Revisiting Manzanillo

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I love this beach side lot between condos.

I’ve posted quite a lot about my adopted town on Facebook and Instagram, but just the tiniest bit on this blog.  But I’m back in Manzanillo, Mexico for the fourth time and, at the present, I expect I’ll be spending about 10 months out of every year here for the foreseeable future.

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End of a day in December on the beach.

I have tons of pictures to share, but I’ll narrow it down for this first post. I tell taxi drivers that Manzanillo is perfect for me, and it’s true. As a person with plenty of time, I’m rarely in a rush for or about anything and Manzanillo has a truly laidback-ness to it. Mexico in general is  tranquil, but the big cities are still big cities, even south of the border. With about 116,000 people living in this little paradise, it’s not tiny but still small town in its nature.

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This year’s Christmas tree in the little mall, Punto Bahia.

A gorgeous bay comprises the heart of the place, and its port comprises most of the business. Once upon a time, about ten years ago and pre-port, tourism was the big ticket, but no more. There still is plenty of tourism, but nothing like Puerto Vallarta, six hours along the coast to the north.

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At the Iguana sanctuary. This guy is about 4 feet long nose to tip of tail. And there are bigger ones!

I’ve already written about the low costs of living here and it’s remarkable. If you are willing to live outside of a gated community, you can find suitable housing in the $250-500 a month range easily. I live in the neighborhood of Las Brisa, partly touristy and partly more upscale locals generally. My cost per month varying only by the amount of electricity I consume – aka the air conditioning I use. My lowest has been $212 and the highest, in my current location, has been $252. I’m easy to please, so realistically many others would want to up that housing allowance to the $500 range.

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Dinner with friends helps, too. Left to right – Michelle, Gabriel and Heather.  Wonderful meal and Gabriel is one of those kind natives I talk about here.

The locals are generally very kind, especially when they understand that you’re not expecting to be treated like royalty. Unfortunately, some – foreigners and Mexicans alike- come with a superior attitude and the smiles they are offered by the natives aren’t necessarily genuine but more in the nature of a survival mechanism. Again, the people are nice if you’re nice.

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You’ll find surprising pieces of art along the street if you keep your eye out.

The beaches are spectacular and often nearly empty, especially on weekdays. I’ve discovered I’m not that much of a beach person, which came as a surprise to me. There are two ways I enjoy it now, for a few minutes of quiet watching on one of the many cement benches provided in my neighborhood or in a beach chair, preferably with friends and a cold soda. So, though I appreciate there are several lovely beaches, they are pretty much wasted on me.

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Karaoke with my first friend in Manzanillo – Margarita.

We have a small mall here with a great movie theater, plenty of restaurants with a big variety of cuisines. There are many things to explore, and I’ve still barely started. This is partly because I rely on the bus and taxis and the occasional trip with friends who have cars. But, for me, slowly is just fine. Here in town, my favorite adventure so far was the iguana sanctuary, and beyond the city limits I most enjoyed a trip to Barra Navidad – a more touristy little village about an hour north. But again, that’s just the beginning. Hang on tight. I’ll take you to the places I’ve been over the next few posts.

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Beaches abound here in Manzanillo and can walk, ride a bus or take a taxi to almost all of them.

You’ll love my town!

Welcome 2019!

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Brunch at the Best Western on the beach in Las Brisas, Manzanillo – heaven on New Year’s Day!

Wow! 2018 is finally over and although it’s been a fine year for me, it has been tough for so many people and on a national level. So, like so many others, I’m ready for a new start. I hope this finds my readers ready for a regroup!

That’s my new favorite word – regroup. It’s more than a review, more than a restart. It’s a gathering of forces, whether it is your inner strength or that of several people. For me, it’s just little old me, but a new year always represents yet another chance at positive change.

Thinking about making modifications in my lifestyle began at Thanksgiving for some reason but really pumped up on the day before New Year’s Eve. My head started spinning, in a good way!

Now, after journaling and sitting down with a steno pad and a new attitude, I have a plan and that feels very good. There’s nothing much wrong with my life as I now live it, but three resolutions will shift it into an even better zone – healthier and more productive.

So, now at about 6 am the day after New Year’s, I’m already on my way. I’m wishing you all a good beginning and fabulous times in 2019.

Thanksgiving 2018

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My urge to write is finally coming back and I feel the need to express gratitude.

I have been extremely lucky these past three years to have lived a dream and found a place I love to live. I am very grateful for both of those two things.

