Monday, December 18, 2017

True Romance or Illusion or Both?

Fall in love, fall out of love, see with clear eyes. That was my journey with San Carlos our first three weeks here. The warmth, the beautiful skies, mountains, and ocean along with some of the most beautiful and seemingly affordable housing we'd seen in a long, long time, captivated us. We floated around in what seemed a daydream for about a week.

As with all good things, the imperfections soon intruded. During our second week, we clearly accepted that eating out was not going to be much of an option for us as vegans. Everything on most menus contained dairy or meat or both. Even our cobbled together meals (sides of beans, tortillas, tomatoes, avocado, if those things were available) at restaurants left us wanting more. We kept concluding that we could do much better at home, both price-wise and with taste and wholesomeness.

Of course the disparity between rich and poor, working class and wealthier kept hitting us in the face. The women and men that work at Totonaka RV where we stay work long, hard hours. Their pay? Fourteen U.S. dollars per day. Not per hour, but per day. And yet there are mansions sprinkled all over this Mexican tourist village. In fact, it is rumored that the once wealthiest man in the world, Carlos Slim, owns a home in San Carlos.

The starkness of the residuals - from the 2007 Great Recession and the consequences of U.S. media's reporting of violence and disease potential in Mexico slowed tourism and cast shadows throughout San Carlos. Defunct resorts, expensive homes that have sat empty for years, one failed business after another. The economic recovery has not returned to San Carlos, not in an appreciable way.

Inhabited beachfront condos alongside skeleton of defunct construction
 there since 2007 Recession.
But still we are able to attain food, clothing and shelter for ourselves at a reasonable, if not “cheap” price. And regardless as to the economy, local people are friendly and helpful.

Firearms are illegal in San Carlos so people don't have to worry about a mass shooting or being robbed at gunpoint every day. Having access to health care through the socialized medical system also allows people peace of mind. These things benefit the traveler to this state of Sonora, Mexico also.

Even with the problems here; big potholes in roads, unexpected water and electricity shut offs, lots of empty storefronts, rundown infrastructure, San Carlos offers a quality way of life for expats from Canada and the U.S., while giving locals opportunities for work in the service and product industries that support the foreigners.

Knowing both sides, John and I researched buying a RV space in a nice development that we could return to in future winters. During our third week, we actually made a low-ball offer (its a buyer's market) on a little cottage plus covered RV pad in the Tecalai development next door. It was not accepted. Excited by the potential here, after the rejection of our offer, there was disappointment but we regroup, dream and continue to research possibilities.

Many little cottages plus RV spaces at Tecalai development.

The exercise of learning about real estate buying and selling in Mexico was well worth the effort. We found that its really quite simple and safe to purchase real estate here, as long as one maintains the same degree of wariness as in the countries to the north when making a property purchase.

The exercise also helped us to clarify more fully how, and where, we want to spend our retirement. YouTube videos made by foreigners who have moved to Mexico to spend their retirement were enlightening. We see, hear, and experience that it is safe and economical to live in Sonora, Mexico. It never hurts to learn that you have more options than you already know. All this makes me feel freer. Freer to imagine and freer to act.

It's been an exciting first month in San Carlos. We've walked beautiful beaches, been warmed daily by a bright sun, met interesting people from many parts of the world, actively engaged in learning Spanish, continued fully on our plant-based whole foods journey, dipped our toes into buying real estate in Mexico and I've connected with a vibrant artists' group here. I wonder what our next three months in Mexico will reveal?

Pelicans at La Manga Fishing Village

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