Hi Again, Frozen Hell...


Two women about to get a mas­sage in Playa Del Carmen:

Mary, Mary, wait, I need to use the bath­room! How do you say ‘bath­room’ in Spanish?”

Bath­roomo? Oh no, wait. That’s Spanglish.”


Mark is play­ing with another gringo kid at the plaza. The mother keeps on call­ing “Hugo, Hugo!”

Hugo?” I com­ment. “That’s a nice name.”

What? Oh, Hugo is the chi­huahua! My son’s name is ‘Sol’.”


I am giv­ing Mark a banana on the beach when a woman comes close to us. She is a tourist as well, prob­a­bly in her early six­ties. I assume she wants to say “hi” to Mark or ask us something.

Excuse me… I couldn’t help notic­ing you. Your hair. The way you move.”

At this point, I still think she is talk­ing about Mark (lan­guage barrier?).

My hus­band has been watch­ing you for an hour. He says you are very sexy and he is right. There is some­thing about you. Where are you from? Mexico?”

Uh… Canada.”

Awk­wardest con­ver­sa­tion ever. And nope, we didn’t fol­low up with a three­some or any­thing. And for the record, I wasn’t sun­bathing top­less, I was run­ning after a tod­dler the entire morning!

We decided to spend the last few days in Playa Del Car­men, after a last stop in Tulum where the weather was great. Playa isn’t our favourite place but we had a quiet and cheap hotel and the city is fairly com­pact so we could go to the beach eas­ily (in Can­cun, you have to drive from the city centre).

Playa is a nice place to start a trip because every­thing is made for tourists. How­ever, it gets on your nerve when you end your trip there and when you are famil­iar enough with Mex­ico because it’s very gringo-ish. We spent most of the time at the beach and walk­ing around the non-touristic part of the city, where there is vida nor­male (i.e. no white peo­ple wasted at 10 a.m.).

As I am writ­ing this, I am sweaty and hot. Tomor­row, I’ll be frozen. I am not look­ing for­ward to it.

I didn’t want to come back. I still don’t. And this is not a case of “wow, I wish I could spend a few more days under the sun”. I am ter­ri­fied of going back because I still don’t have a solu­tion for Mark, for us, for me. I left burned-out. I am felling much bet­ter but I am scared to fall into the same trap, going through the day hop­ing that it will finally end, fill­ing the hours with Mark, walk­ing around aim­lessly and fit­ting work assign­ments between dia­per changes.

I just can’t go back to the same rou­tine because it was killing me.

Here, I feel free. I can walk wher­ever I want (no need to drive), I can go out with Mark and I enjoy my sur­round­ings because it’s new and fresh.

I am bored in Ottawa.

I can’t think about it too much oth­er­wise I won’t board that damn plane.

You can see the full set of Estación Méx­ico on Flickr.



Playa Del Carmen

Playa Del Carmen

Playa Del Carmen

Playa Del Carmen

Playa Del Carmen

Playa Del Carmen

Playa Del Carmen

Playa Del Carmen

Playa Del Carmen

Playa Del Carmen

Playa Del Carmen

Playa Del Carmen

Playa Del Carmen

Playa Del Carmen

Playa Del Carmen

Playa Del Carmen

Playa Del Carmen

Playa Del Carmen

Playa Del Carmen

Playa Del Carmen

Playa Del Carmen

Playa Del Carmen


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Ah wouach! Les vieux crou­tons qui te regar­daient et la bonne femme qui vient te dire en plus que son mari te matait!! On rêve là!

    Même si tu dois ren­trer (il le faut bien un jour) j’espère que ce séjour au Mex­qiue t’a fai du bien au moral :)

    Bisous! :)

  2. Maybe you could start plan­ning your next trip? Maybe you could do a trip like this (2−3 weeks) twice a year? That might help you keep going when times get tough.

    You work online and so does Feng so maybe you could even go some­where and stay there for a few weeks while one works and the other goes out explor­ing with Mark? You’ve prob­a­bly thought of this already, but I think it would be really good for you as trav­el­ling keeps your mind busy and is a way for both you and Mark to learn about new things at the same time. And when Mark starts school you’ll have more time to your­self but less time to take off and do these travel stints.

