Saturday, February 27, 2010

Mexico: The Full Report, Part 1

The Cornett & Company is back safe from two weeks in Mexico! This trip was long in the planning, and brought much anxiety to the new parents, but everything worked out beautifully!

The idea was spawned by my father-in-law, the backgammon shark, last summer when we visited New York. He offered to host a family trip to some sunny location if we would pick the spot. We chose a resort on the Mayan Riviera, just on the north end of Playa del Carmen. It was a small resort, with about 100 rooms that were basically beachside cabanas. The place was called Mahekal Beach Resort. Some meals were included, but this was not one of those all-inclusive resorts. On the contrary, things were basic, but perfectly comfortable. We stayed ten days in all, then left the family for a small adventure into the interior at the end of our travels (see Part 2, coming soon).

I personally had my doubts about our ability to have a "real" vacation with a toddler. Jude just turned 18 months on this trip, and he's becoming more of a handful every day. Despite the schedule disruptions, new environment, and general chaos, our time went very, very well. There were some downers: (a new tooth, a long day in the car, mosquito bites, etc.) but there was also a daily opportunity for the kind of adventures that you just can't find at home. Swimming, playing in the sand, and time with family gave Jude plenty to do every day. We also had time for sitting in the sun, reading books, playing backgammon, and relaxing. Thanks, family, for sharing the babysitting! Although babysitting is really not the right word. There is very little sitting involved. It's more like babyrunning. :)

The resort we chose deserves some brief discussion. I worried that this would not be the best place for my little family, as most of the reviews geared it toward couples and romantic escapes. I am delighted to report that the place worked very well for us. The small scale was crucial for our success, and we knew many of the waiters and staff by name. This made it much easier when we were dealing with crying toddler tantrums, or needed a high chair, ASAP. The place was also very safe, with several full time security guards walking the premises. The place fronted a public beach, but there was zero cause for concern. Additionally, there were several other families with toddlers and small children, making it easy to find beach time playmates. The resort didn't have a "kid's club" or babysitting service, but it really wasn't necessary. Also, the small size made it possible to lay Jude down for a nap in the room and go back to the beach for an hour. I mean, we were only about 50 yards away!

The best part for Jude was an expanded sense of his own independence. There was a sandy beach just outside our cabana door, and he was always playing, going, digging, and on the move. I think it was our second day at the resort, when I said to Jude, "Are you ready to go to the beach?" I turned around a moment later and he was 30 yards away, gaining momentum and heading for the ocean.

The weather wasn't perfect during our time in Playa, but it just gave us more opportunities to explore the town, go for walks, and enjoy the experience of visiting another country. A few times we went to the local big box grocery store (called the Mega) for supplies and sundries. One night there was an adventure over to Cozumel to attend the Carnaval parade. We stayed for the fireworks, but didn't make it late enough for the street dancing!
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