My family and I have just returned from six incredible months in Mexico. Our kids are almost five and just three. Today, I’m sharing a run down of the ten best family travel moments. I’m sure I can come up with a list of hundreds of amazing things we did in Mexico but I’ll try to find the ten that appeal to me most today!
(in no particular order)
Best Family Travel Moment: “…we’ve instilled a love of exploration in the kids…”
- Seeing my kids get excited about ancient ruins. Our four year old son loves nothing more than a visit to an archaeological site. Monumental staircase? He’ll zoom up faster than a mountain goat. Random pile of rocks? He’ll be up it. Ancient pelota court? He’ll inform you what happened there. Hopefully we’ve instilled a love of exploration in the kids by visiting so many archaeological sites. We deliberately chose not to overburden them with too many facts because they’re so small. We just let them revel in running around such interesting places….and snacks at the top of old monuments never went amiss either.
- Cenotes: a geographical wonder of the Yucatan Peninsula. They are basically huge, natural, pools of water. Some are open and some are entirely underground. We visited a number of these across the peninsula. The cenote highlight has to be when the kids both jumped from a two meter platform into the 90m deep cenote (in life jackets, obviously) as a group of locals watched in surprise and awe. They got a huge round of applause and after, this group of local men came up to ask us about our kids and tell us how incredible it was that they’d been able to do that.
Best Family Travel Moment: “…I was really proud he could see the difference…”
- The local zoo in Merida (where we were based for most of our trip) makes for an interesting visit. It has a playground, funfair rides and a teeny tiny train for kids to ride on. It also has a large collection of fairly miserable animals kept in pretty dire cages. On our first visit, I’d asked the four-year-old to consider what he was seeing and try to compare it to London Zoo. He did and very quickly realized that this local zoo really wasn’t a good environment for the animals due to the lack of space or facilities for them. I was really proud he could see the difference as he isn’t always the most empathetic little chap! Luckily we then discovered Animaya, a much newer zoo on the outskirts of town that looks after animals far better….and has an awesome water play area for little ones.
Best Family Travel Moment: “…I just loved seeing them outside playing all day in such an incredible place…”
- We spent a month in Tulum studying Spanish and hanging out on the beach in Mexico. Prior to this month, our kids had never been big fans of the sea but this month really helped them get over their disinterest/disdain/nerves (not sure which it was). There is nothing more delicious in life than seeing your little ones romp around a beautiful beach as if they have been there all their lives. They got so tanned, their hair went blond and unkempt and I just loved seeing them outside playing all day in such an incredible place.
- Of course, living in Mexico we had to be willing to learn to speak the language. After a month or so of private classes, we dumped the kids in a local school and they loved it! I couldn’t believe how well it went. The kids now speak Spanish well enough to cope at school, to play, to understand tv and film and to correct my Spanish! The big one would often try out his new found ability in slightly strange places and we’d suddenly find him instructing cab drivers to go faster or informing waiters that he needed something. Even the little one could be sent off to get the bill in a restaurant or to order herself another drink.
Best Family Travel Moment: “..Trying new foods…” and “…Day of the Dead…”
- Trying new foods: from the BBQ market in downtown Oaxaca and the roast goat we conned them into trying to the refried beans and the ceviche, the kids are a little (just a little) more adventurous when it comes to food than they were.
- Celebrating Day of the Dead in Oaxaca. Day of the Dead is really important in Oaxaca and, by chance, we were there and the kids were in school. What an honor it was to be a part of a school procession rather than just watch from the sidelines with the tourists. The kids got dressed up and, as instructed, we bought lots of sweets for them to throw to the crowds as we walked along the roads behind our marching band. We also visited two cemeteries to see how families mark this important day, and went to the funfair outside the central cemetery to celebrate with local Oaxacans. It gave us a great opportunity to speak really openly with the children about death and different attitudes towards it. The kids have asked if we can celebrate Day of the Dead every year.
Best Family Travel Moment: “…so many amazing animals in the wild…”
- We saw so many amazing animals in the wild and some of them really impressed the children. We were lucky enough to have dolphins swim alongside our boat when we were on a day trip from the island of Holbox. Our small girl was captivated and still talks about this. We saw crocodiles, flamingos and pelicans and the kids touched a puffer fish caught when we were fishing on a pier with locals in Holbox.
- We also went swimming with turtles off the coast of Akumal. While the experience itself was truly phenomenal, what stood out for me was how our two year old behaved. She put on the snorkel and mask and accepted swimming out to sea in a life vest. Afterwards, she happily put her head under the water to watch the turtles swimming below her.
Best Family Travel Moment: “… helping our kids to see that there’s so much more to the world than just their home city…”
- Living in a foreign country and helping our kids to see that there’s so much more to the world than just their home city. The planet is so big and cultures are so diverse. We had a great time talking to our children about different countries and cultures and seeing them drink it all in. One of the reasons we took this trip was to try and instil an interest, tolerance and understanding of different cultures in the kids. I think we succeeded.
Kids’ top ten Mexico moments
The kids would obviously have a different top ten Mexico moments to me. Theirs would go something like this:
- playing with friends at school
- having a pool in the garden
- going to the beach a lot
- seeing cool animals
- the trampoline centre
- climbing on ruins
- that Mexicans give their kids more sweets than English people
- going to the cinema in Mexico
- riding on a horse around a lake
- spending lots of time with mummy and daddy
It was incredibly hard to choose ten moments to share. We had such an incredible experience and are stronger for it, both as individuals and as a family unit. One day my kids will realise how lucky they are to have had this opportunity. If you’d like to know more, do check out my blog: yacasillegamosblog.wordpress.com. Feel free to drop me a line through the blog if you have any questions.
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