How We Spent the Year: 2018 Edition

It’s that time of year! You know, ye olde end of year blog post tyme. I love to remember the good things that happened during the year. It helps me focus on the good, instead of the less than stellar things. I don’t brush off those less than stellar things, however. They are included, too.

Overall, 2018 treated me pretty well. With less than two weeks left, I’ll state it was overall good. I’m thankful for this, too. It’s been a tough year for far too many of my friends. Watching the year unfold helped me to appreciate all the amazing things in my life that much more (especially my kids and family).

If you need a refresher, here are the highlights from 2017 (which include our move to Mexico from the USA).

Let’s dive in, shall we?

Stats

Miles traveled: approximately 11, 590 miles

Airplanes taken: 13

Cars rented: 4

Pools swam in: 9

Mayan Ruins visited: 3

Doctor Who Lego Sets Received: 1

When I look at the stats, I feel pretty great about our year’s travels.

January

We spent the first day of January in Ohio, where it was SO FREAKING COLD. I loved being in the warm, cozy hotel room, but going outside caused my fingers to hurt. We’d spent the previous 17 days in a hotel room with the kids. Of course, we have family there and visited their house almost daily. The hotel was just fine. The only exception was that their indoor pool was so cold, I could barely handle it. Even so, we swam every day. This year, we are trying a brand new hotel and I really hope the pool is a little bit warmer!

The rest of January was uneventful on a travel front.

Read about how I felt about our first US visit after moving to a new country!

This picture is from our trip to Ixtapa, last December.

February

February was another no travel month. Right around the end of January and into February is when my health related symptoms first started appearing. I’d later find out that I had a low red blood cell count and all the symptoms of anemia, but the mysterious symptoms that have lasted most of 2018 remain a mystery.

There was an incident of coworkers of my husband’s getting robbed in a highway robbery in a different state in December and a killing in January near my house, so we found ourselves voluntarily staying home (from traveling) for several months. Yes, months.

It was around this time I found out that another expat family was leaving in July, a year earlier than their intended departure date. Two others were also scheduled to leave at that time already and I was starting to feel sad about it.

I wrote about the most ridiculous items I’ve forgotten to pack (since having kids). I also started planning our spring break trip and I had some decision fatigue from it.

March

In March, I wrote about my favorite accessory, the menstrual cup. It’s a great item for regular use and/or while traveling. It’s a topic I’ve wanted to address for awhile.

We left at the end of March for our spring break trip. We visited Chichen Itza this month. I loved our visit! We started out staying overnight in Piste, right next to the ruins.

The famous pyramid of Chichen Itza. Three quarters of the pyramid is not restored and the remaining third is restored, showing up as a brighter, off white stone color.

Chichen Itza, end of March, 2018.

April

The bulk of our spring break traveling happened in April. This trip included attempting to visit the Ek Balam ruins (which we didn’t see), Tulum and the Tulum ruins, Coba ruins, and Cancun. I seriously blew our travel budget on this trip. It was supposed to be a budget sightseeing trip and it was… not. I massively underestimated the cost of food in all of the locations, especially Cancun. At the time, we didn’t own a car in the US, so we had to spring for full coverage on our rental car. It more than doubled the price of the car rental. Also, I highly recommend full coverage in Mexico. While the roads we traveled in the Yucatan were fairly well maintained, the rest of Mexico may not be so well kept. There are also topes (speed bumps) everywhere and they aren’t always clearly marked.

Read all about Coba versus Chichen Itza versus Tulum ruins. I also wrote more about Tulum and what to expect, as well as our itinerary in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. I really did enjoy that trip.

When we returned, we discovered our water heater was leaking. It was cleaned, the leak fixed, and we moved on with our lives.

May

In May, we headed to Guanajuato City in Guanajuato, Mexico. I’d hoped our overnight trip would put that travel spark back into our lives. Put gently, that did not happen. It was easily the worst trip we’d had since starting to travel with kids. The highlights of the trip were riding the funicular with my son and taking the tour at the end of the night. Oh, one more thing. Our hotel had the best coffee I’ve had in a long time. I’d visit again solely for that.

