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.
Last night I saw a movie I had seen a few years ago. Fly Away Home. I enjoyed seeing it a second time. It is about Canadian Geese and a little girl. She and her family figure out a way to teach them how to fly to their winter nesting site. I loved the shots of the geese flying over lakes and beautiful trees. I am so looking forward to flying home myself. Wish I could do it without the help of an airplane. Wouldn't that be fun? Of course, then I would have to leave behind my three suitcases. Fifty pounds each. I am reminded of the 80 percent rule. Clutter's Last Stand. I don't remember the name of the author of that book but he says that 80 percent of what we own we don't use. The problem is knowing which 20 percent I would use.
I have been thinking about taking a trip to Guatemala. I will put it off for a few weeks. I want to be home for awhile. Today, a friend sent me a very interesting blog written by a man from Antigua. If you put in Phil's Travel Blog, you will find it. From what he says, I think Ajijic is a much easier place to live. Maybe not as interesting but easier.
The Canadian Geese have flown away. I am flying away on Tuesday. I wonder if I will see the same Geese down along the lake in Ajijic. They are going south for the winter. Smart Geese. I can feel the change in the air here. It is cooler in the mornings and evenings. The days are getting shorter. Fall is on it's way and then Winter. My friends in Ajijic are telling me that the rains have almost stopped now and it is eighty degrees there. I can hardly wait. I already have a breakfast scheduled with two friends on the morning of my arrival. And I am anxiously anticipating seeing Chico again. I have hardly seen him for six months. Think I will take him out to breakfast with me on Wednesday. I will be flying all night and I doubt if I will be able to sleep. I also know I will be too excited to be back home to sleep much Wednesday during the day.
I got a great one way ticket, just over two hundred dollars from Portland to Guadalajara on Alaska Airlines. Alaska also told me that they aren't charging for the first two suitcases to Guadalajara and the third one is only twenty dollars. I could even take a fourth one. That would be an extra fifty dollars but I am going to have a hard time with what I am taking, three large suitcases plus a carry on and my computer bag.
When I came up here I was so tired that I got off the plane and left my computer in a bag under the seat in front of me. I didn't notice until I was half way out of the terminal and I realized it wasn't on my shoulder. I ran back to the gate and they got it for me. Could have been a huge problem with the bomb scares these days. I guess I have already mentioned many times that I get spacey, especially when I am very tired.
Alaska has curbside check in of bags. That will make the trip down much easier and they check the bags in all the way to Guadalajara. There is a one hour lay over in L.A. I recommend Alaska Airlines. They are rarely late. Once they offered an upgrade to first class from L.A. to Guadalajara for just fifty dollars extra. I didn't take them up on it but I might this time if it is offered again. Maybe I need to learn to splurge on myself sometimes. I may not write on the blog again until after I get settled back in Ajijic.
Travel advice. Don't go. That is the simplest answer to all your travel worries. (Have you ever read the travel warnings put out by the federal government? Scary.) Stay home and just pretend that you went. Be safe.
I am finally finished with my taxes. I have booked my flight back to Ajijic for the 31st. Now, of course, all my travel worries are kicking in. My head is swimming with them. It is past midnight and I am up worrying. So many things to worry about. So little time. Just one week to try to cover all of them. And my imagination can never cover all of the things the world has to offer up to me. Both good and bad things but the bad has more power over me. I see the glass as half empty. Sorry, but that is the way I am. Maybe because then I am not so disappointed or shocked when bad things happen. Anticipation eases the way. And my surprise at the good things is always a blessing.
I am reading a book titled The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton. He wrote many interesting things about traveling, too much for me to quote in this small post. One part of the book was about a man who had decided to stay home after taking in all the considerations. He put travel posters of the place he was thinking of visiting all over his walls. He ordered special meals from that country to be delivered to his door. It was just as if he had gone but he was safe at home. The best of both worlds.
He also wrote about the WHY of travel. He said in much better language the same things I have been writing about in this blog. When you travel, you take yourself. That is the most important part of the equation. You could be sitting in a paradise but if you are having an argument with someone or if you have worries on your mind, paradise is meaningless. You are still in a hell world. Portland is beautiful and interesting but I have spent a lot of time being bored. That is because of me and my fears, not the fault of this City.
One of my friends wrote to me saying that I am not deep enough in what I say. That I am too kind to Mexico and to critical of the States. That may be true. As Alain de Botton says, some Countries are better fits for our personalities than others. Just because a person is born in one Country, that doesn't mean it is the right one. The values of Mexico fit my personality more than the values of the States. I am writing in broad brush strokes now. I am writing about the warmth of the people and the more relaxed lifestyle in Mexico. And about the importance of spending time with friends and family instead of running around in cars to shopping centers, buying things. This is a generalization. But it is the way I experience the two Countries.
