A lot has happened in the past couple of weeks. I turned 40 (uggg) and my hubby turned 39 (but I’ve already devoted an entire blog post to his birthday – enough about him already).
We also have been doing a lot of traveling, which is great because it’s one of our favorite things to do here. But I can also say that we’re tired today. I don’t care how magical the place is you are visiting or how enchanting the trip is to get there – it’s exhausting, doubled by the fact that you just don’t sleep very well in a bed that’s not yours. And if you get the extra treat (like us) of having to sleep with your kids (one of whom kicks, the other snores and both hoard blankets and steal pillows), then you are tired AND a bit grouchy.
But don’t let my sleep-deprived complaining fool you: we are continually amazed at all the beautiful places we are visiting, the culture we are experiencing, the food we are enjoying, and the company of new friends here we are appreciating.
Two weekends ago we visited a quirky hotel about 40 minutes away with a pirate pool (yes, you read that correctly: pirate pool – a pool with a fully climbable pirate ship), several water slides (due to what I assume to be electricity issues only one slide was operating at a time, so you basically followed the power around), and a short trolley ride through their zoological park filled with different kinds of antelopes, among some other exotic animals. The next day we embarked on a short boat ride to cross over a lagoon to find a very nearly deserted beach (filled with beautiful shells and smooth rocks, fun animal life including incredibly fast side-sprinting crabs and geometric-shaped drift wood everywhere). During our day enjoying this amazing and quiet spot I couldn’t help but think that the U.S. doesn’t offer virgin beach locations like that anymore… back in the U.S. such a private, secluded beach area would require a fee to enter, and probably have a DQ or at least a Starbucks attached to the parking lot and be completely cramped. Here in Mexico, places such as this feel undiscovered, and I’m especially thankful that our family continues to experience them. Oh, and for anyone who would be interested in also visiting this area – or simply curious of the location of the area I’ve just described – we were in Tampico Alto (if you do go, just stay off the beach – it’s mine now).
Just this past weekend we drove a bit farther to enjoy various sights around the state of San Luis Potosi. We stayed in quaint little hotels, enjoyed walking around the village of Tamasopo, met some very nice locals who shared their grill, food and drinks with us and swam in several waterfalls and rivers (Cascadas de Tamasopo, Puente de Dios, Cascada de Tamul). The river/waterfall swimming was especially magical – as you can imagine (when would be swimming in a waterfall NOT be magical?) We visited swimming spots with strong currents that required ropes across the water to help swimmers navigate; caves that were lit up from below offering glimpses of tiny little fish swimming about just under our feet; and our favorite waterfall: Cascada de Tamul, which has a 340-foot drop (which hubby almost learned the hard way). This waterfall is easily one of the most stunning sights I have ever seen with my own eyes. To reach it you either canoe down the river (which we couldn’t do – too crowded), or, you endure a very jarring 40-minute drive down the bumpiest dirt-road ever (I’m still doubting it was an actual “road” – I suspect it was a dry river-bed we were trying to navigate – but whatever – the trip was worth being bounced around in the car like popping popcorn). We spent most of our time swimming along the river, in and around the connected fairy-pools and smaller waterfalls, the water so clean and clear you could see to the bottom, which was deceptively deep. Ferns and moss adorned these basins – some you could walk around in, others so deep you simply swam from one rock to the next – the deepest areas evidenced by a luminous deep turquoise color. We explored pool after pool – all the way to the top of the falls. All the adults in our group partook in the treacherous hike down to the bottom of the falls (via rickety-wood and rusty-pipe steps that, due to how steep they became, turned into ladders) to view it from below (you can’t swim at the bottom – the current is too strong).
Our recent travels and experiences compel me to share a few tips regarding traveling and exploring Mexico:
- for any waterfall/river swimming make sure you wear water shoes, and if you are not a strong swimmer, wear a life jacket (don’t worry you can buy the shoes and rent the jackets at any of these locations, along with some shirts and handmade jewelery and some food and cocos frios and some frog-purses [yes: dead frogs blown-up with a strap – I bet you don’t have one – well, now you know where to get one]);
- staying on the subject of swimming – don’t be an idiota like me and wear a two-piece bathing suit to do some strenuous swimming and rock jumping;
- make sure you have some coins for public bathrooms and watch out as they are hard to find sometimes – so maybe limit your liquid intake;
- don’t be afraid to stop at the taco stands along the roads and partake in the cuisine – very yummy; and probably most importantly
- do not drive on the highways at night.
I repeat: do not drive on the highways at night. We were warned by EVERYONE not to do this: for safety reasons and due to the conditions of the roads themselves, which are just littered with potholes and unfinished construction (sans any warning signs). And these highways have no lights and you have no idea how dark it can get here. We knew all of this – but we also found ourselves about 2 hours away from home and couldn’t find a hotel for the night (due to the three-day holiday weekend here, apparently we weren’t the only ones out and about). So we hit the road (LITERALLY) as about an hour into this return trek home, after darkness had fully fallen, we hit a pothole and blew out a tire. We spent about 15 minutes almost panicking as we couldn’t find a tool necessary to change to the tire (necessary!); another car pulled over suspiciously behind us (in hindsight they probably hit the same hole we did, but we were too scared to walk back and ask); and we were alone as our friends in the other car, who had been driving ahead of us, were dodging their own potholes and didn’t realize we had stopped (watching them drive away into the darkness as we limped over was a tad unpleasant). But it was resolved as after a phone call our friends returned to us, we were able to change the tire, and we all made it home safely.
This one blow-out misadventure notwithstanding, we’ve been having so much fun during these travels, and the experiences for ourselves and our kids are simply priceless. Seeing our girls bravely jumping off of rocks into rivers, watching them delight in finding tadpoles and shopping for frog-bags and trying new taco sauces and sipping virgin piña coladas and playing with puppies along the way and exploring and their positive attitudes and excitement in planning these trips – it’s all worth every pothole we hit.
Even the one that blew out our tire.