May was also the month were my health symptoms got worse. I wasn’t eating very much and my stomach was hurting most of the time, as well as several other things. One doctor tried to diagnose me with typhoid using an old and unreliable test. My friend recommended a different doctor, who confirmed that I did not have typhoid or parasites.

Due to those health issues, this was a bad month for me and resulted in me crying in the middle of the mall in my city. Yes, I felt like an idiot.

I still kind of do, since I broke down in front of my Spanish teacher.

I love this picture of my friend’s son with a praying mantis.

June

June was more of the same. One of the expat families left early. The other two families were packing up. It was a depressing time. However, this is the month that I learned another family decided to COME BACK TO MEXICO! I was ecstatic, even with my health still in decline. My doctor started me on something for my stomach. It helped a lot, but I still wasn’t able to eat much.

Early in the month, I had a day where I felt so bad physically that had I been in the US, I’d have gone to the emergency room. I didn’t do that here because it was a Saturday that my husband was working. So, I did the best I could and I felt better the next day.

It was around this time that I stopped posting as frequently on the blog. I was continuously updating behind the scenes and still working on the blog. The school year in Mexico goes into the first week of July, so I was bummed we couldn’t visit home this month. This was partially because my childhood friend’s mom died (and her mom was still young and vibrant and such a wonderful person) and I wanted to attend her funeral. This was the start of a tough period of time for multiple friends: some lost parents, two different people lost beloved young teens in their lives.

I did have a birthday party for my kids mid-month so that we could incorporate the expat kids who would be moving home early. It was also confirmed my best neighborhood friend was moving back to her hometown several hours away (in Mexico). It made me sad that another great family was moving away!

July

I wrote a post about all the mistakes I’d made recently as an expat. I also hinted about how I’d lost my desire to travel. It wasn’t a new feeling. That feeling had been there since February. I’d been so tired and everything felt so ridiculously difficult. I didn’t even know if I’d be able to continue blogging. I didn’t want to travel OR write.

My husband came to the rescue. He wanted to visit our families. He booked the flights and then called me, “I booked the flights. We leave in one week,” he said.

Just like that, I was excited to travel again. We started our trip visiting the new Children’s Garden at Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, Ohio. The only problem was that we weren’t able to find a rental car for our first day. There were enough events happening that none of car rental places at the airport had any cars left. We secured one the next day. We also learned our lesson about trying to book our rental car the same day as our flight.

My husband spent one week with us in the US and then returned to Mexico. The kids and I spent an additional week traveling in Ohio. I learned a lot about the kids and myself. We ended up having an amazing moment of connection that really helped us out. I won’t hesitate to travel solo with my kids the next time the opportunity arises.

When my husband returned to our house in Mexico, we discovered our power had been shut off. We didn’t pay it because we’d never received the bill (I had asked our concierge to look into it but it was too late). They were changing to a system where people can pay online and didn’t print and deliver the bill for some people. So though it wasn’t our fault, our power got cut (literally) and was off the whole week we were gone. I’m still upset at all the food we ended up losing. Thankfully, our fish survived.

The Pyramid of the Moon.

August

After returning home to Mexico on the last day of July, I realized that I felt fantastic. I’d felt great during our trip and this feeling continued in August. I thought I was finally returning to health. Even though all of our close friends in the neighborhood were gone, I felt good. I started making dinner every night. Everyone in our family was really happy (overall).

Though, I did notice that they closed the U-turn for our neighborhood access, resulting in driving a mile out of the way and dealing with a very busy intersection for every trip I make. They also narrowed the road unnecessarily. Little did I know that the old U-turn would be permanently closed and the new U-turn wouldn’t be completed for …. well, I don’t know how long. It’s December and there’s no end in sight for the completion of this project. It does have a negative impact on my mental energy, due to the added hassle of doing anything outside of my neighborhood.

