Wild.Precious.Vida! ~ our adventure begins…

We did it.

When Joaquin and I met in January 1997, neither of us were “home”. I grew up in Dayton, MN, whose population according to my Google search just now is 5,011 (larger than when I was growing up in the 70s and 80s). Joaquin grew up in Mexico City, whose population according to Google is 21.2 million people (a bit larger than when he grew up :).

But, we met in Tokyo.

Both of us had lived, worked and traveled away from home for several years prior to meeting.  We both loved to travel, learn about new cultures and experience places and people new to us.  While talking about marriage, we completely expected that we’d spend some time living overseas at some point, especially once we had children.  Then….3 cities, 3 apartments, 2 graduate degrees, 2 houses, several part-time and full time jobs, mortgages, car loans and 3 children later, we couldn’t figure out how to make it happen.  Also, add in the deep connections we had at our children’s schools, extra-curricular activities, and with our friends, family, and community.

Time flies.

Almost a year ago, we realized that our oldest child would be starting high school in the fall of 2017.  Our window of opportunity felt like it was closing.  From then until now has included many many late night conversations, connections with friends and family, worries, doubts, calls and visits and meetings and paperwork with schools and rental agents…dentists, pediatricians, physicians, orthodontists, places of employment, banks, post offices, credit card companies, storage companies, piano movers, neighbors, health insurance agents and and and…

We sold our cars, gave away/donated/sold about 1/3 of our belongings, rented out our MN home, found a home to rent in Mexico, enrolled our children in a school here and are now busy exploring and finding our way in our first weeks of living here for 1 year.

Wild.Precious. Vida.

endings…

The last month of our year-long adventure has continued to be jam packed as we wrapped up school and school activities, started to say goodbyes, and had last visits. Here’s a quick overview of what we’ve been up to…

About a month ago, the girls requested hosting one more party/slumber party with their friends.  Sophia planned a day with her 2 best friends, Jeanne and Lea and we spent a day at Xenses Park here in Playa…

and then 3 of Anna’s friends joined us back at the house for more fun and a slumber party..

 

during the second to last week of school, Sophia had earned a reward for successfully completing a school reading program (Spanish and English) and she got to go with some of her classmates and teachers to the Xplor Adventure Park (zip lines, jungle jeeps, etc)…they got to miss school that day and were there for 11 hours! 🙂

Sophia Xplor trip

Since elementary (primaria) school ends after 6th grade here, there is a lot of celebrating the end of 6th grade!  Anna’s class had a big dinner party celebration at a hotel near Tulum…all the class went with their families – it was FUN!

and then the following weekend, all of the 6th grade class went for a full weekend at JUNGLE CAMP (near Cancun)…there were activities planned all day, late into the night…Anna had a blast, and came home completely exhausted!

We’ve had some dinner parties with friends…

Ana Maria's birthday party

a last visit to Cozumel…

a quick trip to visit tios y abuelos in Mexico City…(we were relaxing and playing so much, I didn’t take many photos)

notes from friends…

Jeanne's note to Sophia

last Telas practice (there were tears that afternoon and evening)

last telas class

and the formal graduation ceremony for the girls at Tepeyac (Andrew was at the Playa International School and they didn’t have a formal graduation) Huge shout out to all the girl’s teachers…especially Ms Rosy and Ms Lorena!!!

I’m writing this quick blog as we pack up our final things here in Playa…we’ll celebrate the end of this amazing year tonight with friends!

