Still Retired, Still Single, Still Writing

Dear Followers and New Readers,

It’s been almost two years since I’ve posted to this blog. I hope you’ve been well.

A lot has happened since I tried “giving ice away in winter,” my last blog. I’m still living in Mexico, and the weather is still beautiful. At the risk of being a NIMBY, it’s unfortunate that the baby boomers, of whom I am one, have discovered this wonderful part of Mexico. It seems that there are a lot more people, cars, and everything has gotten more expensive. In the past, the snowbirds would invade for the winter and go home. Then the sunbirds, avoiding the heat of the southwest, would take their place for the summer. Today, more people are opting to stay here all year long.

At some time in the past two years, I was introduced to country music, and discovered a song by Tim McGraw, “Live Like You Were Dying,” and it has inspired me to live my retirement to the fullest. The premise of the song is: if you knew you only had a short time left on this earth, what would you do with it? I’m not talking about a bucket list, but rather a creed about how to live life every day.

So in the past two years, I overcame my fear of singing in public, and now sing karaoke two times a week and open mic two times a week. I sing an eclectic variety of music, including contemporary, country, and blues. No opera yet!

I always loved flying and have been intrigued by ultra-lights for years. At one time in my life, I even took flying lessons on a single engine Cessna. About a year ago, I discovered that a friend was taking ultra-light flying lessons. So I hitched a ride with him one day across a mountain to the village of San Marcos where took a demo flight with the instructor. What a rush! Talk about flying by the seat of your pants.

In the spring of 2017, I had a hip replacement. But I didn’t let that stop me. In the fall of 2018, I walked a 100 mile portion of the Portuguese Camino to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Since then, I’ve written a book about my experience which I’ll introduce to you in a future blog post.

I’ve also written a number of short pieces that are appropriate as blog posts, and I’ll be sharing them with you about tacos, pizza, karaoke, and the Camino.

Looking at the future…let’s see what’s next…could it be motorcycles?

Getting Attention Mexican-Style

…Or how I spent my Sunday afternoon.

So we’re cruising along somewhere about an hour north of Puerto Vallarta at 65 mph. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon. The traffic was moving along nicely. We were returning from a wonderful three days respite living at the beach in PV, and the conversation in the car was lively.

All of a sudden I was jamming on the breaks. A long line of cars and buses is stopped ahead. We started asking ourselves the obvious questions. What could the problem be: was there an accident, a broken down car; how long was the back-up

Little did we know that five miles up the road, a small Mexican town was protesting the disappearance of one of its own a week earlier. More succinctly, they were protesting the lack of response from local officials and police. How does one get attention of the police? They blocked the main highway that carries traffic to and from Puerto Vallarta.

Apparently, this is how small towns and indigenous people get attention when the police and politicians ignore them. I have a friend who has spent a bit of time in Chiapas, which is a state in southern Mexico where the indigenous peoples were in open revolt against the Mexican government. She says things have recently gotten dicey there because promises made haven’t been filled. Randomly blocking major highways is a favorite attention-getting tactic.

These blockages are different from the publicized gang roadblocks and shakedowns in several Mexican states. Gang shakedowns are one of the reasons why the U.S. State Department warns against travel in several areas of Mexico, and travel at night, in general.

According to an article on a local website, the “manifestacion” we came across started at 9 am, and we stumbled upon it around 2 pm. Apparently the demonstrations attracted the Federales, state police, and the local constabulary.

We dutifully waited our car with the air conditioning running for a half hour. Cars started turning around. As each car turned around, we inched up a little more.

For us turning around was not really a good option. There really was no alternative route. We would have had to travel an hour back to the turn-off for the carraterra libre (free road). Once word spread (I don’t/can’t listen to local traffic reports), that road would be no piece of cake either. In another 70+/- kms, we would be cruising on 4-lane toll road. We’d take our chances.

My friend was getting a little antsy, so she decided to take a walk in search of an answer to the question going through everyone’s mind: “What’s going on?”

