El Triunfo, BCS

Today we decided to drive to El Triunfo, BCS – a small mining community about 70 kms from where we are living. The picturesque drive took us though mountains, up and down twisting, winding roads – the perfect Sunday drive.

In 1862, silver and gold were discovered in the southern B.C.S. mountains, leading miners from Mexico and the United States to set up camp. Once the largest city in B.C.S, it was home to more than 10,000 miners.

In its heyday the town was a cultural center, where Francisca Mendoza taught and performed. Pianos and other instruments were brought to El Triunfo from all over the world and a piano museum still exists.

Another remnant of the past is La Ramona, the 35-meter-high smokestack designed by Gustav Eiffel (the same man who designed the Eiffel Tower in France). At the time it was built it was one of the highest brick chimneys in North America. The mines shut down in 1926 and most people left. The 2010 census reported a population of 321 inhabitants. It is located at an elevation of 483 meters (1,585 feet) above sea level.

 

Mining tower

La Ramona

Rusted mining equipment

Rusted leftovers from a time gone by

El Triunfo

Overlooking the town of El Triunfo, La Ramona stands tall

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Mexico – It’s Not All Tequila and Beaches

Living in another country is like a dream to some people. Some are envious of the idea of someone who’s off exploring faraway places instead of living a normal, seemingly less exciting life. When I’ve spoken with people who have never lived anywhere other than their home country, they have this notion that it’s something reserved for these spontaneous nomad-type people, that there’s this unattainable spark about us adventurers living our dreams.

I think that people wrongfully confuse living in another country with touring it. Being a tourist and living are vastly different, and the value of living in another country is too often overlooked.

Right now I currently live in Mexico. Some imagine it is all beaches and tequila, hot weather and sombreros, while few others express a more violent imagination of what it would be like. But it’s neither. I live here like I did back in Canada. I pay bills, I do laundry, I make my bed, I take out the garbage, I watch Netflix and I cook dinner.

The perceptions most people have of what it is like to live in Mexico are very wrong. Even I didn’t know what to expect. People have only these superficial ideas of palm trees and cheap beer, or cartels and ramshackle houses — a view that they’re unable to look past. It’s a sort of ignorance that’s understandable, but it’s one that they’ve chosen not to correct.

Let me tell you — it’s worth correcting.

Living in another country reminds you how incredible life is. Though you get used to a new routine and enjoy a new comfort, something about it gives you an appreciation for everything — things that you wouldn’t usually notice or pay attention to.

You’re reminded that time is fleeting, that your experiences are what you make of them, and that you’re such a tiny piece in this big beautiful world. And, you realize that the world isn’t as different as you expected, that everyone uses Facebook and watches Netflix.

It may not be as glamourous as you imagined, and you might wonder why move somewhere exotic just to end up in that feeling of “normal”. But really immersing yourself in another country could be what gives you that spark you envy so much in others.

It’s the living that creates that spark.

todos-santos

Wildlife In Mexico

 

Suddenly Peko let out a terrible yowl as he was looking out the front door. Anyone that has heard 2 cats fighting knows just the sound I mean. My husband said “there’s a cat out there.” I turned on the outside light to investigate the interloper. I saw nothing.

We went outside to the back patio and “it” was there. Not a cat at all but a kit fox.

The tiny and secretive kit fox is about the size of a housecat, with big ears, a long bushy tail and furry toes that help to keep it cool in its hot and dry environment. They are difficult to spot with their buff, yellowish-grey fur and mostly active at night.

I have seen so many different kinds of wildlife since moving to Mexico. Some are a joy to behold, like the sweet kit fox … others like spiders and bugs I could do without.

KitFox

Itsy Bisty Spider

Tarantula

I don’t have arachnophobia but I’m not fond of spiders, especially big ones. So when I opened my front door one evening, just a few days after we arrived in Mexico, I was surprised shocked to see a huge tarantula on the walkway. My husband shooed it away with a broom and we haven’t seen it since.

As we have been out and about in the town, meeting and talking to people, I have learned that NO ONE has seen a tarantula. Not expats that have been here for 13 years, not people who have lived here all their lives. Just my luck.

In popular culture, tarantulas are often depicted going on the offensive. Movies showing tarantulas crawling on people as they sleep. (a big fear of mine) In reality, this is not something that tarantulas do. I have Googled and found out most spiders can sense the heat from our bodies and will avoid us. They are not naturally very aggressive unless provoked.

