Thursday, January 31, 2008

Twenty days of no Manana time

I've thought about posting something in the past 20 days about our first month as 'jubilados' (retirees) in Mexico --- but we're not exactly retired, we're not exactly taking it easy and all news was so eventful that I would have been writing in all exclamation points --- which I am fundamentally opposed to, as a journalist.

So now that some of the La Manzanilla dust has settled (at least in front of our house), here's a quick recap.

As many of you know from reading Michael's blog, I'm helping out three or more days a week at Santana Realty. It's not even the eye of the storm in there --- it's a daily tornado of activity, often stemming from tourists coming in about a beach rental and walking out with a realtor to look at buying property or a house.

It's been really interesting.

I'm on the fast track to learn everything about buying and selling real estate in this part of Mexico while also learning how to do it in another language -- Spanish. Already I know to ask for the 'carpeta' (the file), what a 'Constancia' is (a very important property document you get from the Ejido), or how to respond when someone asks if I would like something from the local tienda.


I'm always exhausted by Thursdays but I'm also left mulling over what was left undone, what else might be handled more efficiently (am I allowed to think that in this culture? Hmmmmm).

In the meantime, there is much other news:

Dustin and Camelia delighted and surprised us with their engagement last week! They have the ultimate international, cross-cultural relationship --- Camelia is Romanian and has been living and working in Puerto Vallarta for the past seven years.

She and Dustin combined their business space last year so Fox Marine and Full Sail Canvas are now located in Nueva Vallarta at the Nueva Marina and their home is nearby. They live about three to four hours from us (depending on who's driving!) and Camelia has been very gracious in welcoming Dustin's quirky relatives into their home. We're elated!

The paperwork to get married in Mexico is 'mui complicado' -- stay tuned for a wedding date and a wedding destination.

You've also probably read that Michael and I have bought more property. We don't have a plan (what's new?) but all 'feels right' (that's so 60s, sorry!) so we're forging ahead. We haven't decided if and when to build or where. But we figure all will be revealed soon enough. For a change, we've decided to just live here for a little while and then make a decision when we know more. That's a different approach for us.

Of course, for those of you that know us, even this philosophy remains subject to change.

We've been seeing cruising friends too --- Phil and Nora on Shiraz, and Dan and Lorraine on Zephyrus. We're headed to Barra de Navidad later today to have dinner with Zephryus and make plans for helping them fix one more boat part before they head to Central America.

At some point we're expecting to see Jeff and Anne on Fantasia, headed back from Aptos, California. And Don Tiffin is now in Mexico on Sabbatical before he heads to the South Pacific. Anyone need to hitch a ride?

Today begins the yearly La Manzanilla birthday fiesta, rodeo and four day bash that the natives have told us will require a box of earplugs. Yesterday I saw a makeshift hair salon set up in an empty shop and dozens of the local women getting their hair fixed for the festivities. So this might be quite the event and one not to miss. Stay tuned for the video.

But all in all -- when I get a chance to take a breath -- I can heartfully say that the decision to move here is still all I had hoped for. I'm doing a lot of what I had wanted to do (with the exception of finding fellow fiddle players, but I'm working on it). I'm learning the language, making friends, seeing old ones, enjoying the warm weather and the late evenings.

Michael and I walk up in the hills every morning and I'm always reminded of the disparity of lifestyles here that seem to be able to co-exist as we hike up through the million dollar homes on the hill and descend down by the stick huts in the village.

The gentlemen pictured here sits out in front of his home every day, getting the occasional visit from whomever is passing by.

It's the La Manzanilla version of extended care living -- not an uncommon sight here. It's a good daily reminder for me that whatever I have, I have enough.

And for all of you who missed Jane 'the Rentalor' Gorby's birthday on Monday, here it is:

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Who said life in La Manz is slow?

We've just come off of frantic five days of searching for the perfect home or land purchase for my cousin Lynn and friends -- Suzanne, Karen and Randy --- while also squeezing in some important time for swimming, snorkling, sampling the pescado and the tequila, while also squeezing in some occasional non-real estate conversation. Basically, we did everything but sleep, rest, read or do anything else that might be considered 'idle time'.

This might be more the trend than what I had fantasized about mid-semester.

Oh well. It's still fun. Exhausting but fun.

Lynn and company went careening off mid-morning to the Puerto Vallarta airport, while Michael and I and Dylan suited up for some real estate shopping of our own, finalizing some property that we looked at in a nearby village last spring. That meant a 7 k ride down a washboard road and a hike up a hill to see what we could see.

It looked great.

I finally took my first siesta in a week, recharging my batteries for an evening trip down to Melaque and Barra de Navidad for groceries, a trip to the closest ATM and dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Mexico Lindo, with Tenacatita friends Sharon and Mario.

In the Small World we live in, we struck up a conversation with the people at the next table who turned out to be a California legislator (and family) who made it clear that he/she would really prefer to remain unnamed. But you have to wonder what the statistical odds are for sitting next to a couple of Sacramento journalists at a tiny Mexican restaurant in a small Mexican village.

Here's a video of the Tenacatita Beach, snorkling and dinner out afterwards in La Manzanilla. Tacos were 7 pesos each. Perfect for a retirement budget!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A new year in Tenacatita Bay

We only left California 19 days ago but, as usual, we've jammed more than a months worth of travel, fun, work, guests, planning and whatever into those days. I keep saying life will settle down soon and Michael just snorts. So maybe not.

Yesterday was our first true beach day. We actually worked in the morning on a California consulting project, then took off for a late lunch at our favorite palapa at Tenacatita, near our beach lot. Michael and Dylan had their usual Rollo de Mer (fish roll with shrimp, bacon and whatever, deep fried and covered in a sauce) and cervezas.

Afterwards we took the beach chairs and umbrella to the beach where our friends Sharon and Mario are building, using the same contractor we plan to use.

Today we're heading to Puerto Vallarta (three hours north if I'm driving) to help celebrate Camelia's birthday and do some city shopping for stuff we need here. I find that I hate the thought of shopping and buying, so I must be acclimating quickly.

This is a short video from the beach yesterday --- it probably doesn't do it justice, but eventually most of you will come see it for yourselves. And if you missed our New Year's Eve celebration on Michael's blog, check out the dancing video here called New Year's Eve Rocks (tango, cha cha and whatever moves your body).