Mexico was added as a destination on our journey very much at the last minute. We had originally planned to fly direct from Costa Rica to Canada but for a variety of reasons we decided to opt for a route that would give us a week in Mexico City. We’d heard from a friend that it was a great place to visit and although many link the country with an incredibly violent drugs war and high levels of crime, from our research (which was admittedly just a couple of minutes on the FCO website) we were comfortable spending some time in the capital.
We landed on the evening of 26th March in slightly chaotic circumstances. Towards the end of our flight we had started to read some interactive books to Amber on the iPad. What we didn’t expect was for the interactive nature of the books to induce a significant bout of travel sickness for all of us, but none so much as poor little Amber. As we made our final approach, she decided to show everyone what she’d just had for dinner, proceeding to vomit profusely over both of us. Fellow passengers around us were incredibly considerate as we became ‘that’ family, proffering tissue packets and toilet rolls (which Claire tried to return afterwards, only to be met with polite refusals).
Amber was understandably upset and as is the way with a toddler, anger and frustration followed the tears, manifesting itself in a point blank refusal to allow us to change her trousers. So, not only were we ‘that’ family with the vomiting baby on a plane, but we were also ‘that’ family with the vomiting and crying baby wearing only a nappy, the very last in a long queue waiting to get through Mexican immigration.
When you are travelling and your surroundings are unfamiliar, you often end up in situations that are not immediately obvious to resolve. And some situations, despite having seemingly obvious resolutions, end up being far more awkward and difficult just by the sheer fact that you are a stranger in a foreign land.
On this trip so far, a number of people (and inanimate objects) have crossed our path at exactly the right moment and have helped us resolve such situations. In one form or another, they have saved the day. We refer to them as our Guardian Angels.
We are sincerely grateful for all of them. As such we would like to honour each person (and inanimate object) for the positive impact that they (likely unknowingly) had.
Third on the list of things I love after numbers and plans is food and this was always going to be a major part of our experience.
Before leaving we were intrigued by what we would and wouldn’t find as we went from country to country. Claire and I love food, from the odd Michelin star treat to a hungover Burger King, so we were both excited about the new foods we would discover and how we would adapt from place to place.
The other major factor in our food journey was always going to be what the hell would we feed Amber. It’s safe to say Amber is a typical toddler (it’s taken me quite some time to accept and understand that) in that her preferences seem to change on a daily basis. Just when you think you can always fall back on some bread and cream cheese suddenly both are off the menu and you’re scrabbling around the fridge searching for something she will like. New foods, even new brands of old foods, are treated like extra terrestrial objects – probed, poked and if you’re lucky they may touch the lips before somewhat inevitably being rejected.
So take that fussy toddler and drop her into Brazil with two hyper-sensitive parents and you have a recipe for a rather emotional start to our trip, at least when it came to meal times.
Upsy Daisy was a girl we once knew
Who understood just what to do
When Amber was sad
Or teething like mad
Daisy lifted her spirits anew
We knew before arriving in Rio that visiting with Amber in tow would be very different from the trip we would have had before becoming parents. For this visit at least, the city’s infamous nightlife would remain out of our reach.
But caiprinha fuelled samba parties are not all there is going on, and after two weeks in the ‘Cidade Maravilhosa’ we feel that we got a great taste of what it is about. Stunning, massive and fascinating, it had more than enough to occupy us, and despite thinking we were taking it relatively easy, we covered a lot of ground.
Rio is far more accessible than you would think given its reputation. Where we were staying in Barra Copacabana was safe and secure, and easy to get around by foot. The metro system is handy and linked us to various points of interest. Taxis are in abundance, and with Ubers as cheap as they are it often cost less to travel by taxi than by metro.
Here is a list of the things we did that we particularly enjoyed, and that we found to be either baby friendly, or at the very least baby accessible.
1. Parque Lage. The place we loved the most during our whole stay and the scene of Amber’s first official hike. Once the residence of a rich industrialist and now a public park, it has an abundance of fish ponds, woodland paths and, most enjoyably, grottos and caves to explore. As enthusiastic but novice spelunkers, we could barely contain ourselves.
Spelunking for beginners
An ode to vigilant parents everywhere (and kind taxi drivers)