Six Weeks in Mexico with an 8 Month Old – Part Tres

OKMO (OK Missing Out), San Cristobal and Merida

Slowing it down – a superstar wherever we go

One hot sunny day Mummy and I were dragging you up to the top of a nearby hill, for the views, for something to do, for some exercise so we could justify more food and drink later. Whenever walking uphill we tend to rush, going as fast as possible, never sure why – but we take a strange satisfaction out of it. Once, a few years ago, we walked up Table Mountain in Cape Town and overtook loads of people and never once got overtaken ourselves. Another time we were on a 3 day very hilly trek in Colombia, and were always the first up any hill. We still reminisce over these significant achievements, quite often.

Anyway, it was hot and I was carrying you today – we were all feeling fragile – Mummy Shark is poorly (nothing serious don’t worry), you’re teething (a rite of passage i’m afraid), and i’m tired (your fault, fyi) – so we were meandering slowly, taking our time, stopping to take photos and marvel at the views on the 400 steps up to the Iglesia de San Christobalito (the Church of SC). And it’s lucky we weren’t in a rush because we kept getting stopped by locals wanting to marvel at you – they wanted to squeeze your chubby little legs, ask what your name is and how old you are, or just smile back at you and say nice things we don’t understand. You are definitely not a reluctant or impatient tourist like your Mummy & I – all smiles and grins at your new best friends, arms and legs flapping like an excited puppy, a superstar wherever we go. You’re making this trip so much fun Elsie, and you’re teaching me to slow down

A 6 Week Sensory Class

On any holiday (except probably ski holidays) there tends to be downtime, time when there’s nothing to do, and you get bored or think you should do something. But boredom is good, that’s when your brain gets creative. Today’s always-on culture has removed boredom, to negative effect. We’re halfway through our trip now and one afternoon we were struggling for things to do, I was a bit bored and started moaning to Kirsty that Elsie must be bored too. Kirsty, sharp as ever, quickly rebuked me – versus London life this is a 6 week continuous sensory experience for Elsie, and you should stop worrying / shut up.

She’s right. Again. Damn! Back in London Kirsty’s day to day life was very active – she was always out at postnatal fitness classes, sensory classes, swimming, having coffees, walks, meeting baby friends etc etc. All to Elsie’s benefit. But there were still hours each day where her & Elsie were couped up in our small flat with no garden or outdoor space to speak of. And no-one pays just-another-baby that much attention in London. In Mexico everywhere we go people are coo’ing, waving at her, just shouting “baby” at us, giving her admiring looks and stopping us in the street to say hello and inspect her more closely. She is a very willing subject – very disarming, open, always smiling back at people and welcoming strangers. Cautious admirers come round fast – she’s like an eager puppy – doesn’t discriminate, invites everyone. If it’s not the friendly locals then her attention is captured by numerous random dogs, or cats, birds, the noises of the busy streets, or the trees, plants and natural beauty/vibrancy on display everywhere here. I thank Kirsty for reminding me – and i’m content that Elsie’s getting maximum sensory input and stimulation every day 🙂 – and I stop moaning.

The last couple of weeks her crawling has come along rapidly – she’s now able to crawl from one end of her mat to the other within a few seconds. I’m still probably over-cautious of letting her crawl around on the hotel floors so have been covering half our rooms with blankets and sheets, using pillows to cover harder edges and to set boundaries. But she can crawl over pillows now. Annoyingly cute when doing so. She’s also recently mastered sitting up, and we’ve been finding her just sat upright in her cot/tent in the middle of the night, enjoying practicing her new skills. To further prove to us what a clever little Munckin she is, she’s started showing signs of find her feet too. Early days, but her mobility is imminent. If we were away for much longer than another 3 weeks i’d be wondering how we’re going to manage her need to crawl everywhere, but i think we’ll just about get away with it for now. She can have the freedom of the flat when we’re back home.

OKMO (OK Missing Out)

The first couple of weeks chilling at the beach were great. Even without Elsie I wouldn’t have done much. Maybe i’d have done some surf or dive lessons and swam in the sea a bit more, but unwinding and hanging out with KJ would have still been my main priorities. When planning the trip a few months ago all the blogs and guides I read were listing the “unmissable” things to do that were unique to Mexico. In places like San Cristobal, Merida, Valldolid and Tulum, they said, the list of unmissable trips, adventures, excursions, site-seeing, etc, reach fever pitch. So I booked us in to stay at all of these places for plenty of time. We’d do it all.

But when we were in San Cristobal, starting week 3 of the tour, it became really obvious that travelling with Elsie, 8 months old now 🥳, would be different in ways I hadn’t anticipated. We didn’t do much at all really, and it was awesome.

There were a few mitigating factors for us not doing much. Kirsty wasn’t well for most of the 4 nights we were there. She’d either eaten something dodgy at Huatulco airport en-route, or the altitude in San Cristobal (7,200ft) was throwing her a bit. We know when KJ’s really not well when she’s off her food! Poor peedie Elsie was also under the weather – the Munchkin was teething badly for 3 days (and 3 long nights!) – drooling and chewing on anything she could find in confused bouts of distressed chomping. Calpol and bonjela helped. Poor Daddy Shark was knackered as a result – I had bravely and admirably volunteered to carry Elsie in the sling for the 5 days while Kirsty wasn’t well, thank god it was only 20 degrees max in San Cristobal otherwise I’d have been more than twice the sweaty mess I normally am. And I was delivering Elsie out of her cot into the bed next to Mummy Shark for all of her night feeds. And sitting patiently, awake, waiting for Elsie to finish feeding then lifting her back into her cot – all jobs that Mummy Shark normally does and has been doing for 8 months now. Christ it’s knackering! Poor me for those 5 days and 4 nights.

