Tag Archives: what it takes to be happy

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



Life Is Hard – It’s Harder If You’re Stupid

23 Aug

August 2013 we left Austin, Texas for retirement in Mexico. After more than a year of research and planning, visiting and asking questions, we thought we knew something of what we were getting into. Jajaja – that’s laughing in Spanish.

Two years later we are still not living in our own home. Dismantling our expectations has been a daily practice. We are however within spitting distance of completing construction, but my patience is wearing thin. Lisa on the other hand is calm, cool and collected. A real role reversal for us! She is keeping me sane, saner? sanish? Here is a house progress report.

The palm frond overhangs protect from sun and rain. They will be completed is week.

The palm frond overhangs protect from sun and rain. They will be completed this week.

Creating the mold for a poured concrete bathroom sink.

Creating a rebar mold for a poured concrete bathroom sink.

A lip creates an area for potted plants to create a

A lip creates an area for potted plants to create a “jungle” in our shower. Note the light from skylights.

Yesterday we sat in the corner of our porch enjoying the breeze. We've come so far.

Yesterday we sat in the corner of our porch enjoying the breeze. We’ve come so far.

Tile on the roof adds another layer of insulation.

Tile on the roof adds another layer of insulation from the heat.

The appliances have been purchased. The windows will be installed this week. As rooms are finished we can begin to move items from our present location. We are so close. My present anxiety is clearly stupid. There is no hurry. I am believing the lie that my happiness is dependent on where I live. I could be happy if only…. It’s a good thing I have Lisa who chooses to be happy no matter what. We make a good team.



Emilie Vardaman

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