In all the years of living in California and Arizona, I was never attracted to Mexico as a travel destination. I couldn’t understand the attraction to Cancun and Cabo, which seemed to me to be nothing more than a southern version of Miami or Fort Lauderdale. Mexico City resided somewhere in the very back of my brain as a hostile city with little to offer except violence. I can’t even say what shaped these impressions except television ads/programs and movies – in a vague way.
Of course, Mexico was so close – how interesting could it be? Same with Canada (of course, I have yet to explore that country except for a long ago trip up a mostly barren Al-Can highway on my way to Alaska in the 70s.)
I picked Mexico for my third excursion into international travel for practical reasons. My mother is turning 85 this June and lives alone after my father passed almost five years ago. She’s full of spunk, but I think it is now wise to stay close enough that I can return in a day if I need to. She’s decided to have a knee replacement surgery in June, so it was a wise decision from that standpoint.
The low cost of living projection was also attractive, which turned out to be surprisingly accurate. The Universe conspired to place me in a wonderful beachside apartment and my monthly expenses for living run around $630 a month. Not bad!
But here’s the best part. Turns out, I love Mexico. Everywhere I’ve been has had its own unique charm. Although there are obviously lots of areas of Mexico City I wouldn’t want to wander into (just as in the big cities of the US), its historical and business districts are amazing. Oaxaca has a magical quality with its brightly colored buildings and ethereal cathedral. And Guadalajara kept me enchanted for nearly a month, pursuing the perfect plaza of its dozen or so major ones.
But in Manzanillo, I found a perfect spot – for me. It is definitely not the party spot many desire. It isn’t that far off from a small town in the US, but it’s just different enough so that I’m learning something new every day. For the foreseeable future, I plan to make it my base for six months out of each year, taking long weekends in other towns. I want to see Merida, Veracruz, Morelia and San Miguel de Allende. The list gets longer the longer I remain in Mexico. It’s a huge country, so it could easily take me several years to exhaust my options.
Unlike Asia, I know I can learn to speak the language and I love being able to talk to the folks who have often been born and lived all their lives in the town I’m visiting. The experience is somehow humbling and touching.
When I’m not in Mexico, I’ll be visiting family in the States and take an extended trip to another part of the world – El Mundo. I have my fingers crossed for the British Isles in 2018. And the list of other countries is really long – from Madagascar to Peru to Portugal and Italy to an artic country (I don’t know which one as of yet).
In the meantime, I truly do love Mexico and I know I will feel I’m coming home when I return in the late summer.
But I still have five weeks to go, so you’ll likely hear much more about Mexico in that time!