We arrived in Merida safe and sound. Well, as sound as ever we are. The travel day was long, as travel days with four kids tend to be, with the alarm going off at 4:50 to be ready in time for a 5:30 a.m. airport shuttle. After checking our bags, we went through security. We had to step aside so the agent could pick through the lunch we’d packed for the plane: PB&J and turkey sandwiches stuffed back into the bread bag, leftover crackers from home, and two apples. You never know if the family with a bunch of kids is smuggling weapons or explosives in the peanut butter. Ah, it’s a weird world but she let us go quickly enough, saying conspiratorily to Kevin, “Well, it’s expensive to feed your family in the airport!” What’s this? Actually humanity among the TSA staff? Thank the good Lord.

Anyway, that check was nothing compared to the Mexican airport agent, along with an army guy in fatigues!, rifling through my underwear because they must have seen the pocket knives Kevin and the boys brought in their bags. They must have thought my bag was the culprit. At any rate, they never found the knives. I’m not even sure why the guys brought them in the first place. It’s not a nice feeling to have rubber-gloved, straight-faced strangers handling your underpants, speaking Spanish rapidly to each other in undertones.

We’d had big plans to get the ADO bus from downtown Merida—the first-class, luxury motor coach that is reputed to have bathrooms on board and play movies for passengers. Without much persuasion, however, we agreed to take a shuttle van from the airport. It was a little more expensive that way, but it was definitely easier to have door-to-door service since Tired Laura on Way to Meridawe were all so exhausted. Brenny had a terrible cold—runny/stuff nose, watery eyes, headache, the whole bit—and was really uncomfortable. Everyone else had been up all night in the hotel the night before as he tossed and turned in the tiny room. So we quickly took the chance for the private ride, which also got us into Merida one hour earlier than we’d expected on the bus. The van drivers even stopped for gas at a 7-Eleven, which gave us the chance to purchase sim cards for our cell phones (about $3 each), change money, and grab some water bottles.

Speaking of water… there’s no drinking it here in Mexico. Having read about this issue online, we first asked the taxi guys, one of whom spoke English a bit, and they affirmed that you should not drink it. Next we asked our property manager, who let us into our rental house, and she seemed adamant that you NEVER drink the tap water. Ok, I get that. But this leads to other questions: What about brushing your teeth? What about washing your dishes and then eating from them? How do you clean vegetables and fruits? Do restaurants use the water–how do they make the ice? How do they clean their fruits/veggies? As it’s the age of Google (and I have no desire to learn the Mexican Cha Cha), I will soon have the answers to all of these questions.

As night descended, a gray light fell on the house and dimmed our moods. My head felt heavy and dusty. I knew a good, healing sleep was the best thing for everyone. We each had a hot dog for dinner—not the culinary treat I was hoping for but it filled the space in my belly so that I could fall into nine hours of dreamless slumber.

As my mother always said about difficult situations, “This too shall pass.” And it did. I woke up the next day full of sass, ready to take on the challenges of figuring out life in a different place.