Our departure date looms large. We are ignoring it, instead focusing our energies on planning the BEST MEXICO ROAD TRIP EVER. It's our last hurrah, our last chance to celebrate all we've come to love about Mexico and see a bunch of stuff we've been wanting to see. It's also our last chance to gross out our driver, Mario, by vomiting into many motion sickness bags.
Mario has agreed to drive us on our 18-day quest, a generosity that will likely come back to haunt him because Mexican roads often wind up and down through hills and damn it gets twisty up in there.
Lucien and I found crepes in a Mexican mall
Alex and Coco spent two busy and happy weeks with our people in Seattle and Lucien and I spent two calm and quiet weeks here without them. It soon became evident Coco and Alex bring most of the noise and nearly all of the mess around here. Lucien and I are tidy, the other two not so much. I've always kind of basked in the absence of "Alex piles" when he travels but was not prepared for how sad I would feel when "Coco piles" also disappeared. I was not emotionally prepared for no Coco piles.
Paulina had very little cleaning to do those two weeks. She went home early nearly every day and I gave her a couple days off entirely when Lucien and I decided to hit our favorite restaurants instead of eating dinner at home. Even with all that bored Paulina proof in his face, Alex still refuses to acknowledge he is a messy, messy human.
He also refuses to admit he is the one who uses all the glassware. When Al is here, every glass we own is somehow dirty by the end of the day. When he is not here, there are two maybe three little glasses sitting in the sink instead of an entire glass army. I don't understand why he requires so many glasses.
The Loosh and I watched a lot of movies while we were here solo. Lucien has a running gag regarding movies. If any character within the movie says the actual title of the movie, he yells, "ROLLLL CREDITS!" and heads out of the room to live his life. It has been hilarious in movies such as A Dog's Purpose because that movie's title is spoken many, many times throughout the film. Lucien kept jumping up, "ROLLLL CREDITS!" then laughing in the hallway for a bit before coming back in and plopping back down on the couch, only to jump up again a few minutes later.
(Stop hitting us over the head with "a dog's purpose," seriously. We all know a dog's purpose, at least our dog's purpose, and that is to destroy our valuables and fart loudly when we feed her table food.)
One inspired evening, I shared my favorite John Hughes film with my rapidly growing son on the verge of cliques and tough social dynamics. We had a lot to talk about during that movie. But at the end, as Anthony Michael Hall's voice says, "Sincerely yours, The Breakfast Club," Lucien jumped up, yelled, "ROLLLL CREDITS!" and you should have seen his face when the credits actually started to roll.
We had a rollicking good laugh after that one. We re-enacted the moment many times, including Judd Nelson's fist pump and the stunned look on Lucien's face. It got funnier every time.
The couple in front of us walking across campus towards the gym,
carrying flowers for their daughter with tears streaming down their faces.
It's bittersweet to be a parent during the milestones.
Either that or they're fighting and contemplating divorce, hard to say.
Much like that couple above, I could not get my sh*t together during the 5th grade graduation ceremony. Tears welled blindingly in my eyes and my hands shook during the filming of an agonizingly long iPhone video where nothing really happens; it's just me frantically panning up and down the long line of smiling children while they sing Bruno Mars.
Lucien's huge international school in this huge international city was a gem of an experience. He had exposure to kids from all over the globe and can now count amongst his friends a Syrian, an Indian Sikh, a little punk from Denmark (that kid is gonna be something, let me tell you) and a boy recently moved from Japan who does not speak much English nor Spanish but tries hard and smiles all the time. He also met a few Americans, of course, a few Mexicans, a few Brits, and one adorable Canadian who thinks Lucien is going to come back and visit him every month. Ahem. We'll try, cute little Canadian.
Lucien and Max hang in the gym one last time
Remember that one time when he was two?
Coco had a rough time at Lucien's class graduation party/carnival a couple weekends ago. It was a large affair full of tents and fountains and caterers and games. Coco wanted to play the game that involves moving a metal ring over an electrified coil. If the ring touches the coil, it makes a loud sound and you lose. If you make it all the way to the end of the coil with no noise, you win and get to choose a cheap prize out of a bag. It's somewhat similar to the board game Operation, only with more danger of getting electrocuted.
And get electrocuted she did -- well at least strongly shocked -- thanks to the unstable device tipping over in the middle of her turn and an apparent short in the system. The man running the game then yelled at Coco for tipping the thing over as she stood with tears in her eyes shaking out the pain in her right arm. Then she started crying for real, both from the shock of the shock and the getting yelled at by the towering large man.