It is past midnight. My friend is sleeping in her bedroom. Her twenty one year old dog is sleeping in this room. I have learned a lot from that little dog. She only wakes up a few minutes a day but then she stares in wonder at the world. She sniffs the air and walks around slowly on her weak legs. Everything seems to be new to her. The sunshine on her face is so strong and shocking that she falls down. As I watch her little three to five feet walks I am reminded to take deeper breaths and to smell the fresh air and to be thankful for my own short life here on this earth.
One of my fears is that I have not loved my family and friends enough while I have been here. Some friends I didn't get a chance to see at all because they were too far for me to travel to this time. And maybe for one reason or another I might not see them again. I worry that they will put me out of their hearts because I wasn't able to make it there. But I have been trying to conserve my energy and money while I am here on this trip. I have been dealing with some family issues and those always take a lot of energy. This has not been a pleasure trip, although I had some good times in between all the problems to be solved.
I doubt if I will see Winnie, the twenty one year old dog, alive again. My mother passed away when I was out of the States. Her thirteen year old dog passed away when I was out of the States. Friends and other family members have also left this world and I wasn't there to help out. Not that I could have stopped their passing. But my guilt and ego make me think I could or at least should have tried. Things change so rapidly. Life doesn't stop up here just because I am not a witness to it.
Maybe the answer is to have some faith. Maybe leaving this world isn't such a bad thing. I have so many fears about going to another Country and when I finally get there I laugh at my stupid fears. Maybe it is the same for crossing over from this life to the next. It is a journey we are all going to take. We can't decide not to go.
I don't know what is over there. It is some kind of ego trip on my part to think my worrying could in any way affect the lives of my loved ones. They have their own paths, just as I have mine. I believe the best way I can affect the lives of those I love is to fulfill my own dreams. They can look at me and think, If Patricia can do it, so can I. Because Patricia is filled with fears and worries. She gets turned around just walking into a store. She talks to strangers. She eats street food. She lives on very little money. She gets distracted easily and is vulnerable. She loses things.
I can't get inside of them, no matter how much I try to change anything about what they do or how they live. If I see them headed for heartache or ill health, I can't stop it. Trying only alienates them. Self will is God's gift. We either use it wisely or not. Unconditional love is our gift and that takes a lot of courage and faith to do. Okay, it is impossible to do but we can try. And try and try.
I can just do my best to feel my fears and do it anyway. Maybe that is the most loving thing I can do for everyone concerned. And to have faith that there is a higher power in control here. Trust is a very difficult thing but it is worth the effort. Otherwise, life can be awfully scary and I might as well just take that couch sitting option instead of the actual trip.
Above are three photos of Winnie. When I woke her up with my flash on my camera, she made a little cave for herself. I guess she has learned something in her twenty one years here. When life gets stressful, hide.
I am still stuck in Portland. Too depressed to write anything. My tax man had a minor operation. He called and said he can't do my taxes until next week. I am trying to see the best in this situation but it is hard. I want to go home. I am walking everyday but it is more like a chore than a pleasure. In Mexico, when I walk I meet lots of friends and we talk. People smile at me. The scenery is beautiful.
I am walking along a busy street here. It stinks like car exhaust. No one smiles. So I have been terribly depressed. I hope the tax man calls me by the beginning of the week. My life is stalled at the moment. I keep telling myself to take my camera on my walks but the only things I find of any interest to photograph are wild flowers along the road. Not very interesting. I guess I am too far into my depression at the moment to take photos.
I am just checking in here to let you know that I am still alive. Hopefully, I will make it back to Ajijic within the next ten days or so. Funny, as soon as I put publish on this post lots of ads came up for depression, signs and symptoms.... Yes, take drugs! That is America's answer to depression. I see depression as a symptom that something isn't right and there needs to be a change. It is a call from One's soul to do something different. Taking drugs only numbs out that very important call. It is vital to listen to our inner selves and to follow our own guides, not depend on little pills to keep us stuck in unhappy situations. Taking charge of One's life takes courage. Why live if it has to be in a drugged state? For me, I know it will be just a few more days here. It sure drives home to me that I don't want to live in the States again. I am very happy in Mexico and I miss my life there.
My son, David Valdez, played at the Hotel Benson on Saturday night. I invited some friends and spent a wonderful evening. Directly above is a photo of my friend Marie. Above her photo is one of my friends Ron and Peggy. Other friends were also there but I didn't get good photos of them. Better to put on no photos than ones they might now like.
A friend asked me the other day, How much is enough money to retire on in Mexico? Is a million dollars enough? (She has a friendship with a couple and that is their nest egg for retiring in Mexico.) I didn't have an answer for her. I was struggling with my own questions of what was enough in my life.
What was enough time to spend with my son and daughter-in-law before leaving them again? Would I ever get in so much time that I wouldn't miss them? How much was enough clothing to stuff into my two or should it be three suitcases to take back over the border? How much is enough love and appreciation to give to my friends for helping me out while I am in the States? How much time is enough to get all my business taken care of here? I have no answers.