Still, knowing they are around, I take my flashlight out at night. They are night hunters and hide in the ground burrows during the day, coming out at night to hunt.

 

Water Woes in the Baja

todos santos coastline

Water. The most basic necessity of life and a precious commodity in Baja. Our little part of the planet receives a scant seven inches of rain annually, less than a third of what nature provides mainland Mexico. Todos Santos has enough water for 92 gallons per day per person, but in reality, consumption reaches about 211 gallons per day per person.

Many years ago during our first visit to Todos Santos we enquired about what it was like to live here. We were told, “Don’t build on the hill side of the road, they have water issues.” Now that we live here, and on the hill side of the road, I know what water issues really mean.

I’m not talking about drinking water. Drinking water, water for cooking, washing produce is all bottled. 20L jug of water is very inexpensive, cheaper than 1 500ml bottle of water in Canada. What I’m talking about is tap water.

For the second time in less than three weeks we have run out of water. Apparently the first time the water pump was broken. Yesterday we ran out again. We checked the cistern and, sure enough, it is almost empty.

We aren’t using a lot of water. Our water use consists of a shower a day, toilet flushing, dishwasher every other day and a couple of loads of laundry per week. Apparently that is still too much.

For a Canadian, who has never run out of water no matter how much was used, I find this the biggest negative since moving. Thankfully we have a swimming pool. We’ve been using buckets of pool water to refill our toilets.

Apparently water day is Friday here, which means that is when the pipes are open to let cisterns refill. Our rental agency is having a truck load of water sent over sometime today. When Friday comes around we will have to see how long it takes to deplete the cistern and may need to schedule a regular delivery of water by truck every Tuesday.

Today, an old-fashioned sponge bath is called for.

Explore. Dream. Discover.

Explore Dream Discover

We get so caught up in the “American Dream” of finding the perfect 9 to 5 job, the perfect husband, the perfect house with a white picket fence, two cars and 2.5 kids that we forget that there is an entire WORLD out there to explore!

I don’t know anyone who has regretted moving abroad but I know plenty who have regretted staying behind.

Learning Spanish

fluent

I was born and raised in Canada’s only official bi-lingual province, as children we had French classes from K-10. I’m not fluent in French but I can get by.

French and Spanish are both Latin based languages so one would think I’d have an easier time learning Spanish. But no. I find myself confusing the two languages. So I end up speaking a mashup of broken English, French and Spanish. So confusing.

It will come in time, the more I use Spanish and the less I think in French.

The Spanish lessons I’m taking at Hablando Mexicano are helping agreat deal. My husband and I were able to get into a small group class that was paced perfectly for us. Twice a week for 4 weeks. Our instructor, Ivonne, is excellent. We’re having a lot of fun and learning so much.

Bringing My Cats to Mexico

my-cat-in-mexico

As move day got closer I had more and more anxiety about how my two cats would adjust to life in Mexico.

The hated the road trip down. Savannah cats are known to be vocal and mine is quick to let me know when he’s not happy about something.  Every morning when we started off for the day, Reever would yowl. For hours. Non-stop. Finally after 3 or 4 hours of voicing his displeasure of being in the car, he would settle down and sleep.

I am happy to say they both adjusted to life in their new home quickly. I brought their favourite blankets,  beds and food dishes so they’d have some familiar smells. The place we rented is bigger than our home back in Canada – lots to explore, new smells and sounds to investigate. They are both indoor cats and love to sit by the screened patio doors watching the birds & dragon flies bath in our swimming pool.

For those people moving to Mexico and worrying about bringing your animals: stop wasting your time worrying if your animal will adjust. They will. Probably faster than you.

Peko

Peko chilling on the cooling tile floos

Retire to Mexico

retire-to-mexico

Moving to Mexico was key to retiring young and being able to live a high quality of life on a fraction of the income that my husband and I used to have when we were both working in Canada.

Our tiny town is made up primarily of Americans and Canadians with a few Australians, who came in search of the same thing we did — an awesome lifestyle on a budget.

Due to the low cost of living, people are able to retire earlier and the average age of new arrivals is mid-fifties.

There are younger people – some single, some raising families – but they are not retired. Many have started their own businesses and others work for local businesses.