But I am perhaps the most grateful for a daily sense of peace I have never really had before. There are tiny problems, which all seem small or controllable.  I find this to be most true here in Manzanillo, but even when I travel back to the States, I am generally calm and happy. That is a wonderful gift from the Universe.

So, what I wish for each of you is that peacefulness and tranquility follow you throughout the next year, and yes, throughout your lives.

 

 

 

Recommendations – Use Caution!

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This is a fabulous lunch I had recently, but I’d be careful about recommending it. Does the person like chicken? Bell peppers? Asking questions before recommending can help a lot.

I’m sure this seems like a simple subject, without much depth. But that’s the problem. It seems so simple. Trust me, it’s not.

With everything from a Yelp review of a restaurant to a friend’s insistence that you’d love her favorite resort, there is upside and definite downside. Here’s what you need to keep in mind:

  • Unless you know a person extremely well, you really have no way of knowing if their taste matches yours. If you think about it, you’ll probably find that there are very few people who enjoy even the same restaurants you do, let alone the kind of entertainment as you. Without considering whether you’re synchronized or even slightly leaning the same direction on taste, you can easily spend what you intended as a special day or night in absolute misery; a waste of time, opportunity and, often, money.
  • Online reviews can be helpful, but only if you take the time to read a few of them. First, it’s been noted before that they are often paid for or posted by friends of the owners. Second, you don’t know how the writer thinks. What they may consider “a great family restaurant” is actually an eatery with a play area for the kids, but the dining area is loaded with partying adults. Make sure you stick with an online site for more than one review. If possible, even check out more than one site for other opinions.
  • When you ask someone for a recommendation, keep in mind their lifestyle traits. If you aren’t much for seafood or meat, beware of the simple “it’s a great place.” Ask what they serve or what they are known for. This is especially true when getting advice on places to stay or travel. If you like being able to stroll around interesting surroundings, be careful not to get stuck in “the perfect hotel” that just happens to be isolated from any community spots.
  • Beware of the pitfall that I have regularly fallen into: the ideal travel destination. It took me a long time to realize I have very specific types of travel interests and they don’t often fit “the norm.” While I prefer simple accommodations within a more suburban area or being in the heart of a downtown, others prefer a touristy area. I went to Bali because I was told I “had to go there”. For me, it just wasn’t the right place, no matter which of the four areas I visited. There’s no accounting for the differences in taste, but now I can safely say I’m able to see more clearly where mine might vary from another’s.
  • Lastly, when asked to give a recommendation try to take these factors into account: desired price points, atmosphere, available services, whatever you know about that person’s own preferences, etc. Be sure to give as much overall information as you can, and stipulate that this is to your own taste and may not match theirs.

I’m sure there are many other aspects of the whole recommendation experience that I’ve overlooked, and I humbly ask for your input. Maybe we’ll save someone a little discomfort and unnecessary expense.

 

Egypt! My Daughter’s Adventure

The pictures from my daughter Vanessa’s trip to Egypt this month are just too good not to share. She went with three friends through Chicago and Paris on the way. They had a great time on a tour in the country of the pyramids! I thought you would all enjoy these photos as much as I did. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you which temple is which!

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This is her first time to Paris and it was only overnight, but she managed to get this shot!
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This will be out of order, I’m sure, but loved this one!
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A great moody shot of the main attraction.
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This cart ride was just one of many modes of transport including camels, taxis, bus and sleeper train.
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They had 39 people on their tour, plus the other tourists.
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Lots of great shots of enormous temples to choose from.
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This one gives me a sense of how huge everything is in the ruins.
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And finally, Vanessa’s erstwhile camel – Michael Jackson – really!

I hope this added a little fun into your day!

Brain Fog be Gone!

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This is kind of cheating because it’s perhaps the worst picture I’ve ever taken. However, it shows how bloated I was, especially in my face. This was about this time last year.

I mentioned in an earlier post – A Different Kind of Traveler – that I had a couple of reasons for disappearing off the blogging scene for a while. The first was having lost my sense of self as a traveler and the second was having severe brain fog.

I’m challenged as a self-editor anyway but add in a little general confusion and it’s all over. That’s what I experienced for nearly a year and it took me a long time to figure it out.

I tried veganism and I think it’s a good way to go, but not for me, a 14-year veteran of diabetes wars. Through the magic of YouTube, I found information I had been missing and a new tactic. I hadn’t understood the dynamics of insulin resistance or what to do about it.

I began watching Dr. Berg on YouTube at a rate of two or three short videos a day. I consider myself an intelligent woman, yet it still took me about 10 videos to understand that I had been poisoning myself with too many carbohydrates. For me, all but fresh, leafy vegetables and a small amount of certain fruits a day was too much. I cut back to keto eating, which is too complicated to explain here but just know that there are tons of online information if you’re interested.