She disappeared down the hill, walking along the line of busses and cars that snaked around the curve ahead. Fifteen minutes later she arrived back with at least three rumors of why the back-up existed – one of which was the real reason. Who was kidnapped, however, wasn’t exactly clear. Some people reported it was the village’s mayor. Other rumors circulated that there were narcos in the village and the police were disarming the villagers, or having a shoot-out. We saw some firepower pass us in the other lane, but it was unclear whether they were good guys or bad guys.

Now this may sound a little scary, but truthfully it was a pain in the ass. It wasn’t how I expected to spend Sunday afternoon, watching men and children pee on the side of the road (I don’t know what the women did), families pick mangoes from roadside trees, and twenty-somethings break out 6-packs of beer and have a picnic. Thank God the bugs were taking a siesta.

Finally, about two hours after becoming entrapped, the line started to move – steadily. As the police waved us by the lane they cleared among the demonstrators, you can see what we saw in this article’s pictures.

As we drove by, my friend took a few photos. “Stop,” she pleaded. “I want to get some more pictures.”

“Are you kidding,” I answered. I could just imagine what the police would think of a car with U.S. plates stopping, and a gringa jumping out and snapping pictures.

The rest of trip was uneventful until we got onto the Guadalajara – Chapala highway. We were almost home, encountered a major downpour. Once again, traffic ground to halt. About one kilometer before the airport, a tree was knocked down on top of a hapless VW, blocking two lanes. 9 hours after leaving PV we arrive back in Ajijic, a trip that should have taken no more than 51/2-6 hours.

Postscript: It was a good that we didn’t turn around and take the free road from PV. When the toll road ends it merges with the free road just before Guadalajara. The free road was backed up as far as we could see.

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Gringo Gripes

My 6th grade teacher, Mr. Motz, had me pegged early. I was the kind of student teachers loved to hate.

“You’re a chronic complainer,” he complained, in frustration, as I posed a trying question.

That trait followed me throughout much of my life. It’s no wonder that one of my favorite non-fiction writers is Bill Bryson, some of whose witty observations I’ve interpreted as chronic complaining. So I feel that I’m eminently qualified to comment on those who “doth protest too much.”

However, since I’ve moved here, I’m learning to stop complaining – a recovering chronic complainer, so to speak. So it’s ironic that, in this blog post, I’m complaining about complainers.

I live in a beautiful place in Mexico with beautiful weather among beautiful people. Bright blue skies reflect off the largest lake in Mexico. Verdant hillsides and mountains rim its shores. Sunsets turn the skies into brilliant colors that make way for incredible star-filled nights. The cost of living here is a fraction of the cost in the U.S. and Canada. Many Gringos live a lifestyle they could only dream about up north.

So what’s the problem, folks?

It seems even this idyllic setting can’t deter the “nabobs of negativity,” to quote a former vice president. They are the chronic complainers for whom nothing will make them happy; the people for whom the glass is always half-empty.

I’ve discovered in my ripe old age that it’s fruitless to complain about things you can’t change, and that we need to sift through a lot of noise in our lives to understand what’s really important.

When people decide to move to Mexico, it might be prudent if they understand that Mexico is different than the U.S. and Canada, and Mexicans are culturally different from gringos. They should also understand that their expectations need to be adjusted. The concept of “mañana” is real in Mexico. And, not to be confused with the Castellano Spanish translation, in this part of Mexico, the word “ahorita” doesn’t mean “right now.” It means “whenever I get to it.”

Tradesman Troubles

Why Americans get upset when a Mexican tradesman shows up two hours late or maybe “manana” is beyond me. Have they forgotten about dealing with repairmen up north?

“Someone will be there between 8 am and noon,” is a common refrain one experiences from a customer service representative up north. Never mind that you need to be at work. Customer service is at the convenience of the provider, not the customer.

I have a friend who moved back up north, bought a house, needed to make some renovations, and had horrendous problems dealing with one of the largest home improvement chains:

  • workmen that didn’t show up;
  • substitution, without notifying the customer, for parts specified in the contract;
  • sloppy work that needed to be re-done;
  • estimates and work orders written without checking for required building code modifications.

These problems sound strikingly similar to the typical gringo complaints about repairs and construction down here.

