The photo of the calendar with the old car is in my shop. It was given to me when I turned in my lemon 2015 Cadillac Escalade which was in the shop 13 times in 23 months. They took the truck back, refunded almost all of my money, and gave me a calendar with old GM vehicle photos.
“I’m sorry you had this experience. Here, have this calendar. And we hope you will buy another Cadillac in the future,” the manager said. Not on his life, not in my lifetime, no way…never. But I use the calendar to mark off our time left in California: 10 months to go. Odd, this is chapter ten of my story. I think they call that your “golden” chapter.
Moving to Mexico stories I read online are usually simple: we retired, hated the snow, sold our house, and moved to (fill in the blank city), Mexico, and we’re happy. It cannot be that simple. There had to be a mountain of details the writer left out and that is where I get left flat. How did they really do it? What worked, what didn’t, and what would they do differently?
Since beginning the chronicling of this journey on Escape Artist, I have had to hold myself accountable and be diligent with my research and writing. They expect me to contribute well-crafted copy on a regular basis and I will not let them down. When I wrote my first book, I took my time. There was no rush, no huge advance check from the publisher (I wish!) and writing was not my career back then, it was a hobby. Well, now it’s my job. And I take my work seriously. Escape Artist is a very successful site with incredibly professional staff and national ambassadors from all over the globe. I have had to step up my game to be invited to contribute to their site.
Because I do not want to just write another empty story about this journey, I feel it’s my job to be as transparent as I possibly can with my story. In order to achieve that, I’ll have to expose myself in places where I would rather hide a little. There are some things I want to achieve and there’s no better way to be held accountable than to tell people, so here goes.
Part of the reason we chose Tulum, Mexico, for our new home is because of the healthy lifestyle that is promoted there. Sure, there are dozens of all-inclusive mega-resorts where tourists eat and drink themselves into a carbohydrate and liquor coma that has them sunburned and stumbling back on the plane home. But that’s not the local lifestyle. There is a very health-conscious theme that comes along with the millennial beach-cruiser, dreadlock, and tattoo attitude. I tend to smirk a bit when I see them. I grew up in Santa Cruz, California, and when I moved to San Francisco I lived on upper Haight Street. That look, lifestyle, and attitude is far from unique.
Most people who move to Tulum do not go there to make money. They go there to become rich with experiences and focus on a healthy lifestyle. I Googled “Tulum yoga” and I got 4,600,000 results. With about 18,000 total inhabitants (per the 2010 census, surely more now), it’s not possible that there are that many yoga studios, but there is a lot of chatter on the internet about the topic.
Healthy and natural gastronomy in Tulum is huge. Eco-Tourism is one of the biggest businesses in the area. Let’s face it, Tulum is not Cancun and most people are glad. Tulum is “tranquilo.” Cancun is “tequila.” I’ve been to Cancun and had a lot of fun there, but I’m a little older now. I remember partying at Dady’O (still open, I’m told) and paying about $20 for my entrance fee and all I could drink. I don’t remember much after that. Those days are not completely over for me, but they are limited in number. Cancun remains one of the most beautiful cities in all of the Mayan Riviera, and the tall hotels that line the beach attest to the interest in the area. Don’t get me wrong, I love Cancun. But I love Disneyland, too.
Back then, I could eat what I wanted, drink all night, and remain a healthy size. Then something happened. I began to gain weight. I tried all the diets and all of the exercise plans. And they would work, for a while. Then the weight would come back. Just before our 20th wedding anniversary, I began to notice that I was getting up to urinate five or six times a night. My wife said I was snoring a lot more, too. I had my doctor check me out and he said I needed to lose some weight, but my prostate was fine. For our 20th anniversary, we took a trip to Europe. The combination of the jet lag and the travel wiped me out. I had a good time but struggled to keep my energy up. Something was wrong.
When we got home, my wife told me I needed to get a sleep study done.
“I think you may have sleep apnea,” she said. “You snore so much and then you cough, and it seems you are breathing strangely. I’m worried.” I did some research and I had all of the signs of sleep apnea: restlessness, fatigue, frequent urination at night, weight gain…all of them fit my dilemma.
I put it off, as we all do. But eventually, I went to the specialist and had my sleep study done. Google the procedure for details if you really want the nitty gritty. I’ll say here that it was a fairly simple, yet odd procedure. Imagine having to go to a medical office where they put you to bed with dozens of wires taped to your face, head, and body and a plastic mask that covers your nose and mouth hooked to a long plastic hose.
“Have a nice rest,” the nurse said. Feeling like a cross between Scuba Steve and Pinhead, I felt desperately alone and a little frightened. How did I get here? I fell asleep fairly quickly. The test began after midnight. I guess they wanted to insure you were properly tired. I was tired all of the time.
