Feathered Aspen



Well, it’s been a few days since my last post, and you’ll see in a moment why.  Here’s a somewhat more brief synopsis of each day.


We had planned to wake up early in order to get to the ruins before the crowds, but then Joshua hit the snooze and we ended up sleeping until nearly nine.  We were exhausted after our day at Xel-ha.

Once we were up, I went on a little bike ride with Lily to pick up some fruit for breakfast, and then Joshua made us juice.  He’s pretty good at it, carving up the pineapple and mango, tossing in a banana, and then squeezing the juice of two oranges in.  With a few cubes of ice and a cup of water, they’re smooth and sweet.  And since the cost of fruit is next to nothing, a juice like that for all of us is less than two dollars.

Around 11, we finally left the studio.  We biked along the path to the ruins and then paid our entry.  The walk from the gate to the ruins was a bit buggy and quite hot, and all of us were sweating by the time we got to the wall of the ruins.

Once inside, Joshua and Lily went on an iguana scavenger hunt, and Lu and I went in search of shade.

To be honest, the whole experience really reminded me of our visit to the Acropolis in Athens.  Hot and painful.  I started to feel sicker and sicker, wandering around in the heat.  There was hardly any shade, and I couldn’t muster the enthusiasm Lily felt over the iguanas.  I think that normally the ruins would be absolutely stunning, situated as they are on a bluff over the coast, but I couldn’t get over the massive piles of seaweed.  The smell made my stomach churn.

We left around 130, and I biked home as quickly as I could, Lu crying and writhing the whole way.

Back at the studio, Joshua and Lily decided to go get lunch, and Lu and I stayed back under the fans, resting.  Two hours later, I was beside myself with worry.  Joshua and Lily hadn’t gotten back, and our lovely birthday girl had refused to sleep a wink.  We’ve been riding without helmets this whole time (helmets aren’t really Mexico’s thing), and while we’ve done our best to be careful, I was definitely imagining the worst.

They came back.  Apparently “get lunch” had meant that they were going to a restaurant to sit down and eat, not pick up stuff to make lunch back here.  I cried I was so relieved they were all in one piece.

While Lily took a nap and Joshua did homework for his geography class, Lu finally fell asleep.  I read and took a nap too.  Right now, I’m reading The Whole Brain Child to try a get some tips on how to deal with Lily’s tantrums.

After nap, I chugged some water, and it wasn’t until that point that I really started feeling better.  I know.  Shouldn’t that have been obvious?

We got dressed and headed into the center on bikes, stopping at the playground on the way.  (Where Joshua and I were told by a policeman not to swing on the children’s swings…  Oh, the mortification.)

Back on the main road, I was put in charge of picking the restaurant, a job I do primarily by scoping out atmosphere and a healthy amount of other customers.

I picked a place with a cute, painted Bug parked out front.  It had been converted into a juicer, and inside, the decor was tastefully beachy.  And they were playing Bruce Cockburn, Mark Knopfler, and Ziggy Stardust, so they had that going for them.

The tables had candles inside of brown paper bags, and when the waitress brought us the menus, they were pretty chic.  Guarapa means “snack” and each snack came with a complimentary (in taste, not price) craft cocktail.  The other patrons were beautifully tattooed, with edgy hairstyles and very skinny jeans…

I ordered the Mayan guarapa and mojito (which had habenero!).  Joshua ordered the Azteca.  The tacos came on beautiful wooden cutting boards, and the cocktails had stir sticks of raw sugar cane.  Fancy, right?

Afterwards, we walked along the main road, in search of hammocks at a good price.  The place with the cheapest price yesterday named me a price 100 pesos more, so the best I could do was to just get them down to the price they had been the day before.  (But now we are the owners of two glorious hammocks!  Yes, two! ((so we don’t have to argue over them))).


So the story of Thursday really starts around 10 PM on Wednesday when Joshua started puking.  He started, and then he didn’t really stop puking until, oh, 5 AM.

Poor guy.  It was definitely an ultramarathon.  He’d come back to bed after a bout, only to groan loudly and get up again a minute later.  And while I really don’t hold this against him, it’s worthy of noting that he is the LOUDEST puker I have ever heard.  I mean, how the girls slept through it all, I’ll never know.  But I am quite thankful that they did.

After an epic night of vomitting, Joshua switched to pooping his brains out.  I mean, I knew that going on this trip Joshua would get sick at some point (with his delicate GI, it’s pretty much guaranteed), but this was a truly spectacular episode of sick, even for Joshua.

The next morning, Joshua was exhausted, and I wasn’t too spunky either, having been serenaded by horrific sounds all night long.  I took charge of breakfast, but then I disconnected the blender from its base just as I was about to serve our juice, dumping the whole mess all over the floor.

Lily had a stupendous melt down, and though I tried every trick I’ve learned in my book The Whole Brain Child, none of them worked.  I ended up taking Lu and going to buy more fruit to make yet another breakfast.

We packed up as best we could, Joshua taking breaks to poop or lie on the bed in exhaustion.  At some point in the past 24 hours, my GI had also begun complaining, and I also was making plenty of trips to the bathroom.  As Lily said sagely to her little kitty doll, “Both Mommy and Daddy have diarrhea.  It’s the both and.”  (Which is hilarious because “the both and” is a special joke in our family.)