 

Chihuahua

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At the end of April/beginning of May, we had the opportunity to travel to Chihuahua.  Joaquin’s mother grew up there and many of her siblings and their families still live there today.  Here is a photo of Joaquin’s maternal grandparent’s on their wedding day:

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During most of the summers growing up, Joaquin’s parents packed up their station wagon and made the LOOOOOONG drive from Mexico City to Chihuahua to stay and play with their maternal grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins for the summer. Joaquin’s aunt, Maclovia still lives in the same house that was his grandparents and we got to stay with her there 🙂

Here are some old photos of the cousin’s in front of the grandparent’s house…

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Here are our kids in front of this same house with Tia Maclovia 🙂

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Just a block away from this house is an enormous public park called Ciudad Deportiva…it has biking and walking paths, a swimming pool, squash courts, a retirement center, soccer fields, baseball stadium, football field, track field, large green spaces to have picnics and gather with friends and family and more…. and cool things like this…

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Joaquin spent a lot of time in the summers running and playing over at this park with his cousins.  It is an incredible space.  We walked over there several times during our visit and got to enjoy treats from food stands on the edges of the park….

 

 

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Here we are enjoying a day and evening with our Chihuahua family…including loteria! 🙂

 

 

During our visit, we were also able to travel through the famous Copper Mountains  (larger and deeper than the US Grand Canyon)  We took the train (“El Chepe”) through the mountains and stayed a few days…hiking and visiting an adventure park during the day. We got on the train early in the morning in Chihuahua City…train left at 6am …we didn’t go all the way to Los Mochis on the coast since we were wanting time in Chihuahua City to visit family …but would love to go back and ride the whole route sometime.  Here is a map of the route of El Chepe (We went a little past Divisadero to Posada Barrancas) :

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From our hotel, we could hike and were able to see small Tarahumara communities way up high in the mountains.

 

 

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We spent 2 days at the adventure park called ~ Parque de Aventuras Barrancas del Cobre, which was amazing…they had zip lines, gondolas, and a crazy zip rider.  Check out Andrew and I doing the zip rider across part of the canyon…

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Some other photos of our trip…

 

 

 

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We feel so grateful to have been able to meet and spend time with our Chihuahua family! Many thanks to them for being such loving and fun hosts!

Family

In addition to so many of our friends visiting, we’ve also gotten to see some of our awesome family 🙂

Matt and Heda (my brother and sister-in-law) were near Playa for a quick extended weekend trip through Heda’s work at the beginning of January and we got to spend a fun afternoon and evening with them!

tacos with matt and heda

Then my childhood neighbors/family (extra parents who helped raise me 🙂  came to Playa.  They come every year to Playa for a couple of months…they’ve been coming for over 30 years and have been witness to all of the changes and growth of the Riviera May over the years.  We were lucky to spend several afternoons and evenings with Sandi and Robert Bergstrom while they were here…

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In March, for her spring break from her senior year of college, my little sister, Sabrina came to visit us for a week of FUN!

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and then….just today…we said goodbye to Tio Mau 🙂

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Grateful to be able to spend some time with family and enjoy this beautiful place with them!

Amigos

Since the beginning of 2017, we’ve been having a blast spending time with so many friends who have come to visit us! In early 2017, we were able to see some friends, Jenni and Veronica who Joaquin and I met 20 years ago on the Ship for World Youth! This was the Japanese program that Joaquin and I met on! Jenni and her husband Mike were here to scuba dive over in Cozumel and Veronica lives in Playa and is a university professor here.  We also were able to spend an evening with some of my high school friends, Darla and Troy and their spouses when they were vacationing here over their winter holiday.  Over President’s Holiday, Edina friends ~ the Seng family and the Tietjen family came…..then over the Edina Public School spring break in March, we had the Indrigo-Lam and Tabor families visit….at the end of March/beginning of April, my beautiful friend Jenni and her son, Santiago (my godson), came to visit us….as well as some additional Edina friends ~ the Marshall family! Feeling so incredibly grateful for these beautiful beautiful friendships!

check out some of our adventures…

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Winter break in the Yucatan

I realize that I’ve really gotten behind in writing our family blog.  The last entry was just before the kid’s winter break from school and we’ve packed a lot in between then and now. The kids had over 2 weeks off from school for their winter break and we made the most of it!

Over winter break, our Mexican family joined us for 5 fun days here in Playa

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Then…we took off in 2 mini-vans and stopped at…

Chichén Itzá

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and then continued on to…

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We had a fantastic 4 days in and around Merida. We spent one afternoon in Progresso (to the north), spent a day touring at a sisal farm, spent several evenings in the center of Merida, visited the Mayan Museum, and also spent a day visiting the Mayan ruins of Uxmal (about an hour and a half south of Merida).

