June 7, 2014
Categories: Culture, Family

motorcycle tulum mexico

It’s so surreal I almost don’t believe it:

Our adventure in Mexico has come to an end.

We left Tuesday. Just. Like. That.


Actually, we prepared for weeks (and months, emotionally).

We had a moving sale (our second in Mexico)…

We set up at the girls’ school and sold nearly everything we’d accumulated south of the border.

Mexico Moving Sale

The girls were TOTALLY into it and made bank while charming the locals with their unexpectedly-good Spanish.


It was really sweet knowing that our things were going to such appreciative people who actually had need for them. One teenage boy was BEAMING to score a nearly-new pair of Nikes for 50 pesos.

goodbye grill

Hunter shaking hands with the guy who bought his grill.

beach cruiser

My bike was the only thing I had a hard time parting with. She was nothing fancy, but took me to some really beautiful places, both within and around me.

post-sale hanging out

Post-sale hanging out.

We wandered around daily in a daze of denial, enjoying our favorite things, places and people for the last time

Street food Mexico

Our fruit lady down the street.

Cucumber, green mango and oranges, with lime and chili, of course

Cucumber, green mango and oranges. Served with lime and chili, of course.

laundry line Mexico

The neighbor’s laundry line.

Taos Berry

Beth Berry Tulum

Tulum beach

Heartbroken to be leaving certain folks. Sigh.

Then we packed our remaining possessions…

leaving Mexico

Said many a difficult goodbye…

Estella became quite close to the Maya groundskeeper at their school. "I'm his best friend," she proudly professed. A wealth of knowledge about the plants and animals of the area, she is a man after her own heart (and vice versa).

Estella became quite close to the Mayan groundskeeper at their school. “I’m his best friend,” she proudly professed. A wealth of knowledge about the plants and animals of the area, he is a man after her own heart (and vice versa).

Their belly dancing class was incredible.

Their belly dancing class. So simple, beautiful and empowering.

Their teacher (and my dear friend) with her daughter (MY daughters' dear friend). This is not going to be easy.

Their teacher (and my dear friend) with her daughter (MY daughters’ dear friend). This is not going to be easy.

…did a bunch of dental work (cause we could – for cheap), and THEN we left.

Just. Like. That.

We were so THAT family in the airport.

We were so THAT family in the airport.

Hopping on that plane (ok not hopping, exactly, considering the fifteen suitcases we were wrangling) concluded the single most transformative, eye-opening, humbling, expanding and soul-revealing four years of my life. Not an easy chapter to put behind us. Not an easy gift to speak of in the past tense. Ugh, here come the tears again.

Ariel silks in the schoolyard

Ariel silks in their schoolyard

Falling in love with a place and its people; allowing an experience to change you quite completely; watching your kids grow in exotic and mind-boggling ways  —  then up and leaving — is heartbreaking. The fact that we’re pros at it by now doesn’t make it any easier, it just means we now know it’s possible to scatter bits of your heart all over the globe and still survive, if forever scabby and scarred and likely to share stories with anyone who’ll listen.

sweet friends in Tulum

Now what? Well, the crazy-making has only just begun, truth be told. We’re officially homeless and will spend the next month couch surfing in Austin (of all places that feel nothing like small town Mexico), rounding up all our things we loaned to and stored with friends and family (first call for Berry junk! {Don’t worry, we don’t even remember what we own, much less who we loaned it to.}), house/neighborhood/school searching in Asheville (our soon-to-be new home), wandering, dazed and confused over ALL THE OPTIONS in this country and trying to sort sadness from love from disbelief from utter elation. Never mind my book or the business Hunter’s about to start because, well…I can’t even go there right now (soon! but yeah, not now). It could be a while before our lives feel “normal” again (not that we’d know such a thing if it landed in our laps).

We’re happy, though. Happy and full and slightly insane and overwhelmed with gratitude.

It’s all still too raw and recent and present tense to write much about just yet, and doing so would just cue the tears again (assuming there are any left in me), so I’ll just wrap it up with a little visual perspective on four years of growth…

Our first week in Mexico.

Estella, our first week in Mexico

Estella, our last week in Mexico

…encouragement to move abroad!!! don’t hold back!!! live your dreams!!! and a choked and tear-streaked THANK YOU MEXICO, for so many things, but especially for stealing, softening and reshaping my heart into something I hardly recognize from the one that led me south to begin with.

