Tag Archives: Retiring to Mexico

A Mexican Dog Story

18 Jun

Monday we took Cielo, our outside dog to the vet. Cielo adopted us about two years ago, moving into our construction site and living in our house before we did. We tried our darndest to get rid of him but he persisted and we relented.

He is a doberman with cropped tail and natural ears.  He is a free spirit and even though the yard is fenced, he finds a way out and comes and goes as he pleases. Truthfully there’s been times we’ve been afraid of him. He’s gotten aggressive when we’ve tried to examine his foot that was causing him pain. We give him a wide birth. Mostly he’s a big goof and loves his head scratched more than he likes to eat.

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Lisa getting to know Cielo.

Two years ago when we decided he could stay, we took him on his only car ride, to be sterilized. I think he’s never forgiven us. Lately we have noticed a discharge from his penis tinged with blood and have been wanting to get him checked out. He also needs his vaccinations. It’s been low on my priority list and I’ve been hoping it would just fix itself. Well, it didn’t.

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Floppy ears.

So I made an appointment and Monday was the day. He took one look at something strange in my hand, the leash, and took off running. With the help of our neighbor, we cornered him. I thought a treat would help, but he was having none of it. We managed to get him in the truck and off we went to see Veterinario Joel.

Dr. Joel had a muzzle which I suggested we use. Thank God. Cielo was not a happy camper. The diagnosis was tumors. Don’t ask me where they were located. The bloody glove had been inserted somewhere I didn’t want to see. So he’s now on chemo therapy, one treatment a week for four weeks. Monday’s bill was $33us. Each additional week is $22. The vet and I both scratched our heads at the origin of said tumors since they are sexually transmitted and Cielo has had no interest in that department for two years. Some things I just don’t have the Spanish for and frankly don’t need to comprehend.

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Cielo means sky. My original painting.

I know we are bad pet parents for not taking care of this sooner. I saw Cielo after we returned and he came up to me with his little helicopter tail going. So I guess he forgives me. At least until tomorrow when we get to do it all over again. Treatment number two here we come.  DOS TORTAS

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Advice For Living In Mexico

28 May

What advice do you have for those planning to move to or travel in Mexico? I penned “Retiring To Mexico Is It In Your Stars?” and reposted in July 2016. It has been my most popular blog. It’s worth taking a look back and see if things have changed in four years of life on the Costa Maya.

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Lisa making friends everywhere.

Learn Spanish – Our Spanish has improved tremendously in four years. But not without lots of work. Lisa had zero prior Spanish. Her first words were highway signs as we drove south from Texas. Today she understands almost everything. She will miss words but understand the basic conversation. She also speaks passable Spanish. Lisa is not afraid to make mistakes and will try to converse in all situations. People love her for her willingness and she continues to grow in confidence. We both use the Ap Duolingo. Mexican friends are the best.

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After an hour conversation, a shop owner in Ticul shares local history and gives great discounts!

I had passable Spanish upon arrival. I was worthless on the phone. Understanding was my weakness. I now too understand most conversations. I no longer avoid making phone appointments. I feel confident and am continually improving.

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An international group of friends celebrating our marriage in July 2014.

So yes, LEARN SPANISH. Don’t avoid it no matter how uncomfortable.

Start Preparing Today – I did a lot of research before we took off for Mexico. Many people want to get on Facebook and simply ask questions. It’s lazy and does not prepare you for the strong independent life you will need to lead. If you are planning on living in a gated community with only English speaking immigrants and hiring bilingual help, you will miss much of the beauty that is Mexico. No strong opinions here.

Come Happy – I stand fast with this suggestion. There is so much here that delights, the people, the culture, and the natural beauty. However, like life, the same things that delight will dismay if you take them personally or impose your own standards. The relaxed living means things don’t get done in a timely fashion. The use of plastic is through the roof and recycling cannot begin to keep up. Much of the natural beauty may be littered in trash.

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There was so much trash floating in the water of this little village, it was hard to be here.

Words are incomplete to describe our chosen life and country. It is painful to see the distrust and animosity between the US and Mexico. We are like sibling who’ve had a falling out and haven’t spoken in years for an infraction we can no longer remember. So sad. We will continue to be ambassadors. Please ask questions and suggestion topics.