When the nurse woke me up, it felt like I had been asleep for ten minutes. Apparently, they had watched me for a couple of hours and I definitely had sleep apnea.
“But I feel good right now,” I said.
“That’s because you slept with the CPAP machine for a while during the test. Probably the best rest you’ve had in a long time,” she answered.
I’m a big guy. I have a big frame, I’m pretty muscled (if I don’t say so myself) and just over six feet tall. I weighed 277 pounds then, which was far too much. I was the heaviest I had ever been. My doctor explained to me that that weight gain was very common with sleep apnea. At least I had an excuse.
So, what’s my excuse now? My current weight is 250 pounds and it has been yo-yoing for far too long. My lowest was 225 pounds back in March of 2017 and I looked good. There is no better feeling than going through your own wardrobe, trying on clothes you have not worn in a long time, and smiling because they actually fit again.
I do not want to move to Mexico wearing this body. I’m going to make a change.
Long Term Goal: Get below 220 lbs.
Short Term Goal: Get to 235 lbs.
We are going to visit our home in Tulum, Mexico, again in just over seven weeks, so this is an attainable goal. I’ll keep you posted on my progress and I’ll be honest with you, admitting this online will probably be a big motivator!
- Some of our best friends in the world (our son’s godparents) will join us on this next trip. We want them to stay in one of our units and give us their honest opinion on the house, resort, Tulum, and Mexico as a whole. Mr. Best Friend is half Mexican but was raised in California, so Mexico is as foreign to him as it is to most people. Mrs. Best Friend pulls no punches with her opinions, so I’m fairly sure she will be representative of a…shall we say, “difficult” tenant? We have traveled with these folks many times and we always have fun together. They live close to use here in Walnut Creek, so we get to see a lot of each other. When we leave next year, they will be the people we miss the most.
- Homeowner’s insurance. I have been trying to get this settled online, with months of emails back and forth. I received a referral from an expat website and have been emailing with an agent I can only describe as incompetent. She represents a large Mexican insurance company, most likely as a broker, not an account executive. She wrote to me in English, so I thought our conversations would be clear on both sides. I was wrong.
“I read the policy but it’s in Spanish. Can you get me one in English?”
“Yes, but the Spanish policy is the one that will be binding.”
“Do I sign the Spanish policy?”
“Yes, and the English policy.”
“The cost seems a bit high…$1,900 for a year?”
“You have beach property.”
“I’m across the highway from the beach…over half a mile away.”
“Oh, I didn’t know that. Isn’t all of Tulum on the beach?”
“I’ll rerun the numbers.”
*After that was done, the price went up.
“I spoke to your builder and he gave me more details on your property.”
“Which did not increase the value I reported.”
“What about your valuables?”
“I did not ask for contents coverage. Actually, you said it was not available.”
“I’ll double-check that. When can you pay?”
“Well, the site you gave me won’t accept my credit card.”
“Did you call your bank?”
“Yes. Plenty of money to cover the cost.”
“Let me check on that…..oh, my manager said the site does not accept debit cards. Can you try a credit card?”
*After I did that and it still did not work.
“Oh, my manager just told me that the company does not accept credit cards.”
“You realize there is an entire section where the site asks for credit card info, right?”
“You can just give me your credit card number and I’ll run it for you.”
“I thought you said they didn’t accept credit cards.”
“Can you drop off the payment at Scotiabank in Playa del Carmen?”
“I’m in California.”
“OK, then just drop off the payment at our office.”
“Where is your office?”
“Playa del Carmen.”
“Never mind. I’ll see about visiting your office when I’m back in town.”
“When will that be?”
“Ohhhh, the policy won’t be good then.”
“It’s not good now.”
No homeowner’s insurance yet. I’ll have to try to pay for the policy in person when we visit in September. After this runaround, I’ll feel a lot better about paying for this policy in person. I cannot wait to meet the insurance broker.
Thank God our house is not on the beach and that it’s made of brick.
- I keep getting the “copywrite your way to wealth” emails. Same pitch, “new…buy now…limited time,” followed by a very lengthy email (scroll to the bottom for the cost) and the cost of this 12-week program was $1,997, or $167.00 a session. Again, the teacher is a mega-successful copywriter who (for some strange reason) does not make his money copywriting, but rather teaching others to copywrite. Class is “limited” to 75 people, or $12,525 per class. Hmmmm. I wonder if copywriting pays as well as teaching others to copywrite? I doubt it.
When one of these companies reaches out to me directly and offers their training to me for free, making me a successful copywriter, I will shout it to the world on their behalf. Until then, I’ll keep ignoring these emails. I should block them. But again, some people never learn.
You have my permission to strangle me if I ever purchase a copywriting course…unless it makes me money.