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Published: April 24th 2011
Mexico, Texas, New York and Montreal
“No news is good news,” Laura’s mom used to say to the parents of exchange students who had not communicated in a while. As we take the train through the European countryside we reflect on the two months that have passed since we have written and realize that in our case the expression holds true. Since we last wrote, our life continues to be full of adventure, celebration, family and friends; often with little time to spare. Many of you are probably wondering why and how we came to Europe after three months in Southeast Asia, and we are going to tell you. Others probably are wondering if this is still part of the honeymoon, and while we aren’t really sure, we are calling it “Laura and Aaron’s Great Adventure.” So let us back track. After spending time in Seattle and San Francisco our next stop was Mexico.
We arrived in Cancun for the wedding of Daniel Heck and Emily Airington, Laura’s childhood friend. In spite of all of Laura’s travels, she was visiting Mexico for the first time. Aaron had been to Mexico several times with his family over the years,
The happy couple
Emily and Daniel Heck
but never to the Yucatan peninsula. We were eager to celebrate with Emily and Daniel and happy to be attending a destination wedding that we didn’t have to plan.
As we exited the airport in Cancun, we felt the familiar heat and humidity of the tropics warming our bones. We jumped into the van that would be transporting us to the gorgeous Aventura Spa Palace in Riviera Maya that Emily and D had chosen for their wedding weekend. We knew we were in for a treat as we would be enjoying the perks of an all inclusive resort for the rest of the weekend. Saturday was the wedding day and with a blue backdrop of sky and sea, we witnessed the heartfelt ceremony to which Emily and Daniel committed their lives together. We spent the rest of the weekend eating, drinking and dancing in celebration with their family and friends.
As the wedding weekend came to an end, we headed to Cancun to meet Aaron’s friends from college, Nick and Rochelle. They joined us for the next nine days for a couple’s vacation and their two year delayed honeymoon. With only one night in Cancun, we headed south
to Tulum which is famous for its ocean-side Mayan ruins and authentic culture. We explored the area on bikes, visited the ruins, swam in cenotes (freshwater sinkholes), and ate the most flavorful tacos, tortas and sopes any of us had ever had.
Our next stop was Playa del Carmen where we caught the ferry to Cozumel. We spent the next few days walking the embarcadero, eating more local cuisine, enjoying sunsets, drinking margaritas, renting a convertible, and driving around the island to the best snorkeling spots. Seeing that Cozumel is known for the amazing clarity of the water, we had to scuba dive at least once. We boated out to Palancar Reef and saw multiple stunning varieties of reef and fish, as well as a sharks and turtles. Our thirst for diving was satisfied with two tanks, although there are plenty more places we would love to dive.
Our last four days were spent on Isla Mujeres, a quaint island that is only a twenty minute ferry ride from Cancun with a much more relaxed vibe. The island is only 7 km long and ½ a km across, but it is lined with gorgeous beaches, great restaurants, and
Nick and Aaron in Cancun
admiring the sharks from shore j/k!
fun street performances including the Mexican hat dance. We spent our last days in country relaxing on the white sand, playing cards, taking dips in the aquamarine water and continuing our search for the perfect plate of guacamole and tacos. We had such a great trip with Nick and Rochelle, and we were so glad to share some relaxation and adventure in the Yucatan with them.
On March 2nd we flew back to Houston in preparation for the next Schiff wedding, Laura’s Dad, and we were welcomed by Jason Maas. That evening we were able to catch up with Jason and Sarah (Laura’s friend since middle school) and their amazing kids. The rest of that week was spent catching up with Laura’s dad and Sharon, visiting Laura’s grandma in Texarkana, Mama Jane, and driving to Austin to see Andrea (Laura’s friend since high school) and her husband, Rene. By Thursday a few of the wedding guests began to arrive from out of town and the excitement was building. In spite of the large numbers of friends and colleagues Michael and Sharon both have, they decided to have a small, tasteful wedding with just the closest family. The whole weekend
was full of love, laughter and food. The ceremony was on Sunday and just after it began the sun peaked through the clouds. We were all able to participate. Just six months ago, Michael walked Laura down the aisle, and now she was able to return the favor. Sharon’s four kids, David and Laura, and Autumn and Aaron all stood under the chuppah together. It was a beautiful service and the joining of two wonderful families who are also old friends. Laura is just so glad that her Dad has someone who we all love so much to spend the rest of his life with. On Monday we said our goodbyes as everyone went their own ways. We had a few more days to pack and get ready for our next trip.
Thursday evening we were headed to New York to meet up with our Bocas crew. We rented a car and made our way to Kristen and Brian’s apartment in Brooklyn to see them and Daniel Smetana for a little St. Patty’s Day celebration. The next morning we began our eight hour road trip to Montreal, Canada. Another friend of ours who we know from Panama had invited
The amazing salsas
in Tulum at our favorite taco restaurant
us to see her and her boyfriend’s art exhibition in Montreal. We couldn’t pass up the chance to see Minna and Richard, who live in London, and take a road trip with Brian, Kristen and Daniel! After a miniature dilemma where Kristen forgot her passport in Brooklyn, we made it across the border. We had the great pleasure of staying with another friend who we met in Bocas, Daphne. She and her boyfriend Guillome let us call their beautiful apartment ‘home’ for the extended weekend. We went to Minna and Richard’s opening and gladly celebrated their talent. The weekend was spent roaming around Montreal, hiking to the top of the Mount Royal in the middle of the city, and enjoying each others’ company. The snow and freezing temperatures were not a deterrent to our fun! Fortunately for all of us, we had Kristen’s passport sent to Daphne’s house and thus were able to get her back into the country hassle free.
We spent most of Tuesday driving back to New York City. While we drove up through New York State, we decided to take the scenic drive back through Vermont, Western Massachusetts, and Connecticut. On the way home we
had the opportunity to stop in New Haven to meet Laura’s college friend Dan Dobin and his girlfriend, Kate, for dinner.
The rest of the week was spent walking around the city, visiting with friends, and making decisions about our future. Our original plan behind going to Europe was to find work on mega yachts based out of the French Riviera. The New York trip fell into place because we figured that New York to London was the easiest and cheapest route to Europe and the timing was perfect with Minna’s exhibition. However, as the plan evolved we decided that working on mega yachts was not the direction we wanted to go, but our ticket to London was already purchased. Therefore, we decided that we should just make the most out of our time in Europe before beginning to look for our next home and a new job.
Meanwhile, Laura’s college friends, Emily, Jenny and Rachel, made plans to have a girls’ weekend in New York. Thus, the weekend before we left for London, Laura spent walking around the city, visiting the Museum of Modern Art, shopping, having fancy dinners and going out. Aaron spent his time with
his cousin Eric, Sme, Brian, Kristen, and several other friends. We are both so lucky to have such amazing friends who gather from all over just to be together.
Brian and Kristen so graciously hosted us in their amazing apartment in Brooklyn for over a week. After living with Brian and Daniel in Panama, sharing living space is not only not a problem, but it is quite a pleasure. Monday evening we met up with Melanie Stein (Laura’s family friend) and Aaron’s cousin Eric for some amazing food at the Mexican restaurant where Kristen works.
Overall, our time in New York and Montreal was amazing. While we were excited about our trip to Europe, the weight of the question “what next?” was weighing heavily on our shoulders. We decided to use our time to reflect on what we really want, and try to take full advantage of this period before we move into whatever comes next. We really appreciate the love and support we have received from our family and friends throughout our journey. Stay tuned for the next entry about London, Spain and France!
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