Have you ever considered retiring in Mexico? Have you wondered about daily living in a foreign country where you don't speak the language? What about hotels, hospitals, doctors, restaurants, banks, real estate and cultural activities? This is a diary of my daily life in Lake Chapala and other areas of Mexico. I don't speak Spanish. I am a single retired woman. I hope this blog will give you an idea of what to expect if you decide to make the move.
Taking pictures has been good for me. It gets me out of my head. Most of the time I walk around thinking, thinking, thinking and not seeing. And then something catches my eye. Immediately I am looking at the world again. This was one of those things that took me away from my internal thoughts on my afternoon walk. It is always good to be back in the world again and out of my obsessions.....I am getting ready to travel back to the States for a few weeks. I am not a good traveler. I worry and obsess over what could go wrong, what I might forget, etc. It is exhausting to be me anytime before a long trip. Exhausting for those around me too. So this photography is a life saver for me. Otherwise I would probably have to take some kind of tranquilizers. Right Joan??? She knows what I am talking about......
After writing that little piece about poverty, I decided to take a walk up to the plaza for breakfast. It feels so nice to be able to do that without worrying about blowing my weekly budget. I took a photo of the breakfast and looked at the currency converter to find out exactly what it cost me. It cost me 3.02610 American Dollars. Plus a ten peso tip, which is .756164 of an American Dollar. A Western omelet with ham and green pepper pieces in it, toast and butter and jelly, hash browns, bacon, fresh homemade salsa and a tall glass of fresh squeezed orange juice. Try to beat that in the States with the same atmosphere and quality of food!
I have felt wealthy recently, doing what people with time and money do; eating at nice restaurants, listening to live music, enjoying the company of friends.....I live in a beautiful environment. I am healthy at the moment and if I do get sick I know I can afford to go to the doctor. I trust my doctors here. I have a sense of well being that I have never experienced before in my life.
I grew up poor. My parents both worked at physically strenuous and low paying jobs. There was never enough time or money. They worked too hard to have the energy to worry about anything other than survival. When you are poor you are always the outsider. You watch others enjoy the world. Sometimes I look at the gardeners and housekeepers here and I remember my years of cleaning houses for a living after I became an adult. Poverty goes from one generation to another. Either because that is all you know or because you don't have opportunities that are easily offered to people with money. Or if the opportunities are offered, you don't believe that life could be any different than what you have always known so you don't know how to take advantage of them.
So much of poverty is a state of mind. That is why it isn't always a good idea to try to help the poor by just giving them money. It is quickly spent. Fear breeds more fear and day to day survival isn't conducive to long term planning. I am now thinking of a friend who was given a car so she could find a job. She didn't find a job and the car soon died and then sat in her driveway for years.
Poverty and poverty consciousness are huge problems and I have no answers. I am just talking about it in relationship to my own life. Poverty causes such hopelessness and it becomes a downward spiral. I hate it when the poor are blamed for their circumstances, as if it were a moral issue. Once, as a young woman, I lived for a few months in a ghetto in San Francisco. I was overwhelmed with how hard life was and mostly I remember my feeling of hopelessness. How can you get beyond just survival when survival takes all you've got? Now for me in the States I have no health insurance. It is too expensive. So whenever I am there I have this same sense of overwhelming fear. What if I were to get sick and have to go to the hospital? I would be ruined financially for the rest of my life with just one major hospital bill. A few doctor bills could wipe me out for a couple of years. I no longer want to live with that kind of fear. My quality of life in the States is so far below my quality of life here that it is laughable. It would be laughable except that it is so sad, not only for me but for millions of others in similar situations up there.
I am always the outsider up there, not being able to afford things that my family takes for granted. Let's go out to dinner, my son says. And I tremble inside thinking that one meal in a nice restaurant could easily cost fifty dollars...... It isn't a good feeling to always have to be so careful. People see me as a cheapskate when I am only trying to survive. (I have to say here that most of the time my son and daughter-in-law generously pay for my meals too but that makes me feel like a drain on them.) I remember going out to dinner with a woman friend a couple of years ago up there and the food was so expensive I just ate a salad. I'm not very hungry, I said to her after looking at the prices...My friend ordered a steak and took most of it home to feed to her dog. I could smell it all the way back home in her car. She had me hold the bag while she drove. I was so hungry! She didn't offer any of it to me and I certainly wouldn't ask. And I felt that awful hollow feeling inside (the hollowness which is far worse than the hunger) that I had all my growing up years as I watched people around me enjoying the fruits of this world and I was the onlooker..... Poverty. It isn't fun......You can see from my last few photos that I no longer live in poverty. I thank God that finally, IT IS MY TURN. For me, This is The Good Life.
