What Are We Doing Here?


We departed San Cristóbal de las Casas early yesterday morning and in truth we were all really glad to be leaving. Honestly I think that as a family we murmured, thought, and even yelled the phrase “What are we doing here?” more often this past month than we ever have before. So, why did we decide to live in this area of Mexico  for a month in the first place? We really wanted to experience the region of Chiapas and get to know a different way of life from what we experienced this past winter in Baja California. We intentionally picked a Mexican city that has less of an expat community and chose a rental that was removed from the tourist areas.

Unfortunately in doing so we neglected to research how family friendly the city would be. A mistake that we will be sure not to make in the future! While San Cristóbal de las Casas offers so much in terms of super friendly people, wonderful culture, and a great night-life (for the older crowd), we found that it falls very short as an enjoyable city to experience with children.


There were very few places for the Younger Fives to get out and play. The only functioning playground that we did find was a good distance from our house. The streets surrounding our rental, while safe, were littered with garbage and a never ending supply of dog excrement making it impossible for the kids to play on the block. There was a field behind our rental apartment where the kids really enjoyed spending time. However, 9 times out of 10 times the gate would be locked, which just added to everyone’s frustration. In addition the sidewalks of San Cristóbal de las Casas are very narrow and the streets always full of cars. This made walks through the city unenjoyable for us all as the car fumes made the kids sick, and we were a bundle of nerves trying to keep the kids out of the path of cars.

So, needless to say after living in San Cristóbal de las Casas for just a week we were all pretty much ready to throw in the towel. However, with a fully paid month-long rental this just wasn’t an option. So, instead we sat down together as a family and brainstormed how we could make things better. And in the end the process of sticking-it-out and working together as a family to come up with fun things to do ended up being a great experience for our family. While we probably spent more time inside this past month then we have since the kids were very young, it was fun to divert our attention with board games and World Cup soccer as a change.

Most importantly our time in San Cristóbal de las Casas made us appreciate what it means to live in an area with a lot of green space and very little pollution. We all came to fully realize how spoiled we have been living so close to nature in many of our past rentals. This past month again reminded us of how much we have to be thankful for as a family. Part of this adventure is finding out how other people in this world live and experiencing new areas of the world for ourselves. While everyone was excited to move-on from San Cristóbal de las Casas, we will all take with us the many lessons that we learned this past month.


City Sickers

It’s official.  After visiting five cities in the last few weeks, the Fives are sick of cities. This is not to say that urban areas don’t have a lot to offer. However, here is a short list of things we won’t miss: getting lost trying to stay on Route 1, narrow lanes and high curbs, waiting (and waiting) for public transportation, and trying to stay cool while being surrounded by asphalt.  I guess being from Maine, our tolerance for city life was just used up by the string of major cities from Massachusetts to Maryland.


After making the kids walk for blocks and blocks in NYC, we thought we had found the perfect way to take in Baltimore by getting an all day pass on the Water Taxi. And while the service did deliver on ferrying us between stops in the Inner Harbor, Fells Point, and Fort McHenry, it was not as kid friendly as we had hoped. Our average wait time for a boat was between 10-15 minutes, which can feel like an eternity when trying to keep three young ones occupied. In addition our kids were a little too small to see over the rails of the boat, but due to taxi regulations they had to stay seated for safety reasons. So as we headed out to Fort McHenry, we found ourselves describing much of the interesting sights to the kids while bear hugging a kicking and screaming High Five. After a picnic lunch, we headed back to the Inner Harbor and lost more and more steam as we went. Our spirit of adventure at dangerously low levels, we decided to skip the water taxi ride and just drive to the Whole Foods at Harbor East. From there, we fled Baltimore  and set up for the night camping just outside of Washington D.C. (we thought it impossible too) at Greenbelt Park run by the National Park Service.


We slept in later than we had hoped, so traffic into D.C. the next day was a bit rough. We pressed on and soon arrived at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park. Our last visit had been three years ago, so we were excited for High Five to have his first visit. Highlights included the pandas, the Pacific octopus, gibbons, the Rain Forest walk, and Five Spice blazing an unauthorized path through one of the many construction zones to avoid a long and demoralizing backtrack. Our drive out of Washington D.C. along Route 1 was full of famous landmarks and sites enjoyed by the older Fives (the only ones still awake).

While going into much more detail about our last two city escapades is just too exhausting at this point, please feel free to check out more of our photos of Baltimore and Washington D.C. at our Flickr Photostream. In the meantime we are excited to enjoy a slower stretch of Route 1.