Tag Archives: Retiring to Mexico

Fear vs Adventure

26 Aug

I consciously avoid most news these days as it is too depressing. Somehow this week I began to follow the disappearance of Mollie Tibbetts, a young woman out jogging in Iowa who seemingly disappeared. After endlessly reviewing security camera footage, the police reported what happened to her and what might have been her final words. After her abductor approached on the street, she clutched her cell phone telling him to leave her alone or she would call the police. She was too late I’m afraid.

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Life is blooming in Northern Cali. Loving the morning walks.

It reminds me of something that happened to me, at exactly her age. I was walking early one morning to my first college summer job. I cut across a neighborhood park. It was barely light, but how dangerous could it be with all those houses just across the street? I heard footsteps behind me, but did not run, nor scream or even turn to face the intruder. Of course there was no cell phone to clutch. A man walked up behind me and thrust his hand between my legs and turned and hurried away. I was stunned. I did not think to report it, after all he didn’t “hurt” me. Calling it sexual assault was unthinkable at that time. I’m not sure I ever told anyone. I also don’t remember how I got to work from then on.

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A woman and her dog.

All this was streaming through my mind as I was again on a morning walk, in another park with few people in site. A woman was walking her dog ahead of me and I motioned to the dog who happily made a beeline to have his ears scratched and his rump tickled. She laughed and said, “so much for my protector.” I struck up a conversation with her and we talked briefly about how we must be constantly vigilant. It’s exhausting in ways we’re not even aware.

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If you’ve followed this blog, you know that I talk frequently about living fearlessly. After all, adventure is the antithesis of fear and safety has a high price. But what about Mollie? Was she like me, pretending there was no threat? She was 20 years old with the world by the tail. We must not let it scare us. Please, please don’t quit having adventures. It would make your life very small. Just be careful. Adiós Mollie. Go with God.

DOS TORTAS
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Quote

Off The Beaten Path – Ticul

19 Aug

For the next two months we will be visiting our children in Northern California, helping with the integration of two new family members.

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Our newborn twin granddaughters Analise and Sara.

Please enjoy his earlier blog post from May 2015. September begins our sixth year of retirement in Bacalar. Life is good and we are so grateful for these babies and the chance to support their parents in getting them off to a good start. What are you grateful for?

DOS TORTAS 

via Off The Beaten Path – Ticul

Go For A Walk?

29 Jul

I was raised in rural New Jersey. For the most people, the Garden State evokes images of spaghetti bowl freeways, Atlantic City and miles upon miles of town after town. It’s hard to tell where one ends and another begins. (Rocks In My Head)

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Our three hundred year old farmhouse. My mother wanted it because it had three fireplaces. It burned to the ground shortly after my father died and she had sold it.

When I was in fifth grade we moved “out in the country”. The road was paved from our little town of a thousand people to my family’s driveway. From there a dirt road continued a mile or so to a working dairy farm. Today those small farms are long gone and housing developments take their place.

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Fourth and fifth grade in the same classroom.

It was a common occurrence, on a balmy summer’s evening for my father to stand and declare, “Go for a walk?”. It wasn’t really a question. The TV was turned off and five kids, dogs and even the cat ambled across the lawn and up the road. The best times were when there were fat juicy wild blackberries ready for picking along the way.

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The trout stream that flowed behind our property.

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The view from the bridge on the corner of our property the last time I visited.

These sweet memories came flooding in as the dogs and I stepped out of our gate this week and walked along our jungle road. Five years ago when we first arrived in Bacalar, there was no road. Now there are two houses that we pass on our daily jaunt. Land is being cleared all around for god knows what. The only thing we can really count on is change. Our hearts break to see the jungle cut down and the animals disappear.

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Out the front gate.

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We leave in the morning for California. Off to care for my daughter and her family which includes newborn twins Sara and Ana. Another summer in Bacalar will be gone when Lisa and I return. I won’t miss the mosquitoes but I do love it here.

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The babies are thriving.

DOS TORTAS
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Seeing With Different Eyes

15 Jul

When we first moved to Bacalar in 2013, everything was new and exciting and a bit unsettling (Can We Go Home Now?). I remember driving under the “Bienvenidos a Bacalar” sign after a five-day drive from Texas. We pulled a trailer with everything we owned and everything we thought we needed to start our new life in Mexico. Lisa and I were thrilled with every flower, mural and festival. In the beginning we lived in Bacalar proper, walking or riding our bikes to discover shops and people. (Explore Bacalar On Foot)

 

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New murals are popping up everywhere.

Once our house was built, the three mile ride along a busy highway to town got longer and more inconvenient. Our numerous utilitarian trips meant fewer for pleasure. Also our early to bed life means we participate very little in the day to day activities of Bacalar. (A Day In The Life)

 

This week we have Lisa’s brother and his partner visiting. We get to see our life through their eyes and fall in love with Bacalar all over again. It’s fun being tourists in our own village.

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Visiting the Cultural Museum in Chetumal.

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Learning about Mayan influence.

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From our visit to Kohunlich in February.