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On the way home to Playa, we visited an awesome cenote right next to the Ek Balam Mayan Ruins….it was CRAZY deep!

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Here’s some video of the kids enjoying the cenote…(click the links…)

Jumping…

more jumping….

and…some swinging!

We are really hoping to make it back to Merida and the surrounding area again soon!

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday shows…

Just like in Minnesota, there are a lot of fun and interesting things leading up to the long winter school break (kids get a really loooooong break here…from Dec 21-Jan9th!).

Some fun things that have been happening in the most recent weeks are holiday shows/events. The first was the “Lighting of the Tree”/ Winter Celebration event that happened on Nov 24th (Thanksgiving in the US) at the kid’s school.

Here is the cool “tree” made of long pieces of white fabric, decorated with handmade ornaments that the children made out of plastic bottles they were repurposing…here it is lit up at the celebration…

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and here is it in the daytime..

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There was music, food, the tree lighting and a show where various school arts groups performed. And the kids had  a lot of fun running around with their friends all evening 🙂

The girls both performed in the show for telas, but the camera ran out of battery so we only have Anna’s routine here…

Anna

The kids’ school is affiliated with Xcaret (a large ecological/cultural park)  Xcaret website, so they get some fun access to this park through the school ~ including field trips.  For the elementary school winter holiday show, all of the children performed music, dance, and theater acts in the show…except for the children in art class (Anna), who got to showcase some of their art at the school art show on the school campus…

For the performing arts holiday show, they actually got to perform on one of the Xcaret stages which has a backdrop of a cenote and a cave…amazing!  Here are some links to videos from that show

Sophia’s Dance

and all of elementary kids singing..

We are Children of Peace, We are Children of the World

Then, last week, the girls were invited by their school “telas” teacher to practice with her other local students (from town, not from their school) and participate in their holiday show.  This group of girls practices in a local park called La Ceiba, named after the Ceiba tree (which I wrote about in a previous blog), which is an incredibly beautiful tree located within the park ~for the class, they hang the “telas” (fabric) from this tree and perform from the it’s branches ~ amazing!

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We were also so lucky to have some friends visiting this week from Minnesota and they came and watched the show with us 🙂

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here are some clips of the girls…

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Anna

The kids only have a couple days left of school and we are looking forward to spending much of their school break with Abu and Abue (their Mexican grandparents) and los tios (their 3 fun uncles!).

Cenotes

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(Gran  Cenote in Tulum)

I’ve been meaning to write about cenotes for quite awhile now.  Visiting them has been one of our favorite parts of living here ~ they are an amazing part of the eco-system of the Yucatan Peninsula!  So far we’ve visited Gran Cenote, Dos Ojos, Azul and Eden…over the kid’s winter break from school, we’ll be visiting Ik Kil on our way to Merida.  It’s hard to choose a favorite as we’ve loved them all.  We learned that the the word “cenote” comes from the Mayan word, “ts’onot”, which means a place where groundwater is accessible, “deep thing” or “abyss”. They were thought to be spiritual places where life originates.  Mayans would hide their sacred objects from Catholic priests within cenotes as Spain was conquering Mexico .

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Cenotes are formed as rainwater filters down through limestone bedrock ~ some of it eventually collapsing and exposing groundwater underneath.  Some cenotes are open and sort of look like small or large ponds and some have caves over the water that is partially open and partially closed.  Some of the cenotes in this region go as deep as 100 meters (330 feet) near the center of the peninsula or 20 meters (66 feet) near the coast.  We got to go to a cenote exhibit a couple of months ago here at the Playa Planetarium which was super interesting!

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We love snorkeling in them!

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Andrew also loves cliff jumping at some of them!

Click here to see a video Andrew made 🙂

(made at Cenote Azul)

Looking forward to continuing our cenote adventures in 2017!

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