Tag Archives: Retirement Adventure

Adventure Begins When Something Goes Wrong

22 Jun

When living in Mexico, buying property and building a house, we are ducks out of water, way out. The best way to have things go wrong is to have expectations of how they should go in the first place. Try as we might to be open to surprises, we didn’t see this one coming.

Our house is being built in an ecologically sensitive area. New laws are being enforced and as with any bureaucracy, it’s a moving target. We were told that to avert paying for a very expensive study on our lot, we would have to remove fifteen “protected” palm trees. It mattered not that the trees were planted by the previous owner and that we had no intention of molesting them in the building process. We would have to remove the trees from the lot and replant them after the building permit is granted or pay as much as $6,000us. Huh?

Now try wrapping your brain around moving five 30 foot high royal palm trees.

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It was suggested that we give the trees to a vivero, landscaper, who would remove them for free and sell to a hotel in Cancun. NOT! Fade to me hugging trees and crying.

Six smaller "foot of elephant" palms that also had to be moved.

Six smaller “foot of elephant” palms that also had to be moved.

After having a conversation with Pedro, who does yard work for us, he assured us that, much to our amazement, the trees could be dug out by hand and moved and he knew other workers who would help with the endeavor.

I have never seen men work so hard in my life. They used picks, levers and ropes and achieved the impossible. Lisa’s truck was commandeered and a small front loader rented. The trees were removed and placed in a protected area so they will hopefully survive. We will then reverse the process to place them around our house to provide shade and beauty.

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Even Mexicans scratched their heads as we tried to explain what and why. We decided that it was an opportunity to landscape that we would never have taken otherwise. Hopefully this time next year I will be writing my blog from a back porch in paradise, under my rustling palms. Fingers crossed.

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Feliz Cinco Ya’ll – Take Two

4 May

Due to a mishap over the last few days, I’ve decided to repost my Cinco de Mayo blog from last year. We sure have come a long way in our relocation to Mexico.  On Friday I  went down hard on my bike and have a hairline tibial fracture behind the right knee. I will be in a brace for three weeks. This morning I’m on pain medication and not thinking too clearly. A handsome traumatologist got me seen, xrayed, diagnosed in and out in two hours for less than $200 Xays, brace and medication.

 

Immobile for three weeks.

Immobile for three weeks.

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A Repost From 2013

Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in Austin by waving green, white and red Mexican flags. So much so that I once heard someone point to a Mexican flag and refer to it as a “Cinco de Mayo” flag. It’s a day for family, friends, eating tacos, listening to conjunto and drinking cerveza. Few know what the holiday is really about. When living in Mexico, I visited the Fort de Puebla where a fight for independence took place in 1864. The French, with their highly trained forces thought they had a cake walk in taking over Mexico. A rag-tag militia of about 500 strategically placed Mexican soldiers proved them wrong. Mexico’s independence took years of battles with French, Spanish, US, and British troops. It’s no wonder everyone celebrates a win by the underdogs.

But Cinco is a celebration of much more than the Battle of Puebla. It’s the celebration of a strong, proud, independent people who love to celebrate just about anything. As a youngster from New Jersey, I was wary of a picnic in a cemetery for Day of the Dead. It was a delightful day that allowed me to experience another culture in a very personal way. There are birthdays, saint days, quinceñeras, religious holidays, Sunday picnics, and many more events that I hope to learn about and participate in.

We continue to pack containers, take books to Half Price, have dinner with friends and plan our escape. There are no “final” goodbyes. Just about everyone is invited to visit. So if you think that southern Yucatan may be a vacation destination in your future, get your passport, practice your Spanish and bring a “celebration state-of-mind”, and remember your hammock.

Alex Enjoying a Sunny Lake Bacalar Day

Alex enjoying a sunny Lake Bacalar day

Sunset on the Bay of Chetumal

Sunset on the Bay of Chetumal

The Expat Community Center – Casita Carolina

20 Apr

When we visited Bacalar for the first time in December 2012 we stayed in a wonderful guest house called Casita Carolina.

Carolina - Queen of Bacalar

Carolina – Queen of Bacalar

As visitors we connected with other travelers and daily life in our soon-to-be new community.

Sunrise Extraordinaire at Casita Carolina

Sunrise on the Lawn at Casita Carolina

This year, as residents, we’ve come to appreciate that Casita Carolina’s also serves as a cultural center. There are monthly opportunities to gather and meet new friends, enjoy musical performances, and celebrate holidays.

Ginger Heat - Delightful Visiting Madrigals

Ginger Heat – Delightful Visiting Madrigals

Every year at the end of February, artists both local and visiting show off their talents at the Art Rendezvous. For a week, they visit sights with their watercolor pads in hand to immortalize the scenes and people of Bacalar. A wonderful sale follows. Anyone can participate in the fun as painter or patron.

Come One Come All

Come One Come All

Resident of Bacalar

Resident of Bacalar

El Mercado

El Mercado

Sights of Bacalar

Sights of Bacalar

We are coming to love and appreciate this wonderful little community that every day feels more like home. Thank you Carolina for all you do for Bacalar.

