Tag Archives: retire to mexico

It’s All About Relationships

11 Jun

Making the decision to move to Mexico required many considerations. One of them was Lisa’s mom, Alice. Lisa left her California home at nineteen and only returned for the occasional family visit. Alice made a few forays to Texas but their relationship was not close. What to do?

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Lisa and Alice. They’re relationship has blossomed.

Alice was feeling increasingly isolated and her capacity for self care seemed to be diminishing. We felt like she would have a more vibrant and varied life with us and decided to invite her to live in Bacalar. After a rocky adjustment, life has settled into a new normal. I decided to ask her a few questions about her decision to move with us. It was a fun chance to connect and get to know her a little better.

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Alice’s 300 sq foot house on our property.

What made you decide to move to Mexico? – First and foremost to be near my daughter. I never really liked Bakersfield and I was ready for a change. My siblings all have their families and I was ready to do something different.

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A secure front door, media room and tiny kitchen.

How has Mexico surprised you? – I had visions of donkeys and huts. People are poor but they work hard. I am always amazed how kind they are. I like that people are not stressed. It’s such a peaceful environment.

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A porch makes the house feel spacious and comfortable.

What do you like here? – I love my house. I also get to see things I’ve never seen before like pyramids, villages, churches and markets. I would like to do more traveling.

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One of the few tubs in Bacalar, a colorful bathroom and cozy bedroom. A design all her own.

What do you miss? – I really miss driving. (we both laughed, as her driving was a problem in CA) I miss going out at night. Sometimes Bacalar is a little too sleepy for me. Truthfully I don’t miss much. I’m really happy here.

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Saving a visitor stuck in the fence and corralled by the dogs.

We talked awhile and agreed that it’s hard to connect with other foreigners here. People live their busy lives in Mexico much like the US. The responsibility is ours to reach out. It’s not easy but very worth it.

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Out And About

2 Apr

The Tortas are on vacation, I know, maybe it’s better to say, the Tortas are NOT in Bacalar for the month of April. We are visiting family and friends in Austin, Texas. As a result, there will be an nominal effort at keeping up the blog. 

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Grabbing a selfie with our good friend Roberta at our favorite breakfast spot, Kirby Lane.

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A respite to contemplate and relax.

Since arriving, I have been in a state of anxiety at landing in a big city and driving around at a gazillion miles an hour. People don’t make eye contact and are focused on their devices or wherever they are headed. Having lived here forty years, everything feels familiar but foreign at the same time.

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Texas Bluebonnets

Today I went for a walk on one of Austin’s many lovely green belts. It was just what I needed! There was cool air, fresh fragrances and lots of friendly dogs and their walkers to greet. In Bacalar, we live outdoors so much, that we feel claustrophobic in the US. Note to self, get outside and connect with nature IMMEDIATELY upon arrival NOTB (north of the border).

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Prickly pear cactus blooming.

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A trail to explore. 

We’re off on an electronics-free weekend camping trip with kids and grands to the Texas Coast. Hopefully I will have some pictures for next week. Until then, if you want to reach us, please use email or FB Messenger and do get out for a walk, wherever you live.

DOS TORTAS

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Feliz Año Nuevo Torta Style

1 Jan

We weren’t big celebrators of Christmas and New Year’s before we immigrated to Mexico. Holiday gatherings had included fewer gifts, less decorations and more food, friends, and family. In fact, Mexico was a needed escape from thle frenzy, traffic and non-stop Christmas music. Can I get an amen?!

We spent today, New Year’s Day with friends on a great boat ride. We had so much fun that we didn’t take many pictures. Muchas gracias to our amiga Harper for sharing hers.

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Friends Barbara and Jean who wanted a boat ride.

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Lisa wishing everyone a Happy New Year.

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Luna gets in on the fun.

Wishing you all peace in 2017 from our house to yours. Remember to have fun and learn stuff. 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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Sacred Icon- The Virgin of Guadalupe

25 Sep

The Virgin of Guadalupe (Mary, Mother of Jesus) is the most revered and familiar image in Mexico. She may be single-handedly responsible for the conversion of Mexico to Catholicism. Devotion to Guadalupe is widespread and overshadows all other saints and even Jesus. So how did she come to grace the walls of our home? (House Full Of Goddesses)

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Brought with us from Texas, this statue replaced a gift from my mother that was stolen out of our yard on Mother’s Day, no lie. The grotto is at the head of the stairs to our front entrance.

As my interest in the sacred feminine unfolded in the nineties, it was not a stretch to see Mary as the modern-day Goddess. My Catholic roots played a significant influence and somehow (to my mother’s delight) this wayward church going girl began acquiring images of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

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My sister-in-law, hearing of the theft of our statue, sent this Guadalupe. She has her own niche in our living room. Hindu goddess touch mine.

Things snowballed from there and Guadalupe moved in.

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I found this print at a thrift store in Texas. She graces our bedroom.

