Did I hear you say Quesadilla?

The post about FOOOOOOD! If you are a lover of tortilla, Guanajuato is the place for you. Unlike more touristy parts of Mexico (Cancun, etc) that caters to the desires of its tourist with chains like margaritaville, Joe’s Crab Shack, etc Guanajuato is littered with street vendors most of which are making some version of a quesadilla stuffed with cactus and chihuahua cheese (I think it comes from the chihuahua district of Mexico). I cannot seem to get enough quesadilla in its many forms, Rhodes and lux are now tiring of the regularity, but lux’s love of engaging the corner quesadilla man is far stronger than his desire for frozen microwave pizza. So I continue to get quesadillas.

Fruit plays a very large part in the local cuisine, even more so than in the u.s.a. Many of us have a constant produce flow into our homes at dollar amounts that would shock these people, but fruit is everywhere here and so reasonably priced. There are street carts selling containers of fruit with creme drizzled on it, fruit for breakfast and the fruit juices are divine. After our brief experience here I will most definitely look at the Hispanic isle of our grocery store in much different light. The other morning lux said “the oranges here look horrible, but they make amazing orange juice.” We had this wonderful conversation about allowing things to ripen the way they were intended. In the u.s. we pick things way too early to ship around the country and appear pristine in stores so that you want to buy them, but here they are harvested when they are actually ripe or when they fall off the tree and they are not treated with anything so when you buy them on the street they look a bit rough, but they’re perfecto!

Our sugar intake here has been interesting. My mother would claim that they just haven’t quite tapped the true potential of sugar here, which I’d have to agree at least in the things we have tried. The ice cream is odd, not very sweet. The candy tends to be spicy. At least by American standards. The boys were so excited to use their pesos to buy something from a candy vendor and they bought what appeared to be a mashed fruit roll up on a stick, but once a few bites in they started using words like; watermelon-ish, spicy-kind of, that seedy thing, it’s too hot. Very odd phrases to describe candy. All of these ‘observations’ could easily be chalked up to the United States’ over use of sugar as well, but it’s just that, personal observation.

Sticky, spicy, hot, seedy, watermelon thing on a stick.

For our long bus ride we tried to buy some snacks. We bought “regular nacho” Doritos. I even asked the girl if they were regular, not hot Doritos. She said yes, no no no. Hot hot hot. Their normal version of our normal is significantly hotter across the board. It was the same with Cheetos. So if those are spicy I can’t even fathom what the things with flames on the labels taste like.

Let’s talk about Rhodes’ bowels for a moment. . .corn (elote or maize) is fairly common here and most places have a corn tortilla option, but it turns out that the flour tortillas do not bother him. After I saw numerous ladies making the flour tortillas by hand this past week, we decided to give it a try and viola! He didn’t get sick!

Lux’s new favorite, refried black beans, are a breakfast staple here. Turns out we’ve been eating them wrong the whole time and they are delicious with eggs!

And just like anywhere else in the world, the best places to eat are where the locals eat. Lunch at Mercado hildalgo (hildalgo market) was wonderful and so inexpensive. We had huge helpings of food made right in front of us for the u.s. equivalent of $3 a plate.

Water and fruit, filtered water is easy to find here and in abundance and dirt cheap. I’m no longer worried about the fruit being contaminated, I wash it anyway with veggie wash just like I do at home in the u.s. but I’m no longer doing it out of fear.

There are so many incredible things about this place, the food is just one of them, but I’ll tell you more about the tourism and people later.

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Getting to Guanajuato, Mexico

Very early Sunday morning I woke the boys to get on the hotel shuttle to the airport. Not knowing what the day would hold, if we would make it to our final destination as planned, if that destination would actually have the reservation I had made four months prior, and even more if my massive checked bag would make it there.

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We said gooodbye to daddy at the TSA pre check. Lux tried not to cry, I tried not to linger too long for fear that I would and Rhodes said “I’ll see you when we get back dad!” Completely oblivious to the fact that we won’t no matter how many times we have talked about it. We went through security with no issues, not removing anything, including electronics and shoes. TSA pre check was worth every penny with only one experience. We got to our gate and in the first 10 minutes of a 30 minute ‘wait to board’ I had the entire crowd terrified that they’d be seated near us on the flight. Atlas was a tired mess, the boys never stop talking. One man told me I was his hero, a grandpa made conversation with he big boys about Moana and frozen the two things he knew they had seen that he knew all too well. Another woman inquired about their ages, stating that hers were the same distance apart, which choired a “mine too” and another and another from the women in line behind us, followed by a “you have the sympathy of the crowd with you this morning.” Ah yes thank you, sympathy that’s what I need.

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We ate on the gate floor, a breakfast of fruit with a smidge of cheese. I was praying the baby would sleep on this short, but potentially miserable early flight into charlotte, nc. For enquiring minds, it was $100 more per ticket to fly out of Charlotte as opposed to connecting to charlotte from Raleigh. Annoying. Anyway, Atlas was perfectly happy until we started boarding the plane. When I got to the threshold between the gate tunnel and airplane door and he could hear the noises outside roaring he lost it. He screamed, blood curdling screams, from the cockpit door to our seats in row 27, we were the last group to load. I walked the entire length of the plane with a screaming child, the entire plane full and watching (praying we weren’t sitting close by). I felt like I must have grown a 2 foot beard in the last hour as the freak show passed through the plane Atlas calmed down and didn’t make a peep that flight.