So those 4 days in San Cristobal were mainly spent with me drinking amazing coffee – the Chiapas region is well known for it’s coffee and we found 4 cafes which served 10/10 espressos. All the daily trips and excursions i’d originally thought we’d do didn’t happen. I couldn’t be annoyed about it, obviously, but I wasn’t bothered about it anyway. We were all together, hanging out, happy.

Next we flew to Merida, down to sea level and back into warmer climtes. Kirsty got over her bug / altitude sickness and was back to her normal self – “I’m Hungry” and her appetite for coffee & wine returned. And Elsie’s teething pains had subsided. A night of decent sleep followed and were all feeling better.

We’d planned 3 nights in Merida and 3 nights in the nearby Valladolid, on the account of the amount of unmissable things to do and see that i’d read about. We were now into the 4th week of the trip and after one night in Merida we unanimously decided to sack off Valladolid and stay put in Merida, extending our stay to 6 nights, enjoying our well established routine of not doing that much, not feeling obliged to do that much, and not feeling guilty for not doing that much.

My journal from 13th Nov goes: “It’s clear to me now this trip is mostly/wholey about us spending time together rather than trips or day excursions. 3 or 4 hours is the most we can do before Elsie deserves to swadge oot”.

Mexico is definitely not pram friendly so we’ve been using the sling way more than we’d anticipated, and the sling has been amazing, but it’s not fair on Elsie to keep her couped up in it, or in car seats, for more than 3 or 4 hours per day. She’s needed lots of time to swadge; roll about on the floor, play with her toys and practice crawling and standing.

Before Elsie I would have felt rueful passing up on opportunities to do stuff while on a holiday, especially unique experiences specific to that country or region. I wouldn’t say I had FOMO, but I’d always want to do the thing, or go to the place. But i’ve reached a contentness 4 weeks in where i’m OK missing out. As long as i’m hanging out with KJ and the Munchkin, and there’s decent coffee nearby, i’m happy.

Pizza and wine at Illuminati – yes please

Included below are links to some blogs that I found useful when planning our trip, to give an idea of the things we didn’t do.

San Cristobal de las Casas (SCdlC) – Highlights

  • Carajilllo Coffee Shop – 10/10
  • Libre Cafe – coffee 10/10
  • Amor Negro Coffee Shop – 10/10
  • Frontera Artisan Food & Coffee – coffee 9.5/10, and very good food too
  • Te Quiero Verde vege restaurant, for when you get fed up of Mexican food & want something healthy
  • Cocoliche restaurant – thai/Asian food, good spot
  • This cool wine bar is a great place to spend an hour or two watching the world go by, and they give you free tapas if you keep ordering wine. Kirsty found it.
  • We stayed at Docecuartos Hotel. It was alright, but I wouldn’t book it again. It was strange in many ways (there is no front door so to speak, but just a big open expanse that you don’t see in their carefully choreographed photos), and there’s no restaurant/bar/or anything else other than the rooms, so the (perfectly friendly) staff are just stood around all day with nothing to do. But its comfortable, apart from being cold and dark, and quite loud as it’s on a busy-ish road, although we did choose that room as it was the brightest. There are quieter (and darker) rooms available at the back.
  • The city has a natural beauty in itself and you can spend hours wandering the streets and nosey-ing around. Walks up to the Guadalupe Church and San Cristobalito are worthwhile for the panaoramic views.

Merida – Highlights

  • Dilan Coffee shop – knock out espresso, 10/10. Worth seeking out. They sometimes don’t appear open, but if you stand outside long enough they come and open up.
  • Sukra Cafe – awesome breakfast spot. Really good food, so good we went 3 times for brekkie (omelettes and porridge)
  • El Barrio Cafe – good breakfast spot
  • Casa Chica and Mercado 60 for evening food and drinks
  • Amelia Coffee shop – nice little new coffee shop just around the corner from our hotel, 8/10 espresso
  • The Walmart up the top of town – absolutely ridiculous place. Never been in such a big supermarket. Elsie was loving it. They sell everything from nappies and baby wipes to Pirelli Tires and cactus leaf
  • I actually found Merida really annoying to walk around as the one way traffic system seems to make every street really busy, and the traffic was so loud. So i’d recommend avoiding the “historic” / touristy parts of the central city and stick to the outskirts and northern part of town. All the places i’ve recommended to eat & drink are just north of the tourist centre.
  • We stayed at Hotel Marionetas which was awesome, a perfect little spot for us. We had the suite there with a kitchen giving us the opportunity to cook some evening meals, and we enjoyed spending time at this hotel just relaxing and sleeping well. Highly recommended.

Six Weeks In Mexico with a 7 Month Old – Part Una

Six Weeks In Mexico with a 7 Month Old – Part Dos

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