No…not forever. Just for 8 weeks. Upon arriving home from our last trip, Matt’s work was so pleased with the results of his trip that they asked him to return for a longer time. They wanted us to leave almost immediately, but because we already had our trip to Los Cerritos planned, we delayed leaving until February 29th. Even so, we only had about 3 weeks to prepare and we arrived home Sunday night from our trip to Baja and left Monday morning for Mexico City.
Our 3 weeks of planning was crazy. We had to find a place to live, pack, get international health insurance, figure out childcare for Theo (which is still in process), and figure out how to bring Mae along with us. Although it was quite an ordeal, we ended up finding a great apartment through Airbnb (Matt’s work would have arranged housing for us, but I didn’t want to be in some corporate apartment in the city suburbs). Luckily, they are paying for our housing though, so we just closed up our apartment at home and left it as is. As for Mae, at the suggestion of one of my co-workers, we figured out how to certify her as an emotional support dog, which allowed her to ride in the airplane cabin with us and not have to be put below in the cargo hold. We still had to get all her paperwork together, including getting a health certificate within 5 days of travel, and do the ESA certification.
So, Monday morning, February 29th, we set off for the Tijuana Airport via the Cross Border Xpress just as we had on our previous trip a few weeks ago. CBX was once again an easy process (we hadn’t been able to print our boarding passes before leaving though and their system was down, so it took a few minutes for them to get permission for us to show the itinerary on our phone). However, when we arrived in the TJ airport it was crazy. Heavy fog had delayed and canceled many flights the day before so everything was full. We stood in line to check our bags for over an hour and barely made it to our gate in time to board. We had reserved an empty seat through Optiontown again and it had been confirmed; however, the flight was full and the extra seat in our row reserved. So, Matt, Theo, Mae and I crammed into the window and middle seat. We were quite the cozy crew. Needless to say, we were pretty uncomfortable for the whole flight and had a cranky toddler who had missed his nap. Luckily, upon landing everything went smoothly. We collected our bags, got a taxi and made it to apartment with no problems.
Our first week has been spent settling in. Matt had to go to work first thing Tuesday morning and worked long hours all week. His office is pretty far from our apartment in the outer suburbs of the City (we chose to live in the central La Condesa neighborhood so we could easily walk to things and experience the true city life) and he spent 2-3 hours each day sitting in traffic in a taxi. Tomorrow’s goal is to figure out the city’s extensive ecobici (bike share) program so he can hopefully shave off about half the time from his commute (the last 2.5 km literally takes 45 minutes).
Theo, Mae and I spent the week figuring out where things are in our neighborhood and getting our apartment set up. We found the grocery store and pharmacy, as well as a pet store, rotisserie chicken place, tortilleria (1/2 kilo of homemade tortillas for 50 cents), smoothie/juice stand, fruit stand, and taco and torta street stalls. The majority of our week was spent taking long walks along Calle Amsterdam, through Parque Mexico, or into the La Condesa and Roma Norte neighborhoods to explore. We took Mae to the dog park in Parque Mexico and played at the playground in Parque Espana each day.
On our first day we toured two different Montessori preschools, hoping to enroll Theo. One had run out of space between when I called to make the appointment the week before we left and when we got here. The other seems like a great program, but the enrollment process is tedious and we are still working on getting papers together and purchasing all of the materials (including a shade tree, bean bag, shoebox lined with cloth, washcloths, mini-backpack, multiple changes of clothing, and more). In the meantime, someone recommended another preschool that has a more flexible schedule so we have an appointment to tour it Monday morning. We also had a nanny come on Thursday for the day to watch Theo while I worked a bit. Theo wasn’t too keen on letting me work though and although she was very nice, he didn’t really warm up to her. She’s coming back next week for a few days and I’m hoping to be able to leave for a few hours to work at a cafe nearby if he’ll tolerate it.
One of our highlights of the week was attending a Gymboree class Wednesday evening before Matt got home from work. It was pretty rainy and cloudy all week, but Wednesday was the worst and we were barely able to get out of the house. Theo was going a bit stir crazy, and so I searched the internet frantically for an indoor play option. It felt silly to do such an American type activity, but Theo had a blast running around the facility, crawling up and down the structures, throwing balls, and dancing to songs. He probably had more fun than all the other children combined – he was certainly the loudest and most enthusiastic about every activity. I also finally got to spend some time connecting with other mothers and even met a mom and her son (also 18 months) who live in our same building and we walked home together.
Today, Saturday, Matt finally didn’t have to go to work and we had some great quality family time. We took an early morning stroll to get juices and smoothies and let pup stretch her legs. We came home for a breakfast of egg and cheese sandwiches and some dad and Theo playtime while I tried to catch up on some work. Then we walked Mae over to one of the pet stores nearby and dropped her off for a bath then continued on to the playground at Parque Espana. Theo has become incredibly daring over our last few visits to the playground and now insists on going down the biggest of the slides all on his own. The first time he went facing forward and caught air – I caught him and he landed safely. I was terrified. He was thrilled. We’ve since convinced him to go down feet first on his belly.
After a quick lunch, Theo took his midday nap, Matt picked up Mae, and I worked again for a few hours. When Theo woke up, we headed over the Bosque de Chapultepec, which is the largest park in the City and home to many museums, historic sites, a lake and the zoo. We visited the park on our last trip, but arrived too late and everything was closed. Today the park was teeming with activity. Our first stop was the Libreria Porrua, and awesome steel and glass bookstore at the entrance off Paseo de la Reforma that is built around a huge tree. The bookstore has a children’s section that can be reached via a small slide, which Theo went down over and over. We then walked around the lake past all of the various food and trinket stalls to the zoo. The Chapultepec Zoo is the best known zoo in Mexico and is totally free! It was also Theo’s first visit to a zoo, and as expected, he loved watching all the animals. We saw lemurs, camels, a giraffe, a giant panda, Borrego sheep and some other animals. We hung out until closing at 5pm and then trekked back to the entrance of the park to catch a taxi home. We then made our way over to Mercado Roma for some churros con chocolate, a treat we had discovered last time. We then walked a loop around Parque Mexico on Calle Amsterdam enjoying the warm evening and lively atmosphere. To top off the day we had a burger delivered to our apartment after putting Theo to bed and Matt ran out to grab a salad.
We are looking forward to the rest of our time here. Matt’s long hours at work are definitely tiring and I’ve had a lot of difficulty trying to work without childcare for Theo, but we’ve had fun exploring the city so far and really feel like we are immersing ourselves in the culture. We are speaking an incredible amount of Spanish, making friends, and trying lots of great food.
We hope everyone at home is doing well and we miss you all already!