Giant cockroaches and other insomnia stories

Welcome new followers who found out about Believeitohrnot from On the Road in Mexico. I’m honored you signed up to follow my Mexican and world adventures.

If you want to read about my story from day one, it starts here. 

I’m writing this post from Chia, located in the beautiful city of Morelia, Mexico.  It’s a very cool & hip cafe located four doors from our house. They play great music, and their coffee is muy bueno.  Bob Marley is blaring out some cool tunes at the moment.  chia

This post is about overcoming fear and it’s about Mexico. I’ve written about overcoming fear before, but it’s such an important topic, I felt it deserved some further attention. Fear almost killed my dream of moving abroad and that would have sucked since my husband and I had talked about this dream since we got married almost 21 years ago.  Fear has the ability to be a dream killer and that’s not cool. Since I started this blog, I’ve become inspired to help people realize that fear doesn’t have to paralyze souls.  I’m not just talking about moving to a foreign country. I’m talking about it killing other dreams too,  Let’s examine what living in fear can do:

  • It can stop you from professing your love to someone who might reciprocate!  Wouldn’t that be sad?
  • It can stop you from making a job change for the better.
  • It can keep you trapped focusing on how much life sucks, instead of how beautiful life can be.
  • Fear can keep you from being happy and it can turn you into a miserable, angry SOB.

I started thinking, what if I shared my biggest fears with readers about moving to Mexico? What if my story could inspire YOU to make a major life change?  It doesn’t have to be moving to a different place. It could be anything at all.

I’d be able to add the title of “personal cliff pusher” to my resume!!!

So, it’s time for me to bare my soul and tell you every single fear I had about moving abroad and how I overcame it.  Some fears were big, and some were small. All were aggravating and made my brain hurt for many weeks before our move a little over one year ago.  These are not in any particular order, but they all had the ability to keep me feeling stuck.

# 1-Would a gigantic cockroach crawl across my skin when I slept?

AMER COC

The Fear: I’m really scared of cockroaches and there are a lot of cockroaches in Mexico. I wouldn’t say my fear of cockroaches is debilitating, but I don’t think I have ever had the courage to kill even one. When I see one, I don’t run and hide, but just the fact that I don’t have the cajones to confront these pesky creatures says volumes about my phobia. So, naturally, when I thought about moving to Mexico, I wondered, “what would happen if a gigantic, black cockroach crawled across my head when I was in na na land?   Seriously, this thought kept me awake some nights. Good thing I didn’t know then, what I know now.  I just found out that cockroaches can live for a full month without their heads!  Isn’t that disgusting?  Here’s more about these disgusting creatures.

The reality:  We’ve lived in Mexico for 14 months now, and I’ve only seen one cockroach in our house and it was dead. I’ve seen a few outside on the street and i think we’ve reached an awesome agreement. They  avoid me and I avoid them.  The longer we live in Mexico, the more I realize that a cockroach probably won’t crawl across my head while I slumber and invade my space.  I’m now starting to think I have a better chance of being stung by a scorpion, but let’s not go there.

#2- Would our standard of living fall dramatically?

The fear: What would happen if our new living conditions weren’t as nice as the house we left in Oakland, CA?  What would happen if I we could no longer lie on our comfortable large couch, or sleep on our perfect Tempurpedic mattress?

The reality: Overall, our living conditions in Mexico have been great.  Every place we have stayed has been charming, well-located and diverse.  Our living conditions have been up to snuff in every city with the exception of Guanajuato where this happened.

livingroom

This is our cute living room in Zihuatanejo.  Our standard of living hasn’t suffered since we moved.

We’ve easily found places well within our budget in every location. Sometimes we’ve used airbnb. Sometimes we’ve asked local people for recommendations, sometimes we’ve pounded the pavement ourselves.   I’m happy to say that after months of living in many locations, mainly in Central Mexico, this particular fear has been squashed.  I can say with 100% certainty that there are many, many charming places to stay (especially in larger cities) and that our quality of living equals that of the United States. I only miss two things. 1) Having a bathtub. 2) Having a large couch that Andy and I can both snuggle together on.

#3- Would we be able to afford to retire at such young ages?

The fear: Where would we find the money to quit our jobs, and embark on this great adventure?  How would we pay rent and afford food, electricity and other living expenses?

The reality- Before we moved to Mexico, I worried ALL the time about how we would afford to quit our jobs. Even by renting our Oakland, CA house for well above our mortgage, I still worried. I shouldn’t have.  Designated husband is working 15 hours a week remotely and I’m working 3-5 (some weeks, not all).

cropped-cropped-cropped-uswithcoco3.jpg

Even on a  limited budget, we can live fine. The beach is free and cold coconuts don’t break the bank.

