Tag Archives: retirement adventures

A Walk Through Wine Country

2 Sep

If you have found your way to this blog looking for tales of retirement adventures in Mexico, you’ve come to the right place. However our adventures of late have taken a detour and are temporarily located in Northern California caring for our children and premature twin granddaughters.


A tired and happy dad.

Life is good and shaken us out of our retirement routine. Nothing is predictable with newborns and their two and a half year old brother. There are middle of the night diaper changes, keeping the house in order and making sure our little team is hydrated and fed. A nursing mother consumes an extra thousand calories a day with twins!


A trip to the children’s museum with Max.

My morning walk through neighboring wine country has been saving grace. The temperature is a far cry from tropical Bacalar.


Hot air balloons overhead most weekend mornings.


Front yard orchard.


The smell of lavender everywhere.


Country roads delight the senses.


Early morning grape harvesting.


Wild geese.

We will be in California until the first of November. Please comment and share. Until next time.



Inspiration And A Plan (3)

26 Mar

This is week three and the final week of my #21EmBody paint along. Who knew that a seemingly small commitment could have such a profound impact. But again, isn’t that how life is when you’re open to the unexpected and unplanned?



It all started when a friend posted to Facebook an invitation to paint, heal and show respect for our various body parts. Mmmm what an interesting idea! The event was orchestrated by Connie Solera a well known artist’s guru. I was intrigued.







And as I am prone to do, being the Torta that I am, I jumped in with both feet. Paintings are posted to Instagram and Facebook for the world to see. Not only did I get to follow the amazing work of artists from around the world painting the same subject, but I got to see my own work evolve. I have never produced an art journal before, and my 5×7 sketch pad is now a treasure.



I appreciate the many comments from other artists and friends alike. Even last night I ran into a friend out and about in Bacalar who had seen and appreciated my work on Facebook and is talking about picking up a brush.



I couldn’t complete this story without a shout out to George W. Bush. Our forty-third has become an amazing artist with no background but a lot of heart. He was making the rounds of late-night talk shows and I caught him on Jimmy Kimmel. He was friggin inspirational. The man is amazing AND funny. I know, who knew?



What did I learn? The creative process cannot be rushed. It forces me to slow my mind and listen to my inner voice. At the same time, I need to NOT listen to the inner critical voice. It showed up loudly when painting my breasts and belly. Especially my belly. That was the hardest. I learned that my work is mine and doesn’t compare at all to anyone else’s. I love looking at others’ paintings of the same subject. Their amazing work does not diminish mine in the slightest. I had so much fun.



Can You “Plan” Adventure? But Of Course

15 Jan

We have been in our little house along the coast of beautiful Laguna Bacalar in the tropics of Southern Mexico for a little more than a year. The walls have been settling around us. Our gardens are bursting with color from a long rainy season. Life is good.


Waking every morning to an amazing sunrise.

We left our life in Austin, Texas and made this extraordinary move in 2013 with certain pre-conceived ideas that were completely subconscious. Traveling and living in a foreign country is a great way to hold up a mirror to one’s assumptions. Here are some things that surprised us about our new life.


Orchid like flowers blooming in the jungle. 


A stone cross found in Valladolid, Yucatán. 

It’s not as easy to take off for the weekend and travel as we had imagined.

This may be a no-brainer for you but dogs are a lot of work. When we adopted Luna, our first dog ever, she was a throw away street puppy. We didn’t really think through all the ways she would impact our lives. Everyone told us, you HAVE to have a dog. Of course we adore her, but like every other relationship, there are inconveniences.


A sad little puppy who needed a home.


Lisa and Luna enjoying tour of the lake.

Leaving our house unattended for more than a day or two is not a good idea. There is crime of opportunity, much like in the US or anywhere else in the world. An empty house is a big opportunity. Since we have chosen not to live with bars on the windows, having a house sitter is the way to go. Finding the right someone takes time. Travel is less spontaneous than we had hoped. Another inconvenience.


The front of the house.

We have also turned into the proverbial home bodies. The view from the porch is to die for. We can swim and kayak in our back “yard”. The food (my cooking) is the best and our bed is supremely comfy.


So the “Adventures” of Dos Tortas has been looking more like the laid-back, staid life of Dos Tortas. We are not complaining.

As of today, I am happy to report there are adventures in the planning. Can you “plan” adventures? Stay tuned. We’ll try to step it up a bit.



Flamingos Flamingos Flamingos

17 May

Our guide book is either really outdated (2010) or Celestún has seriously gone downhill. I believe it’s the latter. The “quaint” little hotels described were even below our standards which are pretty basic. However we did find what we came for – flamingos!

An evening walk on the beach to find the palapa, a palm frond covered hut where tours are scheduled, found a family from Mexico City negotiating for a morning boat ride. The captain told us their’s was a private tour when I inquired as to the possibility of joining them. One thing Mexico teaches is patience. After a bit of friendly conversation and some whispering between them, we were invited to join their group. Who can resist the Torta charm?!

Visiting Celestun from Mexico City.

Visiting Celestun from Mexico City.

Off we went the following morning to the Reserva de la Biosfera Ría Celestún.


Seeing these majestic birds is truly breathtaking. The majority were pale pink indicating young birds. Celestun and Rio Lagartos are breeding and nesting grounds and one of the few places flamingos can be seen in the wild.

