First, some positive reinforcement. I have done such a good job catching up on the blog during our time in Asia. I wrote our last two Europe posts at the start of our Asia leg two months ago and in that time have not only managed to complete all my Mexico/South America posts but also kept fairly up-to-date with our Asia posts. There is a strong possibility that when we arrive back in the US in a few weeks, I’ll be completely up-to-date with this blog. At the very least I expect to be fully caught up before we leave for Europe at the end of July. Go me!
Even though we’re two-thirds of the way through Leg 3 now, and we’ve continued learning, the specific lessons from Leg 2 remain fresh in my mind, especially because they will significantly impact the way we do this travel life going forward. So, here are the main things we learned on Leg 2, Mexico and Colombia.
Two Months is Too Long
Our seven weeks in Puerto Escondido, Mexico, confirmed what we suspected as we wrapped our six weeks in Budapest last summer: we really don’t need much more than a month in most places. Anything longer than a couple of weeks gives us enough time to feel settled and like we don’t have to rush around to experience the main attractions of a location. After about the four-week mark, we start to get itchy feet. This was further confirmed in Medellin, where we had a five-week stay. We loved our time there, but we were definitely ready to leave when the time came.
We’re Not Beach People
We’ve taken fun beach vacations in the past (looking at you, Jamaica!). We definitely like the beach. But we do not need to go to the beach every day for weeks on end. We’d much rather have access to woods than a beach. As nice as the beaches of Puerto Escondido were, we just stopped feeling it after a few weeks. No judgment upon people who are beach people. It is just not us. I’m not saying we’ll never do a long stay in a beach-town again, but it will definitely be awhile before we do. We just have other priorities.
We Need to Go Home for the Holidays
We enjoyed Thanksgiving and Christmas in Puerto Escondido, but it was TOUGH being away from family. We’ve always spent Christmas with at least one set of family in the past and as far as I recall, we had only missed one prior Thanksgiving in my hometown (for our awesome trip to Norway and Denmark in 2011).
Luckily, we had already planned for our 2019 travel to wrap up right before Thanksgiving so this year we will be home for the holidays. In 2020 and beyond, our vision for our travel schedule is to be on the road from January to April, home for May and June (including Mother’s Day and Father’s Day), then travel July to October, and be home for November and December. This will give us longer, less hectic stays home and allow us to spend the major holidays with the people we love. Missing the major holidays is hard on us and our parents, so it is worth it to plan our travel around making sure we can be at home during these times.
We Love Mexico
Since the last three lessons may have sounded like strikes against Puerto Escondido, I just want to say that we really enjoyed our time there, we were so glad we picked it as our first extended Mexican home, and we absolutely love Mexico in general. We know we’ll be returning to Mexico again and again in the future (including Mexico City in January 2020!) and I could see us settling there longer term in the future. There are so many advantages to being based in Mexico (in our home time zone, easy flights home, great food, fun culture, fascinating history, affordable healthcare). Our 2+ months there at the start of this leg reinforced all these advantages and more.
We Can Be Healthy Anywhere
We worried a little going into this leg about being able to eat healthy in Mexico and Colombia. Our experience of Mexican food at home is very heavy and I think we pictured a lot of chips and cheese and overindulging. In fact, living in Mexico is the opposite experience. True Mexican food isn’t at all heavy and often uses fresh, healthy ingredients. Portion sizes in restaurants were always reasonable and we had access to tons of delicious fruits and vegetables to cook at home. With no conscious effort, I dropped 12 pounds during our time in Mexico (swimming every day helped!).
As I mentioned in my Colombia posts, we’d also heard that the food there is rather unhealthy, but that was not our experience at all. In addition to being able to eat healthily, Chad committed to a jogging regimen that he really enjoyed on the dirt roads in PE and joined a gym in Medellin. Yes, we could easily have eaten fried, fatty foods in both these countries, but it was not at all hard to make healthy choices.
All in all, Leg 2 with its long stays, lovely pace, and high quality of life at a low cost was really great for us. We look forward to spending more time in Mexico and South America in the future.