06.02.2016 - 07.02.2016
On the brink of a new decade. Couldn't have been clearer as I sauntered down the broken sidewalk on the way to the carnival in Tepoztlán and some guys in an SUV could be heard saying in Spanish: "check out that chick in the black skirt. (Who, moi!?) Oh wait, OMG, nevermind, she has a baby." (Yes, definitely moi). Sigh. I don't know about you guys, but my ego has a hard time keeping up with all of the changes that have happened in my 20s.
Biggest of all was having a baby and reminding my body that no, I couldn't climb up the 67 stairs at the pyramids at 8 1/2 months pregnant. After spending more than a year post-baby as a recluse, I've pulled out my Lonely Planet and am itching for something new. That thirst for adventure hasn't gone away, especially now that we're down to 6 months left of not having to pay for the baby's plane ticket.
Since we missed the latest round of flight deals, I had to settle for carnival 2016 in Mexico. (Ok, it's never settling when it comes to carnival!) Last time I was at carnival it was dark, I was single, and I danced til I lost a shoe. This time, in broad daylight, I was pointing out cute toys, trying to keep the baby's fingers out of the endless food stands and of course, still dancing.
Don't fear, younger 20-somethings. Having a baby only cramps your style if you let it. Here are FIVE things to enjoy at the Tepoztlán carnival if you have a toddler strapped around your waist.
1) Dance with the chinelos. All good Morelenses carry the beat of the chinelo brinco in their blood. It's impossible not to move your feet and pump your arms. Unstrap your toddler and let loose!
2) Visit the giant Tepoznieves at the beginning of town. You might not have noticed it before having a baby, but there is an awesome indoor playground at Tepoznieves where you can watch your kid safely play around on giant orange and watermelon see-saws. You'll join in.
3) Buy a soccer/bouncy ball. You are in Mexico! It's the perfect way to connect with other kids or passerby who trip over your wayward kick. At carnival this year, the main food market that is usually crammed with quesadilla and cecina taco stalls had been moved to the main road. The square was open and full of bands of kids kicking around soccer balls or playing with toys.
4) Indulge in people's cooing over your kid and reciprocate. We met a little boy dressed as a chinelo who wanted to talk to the baby and ask where we were from. Asking about other people's kids is a great way to start a conversation with someone you might otherwise have passed by.
5) Buy lots of street food. Did I mention I'm here for the food? Maybe it's wrong of me to constantly distract my child with goodies,but on this trip I couldn't even stuff down ONE quesadilla before I was pulled off the bench and into the crowd. Why go through the whole "please sit nicely. Please sit. Just sit." when you can walk through all the stands trying ice cream and esquites and tacos and mangoes with lime?
And some tips:
- Bring sunscreen and a hat. It might be February but just around the mountains is the City of Eternal Spring and it can get hot.
- Wear your baby if you can. The streets are cobblestone and packed; not worth the hassle.
- Bring a first-aid kit. At least some Band-Aids and ointment. The soccer game will most likely end in tears but it's worth it.
- Stay hydrated, all of you travelers. And no, micheladas do not count, but they can be an extra.