We love you, dear country, dear people. Hasta pronto, friends!! We’ll be back as often and soon as we can.

belly dancers Tulum


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  1. Reading and listening and thinking that to experience the wonder and transformative power of it all you had to let go of everything familiar and empty your hands, trusting the process. Note to self: Make application of this attitude/practice in all things to experience the life I am longing for. Welcome back to the mainland! XO


  2. Unfortunately, I know exactly how you feel, but from the child’s point of view: between the ages of 7 and 10, we lived in Senegal (Western Africa). When we had to leave (to come back to Canada) I was heartbroken. Life under the tropics has something truly magical to offer. I am glad you are aware of everything your family gained from it. Wishing you the best in your new life! :-)


  3. Suerte¡


  4. Oh boy!!!


  5. Beautiful! Even through teary eyes.


  6. Whew!Best wishes.


  7. Good luck to you all, I look forward to reading about your next chapter.

    I can’t ever imagine leaving Mexico, ever.


  8. Wow! I am 10,000 miles away from Mexico but it feels different knowing you guys aren’t there. I know we will all meet up somewhere in the world someday but, there will always be Mexico.


  9. Beautiful and inspiring and tear jerking. Good luck, and it was Asheville, my dream town. Have fun!!!


  10. Oh, Beth. I have tears, but no words. Thank you for taking us on this totally cosmic journey with you. You and your family are in my thoughts as you begin this transition and next leg of your journey.



  11. Mary Kowalski

    We lived with young children for 5 months at a time in Copan, Honduras and Merida, Yucatan and had many wonderful experiences but, unlike you, I was happy to come home. We are preparing to move again, to be close to one of those children and her young daughter, and as you said, we will be fine even though we will be leaving behind 30 years of memories. I’ve learned that home is where my loved ones are, no matter where in the world that is.


  12. Best wishes for a smooth transition! Cheers to fond memories of friends in far places! Excitement and new adventures await you – an lucky us, we get to read about them as you go along the path. The best part!


  13. Beth,
    It’s been wonderful following your family’s adventure in Mexico since finding your blog last year. And even greater to randomly have met you and Hunter while out for dinner in Tulum in December, as well as some of your children!! So happy to know of all the growth and learning experiences your family has shared while on your ride, and at the same time a bit bummed to hear that you actually have left the area just a few weeks before our families arrival. Hope to cross paths with your crew at some point in the future, maybe on your first visit back to the Yucatan!


  14. Sooooo beautiful … and sad … and awesome. Thank you for sharing your adventure!
    All the best for this new chapter that´s just beginning! :)


  15. Heide Hendrick

    This just brought tears to my eyes as I read and took in the photos of your Mexico adventure over the past 4 years. I have so loved being an ear for your wonderful story. You are such a courageous woman. Thank you for sharing all of you with us. You inspire me to be bold. Many blessings to you and your family as you embark on your next adventure. With love and appreciation, Heide


  16. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing.


  17. Buena Suerte on your new chapter. I feel like a jinx, your blog is the third one I have started following in the last six months that the family is moving back to states.


  18. Beth-

    Welcome back to the states! I don’t envy the re-entry process the whole family gets to share, but you all have each other for strength, which is a plus. Sending warm, welcoming vibes with a little extra comfort for everyone.


  19. Bye family. Being from Austin, I don’t envy you that part, but the owners of our house in Bacalar recently moved to Asheville. Patricia would probably love to hang out w folks from home and speak Spanish w your girls. Contact me if you’re interested.


  20. Thank you for writing this! So many thinks make me reflect on and remember things! We know from personal experience how hard it is to part with Rich and Valeria, as we were friends in San Antonio and they will always be in our heart and inspire us! And we just move away from North Carolina ( I think you will like it in Asheville!!) overseas back to our home country the Netherlands. We just collected things that we borrowed and stored for 3 years as well and started a new life in a new city as well.
    I think we are all super blessed to get this experience! You will succeed in keeping part of Mexico in your heart and family life! Good luck these coming months and keep writing!


  21. Im in tears ! I’m so grateful to know you and am excited to hear of your future journeys! Much love to you and family!


  22. So. Much. Love. For you. For your willingness to grow and be challenged and surrender and be vulnerable and put it all out there and to take us along on this journey with you. I truly, truly hope I can see you before you take off on your next big adventure!


  23. We just flew back last night to Dubai after a week of house hunting back in Florida and leave in 3 days for two months in S.E. Asia. Nothing purchased in the US yet but the plans of moving back are real and present. I am thrilled at the idea of being back with family but the excitement of landing back in expat land last night brought on mixed emotions. We like being overseas and all the experiences it brings to our family. It is part of who we are and our self identity is etched with the stories of world travel and life overseas (scarred? :) The notion of giving that up and becoming “normal” suburbanites again is pretty discombobulating. I find what should be simple things like choosing cereal overwhelming as there is an entire aisle in Publix and not one shelf. So many choices to make about every small aspect. As I wrote before, be gentle with yourselves as re-entry is HARD. But you have pulled together before as a family and found solace in the difficulties of life in Mexico, so you will find joy and happiness in Asheville. Oh and we used to live in Knoxville where our very favorite Mexican restaurant is — Senior Taco (sounds corny but great place and Mexican owners/employees:) That’s only a 2 hour drive! Enjoy the move.


