Thursday, July 02, 2009

making the grade

Last August, while adding up all the factors I considered important for my move to Mexico, I concluded: "Melaque is certainly not the perfect place for me to end up. I doubt that such a place exists. But it certainly is good enough for me to start."

I could probably stop this post right here, and say that after living here for two months, I still think the same thing.

But, as you know from reading the posts over the past week and a half, there is much more to it than that.

When I did my calculations in August, I had lived in Melaque for just over a week on a visit in July, 2008 -- without Professor Jiggs.

I weighed out the factors trying to determine what was more important -- a weight of 3 being the most important.

This was the result:

I gave additional weight to Melaque for being close to the ocean, and decided Melaque matched up to the factors with a grade of B to B-. It certainly was a good place to start.

I knew that the lack of a university would handicap the availability of cultural events and the nights would be way too hot (especially, in the summer) for comfortable sleep. But everything else received a high grade.

All of that has turned out to be true, even though I thought the heat would be less of an issue than it has been. (A factor I have noticed that has bothered even some veteran residents of Mexico this year.)

But there were issues I had not foreseen.

The personal isolation during the first two months caught me by surprise. My computer is a great tool for keeping in touch with family and friends. But it is not a substitute for sitting around a dinner table discussing the shenanigans in Honduras.

I have found good substitutes with new acquaintances in the area. But that factor is still a challenge.

And Jiggs's health has limited me in getting around to see archaeological sites. But I will have time to do that in the future.

Taking all of that into account, here is the revised calculation for Melaque:

I have readjusted the factors based on my current experience, and added bonus points for being close to the ocean.

That drops Melaque's current assessment to a C or C-.

But, as I have learned in doing this little exercise, choosing a place to live will always be based on changing circumstances.

Those of you who have made comments have added some interesting suggestions to where I should live next.

Here is the current plan.

The summer months on the Pacific coast are the worst as far as weather is concerned. The dew point regularly hovers in the "extremely uncomfortable, fairly oppressive" range.

My house sit ends in mid-December. It would be a shame to live through several months of this weather and then abandon the coast during the dessert months.

If I am going to stay in the local area, I need to start looking for a place to live from mid-December through the end of April. And I need to do it now because those are the high season months.

I have looked at a few places. I will share those as I look around. Plus I want to share some of the things around here that make Melaque interesting.

And then I need to decide where I will head in April.

But, first, I need to find a new roosting spot for the high season.


Unknown said...

You can come have lunch with me in Honduras anyday. The hotel/apt here is virtually empty. I spotted 2 English journalists yesterday. The groups are cancelled en masse. Of course, the State Dept. would adivse you to not come right now.

Tancho said...

San Miguel is calling. Just take a picture of the ocean with you. Or now you may have to stay put to be sure your warantee of your upcoming transmission job is available. You don't want to move, have something happen and not get it resolved.
On second hand, you can live your life worrying about stuff like that. Now if you crossed off half of your requirements, you might, just might find someplace you could tolerate. But then you have set yourself up for a list of expectations that are hard or almost impossible to satisfy. Maybe just maybe you can think about know, like married people do all the time, at least the happy ones.....

Steve Cotton said...

Laurie -- Lunch in Honduras sounds great. And I can easily ignore the State Departnent advisory. I am already ignoring most of its comments about Honduras.

Constantino -- You may have uncovered the very reason why I am single. I create expectations that ensure I make no commitments.

Anonymous said...

I think you've made a wise decision...why abandon the ocean at exactly the right time to stick around arrives? Six months is plenty of time to find a place come April or May. Landlubbers could never understand the compulsion to be near or on the water. It's a gift not everyone receives.

Larry in Mazatlan said...

Lists? Scores? I think we still need to do a bit of work on you. Spend more time watching the surf and you'll be more inclined to go with the heart. That's the beauty of your situation. And mine.


Tancho said...

I was going to mention that....

Chrissy y Keith said...

Really Steve, I am believing that God will present you with the perfect woman to share this new life with you. Just that alone will make most of the list less important.

brubor said...

Revise the criteria and return to Salem. Simple. Clean. Cool.

Michael Dickson said...

There is indeed a perfect place in Mexico for you. It´s in the state of Guanajuato, but it is not the city of Guanajuato.

Residente Permanente said...

Have you looked into Los Angeles or Philly?

Ruco said...

Here are some insights I found for myself after living in Mexico for 10 yrs.I am a doer,in Mexico, you don't do a lot. You have to learn to undo(think Felipe)it's a learned process.I wanted to contribute to my new Country, so I taught english and coached and sponsered baseball teams.I had a big golden lab named Samantha so I had a companion(same as Mr Jiggs).I thought I could assimilate into the Mexican culture and as Felipe has said, this is not possible.When I return next year, my thought processes will be much different.I will return to Mazatlan but with much different expectations.

Jan said...