Because it’s so cheap to live here, we have enough money to cover all of our monthly expenses and we are using minimal savings.  And if we limit our monthly entertainment expenses, we have enough money to travel and go other places.  I can’t tell you not to worry about money.  I can’t tell you that money isn’t a real concern because it is. What I can tell you is that Mexico is cheap and that we can afford a really nice lifestyle here on way less money.

Maybe you are stuck in the worry about money mode?  Maybe you want to change careers or start a new business.  I can only offer this simplistic advice.  It’s possible to do more with less. It really is.  Start by creating a budget and then scale back on monthly expenses (cooking at home, not buying fancy clothes). By taking these steps, you may find the income you need to make the change.  If you have one, talk to a financial adviser and plan, plan plan.  But most importantly, don’t let your fear of what “might be” cloud what “really is.”. 

#4- Would I be able to get high quality medical care?  And would I know when (and if) my ovarian cancer returned?

The fear: My cancer would return and I would not have access to good medical care.

The reality:  My ovarian cancer may return at any time. But my amazing Oakland-based oncologist, Dr. Liz Han, told me to live my dreams now, and I heeded her advice.  If and when my cells decide to party it up,  I will need to return to the Untied States for treatment in the form of more chemotherapy, most likely an 18-week commitment. But until that time happens, it’s time to celebrate life.

But before I had a pow-wow with Dr. Han, I would lie awake night after night, I’d worry about what would happen if and when my cancer came back.  Some days I thought that I would never be able to leave the U.S.  What if they didn’t have the medical tests in Mexico to detect its return?   What would happen if I woke up in the middle of the night with another bowel obstruction? Where would I go for treatment?  The list went on and on and my mind just wouldn’t stop spinning.  Worrying about medical concerns was all consuming and almost became a deal breaker.

Then I met Dr. Miguel Flores.

Miguel Flores is my Morelia based oncologist.  I can’t remember how I found him, but I think another Mexican doctor referred me to him. He’s the bomb. I see him every three months when I’m in Mexico.  First I go to his very modern office to get a blood test to detect the ovarian cancer marker. Then I get a pelvic exam to check for tumors.  My concerns about the possibility of me not receiving top-notch medical care in Mexico have proved to be unfounded–at least so far.  Dr. Flores takes good care of me. He speaks great English and he knows his stuff.  Another plus?  He’s my Facebook friend!  I know if I ever need him in a pinch, I can send him a Facebook message or personal email and he’d be right by my side helping me get the medical care I need.  When I’m in Morelia, I never worry about medical care. There are many top-notch hospitals here.

Zihuatanejo is another story since it’s so much smaller and four hours away.  But, if I get seriously sick in Zihuatanejo  I know a very competent English speaking Dr. who many ex-pats use. In a pinch, I would probably  be able to utilize his services and work with him to figure out next steps.

While the fear of getting seriously sick in Mexico is still here, it’s not at the forefront of my mind, and it’s in no way a strong enough fear to make me want to return home.

#5- Would I miss California and my friends & I would I suffer from loneliness and heartbreak?

The fear– I would be homesick all of the time and greatly miss my friends.

The Reality– I’m lonely.  There I said it.  I miss my friends every single day.  Many have come to visit us and our time together means the world to me.  In general, I’m finding the longer I’m away, the more it hurts.  I don’t have the luxury of going out for a cup of coffee or grabbing a beer with my posse.

There are strategies I can use to be less lonely, like connecting with other ex-pats, and making friends in places where we will be staying for a while. I’ve done all of those things.  But it doesn’t replace cherished girl friends you’ve know for years and years.  I’m  less lonely in Zihuatanejo because my mom lives there six months out of the year.   But as a highly social person, it sucks, period.

Out of all of the fears I had about moving abroad, this one turned out to be true. Some days I feel empty inside and it’s very, very hard to reconcile. But as lonely as it gets,  I wouldn’t trade the experience. Living in a foreign country, learning a new language and doing this experience with the man I love feels important and is so worthwhile.  I can deal with the day-to-day loneliness, I don’t have a choice.

Final thoughts

If you managed to read through this entire blog, you can see that every fear I had about moving abroad didn’t really come to pass.  A giant cockroach didn’t devour me as a slept and I never lived in sub-standard living conditions.

Imagine if you could have the same experience managing your fears. What if your fears were simply fears?  Fears that could be managed, conquered and expertly defeated?

Would you be ready to make a change?

In the past year, I’ve seen many friends make amazing life changes all for the better. One left the San Francisco Bay Area, sold her house and opened a Bed & Breakfast in a very small town.  Another left a high-paying tech job and bought and opened a restaurant.   They took a huge leap and haven’t looked back. I’m in awe. They are so courageous!

