Yesterday we woke up around 9 AM. It was a late start for us, and between making breakfast and getting ready for the beach, we didn’t get going until 11.
Poor Lily was not in the best of spirits. Her legs are covered in angry mosquito bites, and in between itching them mercilessly, she was begging for relief. We promised her that we would stopover in Akumal Pueblo for some itching cream, and she kept saying, “but I need it now!”
The two of us have THE MOST delicious scent to mosquitos. Seriously. I imagine that as soon as we step off the collectivo our smell blares like a foghorn in every direction, beckoning blood suckers far and wide.
So while our eldest looks as though she’s contracted mumps and elicits quiet murmurs about her picadores and reproving glances in our direction, mine are not as fiercely red and raised but far more numerous. Last night I counted on one arm and arrived at 81. On one arm. When I run my hand down my skin it feels like textured pavement. Or something.
Anywho. Our eldest was in desperate need of some after bite cream, and given the state of her legs, we were happy to oblige. La Isquinta is a little market geared towards tourists, but it’s pretty obvious we’re not the kind of tourists they desire. Or they’re just irritated with gringos in general, and I guess I can’t blame them. There are some real gems here.
We bought the after bite, made a quick application outside the shop, and then hopped on the next collectivo headed towards Tulum. A few kilometers outside of Akumal, we were dropped off near the road to Xcacel, and after a ten minute walk, we paid to enter the reserve.
Dotting the beach are little posts saying no tocar el nido de la tortuga. There were a few other beach goers, but for the most part, we had the place to ourselves. The waves were pretty ferocious, so neither Lily nor Lu were too impressed with the swimming part, but we enjoyed walking up the beach, collecting colorful pieces of plastic (or rather, “fairy toys”).
Sadly, we arrived at the cenote on the reserve just 10 minutes before closing time. The nice man let us through, but we were only able to jump in and get out again. Luckily, it was enough for Lily to fall in love with cenotes, and what’s not to love? Gorgeous blue-green pools with the clearest water, and a reprieve from the sun, salt, sand and waves is enough to reignite all of our enthusiasm. We vowed to make a cenote part of our outing the next day.
We returned to Organic Yoga via the collectivo, hoofing it from the road to our little jungle palapa. For dinner, Joshua made lentils and rice, and we planned our adventure for the next day.
I love sleeping under the mosquito nets. I think they’re magical.
Despite using the entire can of mole, Joshua made a delicious meal of rice and beans. With some cabbage sautéed in lime and cumin and potatoes from breakfast, our lunch at Xcacel was super yummy.
Limes. Limes on everything.
Xcacel was such a lovely beach, and I cherished combing through the sand and seaweed for “fairy treasure” with Lily, even if we were just collecting bits of plastic.
Cenotes. Since this is the part where I give thanks, I won’t go into detail about how hot and miserably sticky I was before I jumped in the divine cenote, but man, was I thankful.
From the road back to Organic Yoga, I carried Lily. I ran the whole way (more on that later), and to show her appreciation, she wrapped her arms around me and said, “strong mommy!”
Nursing. Seriously guys. It’s portable, doesn’t go rotten, and doesn’t require a knife or napkins.
Have you ever been so hot you thought you might die?
Have you ever been that hot and then strapped a hot baby or toddler to you?
Have you ever been that hot, had a baby on you, and then carried a pack?
Have you ever been saddled with that much baby and pack and needed to walk a mile through the jungle with a swarm of angry mosquitos?
Did you decide to run instead?
Yeah. Me too.
But enough about me. While I have this thing about not really liking anything on my skin, I’m trying this zen approach: om, what beautiful sand, om, I’m thankful for sunscreen, om, so glad I have bug repellant, om, maybe saltwater is actually good for your skin, om… I’m moderately successful as suppressing thoughts such as: get.this.sand.OFF.of.me, om, I’m slathered in grease, om, this bug juice works for shit, om, the saltwater is my 13th layer of something else on my skin today, om.
The real struggles so far are enduring the grittier parts of traveling and being responsible for children. I feel terrible about Lily’s bug bites. I wonder if we’re doing the right thing when she screams in terror at the ocean. I wonder if she’s hit her limit when she’s on her twelfth tantrum for the day. And what’s worse, I find my patience worn thin from the social pressure to take care of her tantrums quickly and quite honestly, my lack of time for myself.
While I’m so happy to be doing these adventures with my family of four, it is different. Before, we had hours to read or write or just sit and admire. Now, between disrupted nap schedules and amped up children, I’m lucky to sneak in 30 minutes, and sometimes when those 30 minutes come I’m too exhausted to do anything other than tumble into bed after them.
BUT even when Lily and Lu seem scared or overwhelmed, I’m reminded of why I wanted to do this and why traveling with the kids is so important to me when we’ve all faced our fears of the ocean and we’re bobbing in the waves off the gentle beaches of Xpu’ha, laughing and smiling. Or when Lily patiently waits for the fishes of Cenote Azul to “kiss” her feet in welcome. Or when Lu, who speaks even less Spanish than any of us (duh, because she doesn’t speak at all), has an entire conversation with a weary maid on the collectivo, armed only with smiles and blue eyes and garbles that translate in any language.
I can only hope that these moments are worth their price of admission.