Oct 5, 2010, 6:18 PM
Reposted here from our original 3/7/10 ¡Hola al Foro! post:
We haven't found an "Introductions" topic anywhere, so this seems to be a reasonable place to begin. Been visiting here for a few months now, and especially for some of you who post frequently, it seems like we already know you. We're still NoB, with hopes of making a move south in the next few years. With a little digging and following existing threads we've learned so much already, but there are questions we'd still like to ask. Before we jump in, it seems only fair to say something about ourselves so you'll know us a bit too.
Dan and Carmen here, currently working & residing in the Skagit Valley in Washington State, USA. Despite enjoying what we do to support ourselves here in this beautiful corner of the US, the years are catching up with us and we are considering what “retirement” might mean for us, relying solely on social security and modest savings for the years ahead of us.
Life experiences so far for Carmen are: growing up in rural Pennsylvania, training for and being a skilled hairdresser in Wisconsin, a stint making circuit boards in California, then moving to Washington State and starting/running a dairy goat farm & cheese-making business, then 15 years as a restaurant manager and another similar period as the kitchen manager & event planner for a retirement facility. She’s a life-time avid gardener, is a whiz in the kitchen, and loves her cats. Slowing down just a bit from the almost non-stoppable pace she’s applied to everything she does.
For Dan: growing up in suburban Michigan, college in New England (remembering Dr Michael Coe’s course on MesoAmerica that first interested him in the lands SoB), a few years as a travel agent & Caribbean cruise manager, several years in the Peace Corps in rural Guatemala working with a large rabbit co-op, has an MBA (HRM & Tourism), was a mail-order bookseller, built and managed our own restaurant in the North Cascades for 20 years, and now, for a similar length of time, small business consultant/tax-preparer/accountant from his home office. He’s a lifetime photographer, owner-builder/remodeler, appreciator of vernacular & alternative building techniques, planner, web & computer-tinkerer, and generalist geek. All his offspring (and theirs--he’s a grandpa to four) live in the Seattle area.
We have traveled a bit out of the country, and have each always had thoughts like “Could I move here and live happily” in some of the more agreeable areas we’ve visited over the years. But, realistically it would be nice to not stray too far from the US, to allow for occasional visits to/from family. That last sort of eliminates some spots we’ve liked in southern Europe and Mediterranean, and crossing the Pacific is just too far. South America is probably the same, although Ecuador still beckons just a little. Wherever we settle, we really want to find a spot where the snow falls only in the distance, and the garden doesn’t freeze out each winter. Not looking for the island life, so we’re probably not headed to the Caribbean, despite Dan’s past-life familiarity with that area of the world. That leaves México and Central America.
We have the most experience traveling together in México. A good number of winter vacations had us autobussing around a good bit of the country, a few times accompanied by family taking advantage of Dan’s facility with Spanish (a benefit of his stint as a PCV many decades ago in Guatemala).
We know that most North American visitors head for the beach, but salt-water & sand hold little attraction for us that doesn’t dispel in a day or two at most. Beach & resort-area life would bore us, and the Mexican coastal cities to which we’ve returned the most are Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta, probably because we can be comfortable in the old town areas. Melaque and Guayabitos/La Peñita are smaller coastal towns we’ve enjoyed.
We seem to enjoy ourselves most in the highlands, and in smaller cities and slower-paced communities where we can interact with the culture of everyday México. Cities we’ve enjoyed the most are Uruapan, Xalapa, Pátzcuaro, Dolores Hidalgo (used as a base for visiting Guanajuato & SMA), San Cristobal and Mérida. We almost bought an eight room hotel in Ixtapan de la Sal, and have managed to include this white pueblo, and the big hot springs north of town, on our many of trips. With Dan’s PCV experience to draw from, we are fairly confident about being able to adapt to a good life SoB, and to be good neighbors in any nice community.
Trying to find the “right place” means determining what characteristics a town should have for our own sense of well-being. These are on the list for us, in no way ranked in importance: A long growing season. Some topography interest & views, with mountains in the distance (maybe some snow at the top), and the salt water not too far away, would be a plus. A moderate climate, not too hot in the summer nor cold in winter. No water shortages--somewhere where rivers & streams run most of the year would be nice. Don’t mind some clouds or rain (in fact, we’d miss them if they weren’t there!). A manageable cost of living. A good internet connection. Reliable electricity. Enough home space for a large patio or small jardín for lots of flowering plants. Access to reliable, not too expensive, medical care (we’re both reasonably healthy and mobile). Close-by shops for necessities (mercado, panaderia, farmacia, ferreteria), and farther-away bigger stores for periodic stocking up. A smaller town, with access to a not too distant city (perhaps a university city) where there are urban health and some cultural resources.
We don't mind renting for a while, moving around a bit until we find the right place. But, ultimately it seems we'd want our own place, as keeping busy by growing things, building and renovating has always kept us happy and interested in life.
Seems like lots of you have found comfortable places to hang your sombreros, and we hope to have the same success.
Dan & Carmen
Veracruz has to be the best kept secret in Mexico.
http://etepetzin.blogspot.com -&- http://azuledos.blogspot.com