Snowbirds in Mexico!

Why Mexico, you might ask? While in Costa Rica, two years ago, we met a Canadian couple who had been living there for over a year and decided to move on to Mexico. We decided to spend another winter in Costa Rica but kept in contact with them. Glowing reports would come about how much cheaper it was than Costa Rica and how much they were enjoying themselves. This snowbird stuff was new to us –  so we listened!

We also have a niece who loves Tulum, Mexico and constantly raved about how wonderful it is and how she and her husband hope to eventually retire there.

How could we not check it out? We decided we owed it to ourselves to give it a try even though it has always been the furthest thing from our minds. And here we are!

Some Quick Facts About Mexico

  • Population – 129.2 million (2017).
  • The Mestizo (Amerindian-Spanish) makes up 62% of the population.
  • 10% of the population is white
  • 92.7% speak Spanish.
  • 82% identify themselves as Catholic.
  • Family is VERY important to Mexicans.
  • Each town has its own culinary traditions.
  • Popular food items include corn tortillas, peppers, tomatoes, beans and rice.
  • Avocados and pumpkins originated in Mexico.
  • Mexico is well known for Tequila made from the agave cactus.
  • One of the major Mexican holidays is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
  • The Day of the Dead honours those who have died and is celebrated on November 2nd.

I want to take a moment to discuss two important issues, if you will, about Mexico.

(1) Safety – Mexico is always in the news about how bad it is and how much crime there is. Yes, there is crime but it is in isolated areas and most of it is drug-related. Let’s face it, it makes great fodder for the tabloids. Big cities anywhere (look at the US and Toronto, Canada) generally have higher crime rates than small towns or rural areas.

Some common sense prevails such as not flashing your money and your expensive jewellery around; keeping a low profile; being cautious at night or in dark areas. If you are not sure about an area, ask; if you want to go anyway, call a taxi. Believe it or not, the first cause of death for foreigners in Mexico is car accidents, not crime. Drive carefully! I am not downplaying the deaths or the crimes but do your due diligence and check out the area first. There is so much good in Mexico and the Mexicans are a proud and passionate people.

The area which I am going to mention below, for instance, is where we are staying and we feel very safe here! We mingle with the locals and hang out in their establishments.

(2) The language. The thing we tend to forget is that we are the visitors! We are not ‘entitled.’ Learn some basic Spanish, even if it is only please, thank you, hello, goodbye and how to order a meal. What we find is that when we try to speak Spanish, they will try and speak English, so it’s a win/win deal. They want to learn too! Most of you know the saying….When in Rome do as the Romans do. In other words, adapt yourself to the customs of the people. Don’t expect them to adapt to you!

Puerto Morelos

Upon the recommendation of our friend, we chose a little community called El Faro which is a newly developed area with 24-hour security and a swimming pool, located in Puerto Morales.

two people standing by a sign in Puerto Morelos, Mexico

 

Puerto Morales is a town and seaport in Quntana Roo, Mexico’s easternmost state, on the Yucatan Peninsula. It is between the resort city of Cancun and the city of Playa del Carmen.

The marine terminal is equipped to handle containers and is the oldest, largest and most important seaport in the state of Qunitana Roo. It also does not have daylight savings which is great by us as we didn’t have it in Costa Rica. Early to bed, early to rise! Poplulation in 2010 was  9,188.

There is also a mosquito infested mangrove swamp close by where stories abound about crocodiles, birds, spider monkeys, snakes, deer  and other 4-legged creatures and it has been said that crocodiles do come up to the edge of the mangrove. I have no plans to walk along there to find out if these stories are true or just rumours! Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

There are two major grocery stores, several convenience stores – Oxxo and Seven Eleven – and gas stations. Finding a place to eat is not difficult as there are several great restaurants and lots of little places where the local cuisine is made and served.

 

Eating in John Gray's Kitchen, Puerto Morelos, Mexico

We are a short bus ride away to the nearest beach.

A new acquaintance lovingly referred to it as “an alcoholic town with a fishing problem!” Now that caught my attention!

Offering a Helping Hand

Our first few weeks here turned out rather interesting. One morning my husband and I were alerted to the sound of female voices outside our door and the jiggling of the doorknob. Needless to say, we were a little concerned. Turns out it was a neighbour who had bought a home in the community and was checking out the security of our door locks! They didn’t realize someone lived here and just couldn’t apologize enough. Being the kind of people we are, we didn’t get upset but invited them in!

