Traveling with kids in Mexico: an introduction and a favorite memory

mini super store Mexico
We were only stepping out for cereal milk and fresh papaya for breakfast that early morning when Noah and I stumbled upon the source of the soft corn tortillas we had been enjoying since we arrived in Sayulita.

If there was any signage on the street that pointed out the small factory, we had missed it entirely, and it was only as I went deeper down the narrow aisles of the Mini Super convenience store that we discovered a completely magical production room hidden away in the back.

The scent of toasted corn drew me in, and I inhaled that pungent smell of maize tortillas that was now so familiar to me. Morning light from an open doorway illuminated a long piece of machinery, lightly dusted with white corn flour. A petite Mexican lady was lifting an armload of masa the size of a beach ball into the funnel-shaped top of the machine. Below was a conveyer belt, and the perfectly-formed tortillas formed a procession downward to the tune of the clickety-clack of the moving parts.

I motioned to Noah to come have a closer look and he stood small next to sacks of whole white maize kernels heaped six-high onto wooden pallets. The lady handed him a piping hot tortilla, which he tore in half and shared with me. It was supple and meltingly tender.

No one spoke above the hum of the machine. A few workers glided about the room, performing their actions so smoothly, it was apparent that they had been doing them each morning for years. A delivery boy stood waiting for his cooler to be filled, while another small Mexican lady stood behind a table with a large scale and weighed out the hot tortillas, pound by pound. I bought a stack of my own, handing over the required diez pesos (about 80 cents). A bargain breakfast if there ever was one.

I took a step back to survey the scene, completely captivated by this quiet hub producing the mainstay of the Mexican diet: the humble tortilla. My camera was at home; I didn’t even have my iPhone in pocket to record the moment, yet in some ways, I didn’t regret my oversight. Making a photo that captured the soul of the room and the moment would have been a challenge.

Noah crouched down to get a better look at the mechanics of the tortilla maker – he’s such an engineer’s son – and a ray of sunshine illuminated the million miniscule maize dust particles that slowly whirled around him. I caught my breath with the magic of it all.

Minutes later we were hand in hand, walking back to our bungalow, and nibbling warm tortillas. I felt deeply grateful for the opportunity that our early morning walk delivered.

It had captured the very essence of why I travel with children: a chance to look through a window into the culture of another country and glean a greater appreciation for its simplicity, its perfection.

guac o clock

We are back!  I observed on my Facebook page yesterday:

“Home is where…the coffee is the best, the shower pressure is the strongest, the pillows are the softest, and the knives are the sharpest.”

It really is lovely to be home, although I don’t even need to close my eyes to see the waves crashing on the beach, hear the song of the surf, or feel the weight of the sand between each step. Two weeks stretched into an absolutely blissful vacation full of as much adventure and discovery as it held relaxation and rejuvenation.

beach walk at sunset

This week I’ll be sharing from our trip to Mexico: a few stories, some of my best travel tips, and my favorite images. It is a little different content than what I usually serve up here, but don’t worry, there will be a few recipes tucked in too. If you enjoyed my Instagram feed from the trip, then you’ll love the postings, also.

I hope you’ll read along.

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. What a beautiful story! You are such an amazing writer and told it so much better than a picture could have done. I can’t wait to hear more stories! 🙂

    • You are too kind, Caroline. I still don’t feel like I captured the moment effectively with words, but I had to share it. I thought about going back on another morning and doing a little photo shoot series, but I dragged my feet. I think that I was worried it wouldn’t be the same. Like some of the magic would be gone….
      Thanks for reading. xo

  2. Can’t wait to read more, friend!

  3. Loved this glimpse of your trip as well as the many glimpses from Instagram. Not gonna lie, I think I made tacos a couple times after seeing pics from your trip. I think I was trying to bring a little Mexico to chilly Connecticut 🙂

  4. I loved this post – so magical! I can’t wait to read more about your trip. My husband and I had just decided to take a family vacation to Mexico next year when your post popped up! Our kids will be 8, 6 and 5 at the time and we have only just begun to put it together so I’m eagerly awaiting your words! Off to enjoy your Instagram photos now!

