I’m not sure if any of us ever actually thought that the day would ever arrive. We have been planning and talking about ‘Mexico, baby’ for a long time now but 01 October was always a long way off, until it wasn’t and we found ourselves in a cab on the way to Heathrow.
The torrential rain on Saturday made it easy to leave. I’d wanted to take the kids to the park for a run around before we left but the rain made that difficult (because the wet weather gear was packed away, not because of any particular aversion to playing in the rain) so they watched tv to prepare themselves for watching more tv on the plane. Ace.
Heathrow, it turns out, has free soft play, which is fabulous mainly because, for once, our kids didn’t demand that we went in with them. Huzzah.
And then it was time to board the plane. Col bagged first watch over the kids (plane configuration was 3,3,3 so no chance of all sitting together and funnily enough no one wanted to upgrade us). He’s smart, my Col. He watched the kids while they were still on good form, while the plane was an adventure and we hadn’t yet reached the point of feeling like bad parents for letting them watch so much tv. So he did about three hours and then I did the remaining eight. Yeah. Sounds good, right? Ahem.
I took over when kids were hungry (kids’ meals on Aeromexico are DISGUSTING but I had ordered them as I couldn’t face any whining over whether or not there was sauce, or peas or something equally evil on a plate) and full of sugar because what the kids’ meals lack in quality, they make up for in kitkats. Yup. Awesome. SB was in seventh heaven and may have nabbed SG’s kitkat while we weren’t looking because Saturday was a day she wasn’t eating chocolate (some days she says she likes it but generally she doesn’t). SG managed to sleep (across two and a half chairs), SB may have dozed on Col for an hour or two but Col and I didn’t sleep at all.
After landing we went to the transfer desk, as requested, to check on whether we would be given a free hotel because our second flight, to Oaxaca, had been moved from a brilliantly timed hour after we landed, to 12 hours after we landed and we’d only found out about it the day before we flew. The women on the desk, fresh from telling the guy in front of us that they didn’t give a shit that their airline had made him miss his sister’s wedding (I paraphrase but only barely), happily told us that they didn’t much care about our problem either since it was clearly the agency with whom we had booked who were at fault and not Aeromexico in anyway, oh no, definitely not the fault of the airline.
I laughed, I explained that I’d spoken to someone in London who’d said it’d be fine to give us a hotel, I explained again and then I got cross. I asked if they had kids, if they’d accept a shrug of the shoulders etc etc. And then we gave up. It was clear that even my demanding skills weren’t any match for these mean women. So while Col went off to buy water, the kids and I sat by their desk and made noise (grrrr) and looked tired. SG may have been lying on the floor kicking her legs and crying because evil mummy took a water bottle off her. And then evil woman came up and told me she’d been working on a solution for us but had needed time and couldn’t say anything while anyone else was there. She had a hotel for us, a free cab ride in both directions and vouchers for supper and breakfast. Um, wow. I almost cried, I did apologise for shouting at her (!) and then we scarpered before she could change her mind. I suspect it was SG’s tantrum rather than anything I said but still, I’m chalking it up as a win.
We got to the hotel at about 11pm Mexican time (5am BST), having been up since 6am BST the previous day. We got in to bed, SG fell asleep and I thought, ‘wow, it’s working’ and then she woke up. I was sharing a bed with her because she and SB had been so silly together. But she didn’t want me in her bed and was determined to let me know, whilst ensuring no one else slept. I was smacked, pinched, hit, kicked and scratched, all whilst listening to ‘but I don’t want you in my bed, mummy’. Awesome. So no sleep for anyone except SB who could sleep through anything.
Up just before 4am because SG was still awake and now she was HUNGRY, yes, hungry enough for capitals. Threw cheese strings at them and stroppily got dressed. Cab to airport at 4.30 and plane at 6.45. Phew. Travelling over and in nice apartment in centre of Oaxaca by 9.30am, only 30 hours after we left home.
After a bit of down time in front of the tv (kids can’t believe their luck, the apartment has netflix! We don’t even have that at home) we went to the main market for lunch and an explore, ‘cos this is an adventure, innit. Ordered yummy Mexican food and SG fell asleep. She slept through her big brother trying chicken mole (“it’s just chicken in chocolate, darling, go on, try it….oh, no, is it spicy? Oh dear, I’m so sorry” hee hee), through him trying local chocolate and not liking it, through him choosing snacks for later and the walk back home. She woke up as we got back and turned the tv on again. Col and I hadn’t slept in 36 hours by this point, ok. We know.
All in bed and asleep by 6pm. Phew. Smug.
Oh, it’s 9.30pm and SG can’t stop sobbing. Loudly. Awesome. She came in to bed with us and there she stayed, still sobbing for most of the night. Here’s a tip, don’t show a highly empathetic two year old films such as Coraline because you find it on netflix, have no idea what it is but then can’t stay awake through it. Result was one extremely traumatised small girl.
Today started at 5am, which was annoying but fair given that we went to bed at 6pm. After a lovely breakfast on the zocalo, watching people in the tent city there (when we were here in 2009, this plaza was one of the highlights of our trip, not so much now) – we think it’s the remains of a protest by teachers against sweeping reforms of the education system. Then we had a wander around town and did some super cultural shit: we found a distinctly average restaurant that had a kids’ play area and since we were ostensibly on the look out for somewhere to let the kids play, this seemed fair, plus they’d spotted it too. After lunch we accidentally found a huge bouncy castle and slide combo so that killed another hour with culture (it was a minions castle, ok?). Then we found the local lending library where the kids read some Spanish books with us and then it was home, only one zillion hours after we went out.
The kids have been really good at trying out their Spanish. I’ve been really impressed, particularly with our normally reticent SB. At lunch a little girl so clearly wanted to play with our two that I asked her her name and her age. She was thrilled and then the kids told her their names and ages in Spanish. I also got SB to tell her the lolly she gave him was delicious (thanks, Dora!) and later we tried to get him to say excuse me but he kept deliberately saying ‘fart’ instead (pede instead of perdonne) so that went down well!
I’ve probably forgotten loads of awesome stuff but I’m still a bit jetlagged. Basically, we’re here, we can’t believe we’re actually here and it’s amazing.