DOS TORTAS

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This Is Your Assignment

21 May

As I sat and pondered a topic for this week’s blog, I was approached on Facebook by Camille E. Torok de Flores for inclusion in a series she is putting together on Blogs About Mexico Worth Reading. I expressed interest so she sent me a list of questions to complete. While I have blogged in the past on most of these topics, I realize that four years into our life in Mexico perhaps it’s time to revisit the answers.

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Why do you blog? What is the purpose of your site? For whom do you write? In the beginning of the whole move to Mexico process, the blog was a response to the questions asked by family, friends and strangers, why and aren’t you afraid?

Then there was the retiring, planning, packing and never ending garage sales. My brain was spinning and the blog was an opportunity to process and share.

When we arrived in Bacalar, everything was new and exciting. We were adjusting to a new life and every aspect was intriguing. There were endless blog topics just walking around town.

The next few years were occupied with jumping through hoops to begin construction of our home, the construction itself and its completion. Mixed in were our various travels both within Mexico and to the States.

Where do we go from here? It’s a good question. September 2017 begins our fifth year in Bacalar. I do not know my readers well. I would love to hear from you what you get out of the blog?

Where can you be found? (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest etc)
I am on Instagram at dos_tortas Pinterest at Bacalar, Mexico and on Facebook at The Adventures of Dos Tortas.

What is your favorite blog post? Why? No favorite stands out for me, although my readers clearly have a favorite, First of All Have Fun (February 2017).

What has been the most difficult for you to blog about? Why? My most difficult blogs have been the ones that I share the pain of having left our family or the death of friends. Being vulnerable is required to live an honest life. But it’s hard.

What advice do you have for those planning to move to or travel in Mexico? I can see that it’s going to take more time than I have today to answer these questions. It’s time for a personal reassessment so look for future blogs to cover these topics.

What has been the best experience you’ve had in Mexico? What did you learn from it? To be continued.
What has been the worst experience you’ve had in Mexico? What did you learn from it?

DOS TORTAS

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A Week In The Life

14 May

Life in the jungle can be quiet at times. The question I was asked most frequently during our recent visit to Austin was “what is your day like?” This week the excitement entailed watching a rain storm (I am grateful, our plants were thirsty). Lisa washing the truck in preparation for its sale (thank you Lisa, it’s been hot here!) and a trip to Chetumal.

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All shiny and clean, inside and out.

Yesterday the Laguna was flat with no breeze so I headed out in my little blue kayak. Thirty minutes later, I turned around to race a storm home. The sky to the north looked ominous. The wind picked up and I surfed homeward. What fun with the wind in my back. How quickly the weather can change on the Laguna.

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On Wednesday we went to Chetumal, our nearest city and state capital. Halfway, there is a security checkpoint. We are near the border with Belize, so this is routine. We are used to being stopped in our big black pickup, but assumed it would be smooth sailing in Lolita. Not!

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Our new little car.

The security guards are dressed in black, long sleeves, bullet proof vests, boots, the works, and standing in the sun on a blacktop highway. I don’t know how they don’t pass out. We were signaled to pull over and asked the usual, “where are you from?” We said that we live in Bacalar, but the officer persisted in wanting to know where we were from. We told him, Texas and for some reason he proceeded to tell us all about his 15 day vacation to Florida. His eyes were wide and animated as he talked of Miami, Key West, Ft. Lauderdale…his enthusiasm for our country was palpable!!

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While this may have been an odd security checkpoint conversation for us, to him it appeared an opportunity to share his experience with someone who understood. It was sweet and comical. What a hoot. We laughed for miles.

DOS TORTAS 

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Go With God Sandy

23 Apr

The recent visit to our hometown of Austin, Texas included a drive through the old neighborhood. You could tell which houses had had a facelift or complete makeover and likely changed hands. One house stood out with its overgrown yard and clunker parked in the driveway. It looked absolutely the same as when we left almost four years ago. We laughed and wondered aloud how Sandy was doing.

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Pulling out of our driveway August 2013

Leaving Austin after having lived there forty years for me and more than twenty for Lisa meant lots of goodbyes. We visited with friends, some of which we hadn’t seen in years, but who wanted to connect before we took off for the wilds of Southern Mexico. We even threw a party in our yard, complete with live music. There were many opportunities for folks who wanted it. But we never saw Sandy.

She was our neighbor a few doors down. She played softball with Lisa’s team for a few years. I remember hanging out in her hot tub with a group of women naked and laughing. It was a first for me but lots of fun.

