Thursday, December 30, 2010

Our Beach

Deserted beach as far as you can see
 Our friend Jeff is a world-class fisherman, we are not.  With the slightest flick of his wrist, Jeff sent the hook flying halfway to Australia!  Instantly there was a tug on the line.  He handed the pole to Steve and let him play with the fish.  He is standing on our little piece of the Costa Alegra (Gold Coast).  Not bad, eh?

Caught a large Jack Cravelle
 We let the fish go as he isn't very good to eat. In the meantime, we watched a Green Sea Turtle surf in on a wave, check us out, then disappear. Shortly after that we watched three Grey Whales breaching and playing in the surf. That's when we decided to buy the stretch of beach we were standing on.

The surf was really high

 The surf was really high and you wouldn't want to try to swim in it, but it was so beautiful to watch the waves crashing on the shore.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Strange Happenings

I can't really classify this as a "Bad Thing" on our road to Mexico retirement, it's just rather amusing and confusing.  That term pertains to a lot of life in Mexico, at least to outsiders - Amusing and Confusing!

Our beach is on the Pacific Ocean and a straight shot to New Guinea.  If you travel south just a few miles, the shoreline curves in and forms a small bay or large lagoon known as Tenacatita Bay.  Warm water, soft sand and a protected shallow area for swimming makes for a near perfect destination. The lagoon is surrounded by small outdoor cafes and a couple small locally owned hotels.  This is a popular vacation spot for local Mexican middle-class families.  There are very few gringo tourists here.

A few months ago a local bully known as (I am not making this up, I swear) Villalobos, convinced the local police that he actually owned all of the land around the lagoon.  He convinced (read that; probably paid off) the police to evict all of the local people living there, he ran them off the property, removed all of their hotel guests, and it was rumored he had dismantled the restaurants and shops on the beach. He claimed he had legally purchased the land from the widow of the owner over 30 years prior.  Much of the land around the bay is owned by the Ejido, or native cooperative.  Unfortunately for him, he got a little over-reaching and had the police remove some landowners who were outside of the Ejido area and were legal deed holders to the property they were forced out of.

Needless to say, it all went to court and as of last month, everyone had returned to their rightful place on the lagoon and the businesses were re-building (putting up new palm frond palapas and setting out plastic chairs).  Contrary to rumors spreading through the nearby villages that everything had been leveled, most of what was there when everyone left was still there when they returned.

It appears this gentleman, a throwback to the Mexico of 30 years ago, has tried this tactic before and lost his claim that time as well.  Hopefully, this will shed the light of justice on this beleaguered community and get this bozo out of their hair for good.  We shall see.  He really wants their land so he can build a mega-resort.

Our beach area was not in jeopardy, but it was sad to see the best Coconut Shrimp and Pina Colada shop in town closed up!  For now, all is back to normal.  We are planning a quick trip down in February to see for ourselves.

Catching up

I had good intentions that no matter what pitfalls or roadblocks we encountered on our road to retirement in Mexico, I would post it here.  But when bad stuff started happening, I found I didn't want to write about it.  But I'm making myself do it.

Our Plan A for financing the dream (ie, pay off the land and start building) was to sell our cabin.  No buyers.  So Plan B was to refinance the cabin. The appraisal came back so low, it didn't even generate enough money to pay off the land.  Fortunately, we are buying the land from friends who are letting us pay off the balance in installments. Not just good friends - GREAT friends!

Building a house will take a while and a little more creative financing.  Not sure how we are going to do that, but at least we will have the land.  We are planning a trip down to OUR BEACH this winter.  We will sit on the sand with a cooler and a sunbrella!

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Italy Foible

We interrupt this program about retiring to Mexico to bring you a short tale on one of the OTHER FOIBLES mentioned above.  For a little while you will have to hear about our two-week trek through Italy to find my grandparents' villages, oh, and see some art, old buildings, eat lots of great food, and drink wonderful wine.

It's getting off to a rough start between the Icelandic volcano spewing ash all over Europe, and the British Air flight attendant strike.  We are supposed to fly into London Heathrow (on BA), transfer to Gatwick and fly to Venice (on BA). The volcano has shut down the airport for a few hours for the last two days.  Our flight is now at least 2 hours late leaving Seattle, but since it appears the plane coming to get us is now in the air, our chances of at least making it to London are improving.  Once there, who knows, but eventually we'll get there.

Check this site over the next few weeks for our brief sidetrip to Italy, then we will resume our normal Mexico programming!!  Ciao, Bella!

Friday, May 7, 2010


Fresh fruits and veggies are everywhere and so fun to shop for. Open air markets called Tiengas, I think I spelled that right, set up in every village at least once per week.  You can buy everything at these traveling markets.  On the other days you can shop for produce in small stores without doors! Loved the colors and the choices. This one made me laugh, it was the Hawaii produce market in Mexico - complete with paintings of Washington Red and Yellow Delicious apples.

This lady walked around town with mangoes cut into flowers, pineapple wedges and coconut meat for sale. The cups of cut-up fruit are splashed with lime juice and sometimes sprinkled with spicy salt. A really interesting mix of sweet, heat, and salt.

These "baby bananas" are about 4" long and aren't babies at all, just a different variety of banana than what you find in your US supermarket.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Costalegra Real Estate

 Looking to find your own piece of tropical paradise? You can't get better help doing that than talking to my friends at the Coldwell Banker Tropicana office in Barra de Navidad.
Houses, condos or buildable land, they have it all. They are US expats themselves and understand the confusing rules about buying land in Mexico.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Grocery Shopping

My friend Karen was managing a local restaurant and we did the shopping one afternoon.  First the meat store, then the chicken store, then the fish store. Every stop was an adventure. The chickens are fed Marigolds to get that highly prized bright yellow color. I'll take mine without feet, please! All of these venues were open-air, no doors. It made me sad to come home to Safeway with its florescent lights and linoleum floors. It was so much more fun to shop Mexican Style.

Tomorrow, pictures of the produce market.