And if the gringo is building a house, forget it! The complaints of delays are endless. The house was promised at the end of June, and the owners are still waiting to take possession…in December. Week after week the Jalisco concept of “ahorita’ becomes all too real as excuses from the contactor pile up and deposits made in good faith disappear.

Wait a minute!

After listening to my gringo friends complaining about their architects, contractors, and sub-contractors, I begin to realize why all those Mexicans head north to the U.S…

They’re learning how to become tradesmen and building contractors!

Enduring the Mexican Dining Experience

Then there are the restaurant complainers, unaccustomed to the leisurely Mexican dining experience…or unwilling to relax and get used to it. It’s not unusual to wait awhile before the waitress finishes texting her boyfriend, to not have water served without asking, to have everyone at the table served on a different day of the week, and when you’re served to not have silverware to eat it with, to wait hours to get your check, and hours to get the change.

For gringo grannies, the frustration can be overwhelming. Their 9 o’clock bedtime is rapidly approaching, and driving at night can be tricky.

Hey, I’m in Mexico, in a beautiful place with beautiful weather among beautiful people. Relax. Rest assured, at the end of the evening you’ll go home sated – better fed than some of the children a few doors down the street.

I have a good friend who brings a gringo attitude with him every time he goes out to eat. I get a distinct feeling that the servers see him coming and pray that he doesn’t sit at one of their tables. Is that the way we want our Mexican hosts to see us?

Yes, we can get frustrated, annoyed, pissed off, and even angry as we observe our hosts doing things in ways we wouldn’t (but often do) tolerate up north.

If you want a U.S. or Canadian dining experience, go back up north. Or just shut up, sit back and marvel that things work as well as they do. The children of the gardeners and maids who tend your houses for $US3.00 an hour would probably wait all day to get a meal similar to the one you’re complaining about.

I’ve always thought about what the Mexicans think about many of the gringo gripers who’ve invaded their community. The Mexican people here are amazingly patient, welcoming, and outwardly uncomplaining. I’m sure the servers, maids, gardeners, and tradesmen take home a million gripes about your interactions with them. And I’m sure that the stories told in the Mexican bars are priceless.

But you’ll never hear them.

So why not just…quitcherbitchin’.

Visitors from the North

I haven’t posted in a long time. December 9 to be exact.

I’ve had the privilege of having guest for two weeks… a good friend and my two kids. My friend from Boston is considering spending several wintery months in the friendlier climes of Lake Chapala. It was fun showing her around.

My kids endured another week with their dad dragging them from one hang-out filled with old fogeys to the next. Thanks to a friend who allowed us to use her condo, they also got to dip their toes in the Pacific at Puerto Vallarta.

Puerto Vallarta Sunset2

Puerto Vallarta beach1

For dad, at any rate, it was a special time. There is something special about interacting with your kids as adults. Especially when you haven’t seen them in 5 months. It takes a long time (that passes very quickly) until everyone can spend time together without the drama associated with growing up…at least some of the drama.

Puerto Vallarta beach2

Puerto Vallarta Sunset1

Dad is still concerned. The kids still roll their eyes and moan “yeah, yeah, yeah.”

But this time, my daughter actually asked me advice about financial matters instead of me doling it out unsolicited.

Hah! We have progress.

While I know more about financial stuff now than before my divorce, I was taken a-back. She wants to save. Good for her!

“Do you have an emergency fund?” I asked her.

“What’s that?” she asked me.

“It’s having enough money so, if something happens to you or you lose your job, you can pay your bills until you find a new one. You should have at least 3 months and possibly more depending on your obligations.” I counseled her.

We talked about her assets and expenses and then I suggested, “When you’ve funded your emergency fund, let’s have another talk,” I continued. “And besides, with the volatility in the stock and bond markets, it may just be a good idea to stay liquid in cash.”

So, on a Sunday morning two weeks ago my kids journeyed back up north. We all left for the airport at the ungodly hour of 3:30 am so they could make their 6:15 flight. Apparently, they had a problem with a prick in DFW customs who almost made them miss their connecting flight.

