Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fun in the Sun

Two weeks ago was the independence long weekend here in Mexico City, and the perfect excuse to take a mini vacation. The “threat” of returning home to the US has spurred Mommy to get out of the city and squeeze in as much more traveling in Mexico as possible. (To be honest, we did not heed the advice of all those friends who have left Mexico warning us not to wait to travel because we could be booted out at any moment.) So we decided to spend five days in Huatulco, a mostly undeveloped resort area on the southern Pacific coast of Mexico, in the state of Oaxaca. While Mommy was not looking to go to any more beach resorts - but rather to visit more colonial towns, cities and villages - there was no way we were passing up the untouched beauty of the Oaxacan coastline – its pristine beaches, clear blue skies, uncrowded resorts and amazing scenery.

So along with friends of ours (who also happen to be Daddy’s boss, his wife and their kids, Isabel and Lucia), we rented a four bedroom villa on a cliff overlooking one of Huatulco’s nine beautiful bays. The house came complete with beautiful Mexican décor, an infinity pool, a pond with fish and turtles, a live parrot, a maid to cook for us (although Daddy was in heaven barbeque-ing nearly every day), and anything else we could ever want, including views of the bay and Pacific Ocean from our shower – but NOT internet and cell phone access (which made Mommy & Dana quite happy). We even brought our housekeeper, Yaneth, with us to help out with me, Isabel & Lucy. So as you can imagine, we had very little reason to leave the villa, and only did so to go on a snorkeling & boat excursion with another mutual friend, Paul, and his family.

Even though I am still going through my weird phase of refusing to touch sand, and refusing to get in the ocean, we managed to have a great time on the boat. I fell asleep within 30 minutes, but not before catching sight of a huge sea turtle swimming in the Pacific, and watching Mommy freak out as Daddy & Paul jumped from the boat into one of the not-so-calm bays just to test out the water. Later, while Yaneth remained on the boat while I napped, Mommy, Daddy and the rest of our friends swam in one of the calmer bays and enjoyed the tranquility of its virgin beach. Even though I missed out on these events, perhaps it was in everyone’s best interest since I was pretty tired and cranky from all the previous days in the sun and heat. Still, M&D are hoping that I very quickly outgrow this fearful phase I have been going through and start enjoying the pool and beach again.

Monday, September 22, 2008

What's Next

One of the things we have to get used to as expats is the fact that even during the rare periods of stability, there is always underlying uncertainty. No one ever knows when a new friend will be made by virtue of an expat family moving into the building, or when a good friend may suddenly announce her departure because of a sudden restructuring. Contracts mean very little in terms of length of stay, as they can always be extended, or a layoff or promotion may be just around the corner - as I have seen with at least 5 friends in the past year and a half.

We have now been here for 18 months and as Sonny mentioned in his post back in June, we have considered many possibilities about where we will go once our current two-year contract is up. It turns out that we still don’t know for sure. When you live on the company’s dime, you live by the company’s whimsy time line – a small price to pay for the fabulous perks of living here. Still, we understand how this could be mildly annoying for many of our friends back home who have inquired about our more short-term plans in the hopes of getting together or planning for the holidays; and how nerve wracking it is for our families and especially our parents who are anxious to see Asha and get life back to “normal” (which would, for us, mean the “Everybody Loves Raymond” atmosphere of life in NJ). It has taken every bone of my type-A, anal-retentive, control freak body to not worry about what was going to happen at what time, to simply live life as though we are staying here until next summer, at least, and just soak up as much of Mexico as I possibly could.

Until now.

It has been five months since I found I am pregnant. It has been 4.5 months since we told The Powers That Be (TPTB) at the company – even before our own parents – that we were pregnant and due the first week of February. We discussed with them that since I am due exactly one month before our contract expires, we either need to move by mid November, or need to stay until the end of April next year because of my and the baby’s travel restrictions.

