Tag Archives: expat living in Mexico

A Week In The Life

14 May

Life in the jungle can be quiet at times. The question I was asked most frequently during our recent visit to Austin was “what is your day like?” This week the excitement entailed watching a rain storm (I am grateful, our plants were thirsty). Lisa washing the truck in preparation for its sale (thank you Lisa, it’s been hot here!) and a trip to Chetumal.

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All shiny and clean, inside and out.

Yesterday the Laguna was flat with no breeze so I headed out in my little blue kayak. Thirty minutes later, I turned around to race a storm home. The sky to the north looked ominous. The wind picked up and I surfed homeward. What fun with the wind in my back. How quickly the weather can change on the Laguna.

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On Wednesday we went to Chetumal, our nearest city and state capital. Halfway, there is a security checkpoint. We are near the border with Belize, so this is routine. We are used to being stopped in our big black pickup, but assumed it would be smooth sailing in Lolita. Not!

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Our new little car.

The security guards are dressed in black, long sleeves, bullet proof vests, boots, the works, and standing in the sun on a blacktop highway. I don’t know how they don’t pass out. We were signaled to pull over and asked the usual, “where are you from?” We said that we live in Bacalar, but the officer persisted in wanting to know where we were from. We told him, Texas and for some reason he proceeded to tell us all about his 15 day vacation to Florida. His eyes were wide and animated as he talked of Miami, Key West, Ft. Lauderdale…his enthusiasm for our country was palpable!!

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While this may have been an odd security checkpoint conversation for us, to him it appeared an opportunity to share his experience with someone who understood. It was sweet and comical. What a hoot. We laughed for miles.

DOS TORTAS 

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You Know You’ve Made It When…

7 May

Lisa and I have always been very self-sufficient women. When we retired to Southern Mexico in 2013 there were many tasks to be accomplished that needed more language proficiency than we had at the time. We got assistance with the initial immigration process, opening a bank account and all of the federal and local permits required for building our house.

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There are some tasks that are worth figuring out ourselves. It improves language skills and confidence. This week we bought a car.

In Mexico, there are two types of residency cards, temporary and permanent. We are quickly approaching our permanent status. As temporary residents we are permitted to drive a car with US license plates. Not so with permanent residency. Besides it was time ro get rid of the truck.

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Mexican green card.

Our trusty Ford 150 pick-up not only carted all our possessions to Mexico, and made two long trips NOTB, but hauled endless building supplies for the construction of our house. With 158,000 miles, it has served us well and we are so grateful. She is however, too damn big.

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Pulling out the drive in Austin 2013.

City driving in our truck has been a nightmare. Mexican cities are old and streets are narrow. Parking is a whole other story. Buying gasoline is our biggest monthly expense. Our plan all along has been to return from our US vacation and begin car shopping.

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Registering the car and ordering our Mexican license plates.

While on our trip, a car was posted for sale to the Bacalar Yahoo Group. It was exactly the size we wanted, a 2008 Chevy Captiva, merlot red, little wagon with ridiculously low mileage.

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Meet Lolita, the newest Torta!

We struck a deal this week. On Friday we managed to get the car registered in our names and purchase insurance all in about three hours. Feeling quite proud of ourselves we headed out for a road trip to Tulum. It’s nice to feel that we can manage basic tasks in Spanish. Our hard work has paid off.

DOS TORTAS

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There’s Nothing We Can Do? I Don’t Think So

22 Jan

The book Sisterhood Is Powerful was my first exposure to feminism. I don’t remember much about the book other than it changed my entire perspective on life. My initial response was anger and then a sigh of relief as the world began to make sense. I wasn’t crazy.

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On inauguration day I thought I could skate through pretending it wasn’t happening. Living in Mexico, it is way easier to ignore a lot of the craziness going on in the US. I didn’t take into consideration that the whole world is watching, literally. At my doctor’s appointment on Friday, the waiting room television was tuned to live coverage of the events in Washington. It was like viewing a car accident, horrifying, yet I was unable to look away. The rest of the day was downhill from there.

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During the week I had stumbled across a website listing women’s marches scheduled around the world. I was shocked and thrilled to find a walk planned for Saturday morning in Chetumal, a thirty minute drive from our house.

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It always starts with a small group of likeminded souls.

I scrambled to get the word out. I badly wanted to feel a part of the the US activities. IMO January 21 turned into a giant “yagya”, a sacred and auspicious ceremony being performed by massive numbers of people all over the planet. It was surely a tipping point. Bacalar had a showing of six women out of twelve! Woohoo.

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Our youngest participant.

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Getting to know each other over a post walk breakfast.

