Time flies – we’ve been here more than three months (in Mexico City). In some ways, it feels like longer than that. We’ve certainly accomplished quite a bit. C’s been back to see his mom twice and I went north and cleaned out and closed on the house. We’ve had several rounds of guests. With more to come. There is so much to show people – and so much more I want to see myself.
I’d say we’re relatively settled. The house has its good points for sure – great patio, huge trees, lots of room for people to visit. Great security. It’s super quiet. Lots of green, very Mexican colonia – I don’t think I’ve seen another gringo. Working professionals, it looks like, for the most part. The next door woman is a doctor, for example. Not a lot of small children (that we see).
Lots of drivers washing cars every day. Not many people in here drive themselves, I don’t think. The guys at the security gate finally know us (there’s a lot of them). I do feel safe. But there’s nowhere to walk. Oh sure, we walk the dogs around the hood. At 2am if we feel like it. In our PJs. But we can’t walk to the store, or the restaurant. Any store or any restaurant. At least, not happily. We’re 2 km of residential road (surrounding the big golf course) before we get to the security gate. And this place is like Fort Knox. The maids and gardeners have a shuttle bus that runs from 8 – 10am and then again from 4-6pm, to get them in and out. I wonder if I could sneak on.
I guess it’s all trade-offs. But we’re here and it’s a nice house and we have some time to think about what we might want to do next. Go deeper into the city? Go back to Cuernavaca? We love the weather there and the gringos are diluted. And deluded. My tribe, ha-ha. It just got Uber and there’s an El Palacio de Hierro being built. In the largest mall in Latin America (to be) they say. Guess that extra investment money is coming north from Puebla now. And real estate agents are hopeful again. Could be a good time to buy (in a year maybe).
We both do want to stop moving now. We’re done. So we’ve been looking at where to settle. We don’t want to go to a new town, we’ve established that. Somewhere we have at least lived or spent considerable time. So that means, CDMX (by the time next spring rolls around), Cuernavaca, Lake Chapala or San Miguel. Or Vancouver Island (remote, but never say never). Each has pros and cons. We eliminated the beach as a contender, just not for us.
Let’s look at our Mexico options. In alphabetical order:
[fancy_header3 variation=”red” textColor=”#f80000″]CDMX[/fancy_header3]
Pros: Mexico City is a serious world-class city along with the likes of London, NY and Paris. And living here includes everything that goes with that, from gourmet grocery stores to rock concerts to five star restaurants to real Chinese food. Servicio a Domicilio from hell. All the art galleries, museums and cultural events. Uber. If we buy, it’s a fast market to resell. Lots of trees. Good street cafes and bars. Lots of good energy. Great airport, half an hour away. Good hospitals. Warmer than San Miguel or Lake Chapala in the winter and cooler in the summer. Gringos are diluted. Spanish is preferred language.
Cons: Big city with pollution. Can only drive automobile (foreign plates) limited days. Lots of traffic. Expensive housing with not a lot of yard (in the city further, where we’d go). Unlikely to score view. 10 degrees cooler than Cuernavaca.
[fancy_header3 variation=”red” textColor=”#f80000″]Cuernavaca[/fancy_header3]
Pros: Big city with good amenities. Uber. Close to CDMX (1.5 hours by car). Commuter bus every half hour to CDMX (about 1.5 hours). Perfect climate (rarely sees lows below 15C or highs above 28C). Good delivery services. Organic markets. Can find views (have to look). Gringos are diluted. Spanish is preferred language. Good hospitals (and close to CDMX). Good restaurants. We have friends there. We know where things are and how to get there. Lower altitude (4,500 ft).
Cons: Not an attractive city. CDMX and back is a full day trip. Two hours+ to airport.
[fancy_header3 variation=”red” textColor=”#f80000″]Lake Chapala[/fancy_header3]
Pros: Beautiful views. Attractive, colonial town. Lake. Less than an hour from Guadalajara (good airport), Tonala and Tlaquepaque. Inexpensive to buy real estate, easy to resell. Good restaurants.
Cons: Cold in the winter (Jan/Feb). Limited supermarket choices. Gringo-centric. English is comon. Cobblestones.
[fancy_header3 variation=”red” textColor=”#f80000″]San Miguel[/fancy_header3]
Pros: Attractive colonial town. Good views. We have friends there. Good restaurants. Expensive real estate but easy resale. We know our way around.