  5. Thank you for sharing a little bit of my country through your beautiful pictures and thoughts. I left Mexico 14 years ago to live in the US and now in Spain, and every time I go back I try to fill my eyes (and stomach!) with everything our beautiful Mexico has to offer.
    Looking forward to more posts!

    • Thanks for commenting, Blanca. I’ve always loved Mexico, but this trip held something special because I felt like I was seeing it though my children’s eyes, and thus, all anew.

  6. Kaitlin Jenkins says

    Can’t wait! Loved all the instagram photos

  7. Aimee,
    Such lovely words paint a compelling picture in my head. Thank you.
    When we lived in Washington DC, there was a restaurant just down the street from my folks (read–perfect for last minute date night after dropping off the babies!). We loved the fajitas there. When the kids were older, they were fascinated by the tortilla machine–similar, with a spinning disc system (like a corkscrew drive in a parking garage?) to move the baking tortillas down before they traveled up the conveyor and dropped into a basket.
    You make me want to vacation in Mexico!

  8. I’ve been following your facebook updates and instagram feed with anticipation during your trip. So fun to see Mexico through your eyes . . . oh, and all that good food, oh my! Can’t wait to hear more about it all.

  9. Sarah Westphal says

    Lovely post Aimee 🙂 Can’t wait to hear more! Brings back such sweet memories.
    It has been many years {pre kids} since the hubs and I visited his parents in a condo they rent for 2 months a year in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. It was magic. The people, the scenery, especially the food! Isn’t it amazing to walk into a Soriana (sp?) and buy key limes (99 cents per KG!), half a papaya, oranges, watermelon & tortillas for 8$!!! [not to mention darn good rum for 7$! and outstanding tequila] Loved it. Every lovely second. Can’t wait to hear how it is with kids!
    Take care,

    • Sarah Westphal says

      It was also magic having travelled there straight from snowy New Brunswick (yes we are neighbours :-), as I am sure it was for you & your family in Quebec! (and coming back to a snowstorm and outrageous fruit prices! lol)

  10. I missed the Intagram but am looking forward to seeing scenes from your trip. I grew up a stones throw away from Mexico and we traveled around down there quite a bit when we were kids in addition to crossing the border to go to some of our favorite eateries every other weekend. Great memories.

    Im a bit of a photog though not a professional, but I’ve spent much of my life with camera in hand and for a while I just rebelled and quit carrying it with me wherever I went. People expected me to have it 24/7 and play photographer and I found that often I was just the photographer instead of being a part of the event.. Im glad you were able to participate with your son in an amazing moment in life.
    Lots of blessings to you!

  11. I’m loving these longer more intimate posts. I love this one and feel a pang of longing. We intended to spend our honeymoon along some coastline somewhere in Mexico, but with farm demands we kept postponing the trip and now we’re coming up on our fifth wedding anniversary. Your post makes me feel a new — better? — kind of delight: anticipation at making that trip eventually, but as a family.

  12. I just loved following along on your journey on Instagram! I absolutely agree with you about children & traveling. While my son is only 1 1/2 years old he will be doing a lot of traveling whenever possible. The most rewarding and memorable moments in my life have been traveling. I went abroad in college and spent some time in Nicaragua–I saw how lucky we are in America and how much poverty there is in the world. It makes you a more humble and appreciative person. Good for you for showing your children the world! Can’t wait to read about all of your adventures!

  13. I can’t wait to read more. I’m already brainstorming how I can convince my family to take a vacation just like yours. It looked so relaxing and refreshing… and so deliciosa, too.

  14. Having been to Sayulita with my young boys, I can relate to the magic of it! Thanks for the chance to take a walk down memory lane! (Is Fish Taco still there – it was our favorite restaurant!)

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