This chance meeting ended up with us helping to supervise renovations on her house as she was leaving shortly to go back to Canada. It was very eye-opening to see how the locals work and what their day entailed. They would arrive early in the morning, take a lunch break and go back at it for the afternoon. They were not speedy by any means but then again, they relied on ‘themselves’ to do things. For example, there were some large rocks that had to be carried out to the backyard. They did this by hand. I wish I had taken a photo of one young lad who supported a rock on his neck (!) and carried another in his hands.

Man carrying heavy rock on his shoulder

Ordering Pizza in a Local Restaurant

We forgot that we weren’t in Canada where it is not unusual for us to ask for a pizza, half and half. I am not a big ham eater (at least only in moderation). We had ordered a pizza with one side pineapple, mushrooms and ham and the other side without the ham. What we got was one side ALL ham and cheese. We laughed about it and hubby is such a good sport, he offered me his half and ate the ham half. I really wish I had taken a photo of that!

Getting Used to the Lack of Certain Amenities

A lot of the houses here do not have washers and dryers. (I don’t even know if you can get dryers). The washers are a 2 for 1 deal where you wash and then spin the water out of the clothes in a two step process (I have not actually seen one in operation).

There are many Laundromats here where they not only wash your clothes for you but press them and pack them as if you are going on a trip, all neat and tidy. You usually have to go back the next day and pick them up. They charge by the kilogram and are very reliable – and I get out of doing laundry!!

Another challenge was the water. We had one temperature only in the shower – VERY VERY HOT and cold everywhere else. We asked if it could be adjusted more to our liking. It took a few days but we ended up with hot and cold water in all the taps as well as the shower. Big improvement!

An Encounter with the Law!

Yes, you read that correctly!

One night our new friend wanted to treat us to dinner so we drove to the beach area in her rental car. We were looking for a parking spot; they were few and far between and we finally found one on a one-way street that was blocked off. When it was time for us to leave, she had no choice but to back up. And that’s when we had the encounter!

The young police officer was insistentdemanding $100 (I hope he meant pesos which is only $6.53 Canadian) but it was the principle of the matter. As far as we could determine, we had done nothing wrong. We had no choice but to backup – you couldn’t go forward! He argued for several minutes demanding our friend’s license which she kept refusing.

I have to say here she impressed me. I would have been shaking in my boots but she was ready to argue and insisted we would go to the police station if there was a problem. He would then turn to my husband (I guess because he’s a guy) and my husband repeatedly said “no entiendo” (do not understand).

After much badgering my friend gave him her license and he continued to demand the money from any one of us at that point! My friend persevered, saying “No dinero! Give me back my license!” and attempted several times to grab it from him.

Finally, after what seemed like we were never going to get out of there, he just handed her the license back and told us to go. Whew!!

A Sick Husband

During our first two weeks here my husband was quite sick. I suspect he had the beginning of a cold when we left Canada. Being exposed to the dust and dirt from the renovations on our friend’s house just added to the aggravation and left him with wheezing, hot and cold chills, fever, weakness and total loss of appetite.

At first he had stuff prescribed over the phone but when that didn’t work and I started getting worried, I convinced him to go to one of the cuban clinics. The doctor immediately put him on some kind of breathing mask, gave him a shot in the butt and told him to come back for the next two days for more shots and the use of the mask and was given a prescription for meds. It took another week before he was able to finally eat and feel somewhat back to normal with only the cough hanging on.

What’s Next

Our first month here has been adjusting to the area and my husband getting well again. We managed to go to the community pool quite a bit and spent an afternoon at one of the local beaches .

We are really looking forward to checking out Tulum and the beautiful beaches in that area as well as some of the cenotes and one of the Mayan ruins. We also hope to spend a week in Cozumel, maybe meet up with a friend who will be coming in off a cruise ship. Good times ahead!

We are fortunate that we are here for six months and can take our time to visit different areas and have ‘nothing to do’ days in between but if you want to visit and can only stay a short time, check out Trusted House Sitters. You never know – you might luck out and get to stay in Mexico with free accommodations!

Have you ever been to Mexico? What was your favourite experience? or nightmare?

 

 

 

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I love to travel and my biggest regret is that I waited so long to do it, thinking I just couldn’t afford it. I have had some crazy fun, some scary moments, such as getting locked in a shower at a campsite, and met some amazing people. For our trip to Mexico we were able to save money by house sitting, which was something completely new to us. If this is something that interests you, then check out TrustedHousesitters. We hope you visit often.

12 thoughts on “Snowbirds in Mexico!”

  1. Great article Mary! I really enjoyed reading about this awesome city. I have been once to the Mexico because I have there a family member that works there. You are definitely right, although in some areas happens some crime, it is overall very safe place. What I like the most about Mexico is the celebration of Dia de Los Muertos, it is very interesting.

