Riviera Maya

It is obvious that I have not been good at blogging our life’s great moments these past few years.  My baby was born.  No blog post.  My 1st Anniversary.  No blog post.  The wondrous blessing of our family being Sealed for all Eternity.  Still no blog post.  My baby turned 1, my 2nd Anniversary, camping trips, family reunions, Tim starting his own company, moving.  Nothin’.

But now the time has come for me to buckle down and type this story out.  This past week our family vacationed down on the Riviera Maya in Mexico.  We had so many adventures and took so many fun pictures of those adventures that I feel the need to document it all.  One of most exciting parts of this trip for me was the opportunity my children were being given to experience another culture and I want them to be able to look back and recall all the fun adventures we had.

Our flight left on Saturday Aug. 31st from San Francisco nonstop to Cancun.  We all woke up at 5:30 AM and had to drive down to the San Mateo bridge because the Bay Bridge was closed that whole weekend in preparation for the new expanse being opened.  We were able to see the sunrise over the Bay!


I had done a lot of research on flying internationally with children (especially a toddler) and had packed a whole “bag of tricks” complete with little “presents” I had wrapped up for them to open at opportune times throughout the flight.  Nothing major, just something that was new to them.

Levi got a barrel of monkeys, the girls some new funky colored Crayons, Cooper a Mathdoku pad.  That sort of thing.  The picture to the left is of Levi opening a new car toy.  He ended up enjoying ripping the wrapping paper more than the toy!  Haha.

The kids were all super great on the flight.  Because there are so many of us now in our family, we had to take up two rows of seats.  Cooper and Catelyn sat in front while Lydia sat with Tim and I and we wrangled Levi back and forth between us.  Levi eventually took an hour nap about 3 hours into the flight and then it was time to prepare for arrival!  Mexico here we come!

After landing and going through Customs we were ready to go outside and find our rental car.  The humid air hit us and the kids were a bit taken aback at how hot and sticky it felt.  Tim said “Welcome to Mexico!”  🙂  Our rental car agency brought a van around to pick us up and bring us to their lot.   Tim spent the 20 or so minutes we were waiting for the van shooting the breeze in Spanish with the rental car agent.  When the van finally came we all piled in with a young couple from North Carolina who coincidentally the wife worked at an Architecture firm.  They were really nice and said they didn’t have kids yet but they both thought that 4 kids was a good number.

This is the webpage of the car rental place.  Let me just say that the actual physical rental car place was not so sparkly and spiffy.  We drove back behind a gas station through a tiny metal gate to a dirt lot with cars lining the fence.  Thankfully they had an air conditioned office where they offered us bottled water.  Tim took care of all the rental details putting his Spanish skills to good use.  We ran into a snafu when the car seat we had requested for Levi turned out to only be a booster seat!  Welcome to Mexico!  Tim asked if we would get pulled over or in trouble for driving with a toddler in a booster seat and the guys answered “Oh no!  You can have him in your lap if you want.  It’s not a problem.”  And so begins our Adventures in Mexico!  We decided to roll with it and see how things went.  If Levi wasn’t able to sit or be contained in the booster we would drive down to the Walmart in Playa del Carmen where our Resort was and just buy a car seat.

We rented the cute little Toyota Avanza.


It’s cute alright, but it has basically no storage in the back.  We ended up having to put the suitcases on one of the back seats and squished the girls into the middle row with Levi.  It wasn’t sparkly and new and was missing some paint on one corner and a hubcap but luckily that helped us fit in with all the rest of the cars on the road.  The infamous Mexican Federales never gave us a second look.  So off we go into the Yucatan Peninsula! yucatan0

Tim was extra careful to obey all of the traffic laws as we were driving south to Playa del Carmen.  What that boils down to is watching like a hawk for the speed limits signs to change.  We eventually determined that there was absolutely no rational thought taken as to which speed limit sign or where it was placed along the road.  We figured they must have just had a few extra 60 kilometer signs laying around and a few empty posts along the highway that needed a sign to go on them.  The speed limit would be 100 kilometers along a straight stretch of road, with no exits or “Returno” near and then 2 meters later it would switch to 60, and then back to 100.  Well we stayed in the right lane and let the other cars and taxis pass us like we were peddling a bike.  We eventually got to our resort


The Royal Haciendas

and checked in and unloaded all the luggage.  That’s not a view from our room but this is:



Our room was at the back of the resort, on the ground floor, close to both the kiddy pool and the parking lot, which turned out great since we had a rental car and often had to run to our room because of the thunder storms.  This is the layout of our room. The bookshelf/cupboard thing in the living area contains two Murphy beds that fold down.  Each night we were there the kids had a rotation of sleeping on the beds and the couch.  And yes, that is a private Jacuzzi on our porch.  🙂

It was dinner time so we drove into town for dinner and to do a little grocery shopping.  I had done a lot of research on the best/cheapest places to eat in Playa and had even ordered this great map that pointed out all the best restaurants, the best things to do, the best places to stay etc.  Turns out I had forgotten the portion of the map detailing all the best restaurants.  🙁  I did my best at remembering by piecing together other portions of the map and checking TripAdvisor where I had “saved” some restaurants that I wanted to go to.  Chalk it up as another Adventure in Mexico!




We ate at a great restaurant called El Fagon that is known for its tacos al Pastor.   Al Pastor is basically a spit of meat slow roasted with the carmelized edges being shaved off for your meal.   So Yummy!  We ordered a couple plates full of tacos and some Horchata as well as a bean soup for me that I had heard was really good.  They also brought us some cactus that looked like it was green beans and some radishes to cool our tongues in case the salsa was too hot.  Everything was so good!  Here we are enjoying our dinner.



Levi trying out some beans.


I guess those are some good beans!!!


Catelyn is in need of some of those radishes!


Tacos and Horchata!



As you can see, there are no doors or walls in this restaurant.  When we walked up the kids said “This is a RESTAURANT!?  There’s no door!  We just sit outside at these tables?”  Yup!  Welcome to Mexico!  Most restaurants have a canopy overhang while the back portion that includes the kitchen gets closed up at night by big industrial size garage door type things.  While we were eating dinner two guys came along and started playing the bongos and singing for tips.  Here is a little video I took.

After dinner we walked back across the street to MEGA which is a big grocery/merchandise store like WalMart.  We got a few things for breakfasts and some fun new fruit.  IMG_6671 IMG_6672

Oh!  I forgot to mention that the routine eggs and bacon we bought for breakfast were not so familiar.  They don’t refrigerate eggs in Mexico and the bacon we bought they carved off right in front of us.   We bought a kilo of bacon!  It was super good.

And that was the first day of our Adventure!

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