After a week and a half of guests, being alone feels good…maybe a little empty, but good. I spent the day doing domestic things like laundry, making beds, and, yes, making another yummy meal from leftovers in the refrigerator. After a gin and tonic and a few glasses of cheap Chilean wine with dinner, and an absolutely incredible sunset on my mirador, I find myself at the computer writing to you good people.

Delivering the Mail

It’s one of the wonders of the world that the mail gets delivered in Mexico. I’m always amazed when a letter, usually a bill, arrives in my buzon, mailbox. How it found its way is one of those logistical secrets that postmasters, the world over, must keep to themselves.

The problems involved with delivering the mail to the right address aren’t particular to Mexico. Vacationers to third world countries, and even places like Italy, frequently arrive home before their air-mailed postcards – even if the sender takes a slow boat from China.

Out of sequence house numbers complicate the delivery of mail

Out of sequence house numbers complicate the delivery of mail

There was a small problem for many expats in Mexico last fall when the Mexican government decided to sit on thousands of letters mailed from the U.S. containing checks, bills, important papers, and who knows what else. Was it a protest? Donald Trump hadn’t even declared his candidacy yet.

I’m regularly treated to letters mailed to a Chapala address 5 miles down the road. I think some clerk somewhere in the system, slipped it into my mailman’s parcel as a test, or maybe a joke, to see if he could deliver it to the correct address. Well, the guy on my route was having none of it. He knows that if he doesn’t recognize the recipient, he just stuffs it in the gringo’s mailbox.

The first time this happened, I circled the address and put it back into the mailbox so it was sticking out. This is what I’d do in the states so the letter carrier would see it and hopefully correct the situation.

The problem here is that there’s very little mail. Even when I lived in Ajijic, my landlady got very little mail, and most of it was addressed to the wrong address anyway. The only mail I get that’s addressed correctly is the Telmex bill. They know how to get paid.

So, when I stuffed the misaddressed envelope back into the box, it sat there for almost two weeks. I’m sure the mailman was confused because he never picked it up. Instead, some enterprising kid in the neighborhood ripped it up, and did what I guiltily couldn’t do – send it to the big dead letter trash heap in the sky.

The post office in Ajijic with mail delivery motorcycles parked outside

The post office in Ajijic with mail delivery motorcycles parked outside

The next time it happened, I decided to take the letter to the post office. I pointed out the mistake, hoping the clerk would be able to rectify the situation. He looked at me disbelievingly, shrugging his shoulders. I knew he was thinking, “What do you want me to do with it?” And, then he threw it in a box – obviously the dead letter trash heap.

Now, you may have noticed that I’ve been referring to the PC incorrect term “mailman.” I guess technically and appropriately they are “letter carriers.” But here in Mexico, all the ones I’ve seen are young men. They zip around town on motorcycles with little boxes on the back that look a lot like the delivery cycles from Domino’s Pizza or Pollo Feliz. They’d never work for the crusty old-timers who delivered the mail in my old home town. And they wouldn’t do well in the snow either. They would, however, save gas.

Considering the state of the street numbering system here, I do have to give the mailmen a lot of credit. It wasn’t designed with any rationality. You see one block on a street might be numbered 201-250 and the next block 18-42. Or even better, two houses next to each other with numbers sometimes hundreds of numbers apart. The photo above was the inspiration for this blog post. As I sat in the car waiting for a friend to pick up her dog at the groomer (#31 on the left), I noticed the neighbors on either side had numbers in the eighties.

When someone builds a house here or subdivides a property they must refer to a random number generator or maybe a pair of dice or maybe an astrological chart to get a house number.

This numbers game makes it a challenge when you’re invited to someone’s house for the first time. Before I had my car here, I remember walking up and down a street for a half hour looking for a house in Riberas. As I approached the end of a block, I would think I was getting close, only to find that the numbers changed dramatically on the next block.

All this confusion must provide amusement for the locals, and an occasional interesting surprise in the mailbox.

Road Trip 10: Driving South of the (U.S.) Border

I always get anxiety when I cross borders. This day was no different. Maybe it was time I got shaken down at a god-forsaken desert border crossing entering Peru 40 years ago. Thankfully, I haven’t had any problems since.

