I think we all learned new things about ourselves that year. We did things we’d never done before. We relied on each other and explored together.
After a few months we began to look at properties. After much searching, and being rejected from some villages, we settled on an old Hacienda about four miles east of Tlacolula. The structure was little more than four crumbling adobe walls. No roof. The building had served as a warehouse for the Spanish. We reinforced the walls with fifteen tons of hand mixed cement.
We returned to the States and left the building in it’s still very rough state. When we returned to the US, I taught school and Beth (my wife) worked at the University of Texas at Brownsville. We didn’t return until 2003. Beth and I still felt the draw of Oaxaca but were still years from being able to retire.
We began to travel down twice a year. Through those years we made new friendships and became more familiar with the area. In 2007 we committed ourselves to finishing Don Pedrillo and retiring there.
The next few years we sent money down monthly to reconstruct Don Pedrillo. It was exciting to come down and see the advancements.
In all of our years of travel we never encountered a problem with the criminal element. We tried to drive only during the day but did end up driving past dark a few times. We stuck to main roads and tried to travel with other traffic.
Every trip we brought down items for the house. We were lucky in that we could shop for sales or used items. The Christmas before we retired a friend from Oaxaca drove up with his truck and trailer. I met him in Matamoros and drove the truck across where we loaded it and drove it back over. Felipe allowed me to store things in an empty room. When we were ready to retire, Polo came back up with his truck and trailer. His vehicle along with our little pickup moved the last of our things.
I was sixty and Beth was sixty-one when we retired and left the US. We both receive partial retirement from the Texas Retirement System. As soon as we each turned sixty-two, our Social Security kicked in. We’d saved money to finish the house and buy appliances that we hadn’t bought in Brownsville.
We just passed the two-year mark here in Oaxaca. We continue to make improvements inside and out. Presently we are concentrating on our yard. We’ve planted grass and many trees some for shade and some for fruit.
We also spend a lot of time reading and visiting. I suppose we average about two fiestas a month. Beth loves to share American cooked meals with our friends so we often have guests. Our Spanish has improved to the point that simple conversations are easy. No one that worked on the house spoke English. That was challenging. Sometimes things came out a little different than we had planned but part of our retirement was becoming more flexible and less picky.
I don’t believe Mexico is for everyone. It’s different here. If you don’t have or cannot acquire patience, Mexico can be pretty frustrating. We interact very little with other Americans. We could but we chose to be with those who are around us.
The other day Beth and I were talking about hometowns. Both of us agree that Tlacolula has become our hometown. We are still living here on tourist visas so we have to leave the country every six months. We choose to go to the Guatemalan border to renew.
We do miss friends and family. Two of our boys do come down. Facebook, email, and Skype help us keep in touch.
We pay about $35 a month for electricity and about the same for propane. Our food bill is about $350 but we eat well and as I said we entertain a lot. Our truck insurance is about $450 a year. Taxes are almost nonexistent.
Some of my family and friends tell us that we seem to be living in paradise. I don’t know that I would go that far but we do immensely enjoy our lives here. Our home is in the country and the view around our home is beautiful. Strangers do not bother us. If we are living in paradise, it’s because we chose to believe it’s so.
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July 26, 2014 at 6:37 am
Your story with the bus and immersion in local community and culture is fantastic! I loved reading this and brought back memories and thoughts of our own “empty nester” experience.
Our story began in 2006, our first time visiting Nicaragua, Central America, with our youngest son, then 15. It was love at first visit! On the last day of our Spring break trip we bought a run down decrepit property in the Colonial city of Granada… Thinking we would one day fix it up and use it as a springboard for future travel and discovery in Latin America for ourselves and our four boys. By the time we landed in Chicago we had designed the house and started long distance construction immediately, much like yourselves. After six months our dream home was completed!
A few years of visits and initiating an art program in a local school meant that by the time our sons had all finished high school we already felt like we were more at home there, than in the U.S. We arrived with our suitcases a few years later for six years of life and adventure. We kept a blog,for friends and family (initially) which covers all the trials and tribulations of our lives there and the initiation of a social impact business.
October 8, 2014 at 2:10 pm
I am looking into retiring in Mexico .. I would welcome someone to text and or talk to .. I do not speak Spanish .. just English … I would be on my SS income .. and to date I enjoy a 3-bedroom 2-Bathroom large TV room .. and med. size dinning room I use as my computer room .. I enjoy the planting of fruit trees .. would love to more more about Oaxaca, Mx. I would not want to live in a bubble … need a safe place .. close to shop (maybe walk – no car ?) .. Larry … LStark3584@aol.com
April 10, 2015 at 7:31 am
Hello, thank you for your post. Funny we’re also from Washington, we live comfortable here in the states but it’s just not what feels right.
I was watching House Hunters International a couple of days ago and seeing the prices of homes it just click to us we really need to get out of the state’s with the kids and spend the rest of our lives feeling happy new relax.
At this point we really need to meet someone who can help direct us what our 1st steps should be etc.
June 4, 2017 at 6:40 pm
I am looking for a modified assisted living arrangement. I love Oaxaca, been there many times. At my age, 83, I need help in shopping, cooking, and general housekeeping. I do not need medical assistance.
Could you steer me in the direction of such a facility if one does exist. I live on retirement from Social Security and teacher retirement so about $1000 US would be my budget.