Dreams Do Come True

As a child I dreamt of being an explorer. I wanted to go to exotic places, see exotic people and do exotic things. I wanted to travel down the Amazon on a raft, stopping at all the villages along the river banks, eating foods I had never heard of before in Canada.

I wanted to be an archeologist. I dreamt of going to undiscovered places and finding lost civilizations. As a child I lived in the country and went on daily adventures, spending hours in the abandoned barn next door, walking in the woods pretending I was in a jungle and made forts in deadfalls. Bugs and spiders never bothered me.

I watched Swiss Family Robinson on Saturday mornings and dreamed of living on a deserted island. My hero was Amelia Earhart. If only I could learn to fly an airplane I could go to all the places my imagination took me.

My parents had a summer house in a small town called Chance Harbour on the Bay of Fundy. I would spend hours on the rocky beach, looking for crabs and other sea life. I collected all the sea glass and pottery I could find. These items were my treasures.

In the winter my family would go to Florida for a month to escape the cold Canadian winters. Florida was as far away from my home as I had been. The warm waters allowed me to see creatures I had only read about – octopus, manatees, pufferfish, rays, sharks. I got to try new foods – cantaloupe and honeydew tasted delicious as was the fresh squeezed orange juice. (Orange juice didn’t come from a can?) The water was so much warmer than the Bay of Fundy – I could spend hours swimming in the clear water. Hours searching the beach for sea shells.

Florida

Age 2 Florida Trip 

Looking back I had an incredibly wonderful childhood. I don’t think my parents realised how those Florida trips would shape me as an adult.

When I was 18 I asked my parents if we could go to Mexico instead of Florida. My parents told me if I could save up my portion of the airfare and hotel they would take me to Mexico. I was determined. I saved all of my paychecks until finally I was in Puerto Vallarta. The people, the architecture, the food, the sounds, the smells… everything was so foreign.

Nothing I read prepared me for the full reality of being in another country. No one can tell you what it is really going to be like for you in another country, you will have your own individual experience. I can honestly say that vacation changed me forever.

Peurto Vallarta

Age 19 Puerto Vallarta

I never became an explorer or an archeologist. I never got my pilots licence. But, no longer did I feel I had to live in Canada just because that is where I was born. I wanted to go everywhere, see and do everything I had ever imagined. I realized the world was waiting for me and it was only an airplane ride away.

I travelled to other countries with my first husband. Even though we only went to resorts, it did allow me to satiate my wanderlust. I went horseback riding on a mountain ranch in Hawaii. I climbed to the top of Diamond Head and was in awe of the beauty I saw from the lookout. I went snorkeling and swam with dolphins. I went scuba diving for the first time in Aruba. Explored Bahamas Cays. I went to Riviera Maya and trekked to Tulum to see the ancient Mayan ruins. I even went back to my beloved Puerto Vallarta and I got a chance to see the city with new eyes – adult eyes.

Fast forward a few years…. I had three children, got divorced and eventually remarried. My new husband had never traveled other than to Boston and he had never been somewhere tropical. We honeymooned in the Riviera Maya. He fell in love with Mexico just like I did all those years ago. Or maybe he just liked the warm weather.

Over the next few years we’d vacation in Mexico twice a year, always staying at resorts. Then, by chance, I heard of VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner). I convinced my husband staying at the resorts didn’t allow us to experience the “real” Mexico and I booked a week stay at a house in a small town called Todos Santos about an hour north of Los Cabos.

It was that trip that once again changed me. No longer was I satisfied at resorts full of drunken vacationers. I was tired of bringing day clothes and evening clothes and I was tired of the structure. I wanted to vacation like I lived there. For the next 4 years we rented the same house, staying longer and longer each trip. We bought groceries and cooked at home. I saw the expats and said to my husband “if they can live here, we can too.” He wasn’t ready then but I planted the seed.

I decided I had to get out of Canada. I hated the cold winters. I was tired of all the rules and regulations. I wanted to be free. I wanted out of the city and my need to be near the ocean grew. I wondered why, when all the world was theirs, my ancestors settled in Atlantic Canada. My paternal grandfather helped build the Panama Canal – why, I wondered, didn’t he stay there in the warmth instead of returning to foggy, cold Bay of Fundy.

I was quite determined to move somewhere tropical but since my husband had never been to any other foreign country I thought we should start renting homes in other tropical destinations. So we rented a penthouse on the beach in Barbados, a cottage with a pool high on the cliff on the Dutch island of Saba and stayed at a resort in Sint Maarten. All were lovely but they were not Mexico.

Finally, after 8 years my husband was ready, he too was tired of the cold winters and working outside in -40C. We were lucky in the stock market so he did the Freedom 55 thing and I quit my job. We packed our cats into the jeep and drove from Alberta, Canada to Todos Santos, BCS. Finally, after what seems like a lifetime of dreaming, I am living in Mexico, in the little town where we first rented a house.

Living in Mexico is all I imagined … warm climate, friendly people, and the sound of the waves. It’s not perfect here – the internet is slow, sometimes we run out of water and there are power outages. I don’t like fish and it seems almost every local restaurant specializes in The Catch of the Day. (I miss the Atlantic lobster) There are too many dogs here, they wander everywhere and bark at everything.

I have discovered something about myself: I can be happy anywhere – warm or cold, city or country – but I am most happy here… by the sea.

If I can do it, you can too.

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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

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

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.

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

 

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.