Is it never ENOUGH until we come to the end of the game of life? Or is there something else involved? Maybe this longing is just a natural part of being alive. Maybe whatever we focus on just expands, like bread dough. This depression I am experiencing seems to be connected to my fears of endings and looking for MORE is just a way of holding back those fears.
Life is unpredictable. Things happen. We have no control over most of what happens and maybe that is at the heart of all the fears and longings. The knowledge that we have no idea of what the future holds, for ourselves or our loved ones or friends or animals or even for our nations. The longer I live and the more experiences I go through, the more I know about how life is not in my control. It is a mystery. Maybe enough finally comes when the striving stops. Nothing on the outside will ever fill up that inner spiritual longing.
I remember looking at a photo that a friend took of me when we were sitting at a restaurant in Chapala. He showed it to me and of course I didn't like it much. What struck me is how I leaned so far over to the friend sitting next to me. I was not centered. I was trying too hard. Maybe that is what I do. I lean too far away from my own center.
I asked my friend to take another photo and in it I was sitting straight; within myself, centered. I looked much better in that one. I felt better too. Maybe this is why people have individual houses, to become centered within themselves. I have been away from my own little casita for a long time now. I am not centered.
Writing on this blog helps me to become more myself. Oh yes, I am meeting myself again. It has nothing to do with houses or casitas. It only has to do with looking within. Writing down what is in my heart. I am enough now. I have enough of everything and I have given enough..... Maybe it is closing in on time for me to go back to Mexico. I can't make all my fears disappear but I can now see them for what they are; fears and nothing more. Feel the fear. Do it anyway. I will try to remember that as I go through my remaining days here in the States, saying good-bye to my loved ones.
Marie and I met Gayle at a restaurant a few nights ago. Gayle has been writing to me on the blog for many months. It was great to finally meet her in person. Marie is on the left. Gayle is on the right. Two sweet women. I am lucky to have them as friends. Maybe, eventually, they will both be living in Ajijic. Maybe, eventually, I will be living in Ajijic again. It feels like I have been here for months instead of weeks. Time seems to have stopped. That feeling is just a symptom of my depression. I must remember, EVERYTHING CHANGES. That can be a good thing or that can be bad but it is a certainty.
I am still experiencing culture shock with my own culture. I am caught in this in between state. I am not in Mexico where I feel is my home now and I am not living in the States either. I am in limbo, waiting for my taxes to be figured out and returned so I can go back to Ajijic.
The hardest part for me about being here is the necessity of spending hours of my day in a car. I hate cars. I would be happy if I never had to get in one again. Today as my friend was driving along on the freeway and the sun was beating in on us and we were surrounded by many lanes of other fast moving cars, I felt a sense of panic. I wanted out. I just wanted to be able to walk from place to place. I didn't care where. I wanted out of the car world. I wanted grass and dirt around me instead of asphalt. A simpler life.
There are always unexpected expenses and problems with cars. Today my friend had a nail in her tire for the second time in two days. So we spent an hour or so waiting in a very depressing room surrounded by tires and that awful tire smell until it was fixed. While we were waiting we were treated with stale popcorn and coffee that had been sitting in the pot all day. Ugh.
Last week my son's electronic car window broke half way up and that cost three hundred dollars to fix. Then a couple of days later his electronic opener fell off his key chain and into his trunk. That cost another two hundred dollars to fix. So, within three days he had to spend five hundred dollars on unexpected car problems, with nothing to show for it except a working car. I could almost live on that amount of money for a month in Mexico. I hate cars and car problems but in the States, in large cities, they are almost a necessity. So, here I wait....... The longer I am here, the more depressed I am becoming. That is why I haven't been doing my blog lately. Sorry.
I continue to have problems adjusting to the pace of life in the States. Maybe it is just because I am in a large city. But people are so busy here, always in a hurry. There is no time to just BE. It is all DOING. At least that is my impression. Yesterday I was waiting in a grocery store for my friend to finish her shopping. I watched all the people rushing in and out of the store. That is a far cry from the Wednesday market in Ajijic where half the fun of shopping is running into friends and spending quality time with them. No hurry; no worry.
I think my blood pressure has gone up a few points. I feel it. I get stressed easily. I feel overwhelmed by life here. I have lived in the States all but the last two and a half years and I have already forgotten how to live here. Maybe I never fit in here. But I do feel at home in Mexico. Life is easier for me there. Much easier. I am considering going even further south, down to Guatemala. I will take that trip after I return to Mexico. A friend has been e mailing me about Lake Atitlan. He says it is more beautiful than Lake Chapala. He says the people are friendlier there and things are cheaper. I already feel like I have found my paradise in Ajijic. I am not expecting to move to Guatemala but a trip would be nice. New photos of a different lake.
As soon as I finish with my business here (taxes) I will be on the plane to Mexico. I will miss my family and friends here. A good thing about living close to Guadalajara is the airport. It is quick and easy to travel back and forth from there. For today, another trip to the Bins......