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Painted by my friend Cat Thompson and badly needing a frame.

There are numerous smaller images throughout the house, each with its own story. The most spectacular is the carved, wooden relief that we found in a bazaar in Villadolid during our travels prior to the completion of the house. (Show And Tell Art Purchases)

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All the seller could tell us was that the piece had hung in his home many years and was carved by a man from northern Yucatan.

She was purchased without thought as to where she would hang or if the colors would match, etc. It was purely a gut, “gotta have it” response. The carving was wrapped in newspaper and cardboard and stored until the house was complete.

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She clearly needed a place of prominence.

When we brought the relief out of storage and placed her on the wall, it was an emotional moment. It appeared as if the room were designed for her by her. I believe Spirit moves in many ways. Our home is holy ground on the shore of a sacred lake. We are so blessed. DOS TORTAS

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Swan Lake – Lago de Los Cisnes

19 Jun

A ballet in Chetumal? It was a student production with 40 peso tickets ($2.50). I had extremely low expectations. If you have read previous blogs, you know that even though it is the state capital, Chetumal is not exactly the cultural center of Mexico. But we take what we can get from our sister city to the south and off we went our little group of four gringos.

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The theater itself was a nondescript building. We took public transportation which was a good decision. There was only street parking available.

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Constitution Theater

As with all ballets, the audience was peppered with little girls dressed in their Sunday best.

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The doors opened and everyone filed in and got settled. Out came the cell phones. I think some people actually recorded the entire production.

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The theater attendees were not well versed in ballet etiquette, which is understandable given the dearth of opportunity in Chetumal. Our little band of gringos led the applause at every opportunity.

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Selfies with honorary Torta and neighbor Teresa.

I wish that I had read the synopsis prior to attending. The program was in Spanish of course. With the low lighting and these old eyes, there was no figuring it out. I simply enjoyed the set, costumes, recorded music and performance.

 

The surprise was that it was wonderful! I was in awe of the young dancers and the professional lead (I am making assumptions here). They got a standing ovation from our little band and none other was more deserved. We chattered all the way home in our taxi how amazing the performance was. The best $2.40 I ever spent! DOS TORTAS

 

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A Tootle To Merida

3 Apr

Living in the U.S. gives one a certain perspective on automotive travel. It probably has as much to do with traffic, ability to find parking and one’s genetic makeup of hating or liking to drive.

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One of the Pitfalls of Driving in Any Country

While living in Mexico is not so different, it really is. For one thing, bus travel is far more convenient, comfortable and cost effective. Five hours on a bus allows you to catch up on your reading and possibly make a new friend. We took a tootle this week and visited Merida, a four hour drive by auto, just down the street and an ungodly distance by my old life perspective.

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Sunrise Outside Our Room in Merida

We stayed in our favorite Airbnb, visited Lisa’s surgeon and SHOPPED. I can go to the dark side when visiting a big city like Merida. Shopping is very limited where we live in Bacalar, Mexico’s southern frontier. Although, when Home Depot opened in Chetumal, thirty minutes away, the old timers pointed out how easy we had it building our house now, as opposed to “way back when”.

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Finally Found the Illusive Costco!

We got quite lost driving in Merida and spent way too much time in traffic. Remember, when asking directions in Mexico, make sure the person you ask knows how to drive. The little man in the taco stand can not likely give directions, unless he pulls out his iPhone and Google maps.

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We Didn’t Overdose Too Badly

After Costco we drove to Progresso, on the Gulf, just for the heck of it. Lunch on the beach proved entertaining; watching people and seagulls.

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Lisa Checks Out the Seafood Menu

For the week after Easter, things were pretty quiet in this little beach town.

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A Favorite Way To Beat the Heat in Merida

We were both glad to get home. There was a lovely birthday party next door on Friday evening for our neighbor Teresa. Happy seventieth Darling. A relaxing end to a very busy week. DOS TORTAS

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Papa Francisco’s Visit To Mexico

21 Feb

This week, I was able to watch Mexican TV while visiting a friend and avoiding the fumes of sealing our concrete floors. Most channels were devoted to coverage of the Pope’s visit to Mexico. I was raised Catholic and have mixed feelings about The Church, but this day I was in awe of this Pope and his message. 

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The crowds gathered in Chiapas.

The mass celebrated in the mountainous region of Chiapas was devoted to the indígenas of Mexico. Most people don’t know that there are a million people in the state of Chiapas alone who’s first language is not Spanish. They are the poorest and the proudest. They came in droves and dressed in their best. As the cameras scanned the crowd, it was fun to see simple people recognize themselves on the huge TV screens set up for optimal viewing.

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Forgive my photos of a TV.

Parts of the celebration were in Tzotzil and Tzelta. A line of men and women in native garb took turns addressing the Pope. I was hoping for someone to go off script, but it didn’t happen.

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The women’s voices were given equal time.

The Pope asked for forgiveness for the decimation of native populations by the Church, government and European invaders.

