We took a little trip

Hi everyone,

We left home on May 17 and traveled to Spain, Portugal and California before returning home on June 23.  I am going to try to write about that some.  It was our first long post-retirement trip.  There may or may not be others – but I think we are going to do some getaways every year during Merida’s hottest times.

We went to (in chronological order) Barcelona, Granada, Almunecar, Estepona, Seville, Lagos, Lisbon, Porto and Madrid.  I plan on doing a post on each city, along with our experiences at some other places we visited.  It was a big trip for us that included some “bucket list” things for each of us.

Kathy wanted to see Barcelona and modernista architecture, particularly Gaudi’s work, while she could still see fairly well.  I wanted to see Portugal, particularly Cape Sagres;  missions accomplished.

For now, a few photos that were taken in Barcelona.  Later, at some unspecified time, a post on Barcelona.  One may not be enough for that city, where we spent five days.

The travelers








Gaudi architecture:  one example


Retirement: Year One

I have procrastinated on this long enough, in part waiting for immigration news that I now have, so here comes the brief review of our first year of retirement in Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico.

The Move and Housing

At the end of January, 2014 we flew down with three suitcases, two backpacks, a 21.5″ iMac, and our cat.  Tom Kuhn, the now famous Burgerteer and all around good guy picked us up at the airport and, along with his lovely wife, Debi, provided us with cat-friendly lodging on our first night here.

The next morning we met the rental agent / property manager at the house we had rented sight unseen for 3 months.  Lynn was great and I highly recommend her!

At the end of that short-term lease, we moved to a longer-term rental.  Tom and Debi are friends with the owners (who now live in the USA) and the house was becoming available.  Debi connected us with the owners and here we are.  We signed a one year lease on a lovely home in a great location and plan to renew it for at least another year.


The first three months or so we lived without a car, and that can certainly be done for far longer than that.  Taxis are plentiful and reasonable and there are a variety of bus routes.  In addition, almost any product or service you need can be delivered to your home.  Nonetheless, it is very nice to own a car and have the freedom to take day trips, drive to the Campo Deportivo Salvador Alvarado and walk on their one kilometer track, and it is far easier for Kathy, who is legally blind, to get around with her seeing-eye husband behind the steering wheel

Immigration Matters

I came down on a residente temporal visa affixed to my passport, a temporary resident visa good for one year and renewable for three more.  Kathy got a 180 vistante visa (those who tend to be technical about such things may point out that it is not technically a visa).  Within 30 days I started the in-country part of getting a residente temporal card.  Once that was processed, Kathy became eligible for the same status as my spouse.

This week, after the first year of temporal status my application for a change in status to residente permanente was approved.  I will no longer have to go through the renewals.  On Friday I will take in my new photographs and get fingerprinted and about a week later will get the card.  After two years of being married to a permanent resident, Kathy will be eligible for the same status.

We used a facilitator for these processes.  When we first arrived we used Yucatan Expatriate Services.  The staffer who helped us there left that company and started her own, and we used her for the change in status to Permanente.

Life Activities

We typically go to the sports complex in Merida (Salvador Alvarado) and walk a few kilometers in the morning.  We come back home and do a few light housekeeping things (like pool maintenance and keeping the patios clean), I spend some time on the internet – mostly looking at the markets and communicating with other investors.  Early afternoon is usually time for some sun and/or pool time.  We have lunch around 2:00.  Kathy does a  round of pool exercises after that and I typically take a siesta.  We do shopping, a little volunteer work, communicate with family and watch a little TV.  We take occasional day trips and explore new areas of Merida on Sundays.

We have gone over to the Caribbean coast every couple of months for two or three nights.  We have had company from the states  a few times and taken longer vacations around the Yucatan with them.  Last November I officiated a wedding vow renewal ceremony for friends and we spent a few days with them and a large group of people who flew down for that.

Last Sunday on our explorations we found the Yucatan Leones baseball stadium and plan to attend a few games in the upcoming season.  We also plan to attend some symphony concerts and take advantage of other cultural events here in Merida that we missed during our first year.

Travel is a part of retirement for many people, and we will be taking a longish trip to Spain and Portugal this spring.  Other than periodic trips to the States and one to visit friends who are retired on the Virgin Islands, we plan more travel in Mexico.  Pre-retirement we visited Guadalajara, San Miguel de Allende, Lake Chapala, and Guanajuato, which leaves a lot still to explore!


I guess I should post a bit about this.  Between pensions and Social Security we are doing fine.  I manage our investment accounts.  It does not take a lot of time – they are not very big – but it makes for a nice hobby for this retired research analyst.  The exchange rate has moved to our personal benefit this year due to the strong dollar, but I imagine at some point in time it will move in the other direction.  The cost of living seems reasonable and our resources seem to be adequate to provide us with a comfortable if somewhat frugal life.  That is fine with us, because that is how we roll.

I have not kept detailed records of our expenditures or how much we spend per month on regular expenditures.  I will do a blog post on that later, but we typically have a little left at the end of the month and I can’t complain much about that.

Wrap up

This could be more detailed, but we are headed over to Puerto Morelos tomorrow to meet friends from MA.  I will try to be more regular about posting, but no promises.



Isla Holbox

The Friday after US Thanksgiving we set off for Isla Holbox.  It was our first visit there.  The island is probably best know for the annual whale shark migration season, and snorkeling with them is a very popular activity.

Alas, it was not whale shark season when we there.

