What Mexico Has Taught Me


Now What?

For decades I wondered what I would do once I retired from being a contractor.  I started an IRA on the advice of my tax accountant in the 1990’s and saved money when I could.  Especially since I knew my Social Security checks weren’t going to be a lot because I was self-employed for so many years.  And I didn’t start taking those payments until I turned 70 last year in order to maximize the monthly amount.  I retired five years ago but all my dreams were put on hold while I took care of my father.  I dreamed and dreamed.  And ended up taking only short trips to Ensenada then just day trips to Tecate.   No flying back down to Oaxaca, Guadalajara, Puebla, or elsewhere.

I was a family care-provider for over 16 years, first taking care of my mother then my father. ( I learned a whole new trade and probably am qualified to be a nurse’s aide.)  My father passed away last December at the age of 99.  I moved as fast as possible in emptying their house, cleaning it, painting it, and selling it.  It took four crazy months but now I can start to do things again like I used to years ago.  What will that be?

Years ago I told myself I would eventually move out of the San Fernando Valley here in the Los Angeles area to get away from the summer temps that routinely hit the 100’s for weeks at a time.  It’s miserable for me and the cat and it’s only getting hotter.   I am NOT the kind of person who can tolerate staying trapped indoors with the AC going at least 12 hours a day.  I like …. no ….I NEED to be outdoors.  A lot.

And I love Ensenada.  Living there, close to the water, where……what?…..it rarely gets above 85?   That sounds like heaven to me and has for years.  Fog?  Cold mornings?  Lots of drizzle?  Bring it on!!  I lived in Oregon for years and only got tired of the hay fever up there.  Cold doesn’t bother me.  High heat does.  And, yes, my body handles high heat VERY WELL since I sweat like a broken faucet as my body protects me.  When I was a kid on the playground people constantly asked me why I was crying.  I was sweating.   Give me the beach!!

Being fairly close to the border just 70 miles away and then not far from the two large Kaiser-Permanente facilities in San Diego sounds good at my age.  And over the years I’ve asked several members of the ex-pat community in Ensenada if they are happy with the quality of health care locally.  I like what I’ve been told.  I was once driven to an ER there with the tip of my finger gone and was treated well.

After my dad died I looked on Craigslist just for the hell of it and found a nice trailer for sale in a gated community on the beach just above Ensenada.  Four hundred dollars a month rent and that included electricity and internet.  The trailer had California tags and had a covered patio and metal shed next to it.  But….. it was too soon to make a jump like that.  I was dealing with the house.  And, it was on the second row of trailers and not right on the beach.  (The front row probably would have higher rent.  It should.)  But, it was a deal I could have afforded AND walked away from in the future if I needed to.  Versus buying a house.

So, now, I’m really thinking about what is best for me.  I think I will continue to stay at my hotel there but start looking at rentals.  Hold off on buying for now.  I have always been a tourist down south.  My questions are…… Do I want to live there?  Or just enjoy it one week a month?  Or two weeks a month?  What?  As a tourist I’m eating fried shrimp tacos every day and pounding beers and mezcal like a frat boy.  Do that every day for weeks at a time and I’ll be a blimp in XXL shorts.  Or will staying at the hotel one or two weeks at a time prove that I’m really a tourist at heart?  Will I get bored eating salads and reading books in Ensenada when I could just do that here?

And, should I sell my house in Los Angeles and get a place in San Diego that has me bouncing across the border with ease and very close to Kaiser-Permanente?  Plus, I really do love my house.  I just don’t like where it is.  It has thirty years of ME in it.  The backyard with all my fruit trees is a slice of heaven for me.  Am I going to plant new fruit trees somewhere else and wait ten years before they look kind of good?

Or get a new place east of San Diego off of Hwy 94 so I can easily cross the border at Tecate and enjoy that nice town, the drive to the Guadalupe Valley, and a quick bounce to a small rental or my hotel in Ensenada?  But….. then……be further away from Kaiser?  Because at my age, while I am still in good health, I am starting to think I need to make decisions that will make sense ten to twenty years from now.

What will I do?  Dunno.  But I’m telling myself to go SLOW so that I hopefully don’t make any dumb decisions.  I’ll keep you informed as I learn what Mexico has to teach me about myself.

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