I don’t see Bacalar as a seat of resistance but I will do what I can to support and assist in any way possible. The most important thing that I saw the march accomplish was to dispel fear. When we are not afraid, we can do anything. Sisterhood really is powerful.

DOS TORTAS

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Mexican Expat Life

18 Dec

Sometimes adventure is not WHAT you visit, pyramids, churches, mercados, etc. but WHO you meet along the way. Join the TORTAS as we venture out from our home in Bacalar along the Costa Maya to explore parts unknown (at least to us).

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To celebrate a Torta birthday this week, we visited the pueblo of Puerto Morelos nestled between Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Little did we know that this cozy fishing village is an exploding tourist town and expatriate destination.

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Guatemalan boys walking the beach looking for tourist pesos.

Something lacking in the far reaches of southern Mexico that we call home, is an English language bookstore. What a surprise to find Alma Libre Bookstore. 

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Rob and Joanne Birce

Not only are Rob and Joanne long time residents of this sleepy little town, Rob went to school with our friend and fellow Bacalar resident, Mitch! We were immediately family and Joanne told us all the best places to eat in Puerto Morelos.

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Visit their website for all things Puerto Morelos.

At Joanne’s recommendation we dined at La Sirena and met the owner Anthony Chalas from my home state of New Jersey. Greek food in Mexico, yum!

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Great artwork for a photo op.

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Caribbean sea turtle mural.

On our two day tour of Puerto Morelos, we got to visit the local mercado and meet Ann Trépanier, French Canadian and artist extraordinaire.

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Making art from recycled plastic. My kinda gal!

Ann makes “fabric” from heating together layered plastic bags. She is passionate about the environment and the changes she sees in her precious little town due to unregulated tourism.

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I wish I’d bought all her bags. Contact her at welovepuertomorelos@yahoo.com

There was one more astonishing encounter with a restaurant manager, but that is a story for another day. Travel in Mexico is full of opportunities. Do venture out of the all-inclusive hotel compounds. Not only will you meet lovely Mexican people and fellow fearless travelers but expats from around the world who live, love and fight to protect Mexico’s resources. Do tell them “hello” from

DOS TORTAS

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Home Sweet Bacalar

23 Oct

Returning to Bacalar, the Laguna of Seven Colors, along the Costa Maya of southern Mexico after two and a half weeks in Northern California has been bittersweet. I loved seeing our grandson daily. His eyes lighting up when he saw me was wonderful beyond words. We read books, went for walks and ate Nana-made concoctions for lunch. It is a grandparents’ lament whether you live in the States, Mexico or anywhere the young ones are not.

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Blueberry smoothie for breakfast, yum. Even this picky eater couldn’t resist. Score one for Nana.

Returning to Bacalar has been noticeably quieter than a home with an eleven month old. Residents have a reprieve before high season brings tourists and snow birds. There is less income for locals, restaurants and hotels, but more peace.

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Favorite restaurant El Manatí got a facelift while I was gone.

Weather is divine, upper 60’s (20C) at night and 80’s (31C) during the day with an afternoon shower to keep the garden green with splashes of color.

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Blooms start out white and actually turn pink! Amazing.

Cutting from a cactus that will get very tall.

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Bird of paradise in bloom.

September completed our first year living in our lovely home. We are enjoying the tranquility and continue to marvel at the life we have created. What is in our crystal ball? A family reunion in November and trip to Texas in the spring. For now we are loving everyday from striking sunrise to breathtaking sunset.

DOS TORTAS

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Last Day In California

16 Oct

Enjoy photos from the art crawl I attended with my kids and grandson on my last day in California. It was a rainy day so we didn’t get to many studios in Sebastopol. Time to get home to Bacalar. The blog will be back to normal, whatever that is, next week. 

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A neighborhood of yard art. The mermaid’s tail is made of can lids.

Patrick Amiot artist

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I want the taco truck!

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Surf’s up.

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Ready for the Day of the Dead.

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Love this one.

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This acrylic artist sure captures dogs.

Mylette Welch artist.

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So sweet.

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The dog on the bottom left reminds me of Luna.

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Baby Max.

DOS TORTAS

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Nana’s Visit To California

9 Oct

Visiting friends, children and grandchildren in the States is a bittersweet part of retirement life in Mexico. Please enjoy a few pictures while I head out this morning to car shop with my daughter and her husband during my vacation to Northern California.

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Taking selfies with dear friends.

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Riding in the back seat with Maxwell.

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A fun time taking pictures at the pumpkin patch.

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The children’s museum.