It was about a 4 hour drive from Merida to Chiquila, where you catch the ferry or private boat to the island.  That is if you take the toll road most of the way, which was our route. We arrived too late for the 2:00 pm ferry, so after parking the cars in one of several parking establishments in Chiquila (5 Hermanos, 50 pesos a day), we took a private boat over.  It cost 500 pesos, the ferry would have been 400 for the four of us.

Jeff and Julie, our traveling companions, had been there last year, so they knew the ropes.  From the dock on Holbox we took a cab to our hotel, Posada Mawimbi.  It was no ordinary cab for this island of sand roads:

We spent four nights there and had a wonderful time.  There is a town square, some restaurants, lots of birds, not a lot of night life, but we are not really night life kind of people.  The restaurant and bar at the hotel were wonderful, with attentive staff and good food and drinks.  A breakfast of a fruit bowl and toast is included in the room charge.

Lobster pizza is a specialty, and we shared one at a restaurant on the square with a sign that said they had created it in 1982.  We ate at a couple of restaurants in the town (the hotel is right on the edge of the central part of the town), and had a great meal there.  One highlight of the trip, beside enjoying the beach and sun, was Kathy’s birthday dinner on the beach, about 20 feet from the water.

On to photos.  We are returning in mid-March to meet a cyber friend from Norway and his wife.  Our friends who took us there called it forced relaxation.  It certainly was relaxing.

Hotel beachP1080864 P1080856SunsetP1080816 P1080803Birthday with multiple name spellings P1080892 P1080904P1080888Horseshoe crab colletion


Celestun Flamingo Day Trip

On November 26 good friends from Oregon arrived at our home, having spent time in Puerto Morelos and Valladolid on the way. On Friday we drove to Celestun, on the Gulf Coast, about 90 minutes from Mérida, where we had a nice lunch on the beach and then boarded a small boat for the estuary. Here are some photos of the day:

Jeff on the boat                   P1000064Fishing from the bridgeP1000065FlamingosP1000074 P1000083 P1000086  MangrovesP1000090

Julie being careful at a stopP1000098Termite nestP1000099Julie and meP1000101Jeff, Kathy and JulieP1000104

Local pelicansP1000051Visiting Canadian pelicans P1000053


Some travels and a future update

Hi everyone!

It has been some time since I have written anything here – wow, since September 7 – Brasil’s Independence Day.  We have been a wee bit busy, but not that busy.

We’ve had some company.  Jorden, our ‘adoptive’ grandson arrived in early October, spending 9 or so days with us, three weeks with a host family at a language school, two weeks volunteering at a local school, another week or so with us and then he was off to Playa del Carmen to meet up with his family and a friend who flew down from Vancouver BC for vacation.

We went over to Playa a few days later where I officiated a wedding vow renewal ceremony on the beach for two good friends from Oregon.  We came back to Mérida, had a few days off and then Jeff and Julie arrived on November 26.  They are other good friends from Oregon.  We did Thanksgiving here, went to Celestun for a day and did the flamingo tour, and then headed to Isla Holbox on Saturday, spending 4 nights there.

We are back home now and have nothing much scheduled firmly until mid-January.

I plan to do a blog post on the mini-vacation to Playa, one of the day trip to Celestun, and another one on our first visit to Isla Holbox.  I am also working on a post about our first year of retirement and living in Mexico.  This should all happen in December.

A couple of photos, as a teaser


Cablemas and the Rules

Cablemas is our local cable provider.  We currently have internet and a land line phone with them.  The bill is in the name of the owner of the house, an owner who has not lived here for three years. We are the second set of renters since they moved back to the states.  Mind you, this is not unusual, the electricity, water and everything else is also in their name.

We decided to add a television package, so I went to the Cablemas office.  Once there I was told that to add or change any services the account needed to be in my name.  No problem, I said (somewhat naively), lets change it.  No, not that easy, you see in order to change it I needed a communication from the current account holder authorizing the change.  I came home, emailed the owner and he sent me a scanned note authorizing the change.  Cool, I’ll go back the next day, change the account to my name and add TV to our package.  Well,…….

The nice woman took the note to the back office.  She came back about five minutes later and said no, that would not do.  They needed a form letter filled out and signed by both the current account holder and by me.  In addition, they needed a copy of the photo page of the current account holders passport and a copy of my residency card.  I said it seemed a bit difficult to change the name on an account.  She gestured in the direction of the managers’s offices and said:  “It is political.”  I told her I would see her next week with the required documents. :).  After shuffling papers she found a copy of the form letter for me.  I’ll sign it, send a scanned copy to our landlord.  He’ll sign it, scan it and send it back.  Then I will give it another whirl.  Maybe this time what I provide will suffice.



Quick, Free Medical Consultation

Last week Kathy developed an earache.  She said it felt a bit like swimmer’s ear.   We are in the pool everyday, so that makes sense.  We also have not yet settled on physicians here in Mérida, but needed one now.  Enter Farmacias del Ahorro, and their free doctor consultation program.

We went to the one near the sports complex where we do our walking.  I talked with the attendant at the counter who referred me to the physician consultation waiting room.  After a few minutes the Doctor saw Kathy, took some basic information and asked her what was bothering her.  My basic Spanish and his little bit of English were sufficient for communication.  After examining her years, nose and throat he prescribed an ear drop solution that included an antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and a topical analgesic.

Three and a half days later the ears are much improved.  I think this will work for simple stuff, but now we need to get about the business of finding regular doctors.