I craned my neck, searching for one last glimpse of Lake Atitlan, perhaps the most magical places I had ever been. Luckily, the drive out of the lake was greatly improved from our entry nearly three months earlier and soon my sights were focused on making the border.
We always knew we’d be heading back into Mexico. We weren’t done with her yet and the ruins and crystal clear waters of the Caribbean beckoned. The plan had been to spend a few months back in our favorite country before making our way to Belize and continuing our journey south. As usual, the universe had different ideas.
Leaving Portland, one of the tougher moments was saying goodbye to Jim’s parents. However, with the joys of modern technology, we were able to speak to them weekly, facetime, and we welcomed them in Puerto Vallarta for two weeks last summer. A planned reunion in Playa del Carmen was set in motion.
While still at Lake Atitlan they broke the news. They couldn’t come and visit. It was just too far for them but they’d love for us to come home. Obviously, we travel with Aspen and have everything we own in the camper and knew it wasn’t so simple as us deciding to go home. We spent many hours in our tropical garden talking options.
We could still head to Playa, a city we had friends in, and Aspen and I could stay behind while Jim flew home. And yet, it didn’t feel right. We investigated a house sitting gig on the southern coast along the Caribbean but it also wasn’t the right fit. We endlessly discussed options and where Aspen and I would be safe and happy.
There was Oaxaca, a town we knew others in and a good climate, but with expensive and shitty flight options. We talked and argued and fell into silence, each of us attempting to formulate a plan. Jim didn’t really want to fly home without us but we were 5000 miles away and neither of us wanted to go home to Trump’s America.
Finally, I said it out loud. I had woken up three days in a row dreaming of this place. Los Barriles. Of all of the places we had spent time in Mexico over the last 16 months, Los Barriles felt the most like home. It was a close, and inexpensive flight for Jim to fly home from Cabo San Lucas, and with friends at camp and a friendly atmosphere, Aspen and I would be perfectly at home. The plan formulated, we reluctantly left Guatemala and headed north.
We drove silently for much of those six long hours to the border. Hours that involved no less than seven agriculture stops and six military checkpoints. We spent an endless two hours at the border with an official so new he had to continually refer to his “how to” guide to get both we and the truck imported legally back into the country.
We weren’t sure we were making the right decision but we knew we were running out of money and we needed to see family before we shipped to the further reaches of South America made that so much more difficult. Right or wrong, we were heading north for now.
That evening we sat at camp, a gorgeous spot at Lago de Colon gotten for the grand price of 20MX, and contemplated the universe’s ever changing ways. Happy to be back in Mexico. Northward we will go.