    • Thank you Daniel. I never thought I would like Mexico but I am so glad I do. There are a lot of similarities to Costa Rica but some distinct differences. I didn’t participate in the Dia de Los Muertos but I know it is very big here and they stretch it over a couple of days. Hopefully, you will get to make another trip.

  2. Looks like a great little community you have found in Mexico. I have only been there twice–first time I went to Juarez, second time the Riviera Maya. I’d love to go back sometime, but it’s not in the cards quite yet. It would be amazing to go to Tulum and Cozumel. Do you prefer staying in a more independent area over a typical resort?

    • Hello Holly. Thanks for stoppling by. We are lucky to have found this little community, so close to the beach but with a large swimming pool if we don’t have time to go anywhere. I can’t wait to go to Tulum and Cozumel.

      Yes, I definitely prefer this over a resort. Don’t get me wrong; I have done the resorts and love the pampering and not having to cook my meals but living among the locals is amazing as you get to experience their culture and their cuisine first hand. I think you have more freedom too, to do the things you want when you want especially if you are here for 6 months like we are.

  3. Wow, I think you single-handedly changed my mind about Mexico! I love your story, you are a gifted writer, and enjoyed every minute of your blog post. The part about police blackmailing you for money, that happened to me several times in Tijuana, and I’m guessing it’s a common practice all over Mexico, partly due to just good old corruption, and also the fact that police are low paid. Anyways, glad to hear you guys got out of that one! Otherwise, it sounds pretty wonderful there, and I’m sure you guys are living on a fraction of the cost you’d be living on back in Canada!

    • Hi there. I am glad you are having second thoughts of Mexico! Thank you for the compliments as I have never considered myself a writer – truly! 

      It was scary being stopped by the police and I am glad that our friend didn’t back down although at the time it made me nervous. Apparently there is some pick-pocketing around as well but mostly in the Mexico City Metro which I don’t think we will be experiencing.

      As for the cost of living, I am pleasantly surprised. It is even cheaper than Costa Rica and definitely cheaper than Canada. Even their imported products such as Heinz Ketchup are reasonably priced.

  4. Waoo what an experience you had in Mexico. The people of Mexico are wonderful people. As a matter of fact, Mexico is one of the countries I will love to visit. There is no need to fear, all countries have their challenges. But senses demand that when you get to a totally new environment, you ask questions and be clear on issues. On language issue, adapting to people’s culture is best rather that expecting the locals to adapt to your language.

    • Hello. Yes our adventures so far have been interesting. Most people automatically have a misconception about Mexico and safety – that’s why it is good to check out the area first before you visit.

      Many people think they are ‘entitled’ because they speak English, therefore everyone else should. But that’s not the way it should be.

  5. Great post and good accurate info.

    My wife is Mexican so I know what I’m talking about.

    The people in general are so warm, family is everything there.

    About the crimes, the news always have to say something, no? Yes there is crime, but not as devastating and huge as you hear it.

    The country is beautiful, probably one of the most amazing ones in the world.

    The food is good and you have to try out Mezcal!

    I’m proud to be married to a Mexican; in my eyes they are the most trustworthy people you can find.

    PS: The snowbirds you can find in the North of Mexico, well it is more typical there.

    Great post!

    • Hi Emmanuel. Being married to a Mexican must give you a lot of first hand knowledge about their culture and ways. I am glad that my information is accurate. I can’t wait to try out more foods and to visit some of this beautiful country while I am here. And definitely Mezcal which I understand is made from the agave plant and is NOT the same as Tequila. 

  6. I have never been to Mexico, I have been close when I was in Tuscon, Arizona. I did not have a passport and was very young and niave, and probably shouldn’t have gone unattended anyway.

    I would love to visit now however! I have many friends that are from Mexico and I enjoy their stories of home. None of my friends are from the part of Mexico you are in. 

    As you said each town has their own food style and heritage. I have friends from several different areas and they all have certain recipes that are their own, but then there are certain commonalities as well, like the tortillas, rice and beans. How the beans are cooked is different in certain locations and the type of bean as well. 

    The Mexican culture is colorful and beautiful. I am jealous that you get to enjoy it first hand.   

    • Hi Stacie. You are fortunate to have several friends from Mexico. That must make for very interesting conversation. The part of Mexico we are in is between Playa del Carmen and Cancun (about 1/2 hour each way) so close to the big places but far enough away :). We are about an hour and a half from Tulum which I just can’t wait to see.

      Keep Mexico on your bucket list!

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