Small Town Living in Mexico What No Starbucks?

6 Apr

When we made the decision to move to Mexico’s Southern Yucatan peninsula, it was for as much of what we didn’t find here as what we did. As I ride my bike around town, I see so many sites that delight my eyes. I don’t want to romanticize poverty, but what you and I might consider poverty has it’s wealth in simple living for many. Enjoy some of the sights of Bacalar as it prepares for an influx of tourists for Semana Santa (Holy Week) leading up to Easter.

One of Many Majestic Trees

Enjoying the Shade in Bacalar, MX

Cenote Azul

Cenote Azul A Swimmer’s Paradise

On the Costera - Spiffing Up for the Holiday Week

On the Costera – Spiffing Up for the Holiday Week

A Small Hang Out for the Hipper Crowd

A Small Hang Out for the Hipper Crowd

Simple Traditional Home

Simple Traditional Bacalar Home

Model of Bacalar Found In The City Park

Model of Bacalar Found In The City Park

Looking For a Bathroom or a House to Buy?

Looking For a Baño or a House to Buy?

One of Ten Speedbumps or Tolpes Along the Highway.

One of Ten Speedbumps or Topes Along the Highway Through Bacalar

Gratitude, Gratitude, Gratitude

Gratitude, Gratitude, Gratitude

Pull Over And Let Me Out – Driving in Mexico

16 Mar

Navigating the roads of Mexico can be very scary. Glaring daggers, threats of abandonment, raised voices and jumping out of a moving truck top the list of dangers. While we have only done three out of four, I’ll leave it to your imagination. There is a dearth of signage and even a 2012 map is woefully outdated. People have suggested a GPS, but I don’t think more technology is the answer. I did discover that the maps on my iPad work without wifi. While not complete, it actually helps.

There are also the roads themselves with holes big enough to swallow a Volkswagen. Many are two lanes where buses pass on curves. A double yellow line is no deterant.

Few people pay attention to speed limits. Topes pronounced tow-pay, or speed bumps ready to take out your transmission, slow traffic through towns. The slowed traffic provides opportunities for vendors to provide fresh juice or any number of delectable snacks at your window. Fast food Mexican style.

There are few street lights. Pedestrians and cyclists travel the shoulder of the highway at night with no reflectors or red blinky lights. Then there are the dogs, goats, horses and occasional pig to watch out for. Road signs admonish not to drink and drive and to remember that your family is waiting for you.

What Mexico also has is miles of beautiful scenery. There are breathtaking volcanos, pineapple groves, costeras with sweeping ocean vistas, small towns, sugar cane fields, roadside eateries, and the Green Angels. More than one gringo has been rescued from automobile hell by this free roadside assistance program that patrols the highways ready to change a flat or drive to purchase a much needed car part.

Mostly driving in Mexico is a lot of fun. Best to be prepared, not drive at night and try not to kill each other.

Fields of Wildflowers

Fields of Wildflowers

Hang On

Hang On

Streets of Bacalar

Streets of Bacalar

Don't Hit the Goats

Don’t Hit the Goats

Volcano Orizaba

Volcano Orizaba

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If Men Wore Skirts

9 Jun

Can you imagine going to work, or to the grocery store or church and seeing men wearing skirts? Now imagine how our world would have to change for skirt-wearing men to be the norm. There would be gender equality and a balance of power? Pink and blue beanies would not be the uniform at birth? A lot would have to change in our country to see men comfortable enough to wear skirts.

The change going on in OUR lives isn’t quite as dramatic, but sometimes it feels like it is. We are letting go of all things familiar, jobs, family, neighbors, friends, a home of almost 18 years in a city where I’ve lived since I was 22 years old. I am getting rid of the old, the borrowed and the blue. And I wonder why I feel tense. One week I blog about being fearless and the next, about being stressed out. Arghhhhhhhh.

Because I am committed to honesty I tell you that this is NOT easy. Even though we both want it, have planned it, are excited about the move and the life that we are going to, my body somehow resists. I have been to the doctor who told me that my heart and BP are fine. I meditate, exercise, eat well and get enough sleep. Am I scared? I can’t imagine of what. We have no deadlines really. Things will work out fine however they do. “This too shall pass” is my mantra. I also tell myself that feeling this pressure in my chest is NOT a character flaw. I cannot control the anxiety I feel as much as I want to argue with my body that, “this doesn’t make sense!!” It is what it is and sharing my experience with you helps relieve the pressure. I don’t KNOW it all and I don’t want to appear as if I’ve got it all figured out, because I DON’T. There is a message here that I want to be open to. Perhaps if I do more listening than talking I will hear what it is. This last thought only came to me as I wrote it now. So I get to be fearless in listening to my body. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Enjoying a Sunny Lake Bacalar Day

