There is so much from the trip that I want to write about - I'll do my best to cover the stand outs, but I'm pretty sure there is no way I can pack it all into one post (a week after getting back). Here's the rundown:
Lowlights - I may as well get these out of the way up front. We had a couple circumstances that made things difficult. First, that tummy trouble we were having before we left? Full blown stomach flu. Vomiting, diarrhea, chills, sweats, fever, exhaustion, body aches - the works. Leo threw up on the plane, in the airport, on the bus, on the nice clean bed we were greeted with. It was awful for a couple days, then just unpleasant for about a week and change. Leo and I had never really been sick at the same time before. I don't recommend it. As if that weren't enough, the kid broke five teeth in six days. It was intense. But even with these pretty significant setbacks, we managed to have a great time.
Diapering - Also somewhat of a lowlight. This trip was the first time that I began to think it wasn't worth the effort to cloth diaper. So, our home in Mexico does have a washing machine, but we hang our clothes out to dry. No big deal, in fact, I was looking forward to sunning out some stubborn stains. What made it tricky was that sometimes there's water, and sometimes there's not. So in the morning when I was ready to put in a load of diapers, half the time there was no water, so I'd either have to wait (and wait, and wait) for the water to come or go about my day and wash the diapers in the afternoon or evening when there wouldn't be as much sun to dry them. In addition to the scarcity of water, the water must have been different or something because the diapers all got a faint smell that drove me CRAZY. (This has been resolved since returning home.) Top that all off with the diarrhea issue which resulted in 5-6 especially unsavory poops each day and I was seriously considering running out to buy a pack of disposables. I probably would have if I wasn't so bent on keeping our gold bum status (Leo has never worn a disposable in his short life!). I was never so glad to see an appliance as I was when we returned to our washer and dryer. And now we are back to loving cloth diapers - and Leo still has a golden bum ;)
Travel - The travel was hard. To get there we had security, a two hour flight, a short layover, a four hour flight, customs and immigration, a two hour busride, and a taxi ride. I had Leo (in a carrier), a diaperbag, and a very large suitcase that I could roll. (Don't forget about the stomach flu.) Keeping Leo happy for six hours straight is challenging enough, doing it in a 24"x24" space deserves a medal. For three out of the four flights we had an empty seat next to us - which made a world of difference. The one flight that he had to be on my lap the whole time was the most challenging - if you can afford an extra seat, by all means, get it. I packed toys, books, and snacks which did a pretty good job of distracting him. I could tell his ears were bothering him a couple times and he nursed to ease the pressure. He napped. He played peek-a-boo with the people behind us. I'm not itching to do it again, but it was doable and totally worth it.
Friends and family - Leo got to see Aunt Fanny for the first time in a long time and met a ton of family and friends. He was adored by all. When he met Carmelita, my grandmother's best friend, she fawned over him like he was the most precious baby she's ever encountered. This meant a lot to me for two reasons; first, Leo never met my grandmother who died seven years ago and she seemed like an appropriate proxy and second, Leo is the latest in a long line (dozens and dozens!) of babies that have been paraded through her home - and he was received with the same enthusiasm and love.
New Foods - Despite the tummy troubles, Leo did try a bunch of new foods (and much yummier versions of some old favorites). Favorites were papaya, avocado, mango, guayaba, chico zapote, mamey, tuna (prickly pear), plantain, and guanabana. (Ok, so maybe we suspended the three days between new foods rule.) He also enjoyed many taco combinations (zucchini flower and cheese was a big hit) and a plethora of freshly squeezed juices and smoothies.
Daddy - Leo missed jb very much. We kept in touch via skype daily, but it wasn't quite the same. jb worried that Leo wouldn't remember her. I knew that was ridiculous, but I did worry that the reunion would be lackluster after a loooooooooong day of travel. I talked to him all day about why we were travelling and that daddy would pick us up when we arrived in Philadelphia. Well, when we exited security, tired and hungry, jb was waiting right there for us and greeted us with a big smile and hug. Leo locked his serious gaze on jb. He stared at her with his signature furrowed brow for a solid 45 seconds. Then he reached his tiny hand up to touch her cheek and at that moment broke out into the widest, brightest smile I've ever seen. He continued to stare at her face, smiling for a really long time. Like a really, really long time. Usually he looks at us to check in, but is mostly looking around taking in the world around him. Not then. He was transfixed on jb. We tried to wait out the moment there at the arrivals area, but he just kept staring and smiling. We walked to baggage claim. We got the suitcase. jb went to change Leo's diaper. Not until we strapped him into his carseat and jb had to disappear into the front seat did Leo break his gaze and goofy grin. It was amazing. I kept thinking, I should be getting this on video, but I too, could not look away.
Misc. - Leo learned how to fake sneeze to get a "Salud!" from us. His sneezes sounded so convincing that people often thought he was actually sneezing. The best part is that he covered his nose with his little hand (which he does not do for a real sneeze). Leo loved looking around at all the new surroundings. Markets, town squares, mountains, fruit trees, balloons - everything was amazing to him and he craned his little neck to check out all the new sights. My mom said he looked like a tourist - ha. The new teeth make him look like such a big boy! It's like a whole new smile. Leo also had a too-close-for-comfort brush with a scorpion. He was on the floor playing with a suitcase (the kid loves zippers) and suddenly my mom asked me to pick him up, so I did. She then lifted up the suitcase and underneath, not six inches from where my baby had been sitting, was a very large, black scorpion. Eek. My mom killed it and disposed of it and I held Leo so tight I nearly suffocated him. Leo got some familiarity with other types of animals as well. He was delighted to see goats and horses and donkeys. Also, our neighbors (across the ravine) have roosters and sheep. Leo is familiar with the sounds they make from toys and an animal application on my iphone that we play on long car rides, but had never heard the sounds spontaneously. That first morning at around 5 am the roosters began to crow and Leo sat up in bed and looked around so confused. Even at 5 am it was pretty darn cute. By day three he was sleeping right through the chorus of cock-a-doodle-doo and baaaaa baaaa baaaa. I'm so happy to have gotten some classic "abuela's house" pictures of him as a baby. Just about everyone in our extended family has pictures of themselves as babies in abuela's yard and bathing in her bathroom. I'm glad Leo gets to be a part of that legacy.
So, that's the short of the long. Now back to our regularly scheduled life.