Cons: Cold in the winter (Jan/Feb). Busy on weekends. Noisy (fireworks). Limited supermarket choices. Gringo-centric. English is common. Cobblestones. Hills. Water is an issue (lack of it). Street dog problem. Airport is a good four hours away (by private car, further by bus door to door). There are airports closer, but none with direct flights to Vancouver or Toronto. And we’re too old and grumpy to start changing planes in America and go through all the TSA bullshit.
[fancy_header3 variation=”red” textColor=”#f80000″]Door Number 1, 2, 3 or 4?[/fancy_header3]
You many have noticed I didn’t list crime under any of the doors – they’re all the same – everywhere in Mexico is dangerous, to a certain extent. Everywhere in the world these days is somewhat dangerous. Larger cities usually more so, but in this case I would probably list Mexico City as the safest of the four choices above. They have better control over their police and other levels of municipal government. It’s actually easier for smaller towns to foster corrupt authorities. The other options are comparable crime levels – although Cuernavaca is perhaps higher in some categories (like kidnapping) because of the number of wealthy Mexicans (and population of one million+). But San Miguel and Lake Chapala have higher stats for property crime and assaults (higher ratio of gringos with the locals being much poorer on average). So it’s six of one, half dozen of the other. You just stay alert and aware everywhere. It’s the price you pay (small one, I think).
So which door? Who knows? And of course, door number 5 would be Vancouver Island. It has a lot going for it. Needless to say, it would be fantastic if we could have houses in both places (the winner of 1 – 4 and the Island). We’ll see. I think we’re both leaning toward Cuernavaca, unless we can find that gorgeous terraza apartment for sale in Roma or Condesa. Hey, never say never.
We had our party on May 29 and it was great fun. Lots of people, a great bar set up (if I do say so myself) and splits of champagne with straws. And Ruth, bless her heart and I mean it, brought two big bottles of Vueve to round things out. Then we had cold beer, red wine, white wine and needed nothing more. Lots of food and fun. It’s a great patio for entertaining. My friend took the photo above – I love it. Lots of good company and good discussions around the glass patio table. It’s a comfortable place.
As it turns out, the Bruce thing (remember the Amsterdam concert was on again, off again and then possibly on again) in Amsterdam is off. It’s next week and after all the back and forth, the kids couldn’t do it. But that’s okay, we’re flexible. We’re happy to go anywhere.
So, on May 28, a Facebook “memory” pops up for me from May 28, 2013. I would have been in San Miguel then, just in that horrid place we bought by a few months and wishing we hadn’t. So here’s the memory:
Call me woo-woo, but there’s something to be said for putting it out to the universe like that. And the same day, some three years later, we’re on our way to Paris to see Bruce (July 14) and then (because why not?) we’ll spend the weekend in Amsterdam before coming home. I think I mentioned that it’s our Christmas present from the kids (they are meeting us there) and we’re really delirious. Seriously. And so glad it could happen after all. And to have it happen, and then show up on my screen like that. Must be meant to be. Now, to find that sports car. And play this Marianne Faithful song (The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan) while driving around Paris with the warm wind in my hair. Who gives up at 37? That’s crazy. I never give up and look where it gets me.
[pullquote4 quotes=”true” align=”center” variation=”red” bgColor=”#ffffff” textColor=”#f80000″]At the age of 37 – She realized she’d never ride – Through Paris in a sports car – With the warm wind in her hair – MF[/pullquote4]
We’ve got company coming this weekend and then C is off to visit his mom again on the 22nd of this month – she’s enjoying the summer in her own home and we’re very grateful for that. We go to Paris July 11 and are back on the 20th. We’ve got company coming at the end of July and the beginning of August, then we’re off to Tenencingo (a friend’s house) for the next weekend and then we’re taking a break.
I’ll try to go up north in late September if I can, no guarantees but I’ll try. I’d like to do a triangle – CDMX to Toronto to Vancouver (the Island too), then home to CDMX. We’ll see how other things are going by then. And then before you know it, it will be Christmas and then it will be 2017 and time to make up our minds about what we are doing. Although there’s no pressure, we can stay here until we decide.
Boy, time flies when you get older. Just flies. I guess the only time it doesn’t is when you’re in the dentist’s chair or jail. It’s precious, so don’t squander it. I was thinking I should get a Bruce tattoo before I go. Still thinking. I don’t think it hurts as much as it used to. Here’s a little Out on the Street for you. Good God, that Jake can play that horn and I’m glad.