Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas in Mexico

I don't know if it is a secret but for more years than I can remember Christmas has not been my favorite time of year.
The rushing around spending money we don't have to buy gifts for people who don't need/want/appreciate them. Then a week off from work and school sitting around in the house with bad weather worsened by the inversion until you finally scream ”Who the crap cares if families are forever, I hate you people.” (I mean, in theory, not practice.)
This year I was dreading it even more because I am missing that special someone who can take the brunt of my misplaced holiday angst and still be willing to be my friend on January 2 when the kids go back to school.
So I decided to go with my most often used coping mechanism, avoidance.
On December 23 at 6 pm I called the kids in and told them we were starting a new tradition of opening a present early.
I made up a certificate that said ”Pack your bags, we leave for Mexico at 7am!”
They were shocked. I totally rocked the surprise thing!
We got to the airport on time and through check in and security with no problems. But then they discovered our scheduled plane had a faulty potty and we would need a new plane. Yay for spending all of Christmas eve morning in the airport!
Four hours later we finally boarded our (direct) flight to Mexico. TV was free until we hit the border, so that was awesome.
Our resort was booked through a vacation brand name, so we had a well organized van system waiting for us. While we were waiting to load in the van, Courtney got her first ever bloody nose. I guess she is a desert girl and her body can't take the humidity.
By evening we had gone to the beach and played in the ocean and promptly decided that none of us really like the sticky icky feeling you get from the ocean. Lucky for us there were four nice pools to choose from.
In our cute little room (that ended up having three singles and a king bed-yay) we read the Christmas story from the scriptures on our smart phones.
Santa found us. He only had room for stockings since we were in a different place on his route, but he wisely brought water toys, floating mats and flip flops.
Being in a tropical location I expected lots of great fruits and such to eat. Not so much. The food at the resort was not exactly fantastic. We pretty much lived on french fries and pasta with alfredo sauce (not that my kids saw anything wrong with that.)
They also grabbed their piƱa colada and strawberry daiquiris two at a time so they wouldn't have to leave the pool as often.
We decided to venture into the tourist shopping area for a change of scenery. I made sure we all got off the bus at the same time. Then we took off across the street to the flea market. I was across four lanes of traffic before I realized that Gage wasn't with us and I couldn't see him. I left the other three and ran back over. He was still standing by the bus, on the verge of tears. I was pretty freaked. I know about ten words in spanish and none of them are ”my little boy has been kidnapped!”
The girls really wanted to get hair braids so I haggled a good price and left them at one shop to do that while the boys and I wandered around to do their souvenir shopping. After about half an hour I decided to go check on the girls. But I counted my money and I was short. I hadn't set aside enough for the braids, plus I needed bus fare.
While the boys and I had been shopping I meet a vendor who was so excited we were from SLC, Utah because he ”loves the Mormon's.” His wife was Mormon and they had the missionaries over all the time. So I went back to him and asked him where I could find an ATM. He directed me across the street to the actual mall.
I went to where he told me and with great relief swiped my card. Nothing. Again. Nothing. I didn't dare do it a third time, fearing it would deactivate my card. As I wandered around the mall in a state of near panic, Courtney started texting me because they were almost done. I was weighing options like leaving the girls there, taking the boys back to the resort and leaving them. Then bringing money back for the girls. That was probably 40+ minutes round trip and I didn't like that option on either end.
I was seriously about to have a heart attack. Then I saw the (normally) dreaded time share sales booth. I picked a woman, hoping for a little empathy and hoping to not be taken advantage of or robbed, maimed, etc.
She talked to me for almost 20 minutes even though I explained what my (seemingly urgent) problem was, she still needed to try to make the sale. Finally she walked me over to a different ATM and stayed to translate for me. Then she asked me how much I was paying for the braids. She explained that with the denomination of bills I got that the shop would rip me off, so she walked me back to the booth and made change.
She also made me promise to come back and sign up for the presentation after I rescued the girls. I promised. I lied.
(This is turning into a novel. Next time I will blog while I am there so you get it day by day.)
Most of the trip was uneventful. But one day Gage made a friend. They meet at the beach and ran into each other again at the pool. Gage asked me if he could go with this kid to play ds in his hotel room. I said no, but agreed to go to our room and get his ds and meet the kid back at the shaded pool. I left most of my stuff at the party pool where we normally hung out to save my seat. We got his ds and went to the shaded pool. I got him settled at a table and decided to go and get our stuff from the other pool. When I came back, literally five minutes or less later, he was gone. I checked all of the normal places. Then I checked some places we didn't frequent. Then (30 minutes later) I decided to check the room. He wasn't there, but all the other kids were there watching cartoons and eating fries (really, I bring you to Mexico to watch TV?).
I completely lost it then and screamed at them to all go look and meet at the bar in the lobby every five minutes with a report.
After they all left I sat in the room shaking and wondering who the heck takes four little kids to Mexico...alone...without knowing the language...alone...alone. Was I brain damaged? Do I call security? I didn't even know the other boy's name or room number. I didn't know if Gage was with him. Honestly, how stupid was I? Would security do a room by room search of 800 rooms? No one in the history of the planet had ever been as stupid as me at that moment!
Then I decided to pray, then I decided that was stupid and very ”The Friend” (church magazine) of me. Then I decided I didn't care if I was very cliche and primary children-esque I had to find him. So I said a quick prayer and headed down to the lobby bar.
You see, one of the beauties of all inclusive resorts is that the same people are there most of the duration of your trip. One beauty of my kids is they make friends everywhere. So once I sent my kids out to look, they only had to ask a few of their ”friends” and they found Gage in about three minutes in the teen center playing video games!
That kid was so freaking grounded. He never left my sight after that! And there was a prayer of thanks offered. I will never think it is too ”Friend”-ish to pray in the moment again!
Honestly, a few key memorable incidences aside, it was fabulous. Given our unchangeable circumstances, it was the best Christmas I ever could have imagined. I often play in my head what Christmas would have been like had we stayed home (based in fact knowing the weather and options for fun things available to do at home), and I would not have done anything differently. (Except not lose my kid and keep more money in my pocket.)
I would go again every Christmas if I could afford it! (Hint: I am accepting Christmas Trip grants!)
P.S. Do not tell your kids what the ”Don't flush toilet paper sign” is about. For the love...

1 comment:

  1. What an awesome way to spend Christmas, Mexico will always have a soft spot in my heart because of you and Jeffs kindness sending Josh and I there for our honeymoon there (especially in my mind because I grew up literally dirt poor and never been anywhere like that, so its stained my mind :) You are such a good mama, what an exciting trip for the kids, I LOVE the braids the girls got, I had a heart attack for you just reading about Gage, I am glad he was ok.