To the Doc

Hi everyone!

I have not written for a long, long time.  Been busy living, I guess.  This one is going to be short.  I have written a couple of medical posts before, the most recent ones soon before we retired, when I had surgery that took out my left adrenal gland and a small hormone releasing tumor on it that played havoc with my blood pressure and potassium levels.

Anyway, we moved here in January, 2014 and tomorrow will be my first visit to an internist since we moved.  I just turned 66 and I reckon it is past time.  I have been to a dermatologist and to an eye doc, but not to a primary care type of doctor.  I am going to the Clinic Diabet, because I am a Type II diabetic and it is a one stop shop for folks like me.    I’ll post a little not about the outcome in the next week or two and will hope for the best.

That’s all for now

One from January 2006

I have an old website saved on my hard drive.  I may figure out how to just transfer the html files over, but, in the meantime… is an old one.

When looking at the point in time at which enough resources are available for a decent life one must not be too optimistic. I ran some numbers today, having received the most recent statement from my state retirement system, which will be one source of the enough resources picture.

There are other sources – we are on, apparently, the many small pots of retirement money and we won’t starve plan. Between the two of us we will have 3 vested state pension plans, 2 IRAs, and three fairly small defined contribution pots. Add to that a dash of Social Security (Yes, Virginia, there is a Social Security Claus for folks in the early to mid 50’s) and the proceeds from the sale of our home. We think we’ll be able to live indefinitely in a lower cost location starting in the Winter of 2009-2010. I’ll turn 58 then. To stay where we are, I’d have to work to 65 or 66.

I like my job. I enjoy working for a college and I am good at what I do. I have pleasant colleagues and I do fulfilling work, so, why would I want to retire early. Well, I am tired of watching people die before any semblance of a normal lifespan has been achieved. A mother-in-law, a brother-in-law, an aunt, a niece, a son and more recently a colleague who was in the process of retiring at the age of 56.

It is one thing to die when old enough for people to think: “well,that person lived a good long life.” It is quite another to start pushing up flowers at a younger age.

I want to have a large chunk of self-directed time before I start playing a harp. I want Kathy and I to have that together.

Duke and Theresa

Duke and Theresa were two of the first retired estadounidenses we met in Merida. Tom and Debi were the other couple who met us for supper at La Poderosa, a sidewalk supper place in the San Sebastian neighborhood.  It was, I think, in 2008.

A day or two later we went to Duke and Theresa’s home.  Duke made Cuban coffee (Theresa is Cuban-American), and Theresa served a date cake/pie that she had bought at a Lebanese store.  There are many Lebanese immigrants who came here starting in the early 1900’s.

They asked why we were interested in retiring here in Merida, Duke asking why I would not return to Brazil, where I had grown up.  He listened patiently to our answers.  He was and is a thoughtful, soft-spoken man.  He listened to our questions and answered them.  At the end of the talk, I asked him if there were any questions we were not asking because we did not know enough to ask them.  He told me that he thought we would do all right here.

We moved down in January, 2014.  They have been guests in our home and we have been guests in theirs.  Theresa taught me how to cook the classic Cuban recipe, ropa vieja, at their house one night.  Neither is much of a drinker, but not too long ago Duke told me he had been tasting scotch.  I had planned to invite them over for dinner and planned to buy a much better scotch than I usually would, a nice single malt for Duke to taste.

I think the time for that is past.  Duke is in the hospital  It appears all too likely that he will not come out alive.  Goddammit I do not like stuff that makes me cry.  The life of a retired person in Merida is a good life – but it is life and life includes stories like Duke and Theresa’s.

Theresa recently went through a bout of breast cancer.  So far her surgery and treatment has good results.  One result, though, of that and of Duke’s long illness and hospital stay is that it has drained their finances.  While this post is primarily a remembrance of Duke and not a plea for funds, if you want to donate, here is a link you can go to.  Either way, I will remember Duke as a good and gentle man.  The world would be a better place with more like him

More information about Duke and donation information


Barcelona 2

There was so much to Barcelona.  There was a lot we did not get to.

On our second day our main goals were to find the place from where our tour the next day started and to make arrangements for our travel to Granada.  We booked the tour through Viatour, an outfit that arranges a lot of tours through local agencies.  Ours was through Explore Cataluyna and we can recommend them.  Their office and the meeting place was on the way from our hotel to Placa Cataluyna and kind of across from the Catalan Museum of Music.

Having found that we made our way to the Cortes Ingles travel office – this was a free standing one not in the big department store.  The trains to Granada were sold out, so we booked a flight on a local discount airline, Vueling.  Worked out fine.

Anyway, we walked around, looked open-eyed at buildings, ate tapas, drank wine, took a nap, and since it rained stayed in and ate for jamon and cheese instead of going out for dinner.  This was the jamon iberica pata negra, fed acorns.  I loved it!!

The next day we did the tour, it was nine hours long.  Some of it was walking and some was by bus.  We saw the Gothic Quarter, the Olympic Stadium, more of old Barcelona, Familia Sagrada. La Pedrera (an apartment building designed by Gaudi) and Parc Guell.  It was an overwhelming day.  I will do a post with photos of the Familia Sagrada but will include a couple at the end of this post.

The next two days we did a couple of self-guided walks from the Rick Steve’s book (recommended), went to the beach at La Barcoleneta, visited the Apple store at Placa Cataluyna and hung out.  It was great.

Here are some photos

FishP1000739 P1000740 Gaudi

P1000748 P1000751Unknown

P1000752Just Wow  P1000758 P1000765 P1000779ColumbusP1000791 Olympic flameP1000803 Bullring, now a mall – bullfighting now illegal in CatalunyaP1000811 Familia SagradaP1000814 P1000816 P1000834  P1000889 P1000892 P1000896 P1000903Parc Güell P1000931 P1000937 P1000947 HarborP1000990 P1000998 P1010002 La BarcelonetaP1010019 Gaudi at nightP1010035That is it for now.  Steve Cotton, a commenter, said he considered retiring in Barcelona.  We could do that, but we both ended up in Mexico.



We left Mérida on May 17, taking the bus 4.5 hours to Playa del Carmen.  We spent the night there, meeting friends at Wah Wah Beach Club, one of our favorite places in Playa.  They were having a micro-brew festival and we had a few good beers, a nice dinner and a nice visit with Rick, Sue, Erik and Jan.

The next morning we took the bus from Playa to the Cancun airport (one hour) where we caught a nonstop flight to Newark, NJ.  Nonstop flights and travel days that were as short as possible are a theme in the trip.  We spent the night near the airport and the next evening we boarded a flight to Barcelona.  During the day there, we replaced  a large suitcase that lost a wheel.  Gave us something to do with our time.

We arrived in Barcelona the next morning, only going through six time zones, so we we were a bit dazed and confused.  Immigration and customs were formalities – they glanced at our passports and custom forms as we walked through, it seemed.

After finding an ATM and getting a cup of coffee, we took a taxi to our hotel, arriving before noon.  They let us stow our luggage in our room and we went out to explore the Eixample, the section of the city where we were staying.  More on that later.  We walked around, found a place to have lunch, explored a bit more and returned to our hotel, where we had a nice, small one bedroom apartment about a 15 minute walk from the old, historic center of the city.

I went shopping, bought some jamon, some bread, some cheese and some wine.  We had another snack and then we then slept about 12 of the next 16 hours, largely recovering from jet lag.

Here are a few photos, and there will be more on Barcelona in the next few posts.

P1000728 P1010017 P1010015 P1010011 P1000743

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.