We have lots more activities planned for the upcoming week. There is a trip to the wonders of Kohunlich and Cenote Azul. When living in paradise, it’s good not to become jaded.

DOS TORTAS 

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This Week In Mexico

1 Jul

Calling Mexico home quickly brought us up to speed with a very important international event called the Mundial (pronounced moon dee al) or World Cup (Just Don’t Call it Soccer) which happens every four years. The US Super Bowl looks like Friday night high school football by comparison.

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Time Out sports bar, a fav spot for Mundial viewing,

Mundial 2018 is taking place as we speak in Russia, and believe me, the whole world is watching. The whole world except for the United States that for the most part does not understand nor care much about soccer. The US team did not qualify to compete in this world-wide event, eliminating whatever smidge of interest that might have existed.

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Kim, works hard to keep everyone in beer and breakfast at 9am.

Mexico won its first two matches causing explosive responses around the country. Mexico City measured the equivalent of a small earthquake with fans taking to the street in celebration. To say this is a huge deal in Mexico is an understatement. Do NOT try to get anything accomplished while Mexico is on the screen. People are huddled around their computer, tv and cell phone. Life is at a standstill.

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Even Mexican pups get in on the action.

Today Sunday is also Mexico’s presidential election. Late night comedian John Oliver recently made an attempt to explain the two main candidates. The reactionary candidate reflects all too well the current opinions of our own US politics. With Mexico as the US’s whipping boy, it is no wonder it’s citizens are fed up. Anyone who wants to “fight back” has citizen support.

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Foreigners living in Mexico are prohibited  by law from participating in political activities in any way. We keep our opinions to ourselves and our fingers crossed. Until next week…

DOS TORTAS 
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Mal Tiempo In Bacalar (Bad Weather)

17 Jun

We returned from our trip to California Disneyland to Bacalar in the midst of a torrential downpour. Flying from the west coast to Cancun is always long and tiring. We had parked our car with a friend in Puerto Morelos, about a half hour from the airport. Having risen at 3:30 am Pacific Time we were ready to be home. The rain didn’t help.

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Princess Sophia with grandmas in Disneyland.

Showers, some heavy, continued off and on through Saturday when I had the Swim Marathon, three/quarters of a mile (1250m) across Laguna Bacalar (The Gods Were With Us). 1200 competitors took off in waves according to age and gender under gray skies and occasional thunder. Closing on the finish line, rain pummeled and waves swelled. This race would never have taken place in the US.

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Open water swim in Bacalar.

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Prior to the race, coming out of the portable toilet I noticed a group of women with their timing chips attached in the wrong place. Striking up a conversation, they were from Austin, TX USA, my home town. They were four women swimmers in a group of eleven who had traveled here for the race. How fun to connect with them.

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Managing to get in some training before leaving for California.

Today is a day of recovery. We have been busy! A shout out to Lisa’s great-aunt Edna who follows us from Alaska. She sent me the quote of the week. She is spot on. Enjoy!

 DOS TORTAS
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USA Here I Come

15 Apr

When looking for a retirement location in Mexico, proximity to an airport is an important consideration. We had grand designs of easily zipping NOB (North of the Border) to visit family, as well as traveling the world. The tiny Chetumal airport, forty minuets from our house, does the trick. It beats a five hour bus to Cancun which adds two days of travel on the front end. The trouble is, the connections are not always that great, resulting in longer than we like layovers in Mexico City. Sigh. Life is not perfect.

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Chetumal airstrip top left of the page. The plane did a wide loop over the city before heading north.

I decided last minute to take a trip to Texas to visit my kids. I procured a well-priced flight and jumped on it,  leaving Lisa to walk the dogs and hold down the fort. I did not, however pack warm enough clothes brrrr. There was hail last night outside San Antonio!
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A stunning view of the volcanoes outside of Mexico City. Popocateptl smoking above the clouds.

So I’m in Texas for a brief week-long vacation enjoying grandchildren and celebrating our oldest son’s 35 birthday. I have no idea how he got so old.  Until next week…
DOS TORTAS 
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Held Hostage In Mexico

8 Apr

For seven and a half hours, over two days we were held, not at gun point but at pen point at our bank in Chetumal, Mexico. Sign here, and here and here. I felt like I was buying a house. And all because of a TYPO!

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Four years ago after retiring to Mexico from Austin, Texas , we opened a Mexican bank account. Once we had our green cards, it was the first things we did. Mexico has a very clear path to legal residency. If you have retirement income, a job or a familial connection, you can apply and obtain residency. The process is clear, electronic and takes about a month. Imagine that.

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No, not our mug shots.

What we didn’t known until now is that there was a typo on our original account application. The bank’s simple solution, cancel the old account and open a new one. Easy right? Au contraire.

Following Spanish tradition, Mexicans have two last names or apellidos. The father’s first and then the mother’s. On any application there is a box for both. Since we have a different tradition and our passport have only one last name, for some unknown reason, the person who processed our original application put an “X” (or equis as in the beer Dos XX) in the box where my mother’s name should have been. We’re unsure as to why this finally caught up to us and had to be rectified immediately.

