Just a few days ago I was lingering on the dock of the Blue Angel resort here on the island of Cozumel. I swim with a group of women in the mornings (the mermaids) and I like to stay behind a bit longer just to enjoy the ocean before going back to my little apartment with its rather limited view of a busy street and the side of a really big church. While sitting there watching the waves lap the dock a couple, who happened to be sitting in lounge chairs close by, asked me if I lived here. I smiled and said, “yes.” Then they asked me the question I hear the most, “what’s it like to live down here?” Now, depending upon my mood, recent events, and my life, at that moment, I have several ways of answering. When things are a touch iffy for me I just smile and say, “it’s wonderful.” After all, they aren’t really asking about my life, so I spare them the details. But, when everything is going well, and it seems as if the one doing the asking really wants to know some details, I sit down and give them a bit more. But, and here’s the point I want to start with, the one asking the question is in that tourist tainted “pink cloud,” whereas I live here permanently and that lovely little “pink cloud” has been behind me for a while now. This is my home, and, just like everyone else, when one is at home life can get very real. Let me explain.
Cozumel is wondrous. It’s hard to remain in a bad mood when you have endless options of strolling on lovely beaches, swimming in clear waters, or dancing at one of our many local, and free to attend, events. I mean, come on, how bad can it be to not appreciate the many little things that the island has to offer? But, I still have to pay bills, clean my house, get the groceries, go to the doctor, run errands, and pick up the poo left behind by each of my four dogs. And, this is where I’m going to mention that I often wonder if I’m feeding my pack just a bit too much. Sometimes it boggles the mind just how many (recycled) bags I use. I digress. Yes, even while living on Cozumel I worry about finances, wait for the water guy, and listen for the gas man. No-one is folding my towels in the shape of swans, there’s no chocolate on my pillows, unless it’s left over from the Milky Way bar I ate the night before, and, no, not everyone speaks English. Not by a long shot.
Now, I’m certainly not complaining. With the winter weather I see happening in my former location in the U. S. A., I wouldn’t dare. No longer do I have to drive on icy roads, pour salt on my walkway, or bundle up in four layers just to survive. I cannot express my gratitude enough for the ability to swim in the ocean in January. But, while applying for my permanent residency card I had, on a few occasions, questioned my sanity. I’m living in a foreign country on a limited budget, with less ability to communicate than I’d like. It can get hot as hell, and the mosquitoes are mutated versions who will lick off repellent just for an appetizer. Compromise becomes the word of the day while shopping for groceries, and patience becomes the need of the moment while trying to ask for a simple item’s location. Patience on both parts, mine and the store employee who’s merely trying to help. Oh, and about the location of items, if you want root beer, look in the liquor aisle. After all, there is the word “beer.” Sometimes merely thinking “outside the box” doesn’t work down here. Sometime you need to throw the box out altogether.
Bottom line? I’m not in Kansas anymore, nor am I in Ohio, California, New York, or Florida, all states I’ve lived in. Friends need to mule down Miracle Whip and Butterfingers, I don’t get mail, can’t drink the tap water, and toilet paper goes in the trash can (I live in an older house with the older plumbing). Not to mention I’ve been searching for a reuben sandwich and german chocolate cake for two years now. Oh, and, yes, we do have crime. We are 90,000 strong at this point, with hundreds of thousands of tourists added to the mix annually, so, some crime is to be expected. Especially with the contrasts of the very rich vs. the extremely poor. And then there’s the folks who handle my small account in the U.S. who can’t seem to wire monies correctly, which causes me to have no funds, nada, for days, if not weeks, at a time. Clothes made for Mexicans do not fit me, at 5’3″ and 130 lbs., I’m considered an extra large. That fact I learned after trying bathing suits on for over an hour in Chedruai. Electronics are expensive, taxes went up, and having parasites was my latest disease. Nope, it’s certainly not Kansas.
So, in answer to the question “what’s it like to live down here?” It’s wondrous, frustrating, delightful, vexing, incredible, disappointing, invigorating, disheartening, humorous, maddening, and the list could go on and on. But, would I recommend it? Absolutely! To quote a fellow expat (thanks, Zazzu), “life is great and everything is possible.” And I couldn’t agree more! Just remove the rose colored glasses before you get here. The water looks better without them anyway. Salud!
p.s. I feel the need to explain that my pug was not my pug when she was dressed in the pink faux leather tutu. She still belonged to my landlord’s daughter and I was asked to photograph her in this outfit for her birthday present. But, it is “national dress up your dog” day, so I figured, why not?