Here it is–the post you’ve been waiting for. The one in which I describe our glorious new Caribbean lifestyle–lounging in hammocks, sipping mojitos under palm-thatched palapas, scooping flesh from fresh, young coconuts–and you read it from your phone in the middle of traffic with kids screaming from the back seat and try not to hate me for it.
Good news! There’ve been no mojitos, we’ve yet to hang a hammock, our coconuts are old and I’m logging more than two hours a day on a Mexican interstate, so I pose no threat whatsoever to your day’s happiness!
Just kidding. About the hating, I mean. Not about the highway time, unfortunately.
There are the obvious differences, of course: ocean vs. mountains, heat vs. cold and 40 vs 500 years of “modern” civilization. Then there are the bi-products of these differences: economy driven by tourism vs. agriculture, bikinis vs. wool socks and streets designed for cars vs. mule carts.
And while I really don’t mind the heat, the beach is absolutely stunning and I’m quite happy to have traded in my wool socks, I hugely preferred life at the speed of a mule cart.
This is not the Mexico I’ve come to love so dearly. This is something else.
So it’s kind of hard to admit that we’re having a hard time adjusting. There is really so much to love.
Back to that bit about the highway.
The girls started school two weeks ago. It’s a trilingual preparatory school, and it’s a 35-minute drive from our house. As if that weren’t enough of a shocker following two years living in a place where we walked everywhere–where we didn’t even own a car–their school starts promptly at 7:30 am. The old one? 9:00, give or take. That means I’m up at 5:15 packing lunches (their old school had an amazing cook), the girls are up by 5:45 (which seems downright cruel), and allowing for the time it takes us to get everyone situated in the car, we’re out the door by 6:45.
Mexico at 110 km/hour is exactly that–it’s MEXICO at high speed. What that means (for those of you who aren’t already grinning as you stroll down your own memory lane) is that at any given moment, there might be pedestrians crossing the highway, road construction without warning, public transportation stopping suddenly to pick up more passengers, or any imaginable object tied to, rigged from, or being drug behind a pickup truck.
It’s laughable at a walking pace. At 70 mph, it’s stressful as hell and I do it four times a day.
The girls’ school is unlike anything like we’ve ever experienced. The last time I commuted (and swore never to do so again), it was because I was willing to do whatever it took to keep them in a Waldorf school (think creative, holistic, low pressure and tons of time for free play). And for the past two years they’ve attended the sweetest little self-made, peace-loving, hodge-podge pay-what-you-can Montessori cooperative on the planet…
So, it goes without saying, that this is taking some serious getting used to…
Last night it took us four hours to get through the homework. I was brain dead after only an hour of helping Taos through her 6th grade studies of the Evolution of Man in Spanish. And poor Eli–the kids in her second grade class are a year (or two) ahead of her language arts, she’s got to play catch up in both languages and her teacher is a far cry from the don’t-worry-just-come-and-sit-on-my-lap-and-let’s-play-in-the-dirt variety she is accustomed to.
Actually, they all vote to move back. It’s an informal ballet–cast in tantrums and tears, crumpled homework, complaints and cries of utter exhaustion–but it’s undeniably unanimous.
And I get it. I’m feeling it right along side them. On more than one occasion, I too, have cried into my pillow, scowled the whole way to school and stood in an arms-crossed, feet-planted stance of utter defiance. If I were five or eight or eleven, I’d be shouting things like,
“You can’t MAKE me get in that stupid van again. I want to WALK to school with all the other mamas!”
…and, “I don’t WANT to go to the supermercado, I want my money to go to locals who actually NEED it!”
Phew…felt good to get that out.
But the truth is, we’re not leaving. Not anytime soon. And while this is not the Mexico I’ve come to love so dearly, and it is something all together different, it might be kind of wonderful if I would just quit wishing it were something else.
After all, here Hunter has an awesome job where he gets to use his mad skills while riding a four-wheeler through the jungle. And here, not only will the kids not get behind in their English studies, but they are going to kick ass in both of their languages. And here, once we find a carpool or transport, I will have a full day to write, plenty of inspiration from which to draw, and a slightly more mainstream experience with which to relate to the vast majority of you who also shop at supermarkets and drive cars. (And then there’s the beach and the yoga and the fact that WE ARE STILL IN MEXICO!)
The other night, I stood on a giant rock jutting into the ocean and made my peace in the light of the blue moon. I released San Cristóbal to the endless sea with an exhale of gratitude and trust in the wholeness of that experience. The wind spoke to me, “It won’t ever leave you, you don’t have to hold so tight.” I inhaled the salty air, opening my heart with my lungs, and made space for all the blessings awaiting my acceptance.
And no kidding, in that moment, I felt the shift I’d been waiting for. “It’s not every day that you’re offered an experience such as this one,” the waves whispered. “It only happens once in a blue moon.”