It was still dark when I left the hotel in Cotulla, grabbed breakfast at McDonalds, and filled the car’s gas tank. The gas station, right off I-35 was a sea of white pick-up trucks with equipment filling their cargo beds. Their drivers were filling their coolers with ice, preparing for another day in the oil patch. I too, topped my tank with “cheap” American gas. Gas in Mexico runs about 13.5 pesos/liter or $3.20/gallon.

I decided to cross into Mexico at the new Columbia Bridge about 20 miles north of Laredo. I had heard that crossing there was easier than in town, especially with a car. Because I was traveling about 700 miles into Mexico, my car needed a visa too. The visa is a sticker that you’re supposed to put in the center of the windshield below the mirror. It is coterminous with your immigration visa.

Columbia Bridge border crossing. Mexico is at top of photo. Notice the traffic!

Columbia Bridge border crossing. Mexico is at top of photo. Notice the traffic!

Just like my friends said, the border crossing was easy. I arrived on the Mexican side around 8:45 and was out by 9:15. It was a ghost town. There was no line and only two gringos, including me, getting permits for their vehicles. I got my passport stamped and paid for my car permit. The custom agents, however, were like the Maytag repairmen with not much to do. So, they checked my car and asked me to take out some boxes from the trunk to check. After rummaging through a few boxes of household goods and my suitcase, they decided I was indeed moving my belongings to Lake Chapala.

“Are you driving all that way alone?” One officer disbelievingly asked. I replied in the affirmative, and he shook his head obviously thinking I was nuts.

Relieved, I drove through what seemed an endless road of truck terminals and warehouses, eventually meeting up with Federal Route 85 south of Nuevo Laredo. This highway would eventually take me to Monterrey, where I would head west almost to Saltillo, and then south again.

The toll road south of Nuevo Laredo. Just blue skies and me.

The toll road south of Nuevo Laredo. Just blue skies and me.

Approaching the mountains just north of Monterrey, Mexico

Approaching the mountains just north of Monterrey, Mexico

Driving on the highways in Mexico isn’t much different than in the States – with one exception. Passing. As with most rules of the road in Mexico, they’re suggestions. If you’re passing, oncoming vehicles will generally move to their right to give you more passing room, especially where there’s a shoulder. If you’re overtaking a car going in the same direction, they will generally move to the right too. On 2-lane roads double yellow lines fall into the “suggestion” category. You never know what might be around the next bend.

As you can see from the posted pictures, my first exposure to Mexican roads was the equivalent to an American interstate highway or improved 4-lane highway. I was able to cruise most of the time at 80 mph, and was passed by Mexicans and Gringos as if I were standing still. For most of the trip, passing wasn’t a problem. Of course, there are always exceptions like steep hills with a line of tractor trailers and tandems inching their ways to the top of the grade. Yes Virginia, it is possible to pass a truck going 10 mph safely where there’s a double yellow line.

Mexico is a beautiful country. Once I got about 50 miles south of Nuevo Larado, the Mexican countryside seemed to open up with broad expanses of desert landscape outline with sierra in the far distance. What I learned was that about every 100 miles the scenery changed from desert to canyons to steep valleys back to desert to farmland. For miles the mountains ringed the road, sometimes close and sometimes far into the distance.

I was told to stay on the toll-roads, called Cuotas, as much as possible. Not only were they safer, better maintained, and limited access, but your toll entiled you to free roadside assistance, should you need it from the “Green Angels.”

Roadside Mexican town south of Matehuala early in the morning

Roadside Mexican town south of Matehuala early in the morning

An occasional Mexican roadside village lined the non-toll roads (Libre). They all look the same whether in Qintana Roo, Coahuila, San Luis Potosi, or Jalisco. They were generally dusty congregations of buildings lining the highway – mom and pop restaurants, garages, assorted retail establishments, and the ubiquitous Pemex station.

That first night in Mexico, I stopped at a hotel in a town called Matehuala with a restaurant. It had been recommended by friends, and was about halfway to Lake Chapala from the border. Arriving around 4:00 pm, I took advantage of the short day to enjoy a beer, and an early dinner.

