Time flies……

I can’t believe we have been here 5 months. I also can’t believe that I haven’t managed a blog post since June, but….. here we are.

Our first month or two just felt like we were on an extended vacation and month 3 started to feel like groundhogs day. I decided to pick up some piece work to give me more to do while Lisa is contently working on her puzzle or living her best life in the Ocean. We did not start having guests until August so we had plenty of time to settle in. Since then, we have had either friends or family down on a pretty regular basis. First my my 3rd oldest son and his friend, then Lisa’s niece and her family came, then my second youngest and his girlfriend, then my best friend and her children (though they stayed at a resort up the road) but Lisa and I happily hosted their 25th wedding vow renewal at our house, at sunset, under the palapa-it was magical! I have my friends and work colleagues coming in tomorrow for a week, I am sure there will be work done, for tax purposes 😉 next up is my sister in law and her son, then my youngest will arrive the last week of November. Tired yet? My oldest son will make the trip at some point. We are going back to Washington to spend a month next summer so it may be until then that I see him but he calls me frequently so I am not complaining.

So what’s it been like? It has been great! I feel like I know the Cancun airport, Playa del Carmen and all the local cenotes like the back of my hand. It took me FOR EVER to get an RFC (tax ID) number to open a checking account but I finally got that done last month. It was a challenging experience since I have limited Spanish reading skills but the employees at the SAT office were helpful and patient. There was a local man there who could not read sitting next to me while we were filling out forms and he asked me what his paper said, I can’t describe the feeling that left me with. There is very much a class system in place here and dare I say that the original settlers of this land are treated the worst. You could draw parallels from the Mayans to the Native Americans except that here, the Mayans don’t have much protection from exploitations. Work environments, tools, etc. are very archaic and that is the typical job for a Mayan, a laborer. Watching a man at work with a pix axe-going at limestone- in 90 degree weather makes my work ethic look questionable, if not almost embarrassing. When we hired a local contractor to install a pergola for our car, this is exactly what I witnessed as well as several workers, sitting on the supporting beams of the pergola, nailing in sticks of wood by hand in the middle of a thunderstorm. A power tool was used once… Even for workers who are paid legally, the Mexican minimum wage is 172 pesos per day (about 8 usd) and I can tell you that the cost of food and gas down here is only slightly less expensive than in the States because we live in a tourist state but that doesn’t mean they get paid more. One more before I get off my soapbox, in Mexico, it is very common to have a housekeeper and for her to come several times a week (Once is good for us). The pay is more than the minimum wage (usually) but not by much. My neighbors maid offered to clean our house when our housekeeper was away once and we took her up on it. She showed up with her 12 year old daughter as she was her apprentice, she was teaching her how to correctly clean houses, make the beds, etc.. I know not all kids go to high school here (and by here, I mean Mexico, not this privileged little community that I live in), some stop at 6th grade so they can work and help support their families but to see what that looks like left me extremely humbled and full of guilt. It is, after all, only a fluke that I was born in the States and yes, white privilege is real, even here.

If you look closely, you can see two extension cords strung together behind the man

Going to the store, out to eat, driving, shopping etc. has all become very normal. When we first moved down, I was hypervigilant about everything, now I am only hypervigilant about some things. We have the water delivery schedule down as well as the Gas guy (Propane home) and it feels….like home!

We went to Oaxaca in July for my birthday, it was truly a unique experience. We were lucky enough to go during Guelaguetza! This is a celebration of traditions and culture from the surrounding communities. Let me tell you, Oaxacans are some amazing and proud people and they now how to party! The food, the historical tours, the food, the mezcal, the food, the cooking class, the food, the ruins of Monte Alban, the food…Yes, it was amazing! We had no idea the parade route would turn right in front of our hotel, Casa de Siete Balcones. The hotel purveyors set up the rooftop for us so we could watch. It was a once in a lifetime experience.

The prices of food and items in Oaxaca were close to half of what they are in Quintana Roo. We are very much looking forward to traveling throughout Mexico and hope to do so next year. As for now, we have set up our home here on a few different home exchange sites and have several upcoming trips. We are exchanging homes over Christmas/New Years with a couple from Manhattan and next spring, we have exchanges set up in Spain, France and Italy! So far this, BBYODO thing is really panning out 🙂

TTFN!

And… We’re off!

So much has happened in the last two months and I don’t have time to do a break down but I will when we settle. Unfortunately, right after my last post my wife and I came down with COVID that knocked us down for several weeks. Triple vaxxed and still, but I digress..

