It is no secret that I have been unreliably sporadic with these posts. The last one I actually wrote was last August, when I had just left the Florida Keys and moved to the UK to have my baby. I have filled you in since then with a bumper life update and the whole story of how and why we moved to Mexico, but the ‘notes from the backpack’ posts have been AWOL.
But the truth is I really love writing them. It is not only great to share everything that has been going on in my life in one place with all my readers, friends, and family, but it is also a really great way for me to recap on the past month.
With a new blog launch this month, including a complete overhaul of my branding, ethos, and website, July was a really busy and great month, so here is what I got up to…
– This Month’s Highlights –
Catching up with one on my best friends in Mexico
The one major downside to living a life of travel (and subsequently having friends that are the same) is that I often go for years without seeing some of my closest friends. So when my friend Melissa told me that her and her boyfriend were coming to Mexico, I was thrilled. They visited us in Sayulita, where we spent the best part of a week hanging out at the beach, drinking margaritas, and showing them the area. We then decided it was the perfect time to start our travels, so we took a bus with them and headed to Puerto Vallarta to explore.
Finding an oasis in the heart of Puerto Vallarta
Melissa and I spent hours on our last evening down the rabbit hole of hotel reviews for Puerto Vallarta on the quest to find accommodation for the next few days. What we finally booked was a complete and utter success (thanks to Booking.com and their way of finding you fabulous places you would of otherwise never come across!) I had a minor freakout when I realized at 11pm the night before our trip that the hotel we had booked didn’t accommodate children (gulp), but this only added to how great the hotel was as the owner made an exception for us, and welcomed baby Archer. Hotels like this were one of the reasons I started my blog – unassuming affordable luxury. The places that don’t come up on the first page of Google, that don’t have a brand name, and that don’t cost an arm and a leg. It really was our own personal paradise (full post on this place coming soon.
Meeting Uriel’s Dad (and his whole side of the family) for the first time
After being together for 4 years and having a baby, it was long overdue that I meet the father of my husband. We finally made that happen this month in a small town outside Guadalajara, where Uriel’s grandmother lives on the family ranch. We spent ten days with the family, meeting cousins, eating delicious feasts (such as goat cooked in a clay oven!), and getting to know the town of Teocaltiche. It was a week of unplugging from the world of blogging and social media, and getting to know Uriel’s Dad and the rest of his very large family.
Exploring Guadalajara and Tequila
We spent 5 days in Mexico’s second largest city, Guadalajara. At first I was slightly overwhelmed, having lived in a small beach town for the past few months, but I soon started to love Guadalajara. A highlight was taking a day trip to Tequila, where we visited 2 distilleries, had a mariachi dance party in the middle of the agave fields before midday, and got to explore the beautiful town of Tequila!
A month full of travel meant a month of eating in restaurants and trying different food. Time with our Mexican family also meant being FED a lot. In Teocaltiche, Uriel’s Uncle makes his own candy, his Aunt has a bakery, and his other Uncle is a caterer who makes incredible food for all the family at every get together. Every time we visited one of his Aunts she sat us down and whipped up a feast, making us all eat before we left (including Archer). It was a trip revolving around food!
In Sayulita we have been happily munching our way around town, and have a few new favourites. A highlight this month was trying the gourmet Los Corazones restaurant, as well as finally tracking down the churro man who makes incredible churros on the side of the road. We have just about finished all the incredible candy we brought home from Teocaltiche that his Uncle makes, too. So I’m quite stuffed!
And lastly… The New and Improved Luxury Backpack!
I am over the moon to present my shiny new website which I have been working so hard on for the past few weeks. Not only have I built it myself, and learnt a lot along the way, but I have also been teaching myself how to use Lightroom and Photoshop over the past few months in order to get to this point. It has therefore been a massive achievement for me, and one I am really proud of. Not only have I spent time on the aesthetics of the blog, but have also been working behind the scenes for a while now on some great new content, an e-book, and new direction for the future of the site. Having a re-brand, new logo, and new ethos for the site has given it a new lease of life, and I can’t wait to see where the blog takes me!
– This Month’s Struggles –
Losing A Family Member
Sadly our trip to Teocaltiche also coincided with a very sad time for the family as a close family member of Uriel’s passed away. We partook in a 9 day rosary, which meant that at 6pm everyday family and friends got together to say a rosary prayer for her. The family then went to church each evening for the 9 days. Losing a family member rocks any family, but being together and seeing how strong they were in the face of loss was incredibly special, and a credit to her.
The Dreaded Spanish
Anyone else have real trouble learning a language? I’ve been trying to learn Spanish since I was 19, and yet just can’t get over a certain point with it. I understand a lot, but speaking it is a different story. That’s why it was a struggle for me being with Uriel’s Mexican family and not being able to communicate too well. I am now using Duolingo everyday and really trying to make an effort to progress before we visit again. If you have any tips, please let me know!
– The Rest –
Things I’ve Loved This Month
I have become really conscious about looking after my face in the sun in recent years, and have up until recently been using Glossier Invisible Shield Facial Sunscreen everyday, but I am so sad that it has just run out and they don’t ship to Mexico!
Pocket High Chair
Although we moved to Mexico in May, it was only this month that we really ‘travelled’ and lived out of a suitcase. I have therefore had a chance to put all the baby travel things I brought with us to the test. The best thing by far has to be the wipe-clean pocket high-chair from Jojo Maman Bebe (pictured in use here) which is an absolute godsend. Most places have high chairs, but many are meant for big kids and so we use it as well to make sure Archer doesn’t slip through the gap. I’m writing a full post all about my baby travel essentials at the moment, but this one is my favourite!
What I’ve Been Watching
The Defiant Ones
This documentary about Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine was so inspiring it stayed with me for a long time afterwards. If you enjoyed Straight Outta Compton, this covers the actual events of the movie in detail, and then focusses on the success of his business empire Beats by Dre. It also follows the career of Iovine who was the driving force behind a lot of Dre’s success, along with so many other music legends. Both are hugely inspiring people and the show offers motivation as well as a lesson in music history.
I was looking for something binge-worthy to download on Netflix for early nights in Teocaltiche and came across this show. By the end of the first episode I was hooked. The scenery of Montauk where it is set is absolutely stunning, and has given me another place to add to my ever growing USA bucket list.
Uriel and I have just started this very interesting and unique documentary series. It features places around the globe that draw visitors for rather dark or weird reasons, such as uninhabited radioactive zones in Japan, and Pablo Escobar tours in Colombia. Journalist David Farrier is a great presenter too, who is both respectful and amusing.
This Month’s Favourite Reads
I’ve gone from reading 30 + books a year to barely reading anything at all since having a baby. So I decided to make a change and created this list of Mediterranean inspired novels to get me back into reading again. I also read the following books this month…
Never Greener by Ruth Jones
Written by actress and TV writer Ruth Jones, this book was a really easy and addictive read about an affair between a married man and a young woman who meet again years later and rekindle their romance. It is an easy page turner, and a great poolside read if you want something light for your upcoming trip. Would I recommend it? Yes.
People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
The story of an ancient Jewish book, the Haggadah, which a young Australian expert is tasked to restore. In doing so she reveals many truths about the book as the reader travels back in time and finds out what actually occurred throughout history. Heavily character driven, with actual events woven with fiction seamlessly, this was a really enjoyable read. Would I recommend it? Yes.
THANKS FOR READING, SEE YOU NEXT MONTH x
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