Hola. Greetings from Guanajuato on a very sunny day. The sunniest and hottest day we’ve had since we came here four weeks ago. We continue to be mesmerized by this beautiful city. We’re really enjoying the college vibe here and the fact that there’s a lot of coffeeshops to check out!
Before I jump in with mucho musings, I want to let my faithful readers know that we are coming back to the U.S from Sept. 16 to Sept. 30. The first week we will be in Oakland, and the second week (tentatively) we will be in the South Bay. I’ve organized an informal gathering on Sunday, Sept. 18 at 4 p.m. so we can see as many people as possible. I really hope you’ll stop in to say hello. Here are the details:
Cleophus Quealy Taproom (link has directions)
448 Hester Street
San Leandro, CA
(near the Oakland border and Oakland airport)
Cleophus Quealy is very low-key and it’s a great place for beer and conversation. They may have some live bluegrass music if we’re lucky. Our cellphones are the same, so feel free to ring us. I really am looking forward to seeing everyone.
I want to use this blog to recap our madcap adventures since May 1, when we officially moved to Mexico. Our 2016 summer jaunt through central Mexico is soon coming to an end, even though the adventures will continue Oct. 1 when we return and begin a six-month lease in Zihuatanejo. After the recap, which I thought would be appreciated, I have included a short FAQ.
Our adventure started on April 30 when we went to Phoenix to watch the Arizona Diamondbacks play the Colorado Rockies. Andy’s dad and his wife, Arlene, joined us. The weather was warm, the beer was cold and night baseball (in a warm climate) rules!
The next day we flew to Zihuatanejo, a fantastic town on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. We spent six weeks house-sitting two very well-behaved dogs, Sierra and Maggie. We had a blast with them, and even though it proved to be 1) very, very hot in Zihua in May and June, and 2) a lot of work, we enjoyed the experience (and the free rent) and loved being in Zihuatenejo during the low season.
After dog-sitting, we spent three days and two nights relaxing in Zihuatanejo’s neighboring city, Ixtapa, at the Azul Spa and Suites. Activities included enjoying an amazing ocean view from our room and balcony, chillin’ in the air conditioning (after six HOT weeks) and playing ping pong (Andy won). We also lounged by their large and amazing infinity pool, one of the nicest we have seen in Mexico.
Then we packed up our rented Nissan Rogue and drove to Morelia, also known as the greatest Mexican town you have never heard of. We stayed at a local bed and breakfast (Casona Rosa, No. 1 on Trip Advisor). We spent our days enjoying the city’s beautiful plazas, sipping coffee, and walking all over the city’s amazing historical district, reminiscent of the French Quarter in New Orleans, though much larger. Three weeks later, we were off again … this time to nearby Patzcuaro, Mexico.
Patzcuaro is an amazing place. Steeped in utter historic oldness, from its buildings to its plazas and tiny streets, the city is located near a lake, and surrounding the lake are indigenous communities where the people make handicrafts such as black pottery, embroidered clothes and ceramic skeletons. The towns are located close to one another, so you can drive between them easily and enjoy indiginous culture up close. Patzcuaro also has the most famous and traditional Day of the Dead celebration in all of Mexico, and we’re planning on attending the two-day celebration on Nov. 1.
After we spent three weeks in Patzcuaro, my mom, sister and my brother-in-law came for a visit. So we moseyed back to Zihuatanejo for a week of sun and beach. We laughted a lot!
Then Pam, Andy, my mom and I squeezed into the car for a one-week road trip. We hit Morelia and Patzcuaro for a day or two each, then explored San Miguel de Allende, a lovely (albeit very touristy) town. We then went to Guanajuato, where we are now. Tucked into a valley, with colorful homes dotting the hills and loads of history packed into the town’s central section, Guanajuato is a magical place. We are enjoying the historical section, and the huge dose of everyday Mexican life here (it’s more than just a tourist town), plus we are studying Spanish two hours a day (for five and a half weeks) at a kick-ass school called Escuela Falcon.
All in all, our first four months have been great.
Why have we scheduled a visit to the United States?
As tourists in Mexico, we are allowed only 180 straight days (six months) in the country before having to leave, or face a monetary fine. We’re not exactly sure how long we have to be out of Mexico before returning; we’ve heard a quick border run is permissible. But we’ve decided to come home for two weeks. I’m going to see my oncologist, visit with friends and family … and hopefully be able to take my first bath since April (so far in Mexico for us, we’ve had only showers). Thanks to everyone who is allowing us to couch surf!
What is happening in October?
We will start a six month rental in Zihuatanejo, the same beautiful bayside town where my mom lives part of the year. We’re going to be staying about 2 km from her hillside condo in a three-bedroom, two bath house, adjacent to 1) a cute section of town with shops, restaurants and a kick-ass coffee spot and 2) Madera beach, a five-minute walk from our back door, as well as a short walk to the quaint and bustling downtown, where $1.25 quesadillas and the central mercado beckon. Our plan is to spend a lot of time enjoying the beach and tranquil scenery. Andy will continue to work two days a week for J. as a copy editor, and I’l l continue to freelance as a grantwriter.
What are your plans after the lease ends on March 31?
We’ve decided that we want to live in Morelia next summer, at least for a little while. We’ve found that Zihuatanejo is too hot at that time of year, and we think having a beach life part of the year and a big-city life the other part of the year is a perfect combination. If my cancer does not return, our hope is to spend part of next summer in Morelia, and some other time traveling … we’re not sure yet where, but Mexico offers endless possibilities. You can’t believe the number of amazing places we want to check out.
Are we bored and do I miss work?
Not yet! I thought that I might be bored by now, but it hasn’t happened. There’s are too many plazas to enjoy, too many coffeeshops to hang out at, and too much Spanish to learn. Zihuatenejo is much smaller than the places we have been visiting, so perhaps beach life will take its toll after many months. I don’t miss working full-time. I love having so much free time. In Zihuatanejo, I do plan on doing volunteer work one day a week, hopefully with kids. And I will try to continue to freelance when opportunities presents themselves. This week I’ve been contacted by two organizations, both in need of fundraising consulting and grant-writing.
What’s the security situation like in Mexico?
We continue to feel very safe and the people have been lovely. We are reading the Mexican newspapers and seeing that violence from the drug cartels continues to escalate, but it has not affected our experience. As tourists, we are not impacted, though we know it’s a serious and horrific problem. The news is filled with reports of shootings, be-headings and other heinous crimes (mostly involving gang members, or sometimes politicians). It deeply saddens me to read these stories. We’re not turning a blind eye to this madness, but thankfully, up to this point, it has not impacted our day-to-day enjoyment of this amazing country. We love the pace of life and we love the people. In fact, I would say that I miss the Bay Area less than I thought I would. With the exception of missing YOU, I would say that the overall quality of our lives in Mexico is excellent.
In closing, I’m excited to soon see everyone and get caught up. Thanks for your e-mails, notes, texts, etc. See you soon!