  24. Taos, daughter number two

    Sobbing by the end of the post. Thanks mom. Thank you for giving us that wonderful, life changing experience. I love you.


  25. Beth, I’ve been thinking of your family as you’ve been coming to the end of your adventure in Mexico. We moved back to the States exactly one year ago last week after spending two years in Belize. Even though we were very ready to move back the first few weeks were more shocking than I expected. The blessings of our journey living abroad as a family continue to reveal themselves as we’ve adjusted to life back home. I have loved following you on your journey in Mexico and look forward to following you into this next chapter. Best of luck!


  26. Wow, just wow. And you are moving to Asheville! I live here! Your blog is so inspiring, and I follow it, even though I am not a mom. Hoping to connect with you when you move here. One thing about Asheville is; it such a vibrant community and you bump into friends everywhere you go! Many blessings on your journey.



  27. Beth,
    What a beautiful and amazing life and family you have. My husband, myself and my 9 year old daughter sold everything last year, bought an RV and have been traveling the U.S. We came to the decision when my oldest son (19) took a “gap” year in between high school and college to travel alone in Central America. At the same time my oldest daughter (15) was offered to train with Houston Ballet in Texas. Yep, both of my children moved the same week to start living their dreams. I looked at my husband and said, “I want to travel in an RV and live life”. I home my 9 year old daughter and it has been wonderful!

    We stayed in Asheville in March and fell in love! In the fall we are planing on moving there as well. We are currently in Austin, before we move on to the West. I would love to connect with you (either in Austin or Asheville).
    Safe travels!


  28. Barbara Frame

    OK!! you brought tears to my eyes. I can feel what your saying and have all the same questions. Which is why I want to follow you guys. Please keep in touch when you have a moment. Don’t forget you can have a second home in Mexico. Love and hugs. Barbara and Bill


  29. all the best in your transition back to the states and all that entails~ I can see that you are leaving a lot of good memories and great folks back in Mexico and surely it won’t be a cakewalk, but I hope you find your groove soon, all of you. we live about 15 minutes east of asheville in black mountain~ LOVE this area, and hope you come to as well.


  30. Whoa. I can’t even imagine how hard it was to leave. I have had such a wonderful time checking in our your family and your adventures abroad.
    Welcome back to the states, lady. It’s exactly as you left it!
    Good luck getting everything sorted out. And if you have to couch surf, it’s nice to be in Austin. What a cool place to be!


  31. I recently stumbled upon your blog after returning to Louisiana after a magical trip to Tulum.
    Your words are truly beautiful and full of inspiration! You have a unique voice and I loved reading about your life in Tulum! I was sad to read that you and your family were moving..I had already made you my friend whom I hadn’t met yet, hahaha.
    I’ve been trying to find a way, or the courage, to move to Tulum for at least a few months (hopefully longer)! You have given me some hope :)
    Good luck on your new journey!


  32. Freakin’ beautiful. I only know you through this blog and I feel tearful. I will keep this post as a reminder of my desire to do a similar adventure. Bittersweet. Good luck with the next chapter!


  33. we just moved home from Jalisco, mexico nearly 3 years ago. We were also there 4 years and raised our 3 daughters. We built and opened an orphange so we also left our hearts with many dear little ones.
    the culture shock of coming back was almost harder than moving down there….well maybe I just forget….because I want too. hahaha
    I pray you all settle in soon but also that you never quite do. ahhhhh I miss my Mexico too. Vaya con Dios amigos.


  34. Dear Beth,
    I’m sobbing with you and for you as I’m just packing up a life lived for 8.5 years in Australia and returning to the US on Tuesday. My children were born here, my career was forged here and there are so many people who have captured our hearts. We are going back to be nearer to family once again and to forge long term projects and businesses and I so hope it’s the right decision. We just need to go and find out. I wish you all the best.
    Que les vayan muy bien!


  35. I found your blog through a post on the mothering.com website and saw that you will be moving to Asheville! I live just outside of there and would be more than happy to share info on the area!! Which is awesome btw! :) Best wishes and safe travels.


  36. Just curious.
    After all the beatitudes, why did you leave?


  37. I commiserate. Its hard leaving a place you have lived and loved. I hope we get to read more of your observations in your new place. I need your shot of sanity in my week!


  38. Don’t ask me how I found your website… But I’m glad I did… I love it! Can’t wait for your book! (I’m a mother of two)
    I am also proudly Mexican living in a small town in Western Canada. I have to confess, it makes me so happy to read such a good and positive feedback from your experience living in Mexico (you chose the most beautiful State and town to live in)… I’m happy to hear that my people treated you and your family well…


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