Life in Mexico

live-the-dream

Living in Mexico, surrounded by mountains, palm trees and picture-perfect beaches sounds like a dream. Wake up, enjoy a cup of coffee and fresh fruit picked from the trees around your house, walk along the beach and maybe go for a swim to cool off from the sun’s warmth. This is paradise. This is a dream come true.

But this might not really be the dream life for everyone. Here are 9 reasons why you shouldn’t pick up and move to a tropical destination.

1. The heat can be unbearable. Of course, you realize that the temperatures in tropical countries stay high year-round. But have you accounted for the humidity? Your hair will be a constant disaster. Your sweat will sweat. There truly is no way to adequately prepare your body for the onslaught of late summer heat in Mexico or other tropical countries.

2. The bugs. Oh, the bugs! The bugs in Mexico are literally everywhere. You can kill millions of mosquitos, and you know what? There are still millions more. There are sand fleas, cockroaches, spiders, scorpions, and ants. Flies. They are everywhere.

3. Tourists. Tourists everywhere! They come in droves, they take over your tiny town and your favorite restaurants.

4. It can be isolating. You might feel trapped and separated from the rest of the world. You certainly won’t know what’s happening in the news because nobody watches it. You won’t have the latest gadgets everyone back home is talking about. You won’t see the newest films in theaters, nor catch the new TV series as it actually airs. You will be behind in everything. And you will look out into the never-ending sea and realize how small you truly are.

5. There are dogs and cats everywhere. Seems like everyone here has at least one dog. Dogs that bark at everything and everyone. And strays. Mexico has a serious problem with stray animals — there is no denying that. They will be in the road, they will beg for food at the restaurants and they will relieve themselves wherever the mood strikes.

6. The internet is not reliable. It is slower than slow. Watching the connection churn and churn is frustrating, especially when you are used to LTE.

7. Speaking of slow, mañana doesn’t necessarily mean tomorrow, it just means not today. I’ve learned that Mexican society operates within its own time frame.

If you’ve read all these reasons and think that life in the tropics sounds horrible, you most certainly should not move to the Mexico or any other tropical country. Come for a week, take your sunset photos, and head on home.

If, however, you’ve read these reasons and found a positive aspect to each and every one of them, then you do truly belong here. After all…

1. Humidity is great for your skin and it sure beats sweating while shoveling snow.

2. Geckos eat bugs, and they also make for adorable little companions running around your patio and windows.

3. Tourists bring income into the local economy.

4. Isolation can be liberating. You have time and space to reconnect with yourself.

5. You could take in a stray animal and honor Bob Barker’s request to spay and neuter your pets.

6. Making things difficult to acquire means you question how much you really need them. And usually the answer is that you simply don’t.

7. “Mexico time” forces you to reflect and relax, an idea that could benefit many North Americans these days.

If you — like me — can see the positives hidden in challenges and difficulties, then you will absolutely love life in Mexico. If you can laugh at yourself and embrace change, you will find paradise. Just be honest with yourself before taking the leap.

My Mexican Adventure

adventure

Moving to another country is an adventure, to say the least. Experiencing new foods, people, and customs. You will undoubtedly feel every emotion from surreal happiness to pure confusion. However, despite what some travel bloggers lead you to believe; it’s not always fun and it’s certainly not always easy. Approach it with eyes wide open. With wonder and enthusiasm.

Risks and Choices

risks

Ultimately, moving to another country is a choice, and choice is all about sacrifice. When we make a choice, we consider this: what are we willing to lose in order to gain?

When you go on vacation, you’re willing to lose money to gain a week in the sun. When you move to another country, you’re willing to give up creature comforts in Canada in order to gain life experience

Moving to Another Country

thingstorememberwhenmoving

Things to remember when moving to another country.

1) Pack light. You don’t need two years’ worth of stuff. I have already realised I have brought way to many clothes, and that is after donating more than half of what I owned.

2) Know that learning the language WILL be hard. Make an effort to at least learn the basics immediately; people will be a lot friendlier if you show an interest in their native tongue, and it will help ease everyday interactions.

3) Perspective is key. Remember that good and bad things happen everywhere. No matter what you’re doing, and where you are, you’ll have your share of ups and downs — it’s not always directly related to living in another country.

