Hi Again, Frozen Hell…

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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 Montreal, 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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