Enjoying a Sunny Lake Bacalar Day

My Daughter's Wedding 5/13

My Daughter’s Wedding 5/13

Starry Starry Nights

19 May

As a child, I spent many evenings gazing skyward, with my father pointing out constellations…the Big Dipper, Orion, Cassiopeia. I never could see Draco the dragon and finally said, “yes Daddy” to stop the pointing and the neck strain. In Mexico I visited the Mayan pyramids of Palenque, home to the ancient astronomers and was awed by the night sky. Moving to Austin to attend the University of Texas, I needed a science elective and choose Astronomy. I stood on the roof of the math-science building for my final exam in 1975…Taurus, Pleiades, Andromeda, you could see stars then. I’ve always loved the dark. I walk in my neighborhood before dawn and wish the neighbors would turn off their porch lights and the city, the street lights. I just want to see the night sky. The stars of Big Bend National Park had me laying out and feeling insignificant and pondering the universe. I managed to travel home from Big Bend by way of the McDonald Observatory, high in the Davis mountains. It was beautiful even though the sky wasn’t that clear and prompted our usual conversation, “Could we live here?”.

The sky that affected me the most was in Thailand. Lisa and I had taken a three-day trek into Northern Thailand at the foot of the Himalayas. We hiked into villages where people spoke indigenous languages. The second night we stayed in a hut perched on the side of a mountain. I got up for my usually visit to the bathroom and stepped onto a balcony under the stars like I had never seen before. I immediately woke Lisa and dragged her out to gaze skyward and point. She is a good sport and stood with me as I missed my dad and wished he could have seen a display of stars he didn’t know existed.

As I ticked off my list of requirements for where we were to retire, I needed the dark, a place to see stars. I was initially disappointed staying in Bacalar, where the sky wasn’t very clear and I could see light pollution coming across the lake from Chetumal. So much seemed perfect and I was afraid that I was going to have to choose between a beautiful lake or a starry starry night. A visit to Teresa, our soon-to-be neighbor changed all that. We sat on her porch making small talk, imagining our own porch on the adjacent property overlooking the lake. Saying our good-byes at the front door, I looked up and saw a sky that rivaled Thailand. That’s when I knew this was where I wanted to live the rest of my life, in the dark and under the stars.

Light Pollution

Light Pollution

Feliz Cinco Ya’ll

5 May

Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in Austin by waving green, white and red Mexican flags. So much so that I once heard someone point to a Mexican flag and refer to it as a “Cinco de Mayo” flag. It’s a day for family, friends, eating tacos, listening to conjunto and drinking cerveza. Few know what the holiday is really about. When living in Mexico, I visited the Fort de Puebla where a fight for independence took place in 1864. The French, with their highly trained forces thought they had a cake walk in taking over Mexico. A rag-tag militia of about 500 strategically placed Mexican soldiers proved them wrong. Mexico’s independence took years of battles with French, Spanish, US, and British troops. It’s no wonder everyone celebrates a win by the underdogs.

But Cinco is a celebration of much more than the Battle of Puebla. It’s the celebration of a strong, proud, independent people who love to celebrate just about anything. As a youngster from New Jersey, I was wary of a picnic in a cemetery for Day of the Dead. It was a delightful day that allowed me to experience another culture in a very personal way. There are birthdays, saint days, quinceñeras, religious holidays, Sunday picnics, and many more events that I hope to learn about and participate in.

We continue to pack containers, take books to Half Price, have dinner with friends and plan our escape. There are no “final” goodbyes. Just about everyone is invited to visit. So if you think that southern Yucatan may be a vacation destination in your future, get your passport, practice your Spanish and bring a “celebration state-of-mind”, and remember your hammock.

Alex Enjoying a Sunny Lake Bacalar Day

Alex enjoying a sunny Lake Bacalar day

Sunset on the Bay of Chetumal

Sunset on the Bay of Chetumal

Have fun * learn stuff * breathe * repeat

28 Apr

The Adventure of Dos Tortas has required endless planning, list making, scheduling, re-scheduling; it’s mind boggling! My Excel spreadsheet is long gone, replaced by a calendar on the dining room table. BTW, in case you haven’t noticed, it’s almost May! With a goal of leaving town by September 1, vamanos muchachos.

This past week saw two HUGE checks off of THE LIST (at least in my head). I found an outfit for my daughter’s wedding! Planning a wedding in the middle of our “adventure” hasn’t been the easiest. I am thrilled for my daughter and she and her fiance are doing all the work themselves. Finding the perfect outfit had me more stressed than I could have imagined and my goal is “NO STRESS”. So, wedding outfit, CHECK.

Actually, the biggest and most stressful, at the top of our to-do list and the least under our control has been the sale of our house in Bastrop, TX. This week we got an offer with a contract. Selling this house has required much faith and breathing and frankly not much fun. We learned that all the best planning still didn’t come out the way we expected. It’s been a real nail biter and a lesson in living with uncertainty. Even though we don’t close until June, it’s a huge CHECK off of my list.

…and now, reminders of why we’re doing all this:

Large tree along the lake.

Large Tree Along Laguna Bacalar.

Big lush bromeliads

Big lush bromeliads – Casita Carolina

Growing everywhere

Yellow Flowers Growing Everywhere

Blooming Succulent Hummingbird Attractor

Blooming Succulent Hummingbird Attractor

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