Tag Archives: move to Mexico

A Tiny House in Mexico Revisited

25 Mar

via A Tiny House in Mexico

I thought I’d update a few pictures of my mother-in-law’s tiny house. It’s been one of my most popular blog posts. 

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Entrance

All is well. Just a stumble. 😂 I even predicted it.

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Tiny House Plans

Alice has been visiting California and missing her cozy nest. Her kitty is also missing her.  I think I know more of what it feels like to be a house sitter as Lisa is away as well. Whatever you do this week, make it an adventure.

DOS TORTAS

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Lightning Strikes Twice

18 Mar

I have experienced typhoons in Japan, hurricanes in Texas and lightning in a snow storm in New Jersey, but nothing like the electrical storm we had this week in Bacalar, Mexico. This was a doozy.

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The evening started with quiet flashes and increased breezes coming from the north. Only because we had just installed hurricane curtains on our screened-in porch, did we close up the house and head to bed. Might as well give these puppies a go. Lord were we in for a night!

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An example of some of the storms that roll across the Laguna.

It wasn’t long before the storm hit. Blinding flashes exploded one after another followed immediately by ear splitting sonic booms which told me that the storm was stalled right over us. My father had taught me to count, one-thousand one, one-thousand two, between lightning and thunder claps to track the storm’s movement. It was right on us and I was glad for the concrete bunker that we live in and our newly installed protection.

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Just in time.

I badly wanted to go up on the roof to watch the storm, but frankly I was scared. Mexico leads the world in death from lightning (National Lightning Safety Institute) and I wasn’t about to be stupid. The lack of grounding wire in many homes in Mexico is likely the culprit, not to mention the spaghetti bowl of dangling wire that can be seen all over most cities.

I checked on the dogs who seemed to be doing quite well considering, battened down the hatches some more and climbed into bed. I fell asleep counting one-thousand one, one-thousand two, as the storm slowly moved away.

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NOT taken during the storm.

The next morning our yard looked like it had been through a spin cycle. Two banana trees came down with their top-heavy load of green bananas, lots of leaves, and a few big branches was all. We had gotten a much needed drenching and overall faired pretty well. It took a few days but all is back in order. Next time I will take pictures.

DOS TORTAS

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A Matter Of Perspective

14 Aug

A year ago we were up to our eyeballs in the construction of our house in Bacalar, Mexico, a small town near the southern border of Mexico and Belize. We had bought lakeside property in 2012 and then returned to our home in Austin, Texas to turn our lives upside down and retire to Mexico. Eight months later we kicked off the Adventures of Dos Tortas. And what an adventure it’s been!

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Our bright functional beautiful kitchen today.

 

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The floors were newly painted. Sept 16, 2015

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Building the center island. Lots of sanding. Aug. 24, 2015

Our followers can’t seem to get enough pictures of our house, so I thought I’d post some before, during and after photos. It gives us perspective on how far we’ve come. Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude.

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Counter on the east wall. This morning.

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One year ago.

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Pantry off the kitchen. During and after.

Here are a few more pictures. Some days we have to pinch ourselves.

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The mistress bathroom. 

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Guest Bath. Building a stub wall.

Pictures of the outside will be in a future post. Thanks for this little walk down memory lane. As you can see, we’ve come a long way baby. DOS TORTAS

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Don’t Pour Gasoline

31 Jul

I try to keep my life chill. When a problem arises, too often the pull is to pour gasoline rather then step away from the ledge. I make problems bigger and scarier rather than talking them down. This week I had the ultimate test of my resolve…a car accident.

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Pulling out of our drive in Austin, Texas

The Tortas drive a large Ford F-150 truck that was perfect for hauling our possessions to Mexico but does not work well maneuvering in a small town like Bacalar.

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A busy mercado with limited parking.

During a quick stop at the mercado to pick up some veggies for dinner, I found a taxi double parked in front of my little fruteria and leaving me little room to maneuver. I squeezed through but did not leave enough room to pass the car parked on my right. I clipped the bumper and tore it off completely. My stomach began to flip flop and I was in a panic before I even got out of the truck. We all know what’s it’s like having a car accident, not fun at best and a complete life-altering disaster at worst.

A man and his wife and adult son emerged from an older sedan.  They circled the car, pointing out damage and shaking their heads. My fear was that they would call the police. It’s not that I’m afraid of the police, but the more people that get involved, the higher the price goes.

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Local police.