And it has now been exactly one week since I have started freaking out. The “Ignorance is bliss” phase – where I was just enjoying either prospect of moving back to New Jersey or extending our contract in Mexico – ended in an abrupt moment at 3 am last week. Somehow until then it did not phase me that within the span of 2 months I was going to have to wrap up my life in here, including my obligations with the Newcomers Club, finish visiting all of the places I have wanted to see in Mexico, become conversant in Spanish (a personal goal to attain before leaving), make a trip to NJ to buy a house, actually find a house we like and can afford, close on the house, schedule movers, sell our cars and say goodbye to all my friends. All of this while being 6-7 months pregnant, trying to maintain some semblance of stability for Asha, and having Sonny traveling 15 days (that we know of) out of the next 60.

This is all assuming that we move back to New Jersey.

If we stay, I suppose life is a bit easier in that all I have to do is find a new apartment in Mexico City, schedule movers, actually move, make a trip to New Jersey to purchase new baby essentials and coordinate all our old baby items for shipment here, and finish visiting all of the places I have wanted to see in Mexico (because going on long road trips ain’t happening after my 7th month or with a newborn).

There is also the remote possibility that we could move someplace else across the globe. And while I hope that these are not the last of our expat days, right now, for the sake of sanity, I cannot even entertain the option of a third, unknown destination. New Jersey and Mexico City have been the only two serious contenders from a job perspective over the last few months, so I am mentally banking on one of those two working out. But as Forrest Gump said, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.”

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Newest, Littlest Dalal

No, it is not my baby sister - she doesn't get here until the end of January. But I now have another brand new little cousin brother, Jaiden! He is a little peanut weighing 6 pounds 2 ounces, but he sure does have a lot more hair as newborn
an I did even at 10 months.

Mommy & Daddy think he is pretty darn cute and are a bit bummed about not getting to see him in person for another couple of months. Personally, though, I am not all that into small babies so I am just looking forward to the day that I can dress him up in princess outfits. I figure this has to be less embarassing than the Eagles/Phillies outfits Sagar Kaka will make him wear (much like the ones I was forced to wear by Daddy when I was little). Maybe the men in my family will rethink grooming us little ones into Philadelphia sports fans - it is just way too much heartache!

Monday, September 8, 2008

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Now that the summer is over, I thought I might recap what I did the past few months while we took a hiatus from our blog. It should come as no surprise that Mommy and I were in New Jersey for effectively the entire summer, and spent a whole lot of time with family and friends. We spent most of our weekends traveling, and during the week did very typical suburban things like go to music classes, swim lessons and playdates.

I also spent four days at the Jersey shore with Nani & Mommy. The fact that I have acquired a severe aversion to sand didn't stop me from having a fantastic time on the rides at the boardwalk, the aquarium and even the pool at the hotel. Mommy's favorite part of the trip was getting to eat all the junk food she grew up on at the shore - ice cream, pizza and funnel cakes - which she justified as pregnancy cravings.

The following weekend Mommy and I took a trip to Washington, DC, to spend some quality time with Archan Mama & Aurelie Mami. This was the first time that Mommy & I ventured a drive to Washington all on our own without Nani, who is usually a huge help in distracting me when I get restless in Beltway traffic. But we managed to do ok - even though I did not sleep a wink on the way down - and had a great time eating out, riding the Metro and visiting museums.

Lest anyone think that the vacation was completely relaxing, I went ahead and contracted some crazy virus that spiked a fever as high as 106.1. Nani & Mom rushed me to the hospital, and after 6 hours of tests and waiting, the doctors kindly told us that it was some kind of virus and we just had to wait it out with Tylenol and Motrin. As if Mommy didn't have enough to keep her awake at night (though up until then it was just bouts of morning sickness that struck religiously at 3am).

The good news was that Daddy came into town the next day and within two days I was all better and even able to join my aunts, uncles and cousins in the Hamptons for a long weekend. Mommy describes the weekend as a cross between a wholesome family reunion -slash- college frat party (whatever that means) once the kids were in bed. We celebrated Daddy's birthday with all his cousins, which I think was extra special for him, swam, soaked in the hot tub (except for Mommy), and even managed to survive bathing in ice cold water until the last day when someone figured out how to turn on the hot water heater.

I wish we had more photos to share, but Mommy managed to lose our camera cables that allow us to upload pics, so for now we are relying on the generosity of others who have shared some pictures.