We spend a lot of time trying to keep ourselves comfortable. In America, many of us are blessed with a comfortable home, setting our thermostat to the perfect temperature, choosing from an unlimited selection of shoes and clothing, eating foods that bring us pleasure, and having entertainment at the touch of a screen or button. We are spoiled, and so are our kids.
I’m not complaining or saying I don’t want all these amenities; quite the opposite. I just realize that it’s what we know, and often we aren’t even aware of these blessings on a daily basis. But, coming back from Mexico from a 5 star resort, I do recognize and appreciate America even more!
We were not slummin’ it by any means. There was great service, food and drinks around the clock, and a nice pool and beach to lounge at. Overall, it was very nice. So, I’ll admit that what I’m reflecting about from our trip was the benefit of being out of our comfort zone a little.
Now, everyone in Mexico speaks English so that wasn’t an issue. I even threw out an ‘Hola’ or two! What we disliked most was the food. Boy, are we spoiled with great, fresh foods in this country. And, we have a zillion restaurants to choose from too. But, the first night when we sat down to eat the unlimited buffet food, our noses were turned up! Brody drank a coke but we were all a little worried thinking about the week ahead in food and weak drinks. That’s not enough to ruin a trip, though.
We managed to get by, although I’d bet Brody lost weight at this all-inclusive! I guess we are a little picky and conditioned to what we like. So, the food was one thing we were so excited to come home to. And, then there’s nothing like your own bed and pillows after a long trip. Paradise!…
But mostly, it’s just the comfort and security of your familiar surroundings that are so much appreciated when you spend time away. Not only does traveling open your eyes to different cultures and beautiful places, but it also opens your eyes to the beauty of your every-day life at home too!
The most uncomfortable or anxious we were on the trip was the day we ventured out to hip Tulum. This wasn’t a guided tour to the ruins or anything. Nope. We took the advice of a resort worker and rode the bus. (I’m always about saving $$ so we skipped the private, safe tour and just walked on down to the highway).
Now, first we had to play Frogger and hop across 4 lanes of interstate traffic to get to the other side to catch the bus. (I’m always imagining Anna falling down, since she still does often, so that started my anxiety, gripping her hand when we had to stop mid-highway with trucks speeding by!). Then, a bus, which is more like a nice van, quickly stopped (so far, so good because we had the bus stop correct). At this point, you could tell ‘Uncle Beardy’ wasn’t feeling so excited about this outing either. Bo would have opted for the private taxi too but we wanted to save a peso while also having a more authentic experience!
When the driver asked where we were going, he told us to hop in. Upon opening the door, we thought there must have been a mistake. The van was already full of passengers. “No. Get in”, the driver told us so we did as he led us to believe that the other vans are full. Uncle Beardy got to ride shot-gun with the driver and other worker. Luckily, there was one seat for Nana AND Anna to share. So, that left the floor for the rest of us. Brody took a seat on some luggage. I squeezed and squatted down in between two seats. And, Bo kneeled on the floor.
My nervous laughter began as soon as the doors shut and all the locals gave us Americans a glance. Mom was convinced a couple were Mexican drug dealers, and I was wondering if any of them had guns on them. Meanwhile, Brody was stone-faced and visibly worried. This wasn’t his thing! But, Nana felt safe as Bo as our bodyguard, being a couple heads taller and wider than most Mayans!
After riding for way longer than expected, some of the other passengers got off about 15 minutes later. We were able to get a seat, although Bo’s shin was already bruised from it slamming into something metal every time the van hit a bump. And, my feet were a little tingly from squatting for way more than my 40-year-old body should! Nevertheless, Tulum was just a few more minutes down the highway and much larger than we had expected.
At this point, I should remind you that some children, like my son, listen and hang onto every word that they hear. And, I might have mentioned a long time ago when we were planning this trip that I wasn’t sure if we should go to Mexico because it might not be safe. He may have overheard me tell Bo that I read someone got mugged on a bike during the day on TripAdvisor. So, again, he wasn’t feel too thrilled with this little side-trip.
We made it into Tulum just to walk around , try some non-resort food, and to shop around for a souvenir. Indeed, the streets were lined with market after market of Mexican skull art, pottery, sombreros, jewelry, those lovely embroidered dresses and shirts that Anna didn’t want 😦 , and art. It was just what I was imagining, and I immediately felt safer as we began wandering around.
Brody, on the other hand, did not. When he completely stops talking, he’s either exhausted but most likely he’s really worried. Well, he was scared. We were hoping that a cheese quesadilla would help snap him out of it, but even after finding a restaurant and getting some food, he did not. In fact, his unease grew into a full-fledge anxiety attack. Tears began rolling down his cheeks as he told me he didn’t feel well. With music blaring and strobe lights in the bar area, we exited for some fresh air as he looked like he was about to get sick.
I sent Anna to get Bo because I really didn’t want him vomiting on the sidewalk. So, Bo took him to the not-so-clean (as in never-been-cleaned) restroom. There was barely enough room to close the swinging door in the women’s restroom that opened to the restaurant. And, there also were no toilet seats! So, Brody said there was no way he could even get sick in there! I took him back outside to calm him down.
Of course, he wasn’t saying he was worried. He “felt sick”, and I’m sure he did. What can you do when you’re on the edge of a breakdown? You control what you can control so we started with breathing. Breathe in to the count of 7, hold for 5, and blow out for 9. Repeat. I was doing it with him (I didn’t want him puking right there!). Then, we went on a walk. A distraction is always good and the body needs something to do. We peaked in some shops and he started feeling better. The tears stopped, although he wasn’t exactly happy. He was ok.
Sometimes, that’s all you can hope for, for things to be ok. It’s ok to feel anxious and I told him that’s all is was. After the rest of the crew finished lunch, we began to walk around some more. He wasn’t excited to be there. In fact, he was so ready to get back to secured Grand Sierentis! But, we wanted to see a little more and am so glad we went down some quaint side streets with amazing little restaurants even if Uncle Beardy was not. (Paranoia may run in the family)! But when you let a worry steer your life, you’d miss out on the side streets and real life. Life wouldn’t be as colorful.
(Look closely above at Brody’s face when he spots a machete in the back seat, confirming his dark thoughts that we are in a dangerous land!)
Being out of our comfort zone adds excitement and zeal for some, and anxiety and unease for others like Brody. But when it’s all said and done, the end result is that we gain perspective. We gain greater insight into our likes and dislikes, our fears, and also what coping strategies help us most.
Once back inside the gates of our resort, Brody immediately began chatting away again, relieved to be back and safe, and not “mugged”. (He later admitted he was afraid he was going to get mugged.) Quickly, I recapped what had happened and he agreed he thought is was an anxiety attack. Then, we reflected on what had worked when he practiced breathing and went for a walk. He has strategies that worked. In the future, I hope this will help….
Because there will be more uncomfortable situations, both unchosen and chosen. To avoid them would be to miss out on creating some of our strongest memories. We grow when we face our fears. And many times, we may realize that things really weren’t as scary as we made ourselves believe. Or, even better, we can celebrate the little things that we take for granted (take below when Brody was ready for dinner only a short time after we returned to the resort and chose to dress up; happy times again!)
HOME SWEET HOME!