September

September rolls around and my good health started to slowly decline again. My husband, knowing how much I want to visit the Mexico City pyramids, booked us a driver on a day trip to see them. It was a lot of fun! You can climb the pyramids there.

We talk about all of the weekend trips we want to take while living in Mexico. The travel bug is back, baby!

In sad news, I witnessed a stray dog get hit. It limped off, but seeing definitely affected me negatively. I felt so helpless and sad. Hopefully, I can figure out how to help the dogs here without adopting one (my husband requested that we don’t adopt any dogs here, due to the expenses involved in moving them to the USA when we return).

October

October had different plans for us that didn’t involve leaving our city.

My blood work shows that I still have a low red blood cell count. My doctor sent me to a cardiologist because I told him I felt faint while doing an inverted pose in yoga. After running various tests, the cardiologist confirmed that I’m just fine. I think I felt faint due to a cold coming on before that particular yoga class.

In the meantime, I was working on my eating choices. I also had problems with my appetite all year. Things just didn’t taste good, even things I like. I really hadn’t been eating much or much variety. My taste buds finally improved around this time, which also helped my energy levels.

This month was also all about Halloween and the Day of the Dead. I love the way these are combined in our area, obviously with the focus being more on the Day of the Dead. We ended up having so much fun and visiting two other neighborhoods in the days leading up to DOTD. We were involved in a minor fender bender outside of my friend’s neighborhood, but everyone was fine.

At the end of the month, two of my friends and their families traveled together to Belize. Color me envious! Belize is one of those places on my list – along with many others. I said at the beginning of the year that I hoped to go to Belize in 2018. It was the 40th birthday trip for my friend and they all had a great time. They came home with great stories, too!

So, I may or may not have started moping around and searching for my own budget birthday beach trip.

Okay. I totally did both of those things.

I’m really proud of this make up that I did myself. I know I have a long way to go from the artistry seen all over Mexico.

November

It turns out that traveling during the week of my birthday, which fell near Thanksgiving this year, is so unaffordable, that I had to give up being on the beach for my birthday. I started looking at trips during the first and second week of December and to my complete surprise, there were good prices! I found a great deal at an all inclusive resort with good reviews.

My husband said no. He mentioned that we already had December travel plans and things are expensive in the US. I knew he was right.

I moped more. Though I was starting to feel better physically, I continued to mope a little. While I wasn’t upset about turning 40, I felt like it was going to go by without a proper hello. I’d thrown myself a 30th birthday party, complete with a Scooby Doo cake and Masquerade theme (it was phenomenal and what I was doing those days instead of traveling). Ever since having kids, my birthdays have gone by with little fanfare.

I wanted some fanfare.

The day before my birthday, my husband came home and booked our beach trip to Playa del Carmen. I couldn’t believe I was actually getting plane tickets for my birthday. It was exactly what I asked for!

Multiple times. Since September.

The views my knees had in Playa del Carmen, only a few weeks after my birthday.

December

Our plumbing woes from right before we travel continue to plague us. I asked the plumber to look at the water heater. Later that evening, my husband said it was leaking massively. The plumber returned and stopped the leak. This happened two days before we left for the beach.

The second weekend of December, we drove ourselves to the airport (which was an adventure itself) and got on a plane to visit Playa del Carmen, Mexico. This trip turned out to be one of the best family trips we’ve taken, even with two cold(ish) days during our visit. I’ll write all about it and our wonderful resort soon.

When I told my husband that I wanted plane tickets for my birthday, he delivered. I do feel lucky to be able to head to the beach in the middle of December. There were people at the resort, but it wasn’t packed. There were times we were the only people in the ocean or the pool. Even with a few cold days, it was a great time to visit.

Between trips, we are spending a week at home. The same toilet that leaked right before our US trip last year is leaking again! What’s with all the plumbing problems plaguing us, huh? It definitely could be so much worse, though.