    And yes, I agree, next to Mex­ico Ottawa does seem bor­ing. That’s prob­a­bly people’s num­ber one com­plaint about Ottawa. But I don’t know, in my “old age” I like liv­ing in these bor­ing but safe places (like Den­mark). I like to go off for a few weeks to one of these “crazy” coun­tries and live some­thing totally dif­fer­ent but in the end I am always happy to go back to my bor­ing place. I think I’m too intro­verted to live some­where like Mexico.

    Try to remind your­self of all the things you love about Canada (there’s a lot of posts on your blog that you could read!). Do some­thing that is “Cana­dian”. I don’t know, you could visit a cabane à sucre (why does ‘sugar house’ sound so strange to me?).

    • I still love Canada and I still think Ottawa is a great place. The prob­lem is me I think. I’d feel the same about Mon­tréal, Toronto, Churchill, Bom­bay or Tokyo. I get bored of places after a while… and I have been in Ottawa for 12 years after all. That plus the weather. I am slowly real­iz­ing how tough Cana­dian win­ters are and how strong you have to be to make it through. Sounds dra­matic… but true.

      • Believe me, I know exactly what you’re going through with the weather. It’s part of the rea­son why I don’t live in Ottawa. So no, you don’t sound dra­matic at all — it’s win­ter in Ottawa that is dramatic!

        I think that it’s nor­mal that you’re bored. You have, like you said, been liv­ing in Ottawa for more than a decade. That’s a long time if you stop and think about it. Most peo­ple are ‘bored’ in their home­town. Looks like you have inte­grated well!

        I thought of some­thing else. Maybe, just maybe, there are sup­port groups for par­ents. The kind where you talk with other par­ents about your dif­fi­cul­ties with being a par­ent. It might be eas­ier to share with other par­ents, to see that other par­ents are like you, than just to talk with a pro­fes­sional. Or maybe there is some sort of group out there where all the moms bring their kids to play together and then you could talk with the other moms about par­ent­ing (although they would prob­a­bly talk about how great there are but maybe not) or maybe you could even make up your own group specif­i­cally for moms (or dads) who are hav­ing a hard time. I don’t know, I’m not a par­ent so I don’t know any­thing, so maybe my ideas are crazy, but maybe you could try and find a way to get “pro­fes­sional” help with­out resort­ing to talk­ing to a shrink in a ster­ile office (and cheaper too). There most be some kind of “mom sup­port groups” in Ottawa (I don’t know, though).

        Yes, I think that Lily does have point about mov­ing. I grew up in the area where you live now. It is a quin­tes­sen­tial sub­urb with wide streets and lots of chain stores every­where. It is monot­one — there is no “colour­ful” life around there to be found. How­ever, it is a safe, clean, res­i­den­tial area close to down­town. Most of what you need is a short drive away (you could walk really, weather per­mit­ting). So those are the pros and cons of the area you live in basi­cally. You really have to take a good look at those pros and cons and decide those cons are enough to lead you to move or those pros are strong enough to make you stay. I could see you in a more “colour­ful” neigh­bour­hood like West­boro (well it’s more colour­ful to me than where you live now and it’s near the river). You could do worse than where you liv­ing now — please, please don’t go to Bar­rhaven unless you want to be sur­rounded by kids and tiger moms con­stantly. Now that’s a true exam­ple of a sub­ur­ban “utopia” (or night­mare, in my case).

        • Thank you for shar­ing. It does help real­iz­ing that I am not the same strug­gling with sub­ur­bia (even though it’s a very close sub­urb!) and Cana­dian win­ters. You gotta be tough to stand the win­ter here and I am not so tough right now. I did it well when I was work­ing because, well, really, it’s almost a reief to be indoors behind a desk when it’s o freak­ing cold out­side. PLus you get social inter­ac­tions with your co-workers. As a free­lancer, I need to go out to see the world and it’s harder to do in the winter.

          Part of the rea­sons why I stayed away from play­groups (other than the fact they are often held at weird hours, i.e. super early in the morn­ing when I am try­ing to work!) is because I don’t share the Cana­dian par­ent­ing phi­los­o­phy. I will explain in an article…

  3. Well, if this is becom­ing such an anx­i­ety, maybe you should seri­ously con­sider chang­ing your way of life ? Maybe it’s not that hard, maybe some­thing (rel­a­tively) easy can make it work.
    What about mov­ing to a place you don’t need to drive to get every­thing you need ? Or just a new place, some­where new, for a change.
    I mean for us, mov­ing 5km made a huge dif­fer­ence. Organic food is at the end of the street, river and for­est within 10min walk, quiet place. It was what we needed. Maybe you need to find a place that suit you bet­ter, and it might even be within the same city !