On the road early the next day, the sun was just coming up over the mountains to the east. You could see fog hanging in the valleys providing a white contrast the changing colors of the mountains –purple, red, green. Matisse would have found inspiration.

Cliffs north of the 2-lane toll road west of San Luis Potosi

Cliffs north of the 2-lane toll road west of San Luis Potosi

I bypassed the city of San Luis Potosi, and once again the scenery changed. Huge cliffs rose to the right of the cuota that reminded me of pictures of Utah. It appeared to be great climbing country. Over a few more mountains and through good sized Mexican town, and I was on the outskirts of Guadalajara – just a hop, skip, and jump from home.

But this part of the trip would be the scariest. The southeast end of the circumferential road – the pereferico – merged into the road I needed to take to Lake Chapala. But, it was going the wrong way – toward Guadalajara. The exit had a bus stop and gas station on either side of it so it made it very messy trying to merge into the traffic. It was pretty hairy negotiating entry between busses leaving the bus stop, cars and trucks cruising along the highway, and cars merging into traffic from the gas station.

This sort of intersection happens a lot around Guad. You need to merge going the wrong direction and travel a-ways until you come to a Retorno where you either cross over or under the highway to go the other way. I was pretty close to the airport, and knew that a retorno would come up soon. A half mile later I traveled up and over the highway and found myself going in the right direction. With two major highways coming together, you’ve gotta wonder why they didn’t just build the retorno at the end of the pereferico so you could merge either direction.

It was late lunch time, and I had been saving my appetite for burritos. There’s a Guadalajara institution on the road to Chapala just before you go over the mountains that rim the lake. It’s open 24 hours. All the Mexicans know about it and a few gringos too. I was introduced to it on my trip to Ajijic, by the guy who picked me up at the airport. This would be the first time there since then.

The place is like a cafeteria with indoor and seating. You go through the line where a steam table holds a dozen or more burrito fillings – beef, chicken, pork, veggie, spicy and mild. The server takes a flour tortilla, smears it with refried beans, puts a mound of whatever filling suits your fancy, and rolls it up. You then pick-up a soda, beer, or water at the checkout. It’s all good, cheap, and filling.

Home! Just over the hill.

Home! Just over the hill.

Fortified from a couple of burritos and a beer, I began the last leg of my road trip over the mountains, arriving home around 3:00 pm.

Whew! I made it, a little bit tired, but safe and sound. Every once-in-awhile, you need to shake up your life a little. What an adventure!

Finally, I would get a chance to use the garage door opener.

Road Trip 2: Flying North to Boston

As I sit here pondering how to start this post, I asked myself why so many flights leave early in the morning. Duh! I realize it’s to get the planes out of the airport that landed the night before, so that planes leaving early from another airport will have a place to land.

I love to travel – Even if it means getting up at 3 a.m. – Even if it means leaving this beautiful place in Mexico.

There are many reasons to dislike al Quaida. Not the least of which is needing to get to the airport 2-3 hours before your flight leaves. So, having booked a one-way ticket to Boston that leaves at 6:00 am, I’m faced with a very long day…to put it mildly. There are two positives to leaving at this ungodly hour: the fare was good, and I get into Boston early.

On the way to the airport, it’s so early that there’s not another car on the road for the first 10 miles. And, my driver Cristi drops me at the airport right at 4:00 a.m., two hours before my departure.

I’m flying on AeroMexico for the first time. They had recently started non-stop service from Mexico City to Boston. Mexico City is a short hop from Guadalajara. In this part of Mexico, in late September, the sun rises around 7:30. So the first leg of my trip will be in the dark.

There’s something strange and eerie about being in an airport at 4 a.m. Sort of like being at a bus station in the States at any time of the day.

I find the “Migracion” office and get on line. I’m the second one there. A young man with a U.S. passport who barely speaks English is ahead of me. The sign on the window says the office will open “a partir de” 4:30 – that means somewhere around 4:30. The officer up shows around 4:40. Not bad! She stamps my exit form, and I’m off to security.

Taking the elevator upstairs, I find the Starbucks directly across from the escalators. I pull out my morning glory muffin from the Panaderia San Antonio and sip a badly needed joe. I headed to the gate as they start rolling up the gates at the “dufree shop” (not a spelling error).