We will leave in a few short days for the US and spend a week there. Last year, we stayed just under 3 weeks and it felt too long. Due to the weather, we couldn’t see nearly as many people as I’d hoped to see. We also were sick for a couple of days. Then, our friends were sick and we had to cancel plans. Late December can have decent weather (in the 30s or 40s F), so you can still spend time outside. However, it turned really cold a little earlier than normal. Instead of the lows being in the 20s, the lows were 0 degrees or colder.

This year, we will return in time to spend New Year’s Eve in Mexico. We even have plans! I doubt we’ll make it to midnight. Let’s not get too crazy.

Highlights of 2018

We spent over two weeks in total in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. One was a sightseeing trip, which we all enjoyed. The second, we were beach and pool bums at an all-inclusive. Both are worthy vacations. My husband smiled so much during our December trip and I loved seeing him so happy. I loved seeing my whole family so happy.

Another highlight was visiting the US during the summer. Spending an additional week there with my kids was great. I was able to help out my mom with some chores she couldn’t easily do herself. We also saw our friends – and a few we didn’t see in December last year. I also happened to feel fantastic during and after the visit for awhile.

My children have learned how to swim this year. I noticed my son was pretty much there in January and now I have confidence in his ability to stay afloat. My daughter is also doing pretty well with swimming, but I don’t think she can tread water for very long yet.

Earlier in the year, my husband and I watched a lot of Star Trek. We watched Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Enterprise, and Star Trek: Voyager. It was so much fun to watch them all together. We don’t always agree on the types of TV shows and movies to watch. I like sci-fi, but not super intense shows. He loves those shows, like Lost, which is not my favorite. We are currently watching The Good Place together.

Lowlights of 2018

An obvious lowlight was having an ongoing health problem for most of the year. It affected everything. Even though it remains a mystery, my symptoms are mostly subsiding and my energy is returning. I have plans for January to work on my health. Not because it’s January and the beginning of a new year, but because it’s difficult to start a routine during the holidays and while traveling.

Another lowlight was having four friends move away. I’ve already visited one friend in Ohio and saw her again when she came back to visit Mexico. I know the friends aren’t lost. We just won’t see them as frequently. I’m so glad the other expat family moved back here because we spend time together and have a lot of fun. We also have our local friends, who are wonderful!

Though I haven’t touched on this that much this year, I’m annoyed with myself at my level of Spanish. Though I’m continuing with classes and I’m in the third book, my listening comprehension still feels like it is lacking. Another goal of mine to practice more often (I will be defining an actionable goal, I’m just not quite there yet). I’m also hoping to spend more time with my dear friends who don’t speak English. I’m so lucky to have friends who don’t speak my language and also have the patience to listen to my stilted, heavily accented Spanish.

The travel lowlight was visiting Guanajuato City. I dislike that we happened to have a sucky time in a gorgeous and unique city, but we did. We didn’t want to ever visit again while we were there. Now that time has passed, we think a day trip would be great. I do not discourage people to visit, by the way. Guanajuato has a lot to offer visitors.

Another from Playa del Carmnen. We had a few moments where the sky was overcast. I’m happy to report there was a lot less seaweed along the shores than when we visited in April.

Flying into 2019

I wander into 2019 with only vague travel plans. That means I don’t have anything actually planned yet! This is my MO most of the time anyway (I’ve said this on every end of the year post since Blissmersion started). We still haven’t visited Mexico City (proper), Leon, or the monarch butterfly sanctuary.

There are lesser known places I’d also like to visit and a return to Ixtapa is possible, too. Merida, Mexico is on the list. Maybe 2019 will be the year we finally visit Chile.

I’m looking forward to our mystery travels next year. I don’t know where we will go, but I know we will travel!

What are you travel plans for 2019? Where did you travel in 2018 that created the best memories? Were there any places you didn’t enjoy?

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