Tag Archives: retire mexico

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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Turn Here

26 Feb

On our way to Merida for the watercoloring adventure, Rendezvous 2017, our little band of travels got hungry and began looking for a place to stop. It is a long drive and we had set out early from Bacalar. Casually making a turn off the highway in search of a little village eatery, we were quite astounded at what we found.

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The pyramids of Mayapan were not 100 feet off the highway. We had all traveled the route to Merida many times oblivious that this ancient village was hidden behind the trees.

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Mexico is like that. Make a wrong turn or a right turn and step into a whole other world.

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A winged bird-human.

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Posing with a giant carved mask.

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My friend Yolanda made the climb to the top of the largest pyramid. We were so amazed at how many times we’d unknowingly passed these pyramids.

We spent a brief time climbing the pyramids and taking pictures, with promises to return when we had more time. I never tire of learning about the Mayan people who lived in the Yucatán so many years ago.

DOS TORTAS

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A Story Like The Wind

5 Feb

When our children were young, I read them bedtime stories. Little Women, The Indian in the Cupboard. I love to read aloud. Maybe it’s because my dad did too. He read the Sunday comics with a different voice for each character. He should have been a voiceover actor.

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My dad like to read, travel and he liked parades.

For twenty-three years we have continued with the bedtime reading ritual. I read aloud, Lisa listens. I wish I had kept track of all the books we’ve read.

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The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings Series, the Harry Potter books, the seven Chronicles of Narnia, the Eragon series by Christopher Paolini (I highly recommend them although we’ve never read the fourth book.) and two of my favorites, A Story Like the Wind and it’s sequel, A Far Off Place by Laurens Van Der Post to name a few.

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If I had to pick my favorite book of all time, it would be The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye. I think I’ve personally read it three times. And many, many more in twenty-three years. Why did I not write them down? I don’t think I imagined I’d be reading for so long.

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Presently we’re reading the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith.

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Not all books lend themselves to being read aloud. Choosing from the adolescent section is a good bet. We’ve slogged through many books that should have been retired early on. We’ve also shied away from anything that might prevent pleasant dreams.

This week I will be in Merida for Art Rendezvous, so no reading before bed. We’ve tried reading over the phone, but it’s not the same.

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So you might try reading someone a bedtime story, a child, elderly person or your spouse. It is the absolutely sweetest experience. And who knows, it could create a lifelong habit.

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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A Friday Night In Smalltown Mexico

30 Oct

What is there to do for a retired expat on Friday night in a sleepy little Mexican town, far from the nightlife of Cancun and Playa del Carmen? While my wife was enjoying an evening of gringo poker, I thought I’d take myself out for dinner and a walk around the park to see what’s shaking in Bacalar.

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The gazebo in the heart of downtown Bacalar.

It was early by Mexican standards. Families would be out as soon as the sun went down and the evening cooled. Vendors were setting up shop, probably looking forward to the Day of the Dead activities next week. Memorial alters will be on display around the park featuring candy skulls, family photos and lots of marigolds. It is an annual competition and a huge draw that brings people into town to participate or view. There were few tourists about this evening and sales were slim pickings.

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The first vegan restaurant in Bacalar.

I ambled over to El Mango y Chile. I very much want to support local entrepreneurs who try new things that bring flavor to Bacalar. Dani and Jesús, the owners, are go-getters and the food is yummy. They also have a food blog mangoychile.com with lots of healthy Mexican dishes.

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A lovely patio overlooking the Laguna.

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Someone out on a sunset sail.

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A street dog with sweet eyes and a thumpy tail was under a table. I want to take them all home.

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The classic “burger” that come with the best fries in Bacalar.

My dinner was yummy. The location is perfect and I hope the restaurant thrives. No walk about is complete without a stop at one of several new heladerías that have popped up around the square.

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A must stop for any and all visitors. The owner is Mr. Personality and fun to talk to in English or Spanish.

Cappuccino ice cream was the choice this evening before I caught a taxi home. There is probably more action in some of the bars if one is looking for it. I do wish that there were live music and a dance venue, but that would require us to stay up past 9:00. I would consider it, believe me, except in Bacalar, nothing starts until 9:00. Ah, for a night of youthful energy once a week. I don’t think it’s asking too much, do you?

DOS TORTAS visit us on Instagram at 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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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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Bark Sniff Poo Repeat

28 Aug

The exercise, entertainment and care of Princesa Luna requires daily forays into the mosquitoey jungle. We clothe our bodies head to foot and douse in repellant, especially at dawn and dusk. I don’t think she appreciates us.

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The lane in front of our property.

This week I brought my camera along. Taking a picture with a dog dragging me along does not lend itself to the best shots.

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There are always flowers blooming. Watch the sharp points on the leaves. Ouch.

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Luna knows the way.

The path is surprisingly refreshing as the hot sun does not penetrate the jungle canopy.

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Why did the tarantula cross the road?

Luna is so curious about everything. This tarantula would not hang around to play.

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Lovely green wall.

There is an open property up the way where Luna and I run and play. I lust after cuttings of this cactus. I must return with my machete, gloves and NO dog.

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The jungle is also home to these amazing blue butterflies. They are the size of your palm and impossible to photograph.

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She doesn’t look one bit guilty. Maybe a little.

If it weren’t for Luna insisting that we go for a walk, several times a day, we would miss so many amazing things. We have seen fox, coatis, parrots and more. I guess life  in the jungle is a dog’s paradise. Ours’ too. DOS TORTAS

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Preparing For Our First Hurricane

7 Aug

As The Tortas approach three years of retirement on Laguna Bacalar in Southern Mexico, our first hurricane was predicted to arrive Wednesday evening with up to 75 mph winds and twelve inches of rain. We live about thirty miles as the crow flies from the Caribbean, separated by water and mangroves and not much else. As with all hurricanes, much depends on their direction and intensity. We watched the sky and prepared for the worst.

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A Beautiful Day For A Hurricane

We hired workers to help us prepare. They cut dead branches, put away outdoor plants and furniture, tied up the kayaks and set sand bags in place. Our concern was for water barreling down the hill toward the house, if we got the foot of rain that was predicted.

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Machetes Were Flying Trimming Trees

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Plants Off The Roof and Kayaks Secure

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Reinforcing the Dock

As predicted the rain started late Wednesday afternoon. And then it stopped. We waited. Everything we could do was done, so it was time for the TORTAS first ever hurricane party!

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Dinner, Dominos and Drinks with Neighbors

During the night Earl turned south and took the brunt of its damage to Belize. Lisa slept through the wind which was hardly more than any tropical storm that blows through Bacalar. We had several heavy showers over the next few days, and that was all. Almost disappointing.

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The Islands Of Belize Were Not So Lucky

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Thursday morning with intense skies and waves.

While we are grateful for the lack of damage we received, we are much more aware of the amount of work it takes to be prepared. In the future, a generator, hurricane shutters and improved drainage could cut the time in half. Lesson learned.

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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