My family's travelogue started well before my sister and I were born. Our maternal grandparents, both from Boston, met while working in the Florida Keys. They were preparing fish for an increasingly shitfaced Ernest Hemingway, and their first meeting turned into their first date when they shared his dinner while he passed out nearby. Shortly after my parents met, they took a backpacking trip through Mexico. Our bedtime stories growing up were about buses full of chickens, sleeping in hammocks on the beach and ancient Mayan ruins.
Other than my steely blue eyes, this penchant for travel is one of my favorite family traits. Travel puts you outside of your comfort zone and teaches you how to truly connect with the people around you. Those who travel know how to turn discomfort into adventure.
A few weeks ago, I was looking up a town in Mexico that my family had traveled to 13 years ago. I discovered that the place where we had stayed was running a Christmas special. I texted my family, "Who wants to go on a road trip to Mexico?" They all immediately wrote back, "yes."
My sister expedited a passport for my 2-year-old niece, and well before dawn on the day after Christmas, we hit the road.
Anyone who has ever spent time with a toddler knows that road trips are inherently uncomfortable. The baby threw an epic tantrum that lasted for the final 90 miles. When we arrived in Mexico, everyone was tired and cranky, and instead of a sunny beach, we were greeted by a cold wind whipping through the town. We were well outside our comfort zone, but that's when the travel trait kicked into high gear.
We explored the town and checked out restaurants. We met shrimp mongers and flounder fishermen and cooked up incredible seafood. We bundled up for a walk on the beach and were rewarded with the most gorgeous sunset I have ever seen.
The sun eventually came out, and we got to drink tequila on the beach just like we wanted. But it was the uncomfortable times that will become our best stories.
On our way there, as the baby screamed her head off in the inescapably small car, I snapped a picture. Someday we'll show it to her and tell her the story of her very first international adventure.
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