I leapt to her like a gazelle when I heard the bellowing and grabbed her up. I gave the tall tower guy my best glass-shattering glare (trust Alex, it's a real doozy) and yelled right back, "Stop yelling at her! She's hurt, stupid man!" My insults in Spanish are basic at best but it worked. He felt bad then, stopped yelling and offered her a consolation prize from the bag. When she wouldn't take one and instead continued to bury her face in my body, he dug one out himself and handed it to me with an apology. I know he meant to make peace but.... what in the hell is this terrifying thing --
I tried to cheer Coco with the weird mirrored compact thing as we walked away but she glanced at it, stopped short, and said slowly, "So let me get this straight. I got electrocuted, hurt, yelled at and scared by that man and then he gave me the creepiest toy I've ever seen to make it all better?" I agreed it was an accurate summation of recent events.
At least Lucien had fun! He is the red pair of legs disappearing over the side of the bouncy house --
There was a mariachi band involved, thankfully, because mariachi always brings me much joy. There was also a caterer who made the best al pastor tacos and a bartender who made me a few delicious cubanas, my favorite drink made of beer mixed with spicy sauce and a salted rim.
There was also karaoke. Karaoke is not my thing but I must say, the way our friends and hosts Seattle Mom and Dad look at each other when they do karaoke is definitely #relationshipgoals --
I soon approached Alex and asked if he wanted to do a cute duet, too, but he suggested 2 Live Crew's "Me So Horny" so there went that idea.
Our driver, Mario, invited us to his wife's uncle's house the morning after our going away party. His wife's uncle makes delicious barbacoa in his backyard every Sunday, which brings out all the neighbors to feast together. Barbacoa is incredible stuff, a slow-cooked meat wrapped in banana leaves and usually served with a spicy tomato sauce in a tortilla.
Barbacoa is also a popular cure for a hangover, which is perhaps why Mario suggested we go to the uncle's house the morning after our going away party. Goddamn cubanas. I regret nothing!
We were given a tour by the uncle and told in order to pull off the barbacoa feasts on Sundays, the process must begin on Wednesdays with the slaughtering of the animals on the very spot upon which we were standing. And with that sentence, my appetite was more or less ruined.
Mexico has both introduced me to delicious meat things I cannot get enough of and also nearly turned me vegetarian forever (Costa Rica didn't help much there, either). I have developed some very complicated feelings around food in Mexico, made worse by the words "sheep's stomach" and "organ meat" being used distressingly often.
To be honest, I felt much the same way in France when I would order something and it would arrive on a plate with eyeballs intact and a giant bone sticking out the top. It's probably best Seattle is my hometown, where a plate of kale and chia seeds with coconut oil dressing can be served to you as dinner when you're overwhelmed by "organ meat" and "bone" revulsion.
Internal food conflicts aside, we were treated at the barbacoa event as warmly as people can be treated anywhere, ever. We were an oddity showing up in that backyard; an English-speaking ex-pat family is not exactly commonplace in the backyards of Nicolas Romero, a mid-sized city about an hour outside Mexico City. We soon reached celebrity status with everyone wanting to pose for pictures with us and many parents running back to their homes to drag their kids out to play with Lucien and Coco on the swingset.
Not sure what's happening here but it looks pretty dramatic
Many of those Mexican kids were shy, hiding behind their mothers and peeking out at us with big dark round eyes. I declared long ago the people in this world that melt my heart the fastest are little old French men riding bicycles. Well it looks like your reign is over, Frenchies; you've been replaced by tiny blinky dark-eyed Mexican kids hiding behind their mothers' skirts. No one can resist those little peanuts.
Barbacoa aunt and uncle
The last memory I'd like to preserve in amber, much as they did with dinosaur DNA in Jurassic Park (another movie The Loosh and I watched during our solo weeks and one where the title is spoken pretty darn early in the movie by grandpa so... ROLLLL CREDITS and goodbye, Lucien) is the night we spent with our friends at Lucha Libre.
Lucha Libre is batshit crazy, which is my favorite thing, and involves fake wrestling by men dressed in spandex while wearing masks, which is my second favorite thing. What are the chances of one event hitting all the right notes.
Many in the audience seemed to take it seriously and cheer their favorite luchadore with great passion. We were way less serious but still certainly appreciated the spectacle. The luchadores are an acrobatic crew and can really fly through the air. Whenever they did, we all yelled, "Wheeeeeeee!" with our hands up in the air. Then we laughed until our sides hurt and ordered more beers and popcorn and cotton candy.
Of course we bought masks, too. We looked amazing.
Those R our dudes
And of course we wore them home
It was the best most ridiculous thing I've seen in a long time and introduced all sorts of new personal jokes to our Mexico City crew. BOOP BOOP BOOP BOOP BOOP. Yeah, you had to be there.
Alex and I recently celebrated 16 years of marriage. I told our driver, Mario, that 16 years of marriage feels like forever and he said, "We have an expression in Mexico; being married for 16 years feels like being married for 16 minutes..."
I was about to eyeroll and be all "yeah...sure...you guys are lying, that's stupid..." when he added "...but all of them underwater."
I was going to write about Costa Rica this time but it's cool, turns out this one was all for the DF.
Don't you forget about me, Mexico.
Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club.