You are such an analyzer. I am not at all and I know that's not right either. Give it time, time, time. Where you are right now is lovely, one of the nicest places on the coast. If you want more people and more to do, move on to one of the bigger ex pat hangouts or go to Barra. By December you will know very well if you want to stay there or not. You can try PV or Sayulita....we have a house there that you can buy (haha). I say first LEARN SPANISH really well. It opens up a whole world to you and put yourself out there a bit. Go and watch the Mexican families enjoy each other at the beach on Sundays.

jennifer rose said...

I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but every single one of your factors, save university nearby and sunny days and cool nights, is present anywhere you go in Mexico, whether you’re in Matehuala or Cancun. You could find all of those things right back in Salem.

You didn’t live in Melaque for week last summer. You visited the place. If you’re planning to move around Mexico, spending 6 months here and 6 months there, you’re not living in Mexico. You would be at best only a temporary resident. You know that there’s a distinction between residence and domicile.

Constantino has nailed it down. Listen to his counsel. Listen to Felipe’s. And listen to mine. We know what we’re talking about.

Expats come, and expats go. I’ve seen enough of them compiling data about the average annual rainfall, cooling and heating days, mean income, and number of days the circus is in town, and you know something? Those who’ve studied and analyzed these places as if they were working for INEGI and Profeco are also those who’re least likely to adjust to the place. They move on. And, quite frankly, they’re not missed. You would fare better if you’d just decide upon a venue, and decide to bloom where you’re planted. You might even find yourself enjoying life, developing new skills and relationships, and prospering far more broadly than if you continue to while away your hours grading everything about a place and its people.

Julian in SC said...

Steve, my choice for where to move in April would be more for some altitude rather than a certain location. I don't know Mexico that well so I can't name a place but my choice would be a small town up in the mountains where you will get you lovely days and cool nights. You would love that while others will be roasting on the coastline.


Nancy said...

If it was all about the weather no one would live in Iceland or Ecuador...

and I do agree that you need to commit to somewhere to be really accepted and make quality relationships.

Anonymous said...

Steve, I don't like your rating system. You seem to give equivalent weight to trivial factors as to monumental factors. I can tell that you like playing games.

Bottom line to me is that when the weather for half the year is so bad that it makes me want to shoot myself I leave. Giving it an F ??

As far as I know there are no small towns in Mexico with culture except one. In fact that town is rated by many international organizations as probably the best place on earth to retire. Some decisions are very easy if you don't play games.


Steve Cotton said...

Francisco -- I find myself wanting to get out on the bay -- either on a sailboat or a kayak. It will be hard to scratch that itch in the highlands.

Larry -- Good point. I find that most analysis is merely a method of justifying what I want to do emotionally. And living by the sea is a perfect example. It simply is not a logical choice. The Excel charts (which I thought were a pretty good joke), simply prove the point.

Constantino -- That is because you were brought up well.

Chrissy -- What a terrible thing to say. ;} Jiggs is not sharing his "boss-Steve-around" job with anyone.

Brubor -- For some resaon, that is not one of the options.

Felipe -- And a long way from the ocean. But nothing is perfect.

Inmigrante Rentista -- I have -- as a tourist. And I shall again -- as a tourist. No desire to live either place.

Ruco -- You have hit a core issue. My Northern European Protestant genes are hardwired. I need to find some way to short circuit the "everything-can-be fixed" syndrome. To start with, most things do not need fixing. And some things that do are not my issue to fix. I have dealt with part of that inclination by isolating myself. That is about to stop. Now I just need to start enjoying all of the great things around me -- and not worrying about the not-so-good.

Jan -- You are so correct about Spanish. I was back at the transmission shop today talking with a fellow who wanted to speak English to me and I wanted to speak Spanishh to him. So we did. It was hardly efficient, but we made it work -- partly because it was a closed system and self-correcting. But it felt good to be able to speak in another language.

Jennifer -- And maybe that is what I will end up doing. There is a reason I avoid commitments of most kinds. This may just be another example. I am not certain if I have mentioned this, but I actually considered moving back to the small coastal mountain town where I spent only a few of my earlier years, but the place i often refer to as home. There is a certain stability that comes from having people around who know who you really are. They no longer exist in Powers. But they do in Salem and Portland -- because of the time I lived there. I am not cetain I have any facts to refute your contention. As soon as I get this beach fix out of my system (and put the dog to rest), I may be ready to settle somewhere more or less permanently.

Julian -- If I move away from the summer heat, I will head to higher ground, The only question is how much higher.

Steve Cotton said...

Nancy -- The commitment business seems to be getting a pretty big vote. And I do see the wisdom in it.

Steve Cotton said...

Rick -- Sometimes "games" are what we go through to justify a major change of position. And sometimes how we erase our own prejudgments. Early on in this process, I came to the conclusion that I would not live in any of the towns known for their expatriate communities. I have operated under that presumption for the past two years. However, by going through this process and by listening to some new advice from people I admire, I am starting to rethink that conclusion. I very well may end up in Chapala, San Miguel de Allende, or even Morelia, and I may put down roots and become a part of the community. But if I had not done all the steps, I am certain I would not even be thinking of that option. I must confess, though, that the word "game" is never (or seldom) a pejorative in my world.

