Ahem, ahem. Check 1…2, check 1…2. Is this thing on? Hello? Can anyone hear me? It’s us, Jason and Deidre breaking our radio silence.

It’s been a while since we’ve written anything and the last time we checked in with you, we were wading in poop water, tearing our hair out and considering running for the hills. Not a great cliffhanger to leave you on so I don’t blame you if you thought we quit traveling (and the blog) and that I’ve been spending my time ironing my Dockers and interviewing for office jobs. While I do forgive you thinking that, it’s far, far from the truth and I assure you that we’re still traveling, still house sitting and still writing about our adventures.

The thing is, we’ve just been trying to catch up on work, dealing with day to day stuff that pops up and in general, just doing normal stuff that no one would want to read about. Well, at least that’s what I thought until we just spent our first Thanksgiving in Mahahual…

thanksgiving in mahahual spread
Turkey, stuffing, green beans…looks normal enough right?

Last week we had a few friends over for Thanksgiving dinner and at some point in that crazy, fun, chaotic evening I looked around and realized something – this was not a “normal” Thanksgiving, at least compared to the ones I was a part of growing up. Now, I’m not really sure what a “normal” Thanksgiving entails – and it’s probably different for everyone – but something was definitely different about this one for us, though I was having trouble putting my finger on exactly what it was. Then it dawned on me (possibly after a taste or two of tequila) that not a single person sitting around our table was from the same place or was related to each other (outside of a couple married folks). This wasn’t a traditional big family Thanksgiving. Instead we had 6 different US states represented and 3 different countries, 8 people from 8 entirely different places and 2 of the people had never even celebrated American Thanksgiving before or even knew what the holiday was about (mainly because they’re not Americans). Hmmm, I started thinking, that doesn’t seem very common. So what else would others consider outside the norm about our Thanksgiving?

The menu was normal, wasn’t it? Turkey, stuffing, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, biscuits, corn pudding, cranberry sauce and some desserts. Pretty normal right? Well sure, but then I started thinking about where it all came from and how hard it was to get all the ingredients and things started appearing a little less than normal (unless grocery shopping in Kansas City has changed in the last couple of years).

The turkeys were rubbed with a Mayan Achiote seasoning and then cooked in an oven that I had recently spent a bunch of time fixing with a circuit board smuggled brought down from Canada.

achiote turkey
Achiote is a paste that is made with orange, tomato and chile de arbol and is fragrant and mildly spicy. Pro-tip: It’s also bright red and will stain your good Thanksgiving shirt if you’re not careful.

Okay, so that’s a little different but the stuffing was boxed Stove Top stuffing – how weird could that be? Our grocery shopping philosophy is if we see something and think we might need or want it at some point – buy it because we might not see it again. Ever. So, the stuffing itself tasted as expected. The weird part is that we’d brought it over 1,000 miles from Pátzcuaro about 6 months ago when we found a couple of boxes tucked high on a grocery shelf. Some people prioritize clothes and shoes when deciding what possessions can and can’t fit into your car for a cross country journey – we prioritize Stove Top stuffing.

The cranberry sauce was just regular old canned cranberry sauce but we were incredibly lucky to have it. After repeated trips (about 3 hours roundtrip) to search every grocery store in the city of Chetumal we couldn’t find any cranberries of any kind so we’d given up on any hope of a cranberry sauce. And yet a day before the holiday I wandered into an Italian friend’s little cheese shop in Mahahual to pick up some appetizers and lo and behold, what did I find? Cans of Ocean Spray cranberry sauce! She’d heard Americans liked it for Thanksgiving and managed to scavenge a couple cans up for the holiday. She was as excited to see our excitement as we were excited to see the sauce.

So there you go, the seasonings were a bit different and finding the ingredients was a bit roundabout but we had the fixin’s to make our first Thanksgiving meal in Mahahual a normal one.

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Mashed potatoes, gravy, glazed carrots, homemade ceviche, corn pudding and cranberry sauce. Wait, ceviche? Of course. Didn’t you have fresh Thanksgiving ceviche?

The food was delicious and plentiful and what I was craving, but what stood out to me most that day were the people that we found ourselves surrounded by. We laughed and laughed well into the night, we told fish stories and then laughed at the fish stories. We ate, we drank, we laughed some more and just had a fantastic time with friends both new and old.

Taking a break from the kitchen.
Thanksgiving is no excuse to miss one of the spectacular sunsets we get to witness from our rooftop. These guys live thousands of miles away and I just met them both last week but I’m sure we’ll be keeping touch. (Hopefully I won’t need this picture to recognize their faces)

The hardest part for us about living a life of constant travel is missing our friends and family, especially on holidays. Looking at all of those smiling faces around the dinner table I realized something. At least for the moment, Mahahual is our home and these folks are not only our friends, they’re our Mahahual family.

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3 countries + 6 states + 8 different stories = 1 big family

Some of the faces at the table, I know very well. We’ve spent many hours together in boats, wading rocky shores and helping each other solve problems. Other faces were new to me but I instinctively knew that I’d be seeing them again. The Costa Maya attracts a special kind of person and we all tend to have a similar outlook on life. Sure, it’s not a family in the normal sense of the word and some of these people have already moved on, but that’s the nature of life on the road and normal for us.

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One of the best reasons to host a Thanksgiving dinner at your own house? Leftovers. And you know you’ve got it good when your buddy spends the night and then puts his decades worth of restaurant experience into making you Thanksgiving Leftover Omelettes for breakfast.

What I realized that night (and the next day) is that traveling full time isn’t normal so nothing that we do is “normal” and while our Thanksgiving seemed “normal” on the surface, it was far from it. In fact, our “normal” is so far from normal that we don’t even notice anymore that we do and see weird and (possibly) interesting stuff all the time. Just today, I bought limes out of the trunk of a random car that pulled up to the house and later I used a piece of plastic I found on the beach to fix a light fixture. These are not normal events, but for us these days? That’s normal. And it’s for those reasons, we promise to try and do a better job of keeping you guys up to date on our “normal” life on the road. Thanks for sticking with us.