Over the years, Sandy became more and more of a recluse. I stopped by her house more than once to invite her to some event and she was clearly uncomfortable and did not invite me in. The house reeked of cigarette smoke. She promised to show, but never did.

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Sandy’s trusty little white truck.

I knew Sandy had retired from her job as a surgical assistant to an eye doctor. She also volunteered with children. I wonder what happened. Lisa and I had dinner last week with some mutual friends who informed us that Sandy had died. When she didn’t show for a cancer treatment, the clinic sent the police for a wellness checkup. They found her in her recliner.

I believe a lifelong struggle with depression and alcohol contributed. She only died the first of March and it makes me so sad. I just came from the grocery store and saw someone who looked like her and did a double take. Then I remembered.

Adiós means “go with God”, so adiós Sandy. I know that you are at peace. We just never know when we say goodbye if we’ll ever see anyone again. So hug them tight and tell them you love them, even if they’re your neighbor.

DOS TORTAS

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Inspiration And A Plan

12 Mar

Painting and being more artistic, whatever that means, has always been a big part of my retirement vision. It’s funny how I’ve had this corner of my brain where I put things for “some day” when I am no longer working. Of course that vision has changed with actual retirement. (Now Is As Good A Time As Any). Joining with other painters for Rendezvous 2015 and 2017 was fun and pushed me to paint but I returned home with no idea how to continue. No clear plan in retirement means trolling Facebook and playing solitaire  

When my dear friend Alison (Deva Designs, San Antonio), posted an invitation by artist extraordinaire Connie Solera to participate in a 21-day paint along, I jumped at the chance. I respond well to pressure and structure.

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I’m all about self-exploration  and making peace with whatever is getting in my way. After all, what else have I got to do? In this case my body seemed like a good healing target. Lots of material there.

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LUNGS for the kicker.

My first day was a blast. I never would have thought to paint lungs. I went in for the medical illustration, a career that I would have loved if I knew it existed. I have recently discontinued all asthma medication thanks to my Mexican pulmonologist. Woohoo I can breathe!

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HEART

A shout out to my Catholic roots. This time however, it’s MY Sacred Heart with no thorns, thank you very much.

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BACK

A bit more playful this time with a selfie in the bathroom mirror. This may be my favorite so far.

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BONES

I started with an X-ray of my pelvis from a fall of a couple of years ago. This painting really took on a life of its own. Some days you have to get out of the way and let the creativity flow.

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HAND

My other retrospection of late has been my relationship with God. This painting is from a pendant, a hamsa, which represents “the Hand of God”.  I like hand images and have a few.

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FEET

Feet are not the easiest subject. I did notice that I hit a wall with each painting, doubting my skill, doubting myself. Mmmm I wonder how often I do that?!

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ARMS

I chose to celebrate the hug, the hugger and the huggie. My life would be so much less without them. My biggest lesson so far has been that I don’t need to compare myself to the other artists. My work (or play) is my own. Please visit, comment and share at #21emBODY on Instagram and Facebook to see the amazing art being produced by participants of this challenge.

DOS TORTAS

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All In The Family

5 Mar

Last week I made a trip NOTB which included a visit to my Atlanta family. Border crossing both ways was smooth sailing, unlike our Thanksgiving trip last year.

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Pam, Jane, Joan, Patricia with myself (bottom left).

My mother’s brother Jack (97) and my Aunt Irene (93) preside at the center of a large family with so many grands and greats, they’ve lost count.

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In celebration of their recent 75th wedding anniversary.

My uncle flew in World War II and if you get him talking about his flights over Japan, he is sharp as a tack. My aunt, not so much. Her dementia, and short-term memory loss however, makes life with my uncle quite bearable.

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Lt. Col. John E. Marder decorated Air Force Pilot.

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The lovely Irene.

The visit with my cousins was quite wonderful with promises to do it again soon. Busy lives and long distances get in the way. They are closet blog followers, so this shoutout goes to Joan, Jane, Patricia and Pam. Cousins are the best.

DOS TORTAS

 

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First Of All Have Fun

19 Feb

I’ve always considered myself a creative person. After all, I was an “art major” in high school which translated into hanging out with a cool crowd and having fun! In college I quickly learned that my lack of marketable talent meant bleak job prospects. I ended up with a degree in English and a blog. And so it goes.

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What all the fashionable watercolorists standing in a cemetery are wearing.

