This Is What It Looks Like To Live In The Jungle With Your Family


Two months ago, my husband and I, and our kids ages 7 and 4, traded our home in Colorado for a treehouse in rural Mexico. It’s a temporary trade—we’ll be returning home soon—but it’s been quite the experience, working and living in such a wildly different place. Here’s a photo essay of a typical day-in-our-life.

This is where we live

The village is called Yelapa, accessible by a 45-minute panga boat ride from Puerto Vallarta. There are no cars, which means we walk everywhere. The local people mostly haul supplies using donkeys and horses (and there are a few ATV’s).

Our little abode is a 10-minute walk up a steep jungle path from the town pier. It’s a palapa, which means it has a palm-thatched roof and is completely open to the jungle. You can barely see the house until you’re right at the front door.

On the patio, a huge Amapa tree sprouts through the dining room table. It’s gorgeous. As a result, we’ve nicknamed our home “The Treehouse.”

This is where we work every day

We’re actually not on vacation during this trip. My husband and I are both working part time, plus homeschooling our seven-year-old son. (At home, our son attends a public school.)

I’m a writer, and I like to work at this primitive desk, which requires climbing a handmade wooden ladder to a tiny loft. My desk overlooks the ocean in the distance.

Because he needs to be connected to WiFi for his job, my husband works on this cement laundry table under our house, because this is where the connection is the best. (Random.)

Our kids have a charming little corner for their schoolwork.

Although you can “get by” speaking English in this village, we’re committed to learning Spanish, which deepens our experience. The locals respect people who at least try to speak their language, and we embrace that. I actually speak some Spanish, but here’s my family taking lessons from a local lady.

How we handle our day-to-day tasks

There is a “laundromat” in the center of the village, which is essentially a local Mexican woman who has a washer and dryer, but we usually do our own laundry in our big cement sink. It’s harder than it looks, requiring some good hand muscles. Which means we’re much more selective in deciding what clothes really need washing.

Our kitchen is tiny, but it has everything we need. One of my favorite foods to cook is fresh fish, caught the same day. We bought these little “snappers” from a neighbor, and they were delectable.

Because the water isn’t potable in Mexico, we have to haul big jugs up to our treehouse. When I say “we,” I mean my husband.

There’s a mandarin tree nearby, as well as a weekly outdoor fruit market, so I’ve been teaching my son to make fresh-squeezed juice.


How we spend our free time

Because we don’t have to commute to work, and everything in town is within a 30 minute walk, we spend tons of time outdoors getting lots of exercise and fresh air, and bonding as a family.

This is Isabel’s Beach, our favorite place for swimming. The snorkeling is awesome. I’ve seen hundreds of fish, rays, and eels. Sometimes we see whales or dolphins in the cove, and I love to sunbathe on the big rocks.

Nothing’s off limits in Mexico, so you can rent horses and take them out on your own. Here we’re taking a walk on a path that follows the river deep into the jungle.

Since it’s so rigorous to get here, we pack super light. Which means the kids have very few toys: Legos, a doll, and a few card games. No electronics. Mostly they play in nature, climbing trees or making handmade crafts using found objects, like this wind chime. It’s been awesome to watch them overcome boredom by exploring the natural world.