Max is a great one handed walker who took seven steps to Grandma Lisa on Skype last night. Lisa is holding down the fort in Bacalar. We have a new fence going up while I’m gone.

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A grainy photo of the new privacy fence between us and the neighbors.

In an effort to settle the ongoing conflict with our neighbors, we have put up a fence to keep Luna in and curious eyes out. We now have a small stretch of privacy fence that will have a planter with lovely vines along it. (See Standoff With The Neighbors-How It’s Done In Mexico)

DOS TORTAS

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A House Full Of Goddesses

18 Sep

After spending my junior year attending college in Mexico (In The Beginning), I became enamored of goddesses. It was clear that they played an important role in Mesoamerica. They were the bringers of rain, corn and yes, babies.

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Coatlique – Aztec mother of the gods. (Stock foto) This is an immense statue I visited in 1973 at the Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City.

In the nineties  Lisa and I visited Isla Mujeres, the Island of Women, off the coast of Cancun and the site of worship to the goddess Ixcel (E shell). Young Mayan women travelled by canoe to ask for her blessing in pregnancy and childbirth.

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The site of the temple on a great cliff overlooking the Caribbean.

In 2014, while on our honeymoon, we went to Cozumel and the temple of Ixcel to petition on behalf of our daughter, who now has a beautiful son. The temple was a pilgrimage site, sanctuary, and school of midwifery for the ancients. (Home Sweet Home Bacalar MX)

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Our lovely daughter carries son Max on a trip to New Orleans

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The goddess Ixcel carrying her youngster sits on our kitchen counter in Bacalar.

Our art collection has grown during our travels (Show And Tell Art Purchases) and filled our house with goddesses.

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A high born Mayan woman holding an obsidian mirror. The original is quite diminutive.

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You needed a goddess on your side when birthing in ancient times.

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The goddess of sexual indiscretions. And I thought she was the goddess of weaving haha.

Painted by our friend Jo Mann.

Our history rarely includes herstory. Goddess images are labeled fertility icons, as if that is all women are concerned with. On every continent, strong, powerful images of women have been uncovered. It’s fun to invite some of them to share our home.

DOS TORTAS

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Don’t Battle The Ants

4 Sep

If you have never read 100 Years of Solitude (Cien Años de Soledad) by Colombian Nobel Prize winning author Gabriel García Márquez (1967), you have missed a magical story that takes place in the remote village of Macondo, in the jungle of the Columbian rainforest. It is one of the best books ever written. Seriously.

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I first read 100 Years of Solitude as an international student in Mexico in the seventies. It had just been translated into English. It is a tale of seven generations of the Buendía family who among other things, have the habit of naming their children variations of the same names. It’s enough to make your head spin trying to keep track of the various players.

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Hibiscus also known here as tulipani.

Eventually I gave up trying to follow who’s who and found that it made little difference. I would never give away the ending other than to say it involves ants.

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The video would not upload.

In the jungle a battle with the ants is a battle you will loose. There’s more of them than us and they never quit. No matter how clean your house, they will scurry across the kitchen counter looking for a nibble or a bug to carry off.

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Volunteer papaya tree growing out of the compost pile.

This week I was sitting on the couch and twice found an ant on my leg. I looked up to see a highway of ants coming from under the dog crate. What the…!!

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Bird of paradise blooming this morning.

They show up quickly having decided that something I thought was mine is really theirs. It’s a wonder they haven’t made off with the dog! Time to get out the trusty vacuum cleaner. The best I can hope for is to discourage them. So far, it’s not working.

DOS TORTAS

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Sailing The Laguna

21 Aug

Living in the southernmost part of Mexico does not lend itself to many visitors. The little village of Bacalar where we live is a five-hour bus ride south of Cancun, nestled along the coast of one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. Add to that the fear of Mexico that is actively promoted and it is no wonder why people choose to vacation in Costa Rica, the Bahamas or a cruise to anywhere.

This past week, our friend Karen who lives in Tulum, jumped on a bus to escape the deep jungle heat where monkeys fly through the trees, to hang out with Dos Tortas and enjoy lake breezes.

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As always, having a guest is a good excuse to do something we’ve been putting off for forever…like going for a sail with our neighbors Teresa and Paul.

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Climbing aboard the Gabriela.

It was the first time my MIL had ever sailed and she had a blast on our three-hour tour.

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Lisa and her mom

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Eco Lodge Kuunich Kaanil.

Kuunich Kaanil

 

It’s been on and off raining and threatening to rain. The weather cooperated to give us enough wind and not too much sun. A fabulous time was had by all.

DOS TORTAS 

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On Laguna Bacalar starts the sky.

 

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