I didn’t know what to do. They began discussing mechanics. I was pouring gasoline.

When I asked what they wanted to settle things, the man meekly asked for two thousand pesos which I did not have and was an outrageous price. I pulled a 500 peso bill from my wallet and offered it as compensation ($30us). The woman looked me in the eye and said, “we’ll take it”. I handed her the money and we shook hands. When I came out of the store, they were gone. To put this in perspective, most laborers make about 250 pesos a day for hard manual labor.

It took me hours to get the adrenaline out of my system. How often do I create problems where there are none, but there “could be”? Valuable lessons were learned, among them, always deal with the woman. DOS TORTAS

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Living in Mexico – Settling In

17 Jan

It is the dream of many to retire to a tropical climate in Mexico. After years of saving, research, and selling off our home and possessions in Austin, Texas, Dos Tortas came to be. Our blog tells the story of living on lovely Laguna Bacalar, the second largest lake in Mexico, for two and a half years in preparation for construction. Welcome/bienvenidos to our home….

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Stages of construction.

We purchased the lakefront property in 2012. It was a rough sloping lot with potential, close enough to the town o Bacalar to ride our bikes to the mercado.

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25 meters x 100 meters (.62 acres)

There were many hoops to jump through in order to build in an environmentally sensitive area. An impact study was not in our thoughts as we signed a purchase contract.

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We’re hanging pictures!

Dreams of our crystal blue lake, swimming “out back”, kayaking, and boating danced in our heads. We could see the end result but did not explore adequately the process to get there. But that is behind us as we settle into our new home. In Mexico!

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Our new “couch” was installed on Friday.

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The fountain near the outdoor bathroom is trickling down the rock face.

There are interior details that have yet to be completed. A rooftop patio is on the drawing board. We have enough projects and gardening to keep us busy for a long time. Stay tuned.

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Mass Shootings or Farmer’s Markets

6 Dec

Bloggers living in Mexico notice with increased interest when scarey stuff happens in the USA. By comparison, Mexico is looking good. 

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Myself, I try to avoid the news. It’s hard to do I admit. Whether online or on TV there’s such a pull to understand the non-understandable. I refuse to be afraid.

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So instead, I will present another aspect of California that hasn’t made the news lately. The Tortas visited two really nice farmer’s markets on our recent trip to California. I always head to the ethnic food vendors. Mediterranean was especially good at both Windsor and Bakersfield markets.

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Olives, dates, tabouli, hummus and pitta bread are all impossible to find in our little corner of Mexico.

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Of course, every Mexican village has the most wonderful mercado. They are filled with hundreds of items you don’t get in the US, fresh coconut water, tree ripened bananas, and plants and pottery that are really, really cheap.

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US-style farmer’s markets are catching on in Mexico where there are large foreign populations. I attended one in Merida and they were selling bread! Mmmmmm. Fortunately or unfortunately one will never appear in Bacalar. We live in a part of Mexico with a very small foreign community. Which is just the way we planned it.

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Green juice vendor in Bacalar.

So if you’re looking to move to Mexico, don’t come because you’re afraid of the US. You’ll bring your fear with you and be equally unhappy here. Just my opinion.

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One Handed Blogging

29 Nov

Holding our new grandson is the sweetest experience.  Our grandmotherly duty starts around 7:30 am with the handoff of Max, allowing the new parents some much needed sleep. 

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Grandma Lisa starting off her day.

Ask any retiree in Mexico what the hardest part about being away from the U.S. is and missing the grands is at the top of the list.

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The Texas grands Sophia and Hunter.

The Tortas will be braving the chill of Northern California for another week before heading south.

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The best places to take a nap, in Grandma’s arms.

The next best thing to being in two places at once is Skype or FaceTime. I remember being a kid and hearing that someday we’d be able to see who we were talking to on the phone. “Yeah right!” You don’t have to be living on beautiful Laguna Bacalar in southern Mexico to be watching your grandkids grow up electronically. What a miraculous time we live in.

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Eleven month old Sophia with Uncle Cullen.

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Eating Organic in Mexico – An Adventure of a Different Kind

22 Feb

The Tortas are on vacation. Please enjoy a previous post.

A large part of moving to Mexico for me was driven by the memory of roaming local mercados brimming with fresh fruits and vegetables. In 1975, as a college student in Mexico, I gorged on whatever was in season, especially relishing avocados and tropical fruits not found in my native New Jersey.

