positions, but got caught up in the evil vortex otherwise known as the US government's web-application process, which apparently has a motto of "We want YOU to apply for Government jobs, (but not actually be able to get one because our website is so messed up)." The really frustrating, I mean, amusing thing is, Mark designs websites. Specifically, he designs websites for optimal user experience. So if anyone from the government is reading this blog as part of the Patriot Act, you could really use my husband to redesign the US Government job site, and it would be nice if you could move our family to, say, Barcelona, to do that. Not that we don't love the good ol' USA. Go freedom!
2. We met with our Mortgage lady and got bad news. BAD NEWS. Darn housing slump.

So, enter the Mexico Plan: wherein we find a cheap, safe place to live and just move there, live off Savings for a while and hope we find some means of supporting ourselves, and pray like mad that the housing market picks up just when we want to sell our house. Just the sort of thing that any other perfectly sane, responsible couple with 3 kids to take care of would do right? Years ago, Mark took a trip to the Yucatan Peninsula (think Cancun), and remembered being really impressed with a city there called Merida, which is the capitol of the state of Yucatan. So we turned to our dear friend, The Internets, and started looking into it. Turns out, it's very safe, cheap, and there are already lots of ex-pats living there, who may or may not be mentally ill. Yay!

Remember the less talking, more doing thing? Well, it took some convincing of yours truly, but that is essentially the reason that we bought plane tickets, dropped the kids off at my parent's, and ended up on a plane to Mexico, headed to Merida.

Really. We got back just under 2 weeks ago. At this point you are thinking, she wasn't kidding about being insane. Well, maybe it's from being a little over obsessed with The Amazing Race, or from too much nitrous oxide last time I went to the Dentist. Or maybe it's just Holy Crap, we're in our 30's and always did what we thought we were supposed to do, instead of living out our dreams, and now our dreams are being suffocated by American suburbia. Or something like that. But there you have it; this is what we're trying to do. It's a little weird admitting your completely unreachable dream to everyone you know and all of cyberspace. I'm imagining conversations 10 years from now: "Remember when you went to this random city in Mexico because you thought you were going to move there? Yeah, that's a little embarrassing huh?"

Regardless, consider this our Message to the Universe.

Dear Universe,
We really, really, really want to move. Outside of the United States. Preferably somewhere that doesn't have bird-eating tarantulas. Is that too much to ask? Thanks, Uni, you're the best. Really.

Next up, Part 2: Wherein we go to Mexico.