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The Pope’s message spoken to common people.

While many attacked the Pope’s message as nothing but empty words, I was most impressed by his asking for help with climate change. People who live simple lives, close to the land have a lot to teach the rest of us. If we will only listen.

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It’s been a week of laying low and continued rest. The Pope’s message gave me hope, which is in short supply these days while observing the US political shenanigans. Maybe Hilary and Bernie could run together. Now wouldn’t that be an interesting possibility. Please post comments below. DOS TORTAS

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A Vacation to San Miguel de Allende

26 Jul

After spending a wonderful week in Northern California visiting my daughter and her family, I returned to Mexico City to begin the next leg of my adventure. After a long day of traveling, I zipped through immigration at 10pm and was very glad to see my host Benito waiting for me with a smile and my name on a placard. God bless AirB&B.

The most luxurious bus I’ve ever ridden in Mexico, complete with leg rests, movie screens and wifi left from the airport the next morning for Queretaro with connections to San Miguel de Allende, my vacation destination.

Executive Class

Executive Class

Torta friend and long-time San Miguel resident, Nancy met me at the bus station and we haven’t slowed down since.

Picking up your mail in San Miguel.

Picking up your mail in San Miguel.

The following day, I explored downtown, while Nancy went to play tennis. Life offers many opportunities here that we do not have in Bacalar.

Absolutely love putzing in the shops around the Jardin (Center).

Absolutely love putzing in the shops around the Jardin (Center).

And then there are the second story gardens. The unusual amount of rain this year has everything green and lush.

Shops and houses are built around courtyards. Just look up!

Shops and houses are built around courtyards. Just look up!

The locals, expats, and tourists meet in the downtown park for a San Miguel favorite pastime, people-watching. You never know what you’ll see…

The majestic cathedral of Saint Michael is the heart of the city.

The majestic cathedral of Saint Michael is the heart of the city. A giant Freda Kalo provides a photo-op.

Nancy is an amazing ceramic artist. This is one of her pieces showing in a local gallery.

Galeria San Francisco.

Galeria San Francisco.

I have a feeling it will take several weeks to post all the wonderful photos from this amazing city. I leave Wednesday to see my wife and view the progress on our house. Today is also the first anniversary of our marriage ceremony last year in California. Happy Anniversary Darling.

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The Artistry of Bacalar

25 Jan

San Miguel de Allende in northern Mexico is an artists’ haven. We stopped last year on our drive back to Bacalar from visiting family in Texas. There are artisan markets, galleries, beautifully landscaped architecture and well, sigh…I returned to our little town of Bacalar feeling depressed and longing for a more stimulating creative environment.

The street in San Miguel.

The street in San Miguel.

In the year since, I have discovered the amazing arts community that is Bacalar. It began when I opened my eyes.

Colibri

Colibri

This beautiful hummingbird and the blue deer that follows grace the wall of a house that is under construction. The colors are vibrant and my bicycle excursion up a new street uncovered them, much to my delight.

Venado Azul

Venado Azul

Down the street from our house, the newly named Frida Kahlo school for differently-abled children received a new mural outside its gate over the recent holiday vacation.

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My favorite mural is on a main street leading off the town square.

The sky begins on Laguna Bacalar.

The sky begins on Laguna Bacalar.

Even a little house that looks like it’s about to fall down provides the canvas for an artist’s expression.

The work covers part of the front door in its beautiful expression.

The work covers part of the front door in its beautiful display.

There are amateur murals, perhaps from a community project of years ago.

Note the crocodile in the foreground.

Note the crocodile in the foreground.

A recent state-wide celebration included the commission of this mural on the wall of the Bacalar Tourist Center.

Flying fish than can be seen when I'm out in my kayak.

Flying fish that can be seen while kayaking on the laguna.

Next week starts the annual Art Rendezvous at Casita Carolina. Local and visiting artists gather for five days and capture the sights – mercado, pyramids, palm trees and colorful residents. On Saturday next there is a community party and art sale. Everyone is invited to participate. I’ve decided to paint even though I haven’t picked up a brush since high school.

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With exceedingly low expectations of my artistic abilities I will join in and chronicle the fun. Clearly our community is far more artistic and creative than I previously saw. With such a beautiful environment, how could it not be.

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Follow up to last week’s blog  Los Perros of Bacalar –

I did not expect that blog followers would be willing to open their hearts and resources to the dogs and cats of Bacalar, silly me. This weekend there was a sterilization clinic with additional pictures on the Dos Tortas Facebook page. It is a public page that you can access without a FB account. If you wish to contribute please contact me for further information. A large bag of dog food costs $25US and the average cost to sterilize an animal is about $20. We have the offer of a permanent location and would like to have monthly clinics. There are start up equipment costs, but money goes far in Mexico.

Our visiting veterinarian and expat nurse extraordinaire Patty.

Our visiting veterinarian and expat nurse extraordinaire Patty.

DOS TORTAS

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