When I go into Chapala I like to check out the flower market inside of the plaza. They always have several beautiful arrangements. I love these pink roses......You can't see the size from this photo but this is a very large arrangement.
Chito is in the first photo. He is one of the Sunday mariachi musicians. He plays with his son Victor at Tony's on Tuesday evenings and two other musicians. They are a great group.
Above are three photos of the waiters taking a break and being silly at Tony's Restaurant.
Above are two of my friends. There were six of us but I couldn't get a good photo of everyone because of my bad camera. They were feeling contemplative. We had just finished a conversation about our former lives. We are all single women and we have many stories of our past lives. Most of them are sad. Someone said, We could write a book. Someone else said, Why bother? We are all starting new lives now...... I am happy to have a group of women friends to share my life with and that group seems to grow larger everyday. I feel blessed.
Sunday night there is a nice Jazz band at La Bodega. I only got two photos because of my awful camera. But, good news, I ordered another camera from ebay and it is being sent to my son's house in Portland. I am going up there on the 8th of August. So, hopefully my new camera will take better photos. My photographer friend says, It doesn't matter about the camera. What matters it the eye of the photographer. I agree with what he says but no matter how good your eye, if the camera is too awful you can't get good photos.
Above are the crab cakes. Delicious. This is NOT a diet dessert. Every Monday afternoon Las Telares Restaurant on Colon St. in Ajijic has seafood.... And it is all delicious. You can see how many people showed up for it and this is just our second week of meeting there. Looks like this is going to become a tradition. You are all welcome to join us. We have a wonderful time.
Ah, the good life. Buffet at the Real de Chapala and then napping on the lawn.
The salads and desserts at the Sunday Buffet and Tito, one of the mariachis, dancing with his cousin. Since Sunday afternoon I have gone out to eat every afternoon and also listened to live music. I am meeting new friends and having a wonderful time. But I need to diet so my knee won't have so much stress on it. That is hard to do when I am going out everyday. It is going to take massive will power. Maybe when I return to the States I can start dieting. I could never afford to live in the States they way I live here. Even McDonald's restaurant is as expensive as a meal here in a nice restaurant. It would be hard to find live mariachi music in a McDonald's restaurant.
Yesterday I was waiting for Anita to come by my place in a taxi. She was late so I was standing near my yard for quite awhile. This young man was picking quayabas in the tree across the street. He called me over as if he had something terribly important to say to me. So, being at loose ends, I went over to try to talk with him. He offered me some quayabas and I said no. Then he got out of the tree and walked over to my yard. He was trying to get me to sit next to him in my yard. I didn't know exactly what he wanted so I took his photo. Then he said, A kiss???? At this point I didn't know whether to be flattered or afraid and offended. If I were thirty years younger, I probably would have gotten angry. But at almost sixty five years of age, a man wanting a kiss from me is kind of flattering. He doesn't look like he is even twenty years old yet. But I was a little concerned as to how to get him out of my yard without offending the poor guy. Right then, my landlord drove in. The young man quickly left. My landlord was questioning me about the young man. Why was he in our yard? I just said, Oh, he is just a neighbor......
Check out the little girl in the background. She couldn't keep her eyes off of the mariachi singer. I think she fell in love with him..... All of these photos were taken at the Beer Garden Restaurant on the waterfront in Chapala. Anita and I had a wonderful afternoon eating and listening to the mariachi band. What a life!
Above is the corner close to the Red Cross in Chapala. I like the mural on the wall. It looks like that dog just stepped out of the little blue house.
I took the above three photos at La Christiana Park in Chapala. A priest was playing a game with some children. It looked like they were having fun. Above two photos were taken in the Back Garden at La Nueva Posada.