Shared Family Experiences

One of my Facebook friends recently shared some pictures of his trip to the Yucatan Peninsula, and it brought back memories. My husband and I took our two children on that same journey back in 2015, and I wanted to dig through my pictures and compare notes with my friend. 

It was fun to reflect on our stay in the city of Merida. From there, we rented a car and drove through the Ruta Puuc. Along the route, we stopped at several archeological sites that dotted the winding highway; Uxmal’s Pyramid of the Magician, Sayil’s ruined palace, and prehistoric paintings in the caves of Loltun.

We also drove down to Chichen Itza, admiring this Wonder of the World, and spent some time in Tulum, dipping our feet in the clear Caribbean waters. We took day trips to crystal-cold cenotes, swimming through their caves, and enjoyed a day on bicycles, riding through the ancient city of Coba. 

I mean. These were all BIG, bucket-list-level experiences. Our nine- and ten-year-old kids were thrilled and excited sometimes, and sometimes hot and tired. Sometimes, they argued; other times, they laughed in the backseat until we pulled the car over. 

It was fun, it was stressful, it was a great family vacation from all points of view. On our side, it was educational and a great bonding experience. On the kids’ side, it was cool to swim in a cave, and the snacks were pretty good.

Once I looked through all of those photos, I started going over all the other trips in Mexico we took: the epic Guanajuato/San Miguel/Hidalgo road trip, the once-in-a-lifetime trip to Chiapas, our summers in Mexico City. Oh, the nostalgia… I wanted a time machine so badly. In all of them, I could see the togetherness in the adventures; the inside jokes, the commiseration over inevitable misfortune, the shared wonder of discovery.

My husband and I sometimes talk about what it would have been like if we had paid our mortgage off a little sooner, saved a little more money. We always end up coming back to the fact that we traveled somewhere almost every year. Had we stayed home from the Yucatan that summer, we might have chiseled away a bit more on the principal. 

But that’s never where the conversation ends. Because, while that certainly is true, I am so glad we chose to keep paying it off, one payment at a time. I’m glad we chose the adventure, even if our kids swore they’d never look at another pyramid after our time in the Yucatan (they are ok with it now). 

Because what we have, instead of money in the bank, is a shared family history that we talk about all the time. Our children have both nearly graduated high school, and they often say they are grateful for the travel that gave them such a love for their culture and history. Yeah, we traveled on a shoestring, but let me tell you, traveling in Mexico is a shoestring threaded with marvels.

So, as a person who has been a mom for nineteen years, let me share a piece of advice to those with young children: prioritize experience. Share a love for learning and discovery. It’s one thing you’ll look back on and know you got it right.


  • Leza Warkentin

    I have been living and teaching in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, since the turn of the century. I am a Canadian with a musician-Mexican husband and two Mexican-Canadian patas saladas who are growing up way too fast.

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