I have often looked to the universe for signs. Good, bad, indifferent, I have come to rely on signs to point me in the right direction. If it is meant to be, it will. If it isn’t, stop fighting and listen. We have gone from a dream, to a plan, to an action. We sold our home to friends during this crazy market. It has reaffirmed our decision and it felt so right. We have sold our cars without issue, donated, gifted or sold the rest of our belongings and the path has remained clear. We will be leaving Washington state later this week for a, ” farewell tour” to California to see my family before boarding a plane on a one way ticket to Mexico later this month.

I will update next month after we settle in. Until then-Saludos!

Back to what?

As labor day came, so did the flurry of Facebook posts of people sharing pictures of their children on their first day of school. In our house and for the first time in over 20 years, I had nothing to share. My youngest son is only a junior but we live in a state where juniors and seniors get to take their classes at the college for free and have them count towards their associate’s degree as well as their high school diploma. The fall quarter doesn’t start for another couple of weeks and even then I highly doubt he will let me take a first day of college picture of him though that won’t stop me from trying! This week we are also celebrating my second oldest son’s graduation from massage therapy school. About a month ago my wusband decided he would take a 3 week long trip to Colombia starting this week as well. (Apparently my ideas are contagious!) It’s just such an odd yet proud feeling, watching them grow up and become adults with careers and significant others.

Thanks to significantly dropping mortgage rates, my wife and I recently refinanced our home and will save hundreds of dollars per month in mortgage payments. The idea is going to be to hang on to the house and rent it out while we are out of the country. We have also decided that we need to do the majority of our traveling in the next two and a half years as we will be pretty limited once we no longer have the same income that we have become accustomed to. This is not necessarily a bad thing but trying to run a few different companies, plan for vacations and relocation scouting trips, and focus on my family has proven to be somewhat overwhelming. I am a planning fanatic so in the back of my mind I keep feeling like I’m missing something for upcoming trips. I’m trying to practice flexibility because I know I cannot possibly anticipate everything that might go wrong. I used to be extremely anxiety ridden over trips when the kids were younger and when we had less money. Over the years I’ve learned to be more fluid and the family is pretty much running itself. As a matter of fact I agreed (somewhat reluctantly) to cancel the car reservation for our upcoming trip to Colombia. Based on feedback from locals, it’s easier and more affordable to use taxis and public transit. We shall see! I’m sure we will learn more when the wusband returns. Talk about brave! His first solo trip and he sets out to Colombia.

My oldest son is spending a lot of his time down in Oregon building a timber frame home and living his best life. My third oldest son transferred from Montana State back to Washington so he will be starting at Western in the winter. He’s not sure what career path he will be going down and that’s okay, he is only 19 after all. I’m 43 and I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up! I’m so proud of all my boys. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

So they’re you have it. They’re is no “back to” anything. The only things guaranteed in life are change and death. Being brave requires a step outside your comfort zone. I can see resilience and bravery in every one of my family members and I could not be more proud.

But what about family?

Today is the last day of school for my 16 year old son, next year he will be a Junior. He is the last of 4 boys who range in age from 16-25. My family is, and has always been, the focus of my life. Slowly becoming an empty nester has made this inevitable transition easier. I have gone from buying 2 gallons of milk at a time to 1, then to a half. I remind myself that one of the two things guaranteed in life is change, the other is death.

Moving to another country, away from my children, will not be without struggle. Even though the majority of them have moved out and are adults, we still have regular family dinners, celebrate holidays and birthdays together and have the random lunch dates just to catch up. As exciting as it is to plan for the future, I continue to have a little momma bear sitting on my shoulder, whispering to me horror stories that might succumb the children if I am not physically present. I flick her off and remind her I have tried to teach my children to be brave, fearless, and to pursue their dreams. Who would I be if I let her keep me from mine?

In researching Colombia, it appears that when we apply for a (M) Migrant or (R) Resident Visa, that children under the age of 25 can obtain a beneficiary Visa. That takes care of my youngest 2 of 4 should they want to spend some time in Colombia. My oldest is a frequent traveler to Costa Rica-he is a bit of a gypsy so I imagine he will make his way to visit plenty of times. My second oldest son talks about traveling with his long term girlfriend during a gap year to Central and South America. My hope? They love it and want to stay but even if they don’t, who is going to pass up a couple of weeks a year with mom on the Caribbean coast? We are keeping some property in the US, whether it is our family home that we rent out or a small apartment is yet to be decided but there will be plenty of coming and going We are trying to be as realistic as possible so we are concurrently planning on returning to the States after a decade or so, should we chose.

As much as I remain family focused, I also remain committed to living my life to the fullest and being the brave, daring, bold, mother that has tried to teach them that they can do, be, accomplish whatever it is that sets their soul on fire. I just might do so while wiping away tears in the grocery store while buying a quart of milk.