As with everything inthe world, times have changed, and in 2014, asking a merchant in the Bacalar market where their produce is from often results in a blank stare. For this reason, I have thought often of the organic farmer’s market left behind in Austin, Texas. I willingly paid higher prices, which included the privilege of meeting the farmers who grew and brought their culinary wonders to my neighborhood.

On Saturday, the Tortas were excited to take a road-trip to a local organic farm that we’d heard about. After driving 40 km or about 25 miles, we came to what’s otherwise known as Kilometro Cinco (five).

An easy-to-miss wooden roadside stand fronts an amazing farm owned and operated by a husband-wife team. All work is done manually. There is no roto tiller pulled behind a tractor. The rich earth in this soil poor area is the result of twenty years of composted chicken manure. It is obvious that these folks work hard, love what they do and have a green thumb that I can only dream of. We followed them to their fields and were in awe of the crops that were harvested before our eyes. It doesn’t get any fresher than this. There was eggplant, cabbage, kohlrabi, two kinds of espinaca (spinach), red and green lettuce, arugula, chard, bok choy, basil, Serrano peppers, dandelions and probably more that I’m forgetting. It was a Spanish lesson as well. I will have green smoothies for days. Kilometro Cinco is a treasure and well worth the trip. Our huge basket of veggies, farm eggs and oranges cost about $10US. I’m in heaven and no longer dreaming of farmer’s markets.

Rows of lettuce and peppers.

Rows of lettuce and peppers.

Growing in the jungle.

Growing in the jungle.

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Harvesting as we go.

Harvesting as we go.

Though For The Day

Though For The Day

Healing a Not Broken Leg – Isn’t Life Amazing?

25 May

Memorial Day weekend 2013, our daughter was getting married. Life was busy with selling our home, getting rid of most of our possessions and winding down our jobs. We went from crazy busy to retirement life in the jungle of southern Yucatan.

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Life here is not for everyone. We did not want a large English speaking community with all the amenities of the US. Our nearest city and the capital of the state of Quintana Roo (Row) is about a 40 minute drive. Chetumal (pop 260,000) sits on the boarder with Belize and the Bay of Chetumal. It is not a tourist destination in spite of efforts to make it so.

Museum of Mayan Culture

Museum of Mayan Culture

Chetumal is where we go for medical care. Friday was three weeks since my fateful bike accident and time to return to the traumatologist. Don’t let appearances fool. While the buildings look right out of the 1950’s, the care is top notch.

Clinica Independencia

Clinica Independencia

My experience thus far with medical care has been that it’s low tech but very hands on. Doctors take time. It’s not that high tech isn’t available, MRIs, etc are reserved for more serious situations. Dr Diez-Torres removed my cast, gently manipulated my knee, assessing pain and range of motion. He explained using a model what was going on. Our conversation was in both English and Spanish. We looked at the X-rays again and agreed that my leg probably wasn’t broken. He told me to return to normal activity as I was able and use light weights to do leg extensions to build muscle strength. I felt like I was talking to an equal.

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My knee continues to heal. I look forward to swimming and no pain. While life in this corner of the globe is not for everyone, the lack of stress and beauty that abounds makes it perfect for us.

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These Flip-flops are Finally Settled – For Now

9 Mar

Since the beginning of September, the Tortas have been homeless. We’ve been traveling, staying with friends, family, and living out of suitcases. Even paradise has it’s challenges.

While visiting Texas in January, we heard of the availability of a house in Bacalar. It is beautifully furnished, spacious, has two bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen and overlooks the laguna, all for less than $500US.

The downside was no wifi, but that has been remedied. We moved in February and will bring our trailer and unpack some of our belongings this week. Although the house is completely equipped with about everything we need, our personal chachkas will make it feel more like home. The building process is taking longer than we expected and the ability to settle in our own space and relax has greatly improved our frame of mind. What blessings the universe showers.

We have been meeting with our builder and have preliminary drawings for our house. The next step is the “permisos” or permits. There is an environmental study that needs to take place among others. All will take time.

While we wait, we are ramping up our exercise program and improving our eating. Months of traveling and someone else’s kitchen have taken their toll. Once the actual construction begins, there will be lots to do, even if it’s sitting and watching paint dry.

Our New House

Our New House

From the Front Porch

From the Front Porch

Down to the Laguna

Down to the Laguna

From the Mercado

From the Mercado

Roof View

Roof View

Thought For The Day

Thought For The Day

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