Monday, March 20, 2017

the yucatan: what we did, what we learned

Last January I told you that my cousin Dan and his wife Patty were auditioning places in Mexico as potential retirement sites (moving to mexico -- best place in the world to retire). He thought of writing a blog to chronicle their experiences. Instead, he took the option of writing comprehensive emails to his family and friends to describe the experience of being an expatriate in Mexico.

I said I was going to publish one or two as a guest column on Mexpatriate. For various reasons, I did not get around to doing that -- until today.

Dan and Patty are now once again on the road. But his most recent essay tells us what they learned about living on the other coast of Mexico.

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Tomorrow we pack up and start our drive back to the States. That drive, from Chuburna Puerto to Lake Placid, Florida will cover approximately 3300 miles. Although this is almost identical mileage as the drive down, we are taking a very different route north within Mexico. We have added some interesting stops along the way and time willing, I will write about the drive. For starters we are heading east to Valladolid and will go south towards Belize before driving the southern Yucatan westward and towards the interior of this large country.

Until two days ago, we had been planning on going to Cozumel for a week before starting our return trip north. We had our eyes on a couple of houses we thought we should look at, as well as others a realtor would show us, and perhaps establish a home base on the island we like and know so well from the seven years of experience living there on a part-time basis. The ocean water there is outstanding and away from the cruise ship businesses the island is rather quiet and lives an old Mexico style.

I must say it was not an easy decision to withdraw our interest to buy there until we realized that it was only four months ago that we sold our Florida house of 16 years. Way too soon to drop anchor even if it would be “home” only part of the year. The rental market in Mexico is far too favorable to overlook along with the fact you can come and go at will. This Fall we plan on returning to Mexico but not certain where, as yet. The leading locations in order of current choice are Cozumel, Merida, and Mazatlan.

Visited the lovely city of Merida at least a dozen times, staying there over night twice and celebrating New Year’s there.

Visited the western Gulf coast towns of Sisal and Celestun enjoying their white sandy beaches and took a flamingo tour in Celestun where we also spent a night.

Toured a henequen plantation (Sotuta de Peon).

Swam in 16 cenotes.

Drove the entire north road of the Yucatan from Chuburna Puerto to El Cuyo.

Spent a night in the village of Las Coloradas famed for its beaches, salt manufacturing, and flamingos.

Visited beautiful Valladolid spending four nights there as we visited friends and took in some of the numerous attractions that city has to offer.

Visited the Mayan ruins of Dzibilchaltun, Ek Balem, and Izamna where we stayed a night.

Walked the long sandy beaches of Progreso and swam in the warm ocean there as well as several times behind our beach rental.

Saw the Mardis Gras parade in Progreso.

Drove nearly every road in the northern Yucatan where we stopped and enjoyed Mayan villages.

Swam in the four Ojos de Agua (eye of the water) east of Progreso.

Visited a dentist, doctors, a physical therapist, and purchased new eyewear.

Visited traditional clothing factories.

Drove 4,300 miles within the State of Yucatan .

We will never again live directly on the beach: way too much sand and wind.
Everyone we met in the Yucatan was friendly and polite.

Our neighborhood had few full time locals: most full-timers were from Canada and a few from the States.

The very best food we found in Mexico was here in the Yucatan.

Merida is even more special than we realized.

Yucatan roads are mostly in good condition.

Outside of Merida, there are few cities of 10,000 or more inhabitants.

Folks from Canada and the States that choose to retire or semi retire here have a difficult time integrating with Mayans since their language, customs, and life style are so different. On the other hand, they do involve themselves with many programs aimed at assisting the young, the old, and the impoverished, as well as dog and cat adoptions and care.

There is a large population of wading birds here including frigates, pelicans, egrets, herons, sea gulls, etc., as well as a healthy population of hummingbirds as Patty’s 3 bird feeders found.

You can find a meal on nearly any corner.

You can’t find a basic auto replacement part anywhere in the state nor anyone who knows where to find it.

Many locals do not know how to say “no” and will only let you know they can’t do something after they have proven so.

No arguing, fighting, bad looks.

No road rage. They don’t even know what that is.

Don’t know what the stick on the left side of steering column is for.

Motos (motorcycles) do not have lights that come on automatically, so it is common to see a moto in in a shaded oncoming lane at sunset with no lights.

Not uncommon to see a family of four on a moto, day or night.

None of the three largest grocery stores in Progreso have everything you need.

Shopping is possible from your front door with the bread man, ice cream vendor, fish vendor, etc. passing by. It is convenient and fun.

Although we thought we would do everything interesting in the Yucatan we realize we have just started to unwrap a huge package. A few expats have commented that we don’t sit still. That is not true of course, we very much enjoy days of doing nothing planned, nothing expected.

On the other hand, we do enjoy travel just as much. A young Jimmy Buffet summed up the reasons some of us want to experience a life different from the norm in a tune called “The stories we could tell.”

That’s why you do it. Here’s to the stories … And here’s to the mystical Yucatan.

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