Thursday, April 23, 2009

Living the life

Arroyo Seco, Jalisco, Mexico -- We just spent a week here with our friends Michael and Sylvia, who are establishing roots in this small rancho (a village smaller than a pueblo).
They began seriously looking at living in Mexico a few years ago when they sailed their 48-foot sailboat Sabbatical down the Mexican coast, and found that the area around Tenacatita Bay both charmed and lured them.
They were extremely careful, looked and learned, and then purchased some land in the area that they thought held promise as a place to live, or an investment, or both. They thought about living on the ocean beach, but opted instead for this village. Instead of being isolated from Mexican people and their culture, they chose to be immersed.
They sold the boat, which was their home, to make it work.
Now, a couple of years into the experiment, it is working just fine.
Currently, they are the only two non-Mexicans living inside the rancho. They are gradually building a compound on a large lot in the heart of the village. Last year they had electricity, septic a storage building and a small trailer. This year they have added another larger trailer for sleeping quarters, showers and toilets, a laundry area, a communications tent, and a kitchen. They have guests frequently.
But the most striking features are the palapa, a very large tile-roofed shade structure, with tile flooring, a bar, a dining area, and room to welcome the entire neighborhood for a party or an English class, or -- as is scheduled this weekend -- an operating room for the local veterinarian to perform surgeries. Sylvia is fast becoming known as the lady who cares for dogs.
And, Michael has used his green thumb to create a garden of palms and flowering shrubs, plus a central yard (or jardin) of real honest-to-goodness grass. In a place with no paved streets and lots of wind and dust, it makes an enormous difference in air quality, and in the coolness on hotter days.
They have not "gone native." They still have internet and telephone connections to stay in touch with the outside world, but they are out on the streets every day, caring for a needy animal or going to a taco stand at 9 p.m. for a light dinner.
They have made friends with families, and neighborhood children feel free to drop in anytime the gate is open and stay a while. They have been invited to weddings, and christenings.
They are not escaping the world outside their home, and still spend their summers at a lake in New York and the Falls teaching at a university in California.
But it looks a lot like they have found a place they can call home.

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