Next we were off to the mangroves.

A ride through the mangrove tunnel.

A ride through the mangrove tunnel.

We stopped to visit a fresh water spring.

Clear reflection.

Clear reflection.

You can see the water bubbling up in the middle of the photo.

Natural fresh water spring.

Natural fresh water spring.

For those of you who know the avid swimmer I am, it didn’t take long to climb into the pool.

One way of swimming my way around the world.

One way of swimming my way around the world.

The family from Mexico City, who didn’t appear to be the adventurous type, stood by in amazement as this gray-haired grandma reveled and played in the stunning water. They inquired politely about the presence of cocodrilos, crocodiles, and after some not too gentle intimidation from me, all got in the water. I’m quite certain if we hadn’t been there, they’d have returned home with a far less interesting story to tell. Haha.

Of course you can't pass up the lovely sunset photo.

Of course you can’t pass up the lovely sunset photo.

After an evening walk collecting shells, we packed our bags for an early retreat. It was sad in a way to find this dingy little town surrounded by so much natural beauty. Such is the enigma of Mexico. We were certainly glad to have stopped and if the opportunity arises to return, we will be better prepared and more wary of the expectations created by guide books.

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

So What Exactly Are We Talking About Here?

31 Mar

What is an adventure? When I think about having an adventure, I think of an experience outside of my day-to-day vida loca that is foreign or sometimes a bit scary. The numero uno question that we get when we tell people we’re moving to Mexico is, “Is it safe?” While I admit that everything in life is a risk (when I’m feeling snarky, I’m tempted to say that if I wanted to be safe, I’d stay in bed) some things are riskier than others. When people talk about Mexico and safety in the same sentence, I find that they:

1) don’t really know much about Mexico except what they read in the news.
2) don’t know us very well and don’t consider that we know much about Mexico and have done our homework; and
3) don’t really put risk into perspective.

In 2012 34,767 people died in automobile accidents in the US, almost exactly the number killed in the four year period prior to 2010 in the Mexican drug war. While it’s not a perfect comparison, it’s a bit of perspective. The country of Mexico is big, three times bigger than Texas and the drug war is not targeted at US expats.

In spite of the risk, we still ride in cars everyday and we’re still moving to Mexico.

Dictionary.com states:
ad·ven·ture [ad-ven-cher]
1. an exciting or very unusual experience.
2. participation in exciting undertakings or enterprises: the spirit of adventure.
3. a bold, usually risky undertaking; hazardous action of uncertain outcome.
4. a commercial or financial speculation of any kind; venture.
Obsolete .
a. peril; danger; risk.
b. chance; fortune; luck.

Trip to the Mercado

24 Mar

I’m especially fond of Mexican mercados. It is one of the things I am moving to Mexico for. Growing up in NJ (the Garden State), I was accustomed to stopping at roadside stands to purchase corn, watermelons and especially those fabulous Jersey tomatoes. Visiting my home state a few years ago, I was amazed to find that there was not a roadside stand to be found. I guess those small farms are long gone. In Texas, I frequent the farmer’s markets looking for that connection to fresh farm-grown food. It’s a special experience for me.

My memory of Mexico in the 70’s was of visiting the mercados, big and small. They were a cross between a farmer’s market and a flea market, made up of temporary stalls, in large open areas or closed off streets. The mercado was usually held once or twice a week depending on the size of the community.

I remember the fruit tasting like nothing I had ever eaten in the US. Whatever was in season was piled high for several weeks, only to be replaced by the next seasonal fruit. I made myself sick on mangos, bananas and avocados.

In Bacalar, I searched eagerly for the mercado. Pineapples and papayas were especially good in December. The market is housed in a permanent building and is open every day. Of course there are also other small stores in town that sell fruits and vegetables and a supply of packaged goods that would rival any 7-11. I look forward to getting to know the vendors and inquiring about the possibility of bulk buying. One thing that did surprise me was finding green grapes from California for sale. The world really is getting smaller.

Mercado 2012

Mercado Bacalar


Mandarins & Pineapple

Please share your thoughts or experiences in the comments section.


18 Feb

Over the years we have gathered memories in the form of photos, journals, high school year books, etc. Some of the photos are in albums but most are totally disorganized in boxes. And in the tradition of my mother, there are no dates, names or identifying information. I stare at the pictures and try to determine the age of my children or siblings and what we were doing. I have pretty much divided the pictures between my three children, with some that I wish to keep. It has been a slow process and I want to stop strangers on the street and tell them to START ORGANIZING YOUR PICTURES NOW, before it’s too late! Or maybe I’m the only person who keeps photos in boxes in the top of my closet, but I don’t think so. I once went to a party and met guys with book shelves full of travel photos, organized in three ring binders by trip, year and clearly labeled. I’m afraid I never got that gene. Sure, I should scan them to CDs or the Cloud, but that’s not gonna happen. I also have a box of hand written journals that I started keeping about age 14 after reading The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. I have made my daughter swear that she will not read them until I am dead. They are boxed and ready for shipment. Pulling up roots has certainly been more of a self discovery process than I imagined. But truthfully, it’s one of the reasons we’re doing it.

Dos Tortas do San Francisco 1996

Dos Tortas do San Francisco 2006


Turkey 2010


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