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Don’t you love signing documents you can’t read?

Mind you the entire 7.5 hour process was conducted completely in Spanish. My head was swimming and there’s no bathroom in a bank. Our green cards and the fact that we had done thousands of dollars of business with this bank in the last four years did not seem to count as adequate identification and proof of residency. Did I mention the bank holds the title to our property? But that’s another never-ending story.

To our frustration, we could not find our most recent electric bill. Note to self and you who are considering retirement in Mexico, the CFE (Comisión Federal de Electricidad) bill is right up there with your green card as proof of residency. Keep the most recent original in your car at all times.

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In that case, did we have a…
Water bill? Nope, we have a well.
Phone bill? Nope, we pay month to month. ($16 a month unlimited talk and text to MX, US and Canada)
Internet? Cable? Nope and nope. We pay cash to a private server and no cable.
Mexican drivers license? Never saw the need.

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It’s a good thing we left the dogs home for what we thought was going to be a quick trip to the bank.

This went on for seven and a half hours over two days. I must admit, I’ve never met more patient people. We did get it resolved after lots of signing and sighing. They had new software…blah, blah, blah and I’m sure the paperwork for international money transfers contributed to the hostage situation. After all, we could be drug smugglers laundering our millions. We were exhausted but extremely glad to have this straightened out. It might be relatively easy to get a green card in Mexico but it sure isn’t easy to open a bank account.

DOS TORTAS

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Winter In Paradise

21 Jan

This is our fifth winter living in beautiful Bacalar, Mexico, on the Belize/Mexico border. In past years we’ve had a weeklong “cold spell”which required the addition of a light blanket and a long sleeve shirt in the morning until the sunrise. Our house is screened with persianas (Florida shutters) to protect from rain. We call it “glamping”, (luxury camping). This year has very been different.

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Persianas looking onto the screened porch and out to the Laguna.

With extreme snow and ice storms covering Northern Mexico, the US and other parts of the world, we have been enjoying a very cool, comfortable two months here in paradise. My MIL Alice, skinny little thing that she is, has been “freezing” and has brought out her electric blanket. Lol.

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The view to our front gardens.

Our nights have been in the mid 50s (13C) with lovely sunny days in the 70s (23-25C). Knowing how hot it gets in the summer, we are enjoying every minute.

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The women’s solidarity march in Chetumal 2017 (I’m second from right with Lisa in orange and Alice in pink)

It has also been dry, so my jungle walks have been wonderful beyond description. Watching the dogs cavort, I have been reminiscent of my lifelong predilection for walking.

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Luna heads for our jungle trail.

I used to pick wild blackberries walking down our country lane, crossing the railroad tracks on my way home from school in New Jersey. Those were the days parents didn’t hover fearfully over their children. My first homesick days of college, I walked the neighborhood around my school enjoying the falling leaves and breathing the cool air. In the 80’s I pushed my son’s stroller through the alleyways around our house in Okinawa, Japan, peering in windows, again homesick, but loving my new adventure.

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Summer will bring heat, rain and mosquitoes. Even the dogs won’t walk in a shower. The dirt trail will be a mud slide that will likely shorten our daily ritual. For now I will enjoy the time with the dogs, the temperatures and my musings. When Luna gives me the look that can not be ignored, I will lace up my shoes and head for the door. Seize the moment! for the only thing we can count on is change.

DOS TORTAS 

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A Quiet Sunday In Paradise

9 Jul

The front gate is almost complete. It’s not only beautiful but it adds another level of security, dogs in, unwanted people out.

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Pouring a foundation. Materials delivered.

We’ve been reminiscing of our early visits to this property four years ago. The non-descriptive turn off the highway gave us access to our lake-front lot. One day, out of curiosity, we drove past Teresa’s, our neighbor to our north and the trail ended in the jungle 100 yards away. We had to turn around. It was quite primitive and isolated, just the way we liked it.

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The stonework is a lovely detail.

Today, that primitive trail is a well travelled lane where we walk the dogs and guests and workers arrive to visit the houses popping up along the Laguna. We brought in electricity from the highway and sold it to our neighbors. And the games began.

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The blue wall is a great contrast to Alice’s orange house that sits behind it. 

Development is always a double edged sword. We want services such as trash pick-up and pharmacies that carry more than hair dye and nail polish. For this we need to grow the population. Hotels and tourism is booming. Everyone loves Bacalar.

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The ironwork and lights have been installed. We must clean up and do some landscaping to finish.

Which of course leads to an increase in crime. Our friend’s rental property was broken into this week while guests slept. All their electronics were stolen. Crimes of opportunity are on the rise in Bacalar as they were in Austin when we lived there. I guess we thought we could outrun it.

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Luna loves the new gate. Eventually it will open by remote control.

Our solution is to make it harder on the thieves and not to be afraid. We have house sitters for our extended times away. The dogs, as annoying as they are, do their part in alarming us of unusual activity. It’s only stuff. There is little violent crime. Living in paradise comes with a price we’re willing to pay.  DOS TORTAS

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