Jan said...

Steve, I'm thinking you like to rile people up!

Steve Cotton said...

Jan -- Not me. I am the veritable oil on the water.

Theresa in Mèrida said...

Steve, we (Husband and I) go back and forth about staying in Merida. It's too hot, too crowded and expensive compared to someplace like Veracruz. But, we love it here, the beach is close, but we aren't stuck there during the temporada (the season), we have access to wonderful cultural stuff, hospitals and veterinarians are abundant, there are plenty of gringos, but we don't really hang out with a lot of them, but they are available, never underestimate the desirability of being able to communicate in your native language with people of similar backgrounds and interests!
So we stay here, complain about the heat, and sometimes back up and visit cooler climes!
Finding a home is a visceral gut decision, like falling in love, there are rational factors that enter into whether it will work out in the long run, but you have to have faith that it will and do what you can to help it along,

Tancho said...

You are one lucky fellow Steve. You have options many people do not have. Do not overly complicate some that is quite simple with detail. Yes, I know you are a detail person, but you are now retired, sort of.
Why not do what many wise people do. Locate yourself in a more metro area whether it be SM, GDL or Wherever. When you want the beach and all the hassle of tourists,salt corrosion, car desingration,heat and many other not desirables. When you get the itch, simply load up your car, rent a house or hotel and spend the time knowing that you don't have the hassle of living there year round.
We are 5 -8 hours from the coast and spend time in Mazatlan for weeks at a time, then pack up and return to the mountains.
You have to figure out somewhere to settle down, you might as well be in Gold Beach or Brookings. They have Sunny warm days and cool nights and you have your buddies in Salem to keep you occupied and mooch in for weekends. Then simply come down to Mexico for the Winter.
Thousands do it. But if you want the Mexican life you have to settle down. Buy a new Mexican Honda, a small house in a larger town, and you could even afford a small condo in Mazatlan right on the beach. I know one for sale for 90K, there are tons of them. It your choice. It is quite simple!

Leslie Harris said...

Guadalajara might not be a bad idea. But if you want a small town feel, then Yahualica would be the place to live. 1 to 2 hour drives from the nearest Universities, whether in GDL, Aguascalientes or Zacatecas. There are also archaeological sites, museums and many place of interest, very rich in history. Tons of cultural events. The only down side is that it's nowhere near the beach, but you could always go on vacation.

Frankly Ronda said...

I just want to encourage you on the Spanish front. In your last few posts it seems you are making real progress!

Steve Cotton said...

Theresa -- Thank you for the reminder. We children of the Enlightenment forget that it was supplanted by The Romantics -- or, perhaps, complemented by The Romantics.

Constantino -- I agree that I have a lot more options than most people. I do not need to convince anyone else when I make the decision of where I should live. I decided not to live in Oregon because I wanted to try somethng new. Maybe I need to settle down to see what that Something New is.

Leslie Limon -- It appears I will have plenty of choices. Speaking of which, I bought two containers of Mexican cherries today -- and ate most of them in the car, again.

AMM -- I simply decided to try to apply what I have learned. It is a good impetuis to learn more. I had a great discussion about dogs with the neighbor lady and her husband today -- something I would not have dared try a mere two weeks ago. (I expected you to comment on my Excel charts. They germinated out of one of your comments.)

Calypso said...

Reads like a good plan so far. Everyone has a method - no one size fits all.

Steve Cotton said...

Clypso -- The only way to know if a production is going to work is to put it on a road show.

Anonymous said...

I think,you just need someone to shall your life with!Places really does not matter,when your heart is content.

Frankly Ronda said...

LOL. Yes I am one who always appreciates a good Excel utilization!

Steve Cotton said...

Anonymous -- I share all of my experiences with Jiggs. He gets bored listening to them, though. ;}

AMM -- Now, if I could only embed a nice PowerPoint presentation -- with sound files.

Anonymous said...

i really don't understand why some people feel that you are not really living in a place if you are only there for 6 months. as i said before, i love the idea of being in one area for that amount of time and then moving on to explore something new. hope you stick to your plans.

well, i'm off to lunch with a friend so need to say adios.


Steve Cotton said...

Teresa -- For now, the plan is to stay here until April. I will then see what develops.

Donna said...

MEXICO CITY — Mexican authorities say two professional wrestlers found dead in a low-rent hotel in the capital may have been drugged to death by female robbers.

Autopsies are being performed on the two midget wrestlers, one of whom went by the name "La Parkita" — or "Little Death" — and wore a skeleton costume in the ring. The other was known as "Espectrito Jr."

Authorities say two women were seen leaving the men's hotel room before the bodies were discovered.

Prosecutor Miguel Angel Mancera said Wednesday that gangs of female robbers are experienced at using drugs to knock men out and rob them, but they may have used too strong a dose.

That may have been because of the wrestlers' small stature, although larger men have also died in similar crimes.

Mexico City sounds like a stimulating possibility.

Steve Cotton said...

Donna -- Life continues to offer grist for the tabloid mill.