In this first winter after retirement, my husband and I decided to escape Canadian winter and head to Mexico for two months. Although we are familiar with the area, having spent several shorter vacations there, we were eager to get settled and actually live in a place not bound by the restrictions of a resort or of limited time. We are settling in, but in our first few weeks here, have already discovered there is a steep learning curve! Below are some of the travel lessons and considerations when opting for this style of travel:
Although we were familiar with the area, and did not always confine ourselves to our hotels on previous visits, we needed to learn about getting our bearings directionally, learning the location of important places such as the grocery store, using public transportation, and being able to direct cab drivers through our residential area. We are also lucky we know people, as my father and stepmother spend their winters here, so they have been a valuable support system. Still, as we work toward our own sense of independence and familiarity, we needed to find our way.
In a resort, many employees speak English. This is not often the case in places we frequent in town. It soon became evident how woefully inadequate our Spanish was. We always prided ourselves on our ability to speak French or to pick up words of Italian while in Europe. We quickly realized we needed to put some effort into the language of our new temporary home. So, a primer on Spanish has been loaded into my e-reader, and afternoons by the pool are often spent, notebook in hand, expanding our vocabulary. This will continue to be a project over the next few months!
Although we feel we are in a safe area, we are definitely conscious of the heightened need for security procedures. Perfecting the series of locks and keys to our fortress has been a frustrating challenge, and at times I was more worried about being locked out of our house than locking the bad guys out! However, with time and practice has come an increased sense of comfort and security in our own space.
There are so many things to think about when setting up housekeeping in a home away from home – getting water delivered, figuring out how to make phone calls, banking and figuring out currency conversion, doing laundry, in short, learning how to feel at home. Had we been here for a short stay, these travel lessons would have taken up our whole vacation time!
While this has not been a difficult task, it has quickly become apparent how different our days look, compared to a short two week stay. One of the paradoxes of a shorter vacation is the mad panic to relax! Now, there is no hurry to cram activities into our days, or to get up and make the most of the day! There are days on end where we don’t even go to the beach, preferring to stay home, swim in the pool, take walks, or just take care of the above mentioned details. We are also enjoying cooking many of our own meals and lingering over wine on our patio. As a result, that sense of relaxation and timelessness has taken care of itself.
Re-locating one’s home for an extended period is a privilege I am delighted to be experiencing. It is wonderful to have the opportunity to get a feel for another country and culture. It is both a learning experience and, at the same time, a restful and peaceful one, to have one’s own space, and lots of time to enjoy it! These first few weeks have had their challenges and anxious moments, but with each passing day, we are feeling more at home, and less on a “learning holiday!” I wrote the first draft of this piece over a week ago, and as I read it over now, I can already see how much more comfortable, confident and settled we are. I am looking forward to what the next six weeks will hold. Stay tuned for the next installment!