Upending our lives and retiring in Mexico has given me a chance to recreate myself. Part of that recreation, besides napping in a hammock has been watercoloring. Painting has always been one of those “back burner” dreams for someday when I retire.

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A sweet mother and child park scene. Learning about perspective.

Last week’s blog was a walk down memory lane as I participated in Rendezvous 2015. I haven’t painted much since, and I was excited to travel to Merida, Yucatán for Rendezvous 2017.

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Carolyn, our mistress of ceremonies  is a painting unto herself. The entrance to Hacienda Misné day one.

The gist is, we paint on site at a different location daily for five days. Merida is enchanting with its mercados, parques, churches, a massive cemetery and of course, the nearby beach in Progresso. The hard part was picking a subject. Each evening we critique each other’s work. It is a growth opportunity or a fork in the eye, depending on whether you take it personally.

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Progreso beach scene.

The agreement is to produce five paintings, all matted and ready to display. We had a gallery showing/party on Saturday evening and felt very accomplished and exhausted.

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My favorite of the week, a lovely little market scene.

Our happy little band of participants has varying levels of skill and experience. People always say, “oh, I can’t do that.” NOT! I’m here to tell you it doesn’t matter if you’ve never painted. My motto is, not know what I’m doing has never stopped me before. Be fearless, be bold, but most of all, have fun!

DOS TORTAS

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The Taco Truck In The Room

13 Nov

Watergate, the scandal that brought down the 37th US president, Richard M. Nixon was at its peak during my junior year abroad in Mexico. All the news I received was filtered through an expatriate viewpoint. I saw almost no US television.

I arrived in Mexico City in September 1973 with the plan to return home by Christmas. You know what they say about the best laid plans.

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Teotihuacan near Mexico City 1973

I fell head over heals living with a Mexican family, traveling by bus and train to pyramids, markets and museums. I decided to stay, study intensive Spanish and continue my travels. I was in heaven.

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Making tamales for my 22nd birthday with my Mexican family and housemate Brian.

It must have been difficult for my parents to understand my youthful enthusiasm. One day I was relating a phone conversation I’d had with my father to one of my teachers. Dad had asked me why I was hiding out in Mexico. My teacher’s response was, “tell him it’s one of the better places to hide out.”

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My parents Bernice and Ken Hoeft. My mother starved herself to fit into this dress.

I cannot blog this week without addressing the taco truck in the room, the US presidential election.The outcome has resulted in a difficult week with many people looking for a place to hide out. I wish I had something pithy or inspirational to say. I believe that difficult times can result in immense personal growth. One way that I contribute to this mess is to refuse to listen to people with different views from my own. I am dismissive and tend to gravitate to like minded souls. It’s time to stand in the flames and really listen to each other. There’s a lot of pain in our country and we will not learn to love each other and heal if we avert our eyes.

DOS TORTAS

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The Mexican Consulate and hitting the Salvage Yards

11 Aug

The skills you acquire when turning your life up-side-down and moving to another country are varied and numerous. This week we visited the Mexican Consulate to apply for residency in our adopted country. A residency visa will keep us from having to cross a border every 180 days in order to stay in the country. Mexico has recently rewritten its immigration laws and the process must be initiated in our home country. When we get to Mexico we will have to prove adequate income as retirees and hope and pray we have enough. The exact amount is sketchy and imprecise, as are so many things in Mexico. We were photographed and finger printed. Visas acquired. CHECK

On to the job of transportation. The truck and trailer have new tires and have received a complete once-over by Jason and his crew at Leonard’s Automotive. I can’t say enough about these guys. AC has been juiced and brakes repaired. We are ready to rock’n roll. CHECK

So what about the salvage yards you ask? When we got the truck, we were missing the jack and important levers to lower the spare tire. Riding around Austin, it is easy to be reckless, but not when driving 30 hours and crossing a border. I visited five male car parts heavens on the south end of Congress Avenue. Each time there was head shaking and pointing me up the street to their compadres. What to do? I returned to see Jason who referred me to David at the local dealership. It pays to have connections and after $100 (gulp) we were ready to go. CHECK

Getting out of the glass tower of state government and moving among mortals has proven to be fun and productive. The coming week is filled with packing and loading the trailer. I think some practice in backing it up is in order. Another skill I hope never to need again.

Mexican Consulate in Austin

Mexican Consulate in Austin

Residency Visa

Residency Visa

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Thought For The Day

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