Are you ready to jump?  Do you need a personal cliff pusher?

Tell me what’s holding you back.   I’m ready to help.

Stacey

 

 

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11 thoughts on “Giant cockroaches and other insomnia stories

  1. My husband’s business partner died shortly after retirement. At the memorial, his wife said to me, “Don’t wait. We waited. Don’t wait.” Two years later, my husband retired, I closed my psychotherapy practice and we moved to wine country in California. It’s expensive, my best friends are back home and we’ve had to downsize, but the benefits FAR outweigh the costs. We are loving it here! New friends, new experiences, new opportunities – a new life! We’re even considering going further – perhaps to Portugal or Mexico. Life is for living! Don’t wait!

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  2. Have enjoyed reading your blog so much that Morelia is now our first stop on our next trip to Mexico in January. My husband and I really love Mexico and are always looking for new places to visit. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

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      • Hola, señora! You invariably misspell the name of my town, Patzcuaro. Let’s get it right, por favor. Actually, if you really want to get it right, there’s an accent mark, Pátzcuaro.

        By the way, anyone considering moving to Pátzcuaro needs to keep in mind the overnight freezes we endure in winter. It’s not for the faint of heart.

        And while I’m on a critical bender, cajones are drawers, as in chest of drawers. If one is courageous, he or she has cojones, just a letter off but a huge difference in meaning. Spanish is tricky.

        Morelia is world of improvement over what it was two decades ago. It’s a great city now as you are noticing. Enjoy.

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  3. Wow, yet another great blog post, Stacey. Thank you for sharing so much of your life with us – the ups, downs, and the in-between moments. Fear can be crippling and debilitating, but it need not be as you’ve demonstrated! We can all get past our fears and assemble our lives to make it into what we want or dream of. You’re an inspiration!

    I think one fear I have at the current moment is not being able to finish a Spartan Race (a tough obstacle course race) that we had registered for many moons ago. I think about now being in good health to even start, or looking foolish, of not being able to complete an obstacle – to which you are punished by having to perform 30 burpees, or finishing dead last or getting injured. Susan has a great mental attitude and perspective, so I am trying to pep myself up as well, but those fears are hard to beat…but I think what I have learned from your post today is that fear is manageable if I break it up into pieces and work on the fears, one by one. I think it’s entirely possible I will finish the race in last place, or maybe I won’t even get to start because my health hasn’t been so good lately, or whatever else, but if I take the fears apart and have a “solution” or know I will tackle it, it’s not so bad. Anyway, just saying that you’re awesome to conquer your fears…and now living the dreams.

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  4. In my case it was cancer. I had it removed last March but I have Lynch Syndrome which means it or another will come down the pike. In my family, you die of cancer. Part of the argument I am having with myself is simply Mexico is ranked #4 in the world. We are ranked #37. Why the devil am I still here? Ah.. yes. Money. I need to get my income up. And have a 13 room house to get rid of.

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  5. Health care was also my big fear about living in Mexico. Who knew that I would have to face my fear when I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2015. Luckily about 10 years ago, we signed up for IMSS. It was one of the smartest things we did in our move to Mexico. I have had, in my opinion, great medical care through IMSS. I also realize care greatly differs depending where you are located. I get my treatments in Tepic, Nayarit and could not be happier. Everyone has been so kind and really work to make sure I understand what is happening. Luckily, my main doctor and surgeon both speak English. I know I will never be “cured” but so far, I’m Still here and still fighting.
    So my advice for health care, if you are eligible, sign up for IMSS and keep it current. Thank goodness we were enrolled before my roller coaster ride started.

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  6. I had a large cockroach crawl across my bare foot while I was in the bathroom of a B&B. I screamed briefly, shook it off, and the b@st@rd got away under the sink.

    But I once saw a larger on our bedroom floor at a friend’s house in Cuernavaca. The really gross part was stepping down on it with some force.

    Ni modo.

    Saludos,
    Don Cuevas

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    • Cockroaches prefer humidity. The 18 years I lived in New Orleans, and to a slightly lesser degree the 15 years in Houston, cockroaches were a common sight. They were all over the place. There was no avoiding them. I rarely see them where I live now, however. Scorpions either.

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  7. I think Gringos ( and the US) are the main people that are obsessed with bugs. The rest of the world seems to get along with them just fine and even find them as a good source of protein.
    Living away from the US has so many benefits as long as one can accept the good and the not so good….

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Stacy,
    Thank you for another informative and entertaining blog entry. You are one of few who take the advice “go live your dreams”.
    This is why you are such an inspiration to all of us!
    “Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is” (H. Jackson Browne)
    All food got thought…except for the cockroaches!
    Sending you and Andy big hugs!

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