4) People can suck anywhere. No matter what the country’s culture towards tourists/outsiders is, one thing will always be true: there are nice people in every country, and there are assholes in every country.

Me Casa

This is the house that I will call home for the next year. In Mexico all houses have names and this one is appropriately called Casa Roja, which means Red House. It has the required swimming pool so we can cool down on the hot Baja desert days. Two spare rooms for guests.

Me Casa

MeCasa

 

The Journey to Mexico

the-journey-to-mexico

My husband retired early and I quit my job in order to fulfil a lifelong dream of escaping the cold Canadian winters and live in a warm climate.  We rented out our house and moved to Mexico for a year. After the year is up we may decide to stay in Mexico or travel on to another destination. I have decided to write about my journey and my new life adventure.

Moving to another country and starting over is one of the most terrifying yet exhilarating adventures ever. Life as I know it will change – and I’m not just talking addresses and laundry detergent. I’m well aware that everything won’t be a fairy tale. There will be challenges, but also rewards. It’s something that if I don’t do it, I will always regret it.

I gave most of my clothes to my local homeless shelter, sold or junked most of my possessions, except for a few totes of important things that I have put into storage, and sold 2 out of 3 vehicles.

My husband, myself and 2 cats drove from Alberta, Canada to Todos Santos, Mexico. And what a drive it was! It took five days, with the cats yowling constantly for hours.

Day 1 – October 26:  Morning temperature was 3°C. Left Fort McMurray, Alberta at 3:59 PM arrived in Edmonton at 8:15 PM. Will stay here 2 nights to visit with my husband’s sons and their families.

Cats are not sure what to think as they have never been in the car and not been in the carriers. Peko crawled into a carrier that had an open door. Reever keeps going between the back, which has litter box, water & beds. They yowled everyday for 3-4 hours non-stop before finally going to sleep.

Cats in Car

Day 2 – October 28: Morning temperature was 6°C. Left Edmonton, Alberta at 9:00 AM arrived in Helena, Montana at 6:00 PM.

usbordercrossing

Day 3 – October 29: Morning temperature was12°C. Left Helena, Montana at 6:35 AM arrived in Cedar City, Utah at 6:30 PM.

Passing through the state of Utah. I expected prairies but there really was no flat land, all mountains. I can see why the USA is called America the Beautiful. The never ending landscape is breath taking.

Day 4 – October 30: Morning temp of 9°C. Left Cedar City, Utah at 7:35 AM arrived in Saint Felipe, Mexico at 8:35 PM.

Crossing the border went much better then I expected. I had purchased my Mexican Tourist Visa online and printed it off. The border agaent did ask to see the receipt, very thankful I had printed it too. AFter stamping the visa we were on our way.

He never even asked about the cats which was a little disappointing after spending hundreds on vaccines and certified health certificates. Better safe than sorry though.

mexicanborder

Day 5 – October 31: Morning temp of 23°C. Left Saint Felipe, Mexico at 8:00 AM arrived in Loreto, Mexico at 8:00 PM.

This leg of the journey was arduous. There were many detours due to road damage from two hurricanes earlier in the fall. There were washouts and bridges completely destroyed. The detours were just dirt paths. Then there was the winding roads up and down mountains. We drove our Jeep and I cannot imagine driving that part of the journey in an RV.

bridge

roaddamage

 

washout

Day 6 – November 1: We decided to stay here an extra night in Loreto, our bodies needed a break from sitting in the car, hour after hour, day after day. Spent the day exploring around Loreto. It’s a quaint little city of 13,000. I think the cats & humans alike are happy to just relax after a crazy day.s in the car.

catsinmexico (1)

Day 7 – November 2: 19°C Left Loreto, Mexico at 6:53 AM arrived in Todos Santos, Mexico at 12:35 PM. After driving over 5000 kms we finally arrived at our destination.

todossantos

 

Let the Road Trip Begin

Road Trip

Today is the day! Good bye Fort McMurray. I loved my 8+ years here but I’ve got new places to see. 🌎

First stop Edmonton for a couple of nights to see my husband’s boys & their families

 

 

Preparing to Move

preparing-to-move

Preparing for the move and going through all the things I had in my house, I was amazed by the amount of absolutely useless stuff I had.

This isn’t really a deep or meaningful realization, but it’s a realization nonetheless. Only when you’re forced to condense your life into 2 suitcases do you realize how much stuff you have.