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  • Writer's pictureKimberly M.

When Life Handed Us Limóns

Updated: Feb 18, 2020

One of the most challenging things about being a parent is always putting your child's needs before yours, no matter what. I mean, ALWAYS. And when it comes to your child's health, those needs are absolutely non-negotiable.

For the past few months, we've been mentally and physically preparing to head to Cholula, Puebla in Mexico to start a new life. Despite my son's overwhelming concern about the Popocatépetl volcano erupting, I assured him it would be okay and continued planning for the move. My mother hinted that I should probably take my son's concerns into consideration, as children also have gut feelings about things not being quite right.

Well, the kid just may have been on to something. While I always knew that Popocatépetl was an active volcano, I didn’t take it seriously since there was nothing more than a small, unnoticeable puff of smoke coming from the top when I visited in January. However, over the past few months, the volcano has started to spew even more ash and dust, polluting the skies over nearby cities, including Cholula. Mexican authorities have even began to warn nearby neighborhoods, as the possibility of a major eruption becomes more eminent in the near future.

Popocatépetl at dusk in Cholula, Puebla.

I wasn't aware of any of this until a fellow expat and Facebook friend contacted me stating that after only five months, her family would sadly be packing up and leaving Cholula...not because of the fear of the volcano exploding, but because her 5-year-old daughter began to suffer quite badly from sickness and asthma attacks due to the polluted air caused by the volcano, and recently had to spend time in a private hospital. I knew at that moment that it was time for us to change directions, because in addition to severe food allergies, my son also has asthma...and his health was NOT something I was willing to risk, no matter how much I loved Cholula.

Now don't get too far ahead of yourself-- we are STILL heading to Mexico...but Cholula, Puebla will no longer be our destination.

So where are we headed now? Probably where we should have headed in the first place, considering my immense love for the sun and ocean: the beach town of Puerto Vallarta. In less than 24 hours, I called Southwest Airlines, changed my flight, cancelled my existing Airbnb reservation, and found another one in Puerto Vallarta to re-book.

Thinking about a beach vacation in Mexico? Check out this list of the 17 Best Beaches in Mexico!

Now, here’s the interesting part: I have never been to Puerto Vallarta. I know absolutely NOTHING about it outside of what the expats and snowbirds are saying on Facebook. In fact, the Airbnb that I ultimately decided on after a few days of research while searching for our own place may as well have been a target that I threw a dart at with a blindfold on.

So, what does that mean? It means that the biggest risk I've taken in my life has just grown even bigger, just like that. Sure, I could have headed to the familiar Cancun, or Playa del Carmen...but I would have for sure been unhappy in an overwhelmingly expensive tourist community. Don’t get me wrong, Puerto Vallarta has its touristy parts too, but there I know that I'll still have a taste of the "real Mexico", while being close to the beach. We will still have the opportunity to be immersed in the true language and culture, unlike its ultra-touristy counterparts.

"Take a chance. You never know how perfect something might turn out to be."

There's mantra that says, "Take a chance. You never know how perfect something might turn out to be." And you know what? The more I began to think about it, the more I began to realize that this just may be the perfect location for us after all:

  • Just about all of the schools in Puerto Vallarta are rated as "Good" to "Great". There’s a wider choice of bilingual schools (including the American School of Puerto Vallarta), which means that my son won’t have to dive head first into a language he doesn’t know.

  • Puerto Vallarta is much easier to get to than Cholula, with a major international airport being nearby. No longer will we have to fly into Mexico City and take a 2-hour bus ride to Puebla just to save money. I'm also pretty sure that friends and family from the U.S. will be more likely to visit us, being in a beach town.

  • Puerto Vallarta is at sea level, meaning that we will no longer have to fight to catch our breaths while waiting for our bodies to get acclimated to the elevation change.

  • There are top-notch hospitals and medical facilities everywhere.

  • To top it all off, we will both be much happier with the tropical weather year-round (no more freezing cold nights without a central heating system or insulation).

Of course, all of the above comes with a more expensive price tag, but if it means living more stress-free and comfortably, I’ll take it. That's what's behind the whole move to Mexico anyway, right?

Loving the beach life in Cancún, Mexico.

Out of all of these things, what makes me happiest is that my son is now VERY happy about the change in location and is genuinely excited about moving day. He tells me that he wants us to get a beach house. I tell him to get a job.

Since the change in destination, I've noticed a change in the way that I felt. Where I was previously starting to feel a little nervous about the upcoming move, I now feel excitement. I feel a rush of happiness take over whenever I think about being a part of the environment that everyone has described to me, and that I have seen in the photos. After all, I've always longed to live by the water, especially a beach. Everything happens for a reason.

Cholula certainly captured my heart when I visited, and still has a piece of it. The good thing is that transportation between states in Mexico is easy and affordable, so we will certainly be going back to visit. Until then, we will be living the beach life, and together experiencing this brand new adventure for the first time.


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