At the tender age of three, Maya already has a deeper connection to Mexico than either Brian or me. She’s spent more of her total lifetime in Mexico than either of us have, having visited the country three times already (and once in utero).
Her name was conceived in Mexico while we were on our babymoon in Sayulita. Her taste buds must have been influenced by that trip as well. Because when we took her to Bahia Kino when she was 1.5 years old, she took a strong liking to limes, guacamole and salsa. She tried to get her hands on every bowl and bottle of salsa she could. She called salsa “spicy,” and there were times we had to hide it or swap out catsup when she wasn’t looking to keep her out of it. I was always afraid she’d eat too much and wind up with heartburn, a stomach ache or worse. She earned the nickname “Spicy Maya” from her aunt and cousins who were with us on that trip to Kino – a nickname I sincerely hope does not stick for obvious reasons. Unless she becomes a chef. Then we’re good.
On Maya’s very first trip to Mexico, she was 7 months old and teething, so not quite ready for salsa and guac. We took her to Sayulita – the town where we had celebrated our last few months of coupledom the year before, and where (at the time) we could imagine living as a family one day. Sayulita is a bustling little surf town on the Pacific Coast of Nayarit about 30 miles north of Puerto Vallarta. It’s a vibrant village, filled with artists, surfers, shopkeepers, vacationers, and a growing number of gringo retirees and families. We met several families from the U.S. and Canada that had settled down in Sayulita and enrolled their kids at a local, private bilingual primary school. It was the same school where we had taken Spanish classes during our babymoon, and where we met the woman (she ran the Spanish school) who would give us the idea for Maya’s name. On this trip with baby Maya, we were thrilled to find her again and show her our little cherub that she basically named.
Maya’s second trip to Mexico was an epic road trip to Bahia Kino (the aforementioned salsa-eating binge trip) over Christmas with us, her aunt, two cousins, and four dogs. Yes, you read that right – we were three adults, two teenagers, one baby and four dogs (three lapdogs and Kubu) – all squeezed into my sister-in-law’s minivan for three straight days of driving from Colorado to Kino (and back again). Needless to say, we made it there and back, and had an amazing time (as always) in Kino. But every bathroom break on the road was at least 45 minute escapade with 4 females, one baby in diapers, and all the dogs. (Poor Brian!) We had a specific order for getting in and out of the car, with everyone holding either a dog or baby Maya while the others escaped. We were crazy to make the trip, but I’m so glad we did. Maya got the chance to really bond with her aunt and cousins, whom she idolizes today.
Maya’s last trip to Mexico was to Sayulita again last Thanksgiving. This time, we were in serious research mode – could we really live in Sayulita? We alternated days looking at rental houses and days at the beach, trying to decide if this was the place for us. We were torn. On one hand, it had everything we wanted – a thriving and exciting community, excellent surfing, a great bilingual school and easy access to pretty much all the goods and services you would want. On the other hand, it had gotten so much more crowded than when we first visited in 2011. And so much more expensive. It would actually cost us MORE to live in Sayulita in a small one or two bedroom home, than it would be to live in our three bedroom home in Colorado. A lot more. Then, after just three days in town, Maya got sick. Really sick. So did a ton of other people in town, including everyone in our travel party of seven (everyone except me).
We came away from that trip a little heartbroken and with serious doubts about our plan. This was the place where we had our BABYMOON, where we named Maya, where Maya had been two times already, where we dreamed of living. Now, where were we and Maya going to sink our roots? That story to come…