The 1 hour flight to Mexico City is uneventful. It’s like flying at night…except that it’s morning. Take off in the dark; arrive in the dark.

The airport in Mexico City is bustling at the early hour. Boarding the plane, I’m lucky enough to get a seat without anyone sitting in the middle. As the plane got to cruising altitude, AeroMexico surprised us. Lo and behold, they served us a hot breakfast! Whoa! That was the first time I’ve been offered a meal on a flight in years.

I thought I had forgotten how great airline food is. Bad memories don’t die!


Image, similar to my breakfast, by Rocky at:

Road Trip 1: Am I Crazy?

Over the course of the next few posts, I’ll be chronicling a road trip from New England to Lake Chapala, Mexico. Over a 3-week period, it will take me through 13 states and more than 700 miles into the heart of Mexico.

Why would I undertake such folly alone? Friends in the States can’t understand why I would. Mexico is dangerous. Isn’t it? They can’t understand how millions of Mexicans can take to the highways (yes, they do have highways!) and return home safely without receiving a bullet in the head from the drug cartels.

The other thing I think they find scary is that I’m driving alone. Well, the title of this blog is Retired ‘n’ Single. Besides, unless my traveling companion carries a gun, he or she wouldn’t do much to save me from violence on the road. In the States, random acts of road rage and violence occur almost daily. What’s the big deal?

Maybe they figure that someone riding shotgun would help keep me awake. But, one of the ways I stay awake is to crank up the radio and sing along at the top of my lungs! A travel companion would most likely jump out of the car screaming after the first five miles…or less. Unless they liked to sing too. Scary!

So, I promised anyone who cared that I’d be careful…that I wouldn’t take any unreasonable chances…that I wouldn’t drive at night in Mexico…that I wouldn’t contract any STDs…and that I’d take my vitamins every day. The good news is I’m here to tell you about my road trip.

But, before my road trip, I first needed to fly.

Is Mexico is Safe? One More Blog Post on the Subject


There have been innumerable articles written on whether Mexico is safe for foreigners. We can now add this blog post to the list. Is Mexico getting a bum rap from the world press?

It kills me! Most of the articles cite statistics, some of which can be conflicting.

Ultimately, it comes down to whether you feel safe where you live, work, and the places you go. Feelings of safety can vary greatly depending whether you live on Chicago’s north side or south side. It’s the same wherever you live. There are places, for your own safety, you don’t venture, and others you only go to when exercising extreme caution. From my perspective and the overwhelming majority of Gringos living at Lakeside, this area is safe. Otherwise we wouldn’t be living here.

An article in USA Today on July 9, 2015 discussed U.S. murder statistics for the first half of 2015. I’ve summarized the findings in the article in the following table, and juxtaposed them against homicides reported in the area I live.

Homicide 2015 InfographicThe numbers in the table to the left add up to 1149 homicides. This is more than several years of reported U.S. combat deaths in Afghanistan. And, it’s not the Taliban doing the killing!

The homicide rate for Ajijic and San Antonio for this year is zero (0). There is one man in Chapala who was recently charged with killing his wife, and ruined Lakeside’s perfect record.

So how does the rest of the state of Jalisco stack-up against U.S. homicide stats? A Latin America Herald Tribune article cites murder rates in New Orleans at a rate of 52 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants; Baltimore, with 34; and St. Louis, with 39.

By comparison, Jalisco state, where I live, 2013 census figures show about 7.4 million people. It has a homicide rate of 11.2 per 100,000 inhabitants. Another article in Forbes cites 518 homicides in Jalisco last year. By contrast, Chicago reported about 500 homicides in 2012. According to the chart above, its run-rate is down this year!

Guadalajara, about 45 minutes north from here is Mexico’s second largest city. The metropolitan area has a population of about 4.3 million and a homicide rate of 10 per 100,000.

As I said above, the important thing is you feel safe in your daily life. After all, most of go about our lives in blissful ignorance of things like statistics. For a good discussion of safety in Mexico, follow the thread in this blog posting on 20 Something Travel.