Also, I began to limit and reduce the number of times I eat. Most days, I eat three times a day within an eight-hour time span. Maybe twice a week I manage two times a day, within 6 hours. This is called intermittent fasting, which is reallyjust lengthening the amount of time without eating. Not nearly as scary as it sounds. I honestly feel a big difference of the days of eating only twice – much more alert and physically settled.

I had been on insulin for six years or so, and that fact was a major concern when I began traveling for the reasons of availability and refrigeration. Honestly, it was a big hassle for me, especially as a budget traveler. I am now off insulin or diabetes meds of any kind. For a woman who frequently had readings in the 300s, with insulin, to now be very near the “normal” mark without meds, is amazing!

I’ve also started tracking my movements with the help of a FitBit and most days manage 6,000+ steps a day. On Monday, I’m upping my daily goal to 7K.

I feel 100% percent better than I had just six months ago. I’ve lost weight and perhaps, best of all – my brain fog is gone. I still the forgetfulness that comes with 66 years on this earth, but I no longer must deal with a constant mind jumble.

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This is just a couple of weeks ago and you can see how much better I look in general.

So, here I am again. Writing, this blog and a new one is about to be born. Another book is on the way, too.

I am not on a mission to convert anyone to my way of eating, but I’m open to answering questions if anyone should have them. Please just reach out below.

#brainfog #keto #intermittentfasting

A Different Kind of ExPat

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Heather and Michelle in Barra Navidad

When I started researching living abroad, I really didn’t understand what the term “expat” meant. As an abbreviation of expatriate, it sounded to me that this was a person who rejected his own country somehow, or perhaps was even rejected by their country instead. Of course, it simply means one who lives outside their land of origin, which I finally realized.

I’ve met so many expats in my travels, from young people who were in the exploration mode and still traveling regularly to retirees who had settled into a gated community and rarely stepped outside their “safe” zones. To varying degrees, I’ve enjoyed my interactions with most of them, depending on the degree to which they were open to and appreciative of the people and traditions of the places they now inhabited.

So, of late, I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with the two Canadian ladies who jump into Manzanillo with gusto. Heather, in her mid-sixties and Michele, in her mid-seventies, bought a home here in my neighborhood of Las Brisas four years ago and are now fixtures.

What I love about the two of them is their embrace of their new home and the degree to which they’ve explored their surroundings. Their home is something of a mecca to other expats in the area and several well-loved Mexicans, one of which they trust deeply. Their friend Gabriel has assisted them in everything from their home and car purchases to repairs and travels to other cities.

Heather, a widow, and Michelle, a divorcee, had traveled together before settling in Manzanillo. As co-workers for many years, they knew each other very well and the deep connection shows. They are very complimentary roomies, lucky to have found someone with whom to share a new life.

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The newest puppy, Bella! She’s two months old and incredibly tiny.

I did the “deep dive” with them both the other day, as we rode together to pick up a new puppy from the vet. I wondered what they were seeking when they came here and if they’d do it again.

Heather quickly answered that weather was a big factor. Being from Alberta, Canada, she and Michelle both lived with annual extreme cold and snow. Now, they chuckle because Manzanillo can sometimes be a bit too warm, but they’ve adjusted with the help of a lovely little home with a pool. And there is a degree of acclimation at happens for most people.

The language barrier was also another big surprise. Both had expected to learn Spanish quickly and without much effort. That hasn’t turned out as planned, although both get along with some Spanish and a lot of gestures. However, buying a home and car without the ability to read what she was signing gave Heather pause. If she knew what she knows now, she thinks she may have chosen a location with more English speakers than Manzanillo, which is starting to have more people who do but is still mainly Spanish-speaking. It can be a challenge.

But what is so fun about these two ladies is their ability to see the beauty in the things around them, instead of complaining about what isn’t like “home.” Just a tiny example is in the picture below. Heather has a bit of an artist in her and their home is covered in items of everyday beauty that are totally and completely Mexicano! Here she’s elevated a simple Frida Kahlo shawl to window décor and on the wall next to it hangs a beautifully embroidered blouse as artwork.

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Just one example of the incorporation of Mexican culture in their home.

H and M, as I’ve mentally begun to call them, have taken me on adventures with them and wow. Just wow. A simple walk through town and lunch at a local eatery is enough. More than enough. Just my style. So, I’m happy I’ve managed to stumble into a friendship with these two, different sort of expats, and look forward to many more adventures in the future!