Florencia, the AirBnB owner of the studio, came to collect us at 11, and she dropped us off at the main road so that we could catch the collectivo to Playa del Carmen.  Joshua was pretty miserable, but I love the collectivos.  I think they’re brilliant.  So cheap (less than 100 pesos for a 45 minute ride for all four of us) and a great opportunity for both Lily and Lu to get their flirt on with the locals.

From the bus station in Playa del Carmen, we took a taxi to our next place, a fancy-pants two bedroom apartment in the heart of Playa.  We were early, but they stored our bags and gave us free reign of the pool.

Lily, of course, was beside herself with joy.  The pool is pretty great.  A good third of the pool is shallow and really designed with kids in mind.  The sides of the pool have loungers and mats set in about six inches of water, and then there’s the deeper part which is never more than 4.5 feet.  So, pretty much perfect for a three year old who desperately wants to know how to swim but isn’t quite there yet.

Around 2 PM, we were let into our room and then we went in search of lunch, walking down to La Quinta.  La Quinta is kind of like New Orlean’s Bourbon, so yeah…  Not our favorite place in the world.  We did, however, find a little Argentinian place to have pasta.

From there, Joshua and Lily went back to the apartment to have a nap, and Lu and I went for a little walk.  We didn’t get too terribly far because it was hot and the beach kind of grossed me out (seaweed and bros in board shorts).

After nap, we went in search of a little mercado and some ice cream for Lily.  Leaving the tourist district behind, we walked a good ways.  Lily said to Joshua, “Daddy, when I grow up, I want to travel.”  Which pretty much felt like the greatest success ever.  She also said, “I like walks.”  So, win.


The next morning, we headed for the pool, and then we hung out there, chatting and playing with other kiddos and parents either who lived in the complex or were visiting.

We took a break for lunch at Aguachiles where we ordered the shrimp tacos, and then back at the apartment, Lily took a nap.

I went for a run on the treadmill (ick), and when Lily woke up, we swam again and then walked down the length of La Quinta and over to a Trattoria for pizza and a glass of wine.

It was a day primarily spent swimming, and although we could be in a pool anywhere, we decided that this was good.  We’ve been telling Lily that traveling with the family is about compromise, and staying in Playa with a pool was our vacation within our trip, a compromise for the girls.  It’s been really nice, and while Playa isn’t our favorite, Lily has been happy as a clam.

Until Friday night, that is.


So, apparently eating pizza in Mexico is a VERY BAD IDEA.  It gave Joshua his terrible night (that’s what they had eaten out for lunch), and then it gave Lily a terrible night.  It’s a good thing there are three beds in this apartment, because once Lily would puke all over one, we’d move to another.  It just kind of sucked after she had puked all over every bed and every stitch of bedding in the entire apartment.  Pobrecita.

At one point, both Joshua and I were cleaning up puke and comforting Lily and I had piled pillows around Lu to make sure that she didn’t fall off the bed onto the hard, stone floor.  At some point earlier in the night, I had knocked a glass over and it had shattered on the floor.  We were a little busy, so we said, “be careful and we’ll sweep it up in the morning.”

But then, guys, probably the scariest thing that I’ve ever seen happened.  I went in to check on Lu, and there she was, draped over the pillows, hanging head first over the floor.  She was just dangling over the floor with shards of glass, and I don’t understand how she hadn’t fallen, given the position she was in.  I grabbed her and ran to tell Joshua what had happened.  As I lay in bed with her little body against mine, I just felt like there had to been a guardian angel watching over her.  Needless to say, I’m not going to put her to sleep on a high bed anymore.

The next morning, we went for breakfast and then Lily took an early morning nap.  Lu puked a few times and had some pretty explosive poops, so she was the third domino to fall.  Luckily, both girls are sort of crazily good natured when they’re sick.  They puke and within a few seconds they’re smiling.  It’s bizarre.

During nap, I went for a hot, sweaty run, and when I came back, Lu was asleep on Joshua, so I went down to the pool.  I found The Girl on the Train on a free bookshelf and it’s pretty compelling, so I’m almost 2/3 of the way through.

The family came down and joined me after nap.

After swimming, we walked to get ice cream.  We had planned to walk by the water too, but I wasn’t feeling so great, and the seaweed really smelled terrible.  We went back to the apartment and I took Lily for a swim while Joshua walked to get some food for dinner.

By the end of the night, I was pretty sure that I was the fourth domino to fall.  I had a massive headache and I felt terribly nauseous.  I rolled into bed, praying that I’d feel better in the morning.


Today, I woke up and although I’m feeling a bit better than I did last night and I’m didn’t puke, I’m still not feeling great.  Neither is Joshua.  Getting sick has definitely been another low point for us.  Parenting is just extra hard when you feel miserable.  Plus, it’s no fun to see your kids in pain.

Joshua took the girls and left me to rest and write, making breakfast for the girls and starting to pack up.  Today, we’re taking the collectivo to Cancun and then we’ll take the ferry to Isla Mujeres for the last leg of our trip.  We’re all feeling a bit worse for wear, but here’s to hoping that our last few days will be full of fun and less full of…  Sickness.


Author: Ellie

Wife, Mom, Adventurer...

2 thoughts on “Domino

  1. I hope you are feeling better; it sounds like it has been a rough few days. Hopefully, the Island of Women will bring you all health and comfort.

  2. Oh my dears, being sick on vacation away from your own space is no fun at all. Plus you’re all so on top of each other with no privacy (aural or otherwise). I hope it’s all done with now and your systems are good and cleaned out–plus super resilient for anything else you encounter! Be well.

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