As we planned our departure from Europe in early February, we pondered the route home. Our daughter lives in Mexico, we hadn’t seen her for over a year or met her boyfriend yet; our son in NZ was keen to meet up somewhere in the world, but was particularly keen for snowy Canada. We decided to head west to reunite our family in Mexico, but via our favourite ski destination, Whistler, to ski the beautiful powdery slopes… oh, and meet up with our son.
After a train trip from Barcelona and two days in Paris, we boarded our flight to Canada. Budget constraints meant we needed to fly via Montreal, rather than direct, and endure a 7 hour layover.
The weather in Montreal had been extremely cold, down in the -20°C range, with snow and ice we hoped would not disrupt our travels. It was pretty interesting watching the de-icing process from our window seat on the plane.
Once again, the length of the flights and the layover made for a very long trip – about 24 hours from arriving at the Paris airport to arriving at our hotel in Vancouver, mostly traveling in daylight hours which messed up our internal clocks somewhat. We took a couple of days recovery in Vancouver, once again enjoying our favourite cafe (Medina) for lunch and acclimatising to the cold after the moderate temperatures in Spain. We took time to stock up on some winter wear at local op shops, as we knew it was only a week we would need the additional layers for.
It was lovely to meet up with our son again in Whistler; he had already been there a couple of days catching up with friends. We love Whistler village, wandering the snowy lanes and enjoying the views up to the mountains above. Poor Chris had a lot of time to do this due to his shoulder injury preventing him from experiencing the ski slopes this time. Thankfully his ski pass was fully refunded, and we only had 5 nights here for him to endure the agony of hearing about the fantastic time Ryan and Carolyn had on the snow each day. We had a couple of absolutely stunning days with fresh powder and blue skies.
Our flight from Vancouver to Cancun took most of a day, a less than optimal experience on Air Canada in terms of service… but finally we got out through the Mexican immigration and customs to meet up with our daughter before driving south towards Tulum. Finally we were all reunited as a family again.
Our first experience of Mexico left a bit of a sour taste in our mouths as firstly we tried to find somewhere to eat and then purchase petrol for our rental car (it came with about 2 litres in the tank). Sadly, we ended up defaulting to Burger King for our first taste of “Mexican” food, and then got badly burnt by the petrol station attendant handing us the wrong change when we half filled the tank. What should have cost 200 pesos ended up costing over 500 – it was dark, we were newbies who didn’t know the currency and they were too quick with the fingers. It was a very bad introduction to Mexico, but we learned from it.
Arriving at our condo in Tulum much later that night, we scrambled into bed looking forward to the days ahead to catch up with both of our kids. The highlight of our trip here was a day tour with Absolute Adventures to Chichen Itza, getting picked up at 7 am and whisked off inland to this amazing site. Our guide ensured we got the stories of life in Mayan times and the grisly fate that losers in the ball games came to, plus the architecture and decorations that had been so well-preserved here. It turns out that there is a “new” site at least 1000 years old and an “old” site, dating much earlier. The astronomical observatory was not a lot different in design to what you might see today.
We took in the history and snapped lots of photos before heading down the road again to a cenote. These sinkholes are often filled with crystal clear water and more often than not fish and bats live there too. We climbed in and enjoyed the atmosphere in the cave like atmosphere of the two cenotes our tour introduced us to.
We enjoyed our five-day sojourn in Tulum, exploring beaches and old towns, ancient ruins and modern resorts. We tried to see where the turtle sanctuary was, but the seas were too rough to swim in the ocean so we defaulted instead to snorkeling in the lagoon, which cost a lot to get into and didn’t really offer a lot, except for being dive-bombed by the large birds hunting for fish.
Our family time was almost over, too soon Ryan would leave us, but before that we enjoyed a day in Mexico City all together. The city was huge, but what we saw seemed clean and safe. Plenty of interesting sights and places to sit and enjoy the views, take in a bit of history and eat good food.
We bade farewell to Ryan as he headed to the US and then home; we would see him back in New Zealand a month later, but now we were headed to Katie’s new home town, about a two-hour bus ride north of Mexico City…