  4. We have 2 babies at home. One is one year old and the other a tod­dler of 2.5 years old.
    We were in the same posi­tion as you. Get­ting burned by the stress of hav­ing to cope with the adult life and with rais­ing the kids at the same time.
    We knew some­thing had to change.
    What we did was we got the tod­dler into child­care.
    It wasn’t easy in the begin­ning and it is expen­sive. But it sure helps to have her for half a day bee­ing taken care by some­body else.
    It is expen­sive but we fig­ured that we could just be spend­ing less for a cou­ple of years until she gets into school.
    It is the best spent money you have.
    Somepeo­ple think that it is a shame to ‘out­source’ the rais­ing of the chil­dren to some­one else. But it is really help­ful in todays stress­ful life.
    I don’t think the prob­lem is Ottawa. Even in Mex­ico if you tried to live the same way (not as in a vaca­tion) you would be suf­fer­ing.
    There is a limit of what can be done on the long run. Peo­ple do get tired. Get­ting some help is a must.

    • Thank you so much for shar­ing… I mean it. I know deep down that Mex­ico wouldn’t solve the prob­lem (although they do have cheap and great child­care!). Where abut do you live? How did your kid adapt to day­care? How did you pick a place? (sorry for the questions!)

      • Yair is right. Child­care is expen­sive but it seems the best solu­tion to help you breathe again. After I went back to work, I missed my child a lot but it gave me my san­ity back. You work at home so this is why Mark is not at day care but peo­ple like me who work in offices put their chil­dren in day­care. So you have two full time jobs, no won­der you feel so over­whelmed.. Also if mark goes to day­care (even part time) you might be able to get more work done and this could help pay for his day care.

        On how to choose a day care, you really have to go with your guts. Some­thing I really looked into was how often they go out and how far the near­est park was. My son needs to go out, boys will be boys. You can also ask the sched­ule of the day, ask how naps are orga­nized but mostly you have to trust the peo­ple who work there because if not you will not man­age to get any work done.

        Hes­ton absolutely loves day care and does a lot of arts and craft there (paint­ing, play dough) and loves inter­act­ing with oth­ers kids his age. It’s cute to see him have his lit­tle social life.

        I hope you will man­age to find a day Care and be able to start a bet­ter bal­anced rou­tine for you.

        • Okay I need to start look­ing for one. Really. Any­one, please, kick me if I don’t!

          I have noth­ing against day­care, really, oth­er­wise the fact that it is expen­sive. I do think Mark needs to see other kids too, he became very socia­ble lately and actu­ally runs after kids in the street to say “hi” (he did that a lot in Mex­ico). And I do trust day­care providers. I don’t even know what is stop­ping me.. weird.

          • Sure you know what is stop­ping you! The belief that being a “super­mom” is your duty. That’s what.

            But, here the good news, it is not! Send­ing Mark to child­care will make a lot of peo­ple hap­pier: Mark, his new toddler-friends, you, Feng, and child­care operators! 😀

            So go on, you’re on the right path!

            And trust me, rais­ing a tod­dler while work­ing is not easy at all, even in mild cli­mate coun­tries (from one who knows by expe­ri­ence :) )

            Even if peo­ple hardly real­izes this about home-working free­lancers, you must (I have my hard times at it too): You are a work­ing woman.
            And like any other work­ing woman you need some­one to take care of your child while you are work­ing. Period.

            (Does this count for a kick?)

            This said, Cana­dian win­ter is tough. And you are right, one needs to be strong. But you are! Since you weath­ered it (nice pun), and made the best of it, from what I can read, for 12 years! (I’m much less sure about me, but that’s another story)
            You can rejoice think­ing you missed a nice slice of awful tem­per­a­tures, these days, I see it’s fairly less cold up there today :)

            Have a good jour­ney back!

            P.S. I envy Lily’s conciseness.

          • I like your spirit! I wish you were in Canada already, we could have long chats (Euro­pean style!) and exchange tips and advice. Mean­while, emails will do!

    • Hi

      I live in Cal­gary.
      I wish I could go trav­el­ling like you do, but right now I’m try­ing to get the best of the sit­u­a­tion.
      I go run­ning alone out­side at least a cou­ple of times a week, so I have my lit­tle qual­ity time.

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