When I first moved to Mexico back in 2008 I didn’t have much practical information. My language skills were non-existent, my cultural knowledge was even worse. It wasn’t that I hadn’t been here before, but staying in resorts, or boutique hotels, does not prepare one for the experience. When asked about it now I use this analogy: one person might dine at a 5 star restaurant, another might do the dishes. It’s the same 5 star restaurant, but the perspective is vastly different. That applies to visiting vs. living in this beautiful country. It’s still Mexico, but wow, what a difference.
Let me start with my latest adventure, if I could call it that. I live simply and on a somewhat limited budget. I’ve been in the same small apartment in the so-called Corpus Christi neighborhood, on the island of Cozumel, for over a year and a half now. The location is great and the rent is cheap. But that old saying “you get what you pay for” certainly applies. Still, it was good for a while to get set up. After all, I arrived on the island with two carry-on bags and I needed some things, to put it mildly. Everything from dishes to towels to clothes to appliances. Well, you get the picture. But, I paid my dues, lived frugally, got the stuff I needed and then set out to look for a home that was a “step up” so to speak. And, I found just the place. Two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a skylight, wondrous floors, a huge back garden area complete with pathways and fountains. It was a dream come true.
However, my dreams tend to quickly turn into nightmares, if I let them. I’d hired the movers, had my deposit in hand, had taken down plants, pictures, gotten boxes from Chedruai two at a time, and told all my friends. Let’s just say, I was ready to go. However, something that tends to happen in life, generally speaking, and in Mexico, frequently speaking, occurred. It all fell through at the last minute. I won’t go into particulars, let’s just say things didn’t go as I’d hoped. It all worked out for the others involved, but, as it turned out, I wasn’t going anywhere. So, I thought about it all for a day, or two. This was, after all, the second time I’d tried to move and things had fallen through. Naturally I could continue to look for another place, but we’re heading into the high season and prices are going up. Not to mention it was all a bit emotionally draining so I had to make a choice. Stay and be unhappy, or do something different. That’s when it hit me. I could simply do something about the things that had been bothering me at the original place. After all, I had the deposit money and the extra pesos I’d saved for the higher rent, yes?
So, I called Cozumel Home Care (they’re on FB), a business that had been recommended by a friend, and talked with the owner, John Pera. I asked him if he could help me to get my place a bit more to my liking. Next day he stopped over and we walked around my apartment. It didn’t take long. But, it was decided, after talking work and prices, that the whole deck would be freed from the mold that had grown due to weeks of rain (it looked like a horror movie) and then painted. I would also have my bedroom and living room painted as well. They would then clean out my air conditioner, replace my kitchen faucet, and repair the holes in my cement flooring on the deck. In other words, they would fix all the stuff that had been bugging me. Oh, and the pics here are of the guys as they’re doing the work! Nice guys!
Next I headed over to see Carpenter Chris (on calle 10) who had already made me several pieces of furniture. I wanted something that would work as a bit of a room divider. Many places here have living room/dining room combos and I thought it would be nice if he built me a long shelf with a high end that I could use to help separate the areas. I’d never been fond of the look of the room and it seemed that this would be an alternative. We talked about materials, sizes, and the price. We came to an agreement and Chris set a date for delivery. So far so good.
That’s when I went back home, kicked my feet up, and got on my computer. I was itching to get back to a favorite game, Candy Crush Saga, which, to be frank, should come with a warning. It’s highly addictive. But, my computer crashed, again. It had been doing that a lot lately. Has to do with electronics in the tropics. They don’t mix. So I called another person who’d been recommended to me, Edgar (Edgar Ch L on FB). We talked a bit, and then I managed to keep my computer on long enough for him to work on it remotely, which was also long enough for him to realize that he needed to be “hands on.” He agreed to come over that evening. It was time to just pick up a book and enjoy the deck.
Around 8:00 that evening, Edgar came over and had my computer up and running within an hour (you can see him working on it on the right). I’d been itching to play my game, so that was a good thing. Kudos to him! A few days later, Carpenter Chris brought over my shelf and it was wonderful. Then John picked me up to go to the Comex store and get my paint. The next day Pancho and Mauricio, two of Cozumel Home Care’s employees (the ones in the pics above) came over to start the work. It was all just flowing together. I took my dogs for a walk and daydreamed about how pretty my little apartment would be. But, there was still one more change to go.
One of the things that is often different, culturally speaking, is how pets are viewed. Some Mexicans, not all, but some tend to view them more as work animals and not companions. Let me give you an example. My landlord is a good man, but he had two dogs that were, primarily, alarm systems. Were they fed and given water? Of course, but spending time with them wasn’t necessarily a priority, plus, they aren’t retired and don’t have the time that I do. Unfortunately, due to their dogs being outside constantly, the pups started to have some health problems. And, although I’d always brought them upstairs for socialization, it wasn’t enough. So, since I was moving to a much larger place, I thought, I’d offered to take them to a vet, pay the bills, and then take them with me. They agreed since the vet bills were quite high. But, now I’m not moving, and now I’m still in a rather small apartment, but with four dogs. Thankfully, due to the location, I’m quite close to a park. And, I also have a very large deck with lots of shade, so it’s doable. I still had some monies left so they got beds, toys, meds and treats etc., and I’ve learned to be grateful that three of them are quite small.
So, this retired expat now lives in quite a cute little place that’s been cleaned, painted, and renewed. I’m still paying ridiculously low rent and have a happy landlord, and why not? He’s no dummy. His place is being fixed up and he still has an alarm system. My computer works like new, my living room looks great, and my family has grown. If you’d asked me about my plans a few months back, this isn’t what you’d have heard. But, a little flexibility, some patience, and a finely developed sense of humor got me through it all relatively unscathed. Thanks to all who helped me to have a home! That’s all I really wanted anyway! Salud!
p.s. I never receive compensation and I don’t mean to promote. I just like sharing good experiences!