Atlas slept off and on for both flights and overall they all did wonderful on two flights totaling 4.5 hours. When we got to Mexico City, we waited in the customs/immigration line for what seemed like a life time due to some human factors of starvation and sleep deprivation.

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When we finally emerged on the Mexican sidewalk we got a taxi and tried to communicate that we needed to go to the north bus terminal (autobuses del Norte Mexico). It appeared that he did not understand where we needed to go, though I thought my language interpretation was going ‘ok.’ He continued to ask for more information so I tried to supply him with an address. Thinking to myself that the cab driver should, most definitely, know where the north bus terminal is???? How is it even possible that he doesn’t??? Eventually I mentioned something to mom about Guanajuato and the bus driver experienced a huge epiphany with an “Ahhhhhh Guanajuato! SI OK!” Why he felt that our destination (9 hours later) was important information to our taxi destination I’ll never know.

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We arrived at the bus terminal, somehow and with little struggle I might add, I managed to order four bus tickets and choose seats on a primera bus to Guanajuato at 1600. We tried to eat lunch, a nun tried to help me order, but in the end my five orders of food was handed to me as two orders with two fountain drinks.*facepalm* we loaded up on snacks from a shop for the long , 5 hour, bus ride. After paying for my first public restroom since the Turkish toilet hole incident of 2009. The bathroom ate our money and we went to catch our bus.

The bus experience as a whole was wonderful. I did bust my shin trying to get on when my suitcase fell over, taking me down with it. The girl that checked our tickets handed out a bag of chips and drink per ticket, nice touch. The bus was so comfortable, has a bathroom on the back, reclining seats and each seat has a tv playing Spanish movies. Well American movies in Spanish. The boys watched ‘the secret life of pets’ on repeat in Spanish. Atlas was not a bus fan, he wanted to walk around, but of course couldn’t much so hours 3 through 5 were rough and dark, which didn’t help.

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The bus pulled into Guanajuato at 9pm in pure darkness and cold. We grabbed our luggage and looked for an available taxi, no taxi were found. Eventually my mom tried to call one, still not sure if the one we got into was the one we called or not, but we finally made it to our hotel room around 10:30pm. After some questions and trial and error we finally got hot water flowing and showers taken. One of the best showers to date. I can only compare that shower to those I’ve taken post child birth. Washing the stress, anxiety, facade away and emerging new and ready to take on a new role, a new adventure. We went to bed relieved and woke up rested to take on the city and everything it had to offer, after food of course.

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Preparing for Goodbye

We are down to a few days left with my husband Greg. He is deploying for 6+ months while the kids and I are traveling. You might think that preparing for a deployment is solemn and depressing and I’m sure it can be and believe me it has had it’s moments, but a lot of the preparation for this deployment has come with some joy. We are doing our final “things” as a family of 5 for right now. We celebrated new year’s at great wolf lodge. We have attended winter birthday parties as a family, enjoyed neighbors and tackled ‘honey do’ lists, but there is also a plethora of things happening here that you wouldn’t naturally think of. For one, a deployment binder has been created and meticulously added to over the course of the last month.

Tomorrow I will do a short live video covering some of the items that we have chosen to include in our deployment binder. AND I will give you the free link to download your own template if you should ever need it. This life that we live is stunning and awe-inspiring in so many ways. There are many sorrows and silver linings to Greg’s deployment. I get the “oh you poor poor thing” comment quite regularly, or the “I’m so sorry” as if he is dying. The kids and I are ok, I’m more worried about Greg actually. The bigger boys will miss him, there’s no doubt about that, but they have been away from him for the better part of the last six months and in that time we have had plenty of conversations about this ship on the horizon. I, though love the adult conversation and companionship of my husband, am looking forward to nights of good books, new friendships, cultivating old friendships, visitors, getting to know my grandmother as an adult, raising our children on the edge of the world knowing I have Greg’s blessing and that this is what he wants for them too.

I would have never guessed 7 years ago when Greg proposed that here I would be all domesticated (insert chuckles), raising three boys, homeschooling and married to a Marine pilot preparing for deployment. I would have told you then that there was no way, why would I deliberately put myself through that? There’s no way I could handle that. But now? I’m not even nervous. I have a general idea of what to expect and even lower expectations in regards to communication, agendas, timelines. I have never been more emotionally flexible in my life and I’m not afraid. I’m hopeful that Greg will enjoy himself where he can, we will try to rendezvous where we can and the kids and I will be our usual busy selves, but this time we won’t be staring at his empty chair at the dinner table.

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Last week, Luxor asked me “mom do you think things will be different when we get back from our big trip?” I responded with a simple, yes sweetheart, very different. I can’t help but wonder how the boys will be different, not size wise by height and weight, but the size of their spirit, their zest to know more about the world around them, their level of responsibility, their awareness. . .will they struggle horribly to re-assimilate back into American culture like I have for the last 10 years? For their sake, I hope not, but lucky for them this trip to Mexico and then abroad for 5+ months is just the beginning.

Greg and I, July 2011, 4 months after engagement and 3 months to wedding day. The beginning looked pretty good 😉
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