Category Archives: Mexico

Pete’s Gulch

“There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”

People ask me, from time-to-time what led us to sell our primary residence and vehicle, divest ourselves of most of our possessions, leave our children and grandchildren behind, and move to an area most feel is more instable and dangerous than the one we left. Well, the short answer that I think we would both agree upon is simply “affordability.” Beyond that, the underlying reasons, at least for me, lie much deeper, and have to do with both politics and culture, and I’m going to be speaking only for myself here, my dear wife’s reasons are her own, and are not for me to reveal, at least not in this forum.

In Atlas Shrugged, the sociopathic authoress Ayn Rand created a dystopic, upside-down fantasy world where the heroes, the intrepid “captains of industry,” the men (and woman) “of brains,” were being victimized and systematically looted of all they possessed by the so-called “looters,” (read “Liberals”) who ran the country and the world. These “looters,” men with names like Kip Chalmers, Cuffy Meigs, Chick Morrison, and Wesley Mouch, knew full well what they were doing, and what the final results would inevitably be. They all had well-stocked, secure, private, hide-a-ways they could run too when the world had nothing left to loot. Our heroes, on the other hand, under the leadership of one John Galt, decided to rid the world of the looters by withholding their services, and bringing all commerce and industry to a halt. Continue reading

New Pad, Same Old Pete

We have a new home, located in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico.  The move is nearly complete, we have been here for almost a week, while our “stuff” still sits at a friends house back in Hampstead, NC.  Subsequent posts will, I hope, detail our move, problems encountered, with solutions, etc..  I have a handicap right now, working with only one computer, which is, right now, our primary link with home.

When my other machines arrive, I hope to begin posting regularly, or at least as regularly as I did before our house sold, and all the fun started.  Right now, we are both using this machine for email, and also for news, entertainment, and general horsing around.

We have chosen to relocate to a small village, high in the Sierra Madre mountains, about 45 minutes south of Mexico’s second largest city, Guadalajara.  Life here is simple, uncomplicated, pretty much stress-free, and cheap.  There are some things missing here, but few of the 12,000 or so permanent ex-pats seem to miss them.  The climate is ideal, in fact National Geographic chose the Lake Chapala area (Ajijic is on the north shore), as the second-best climate in the world.  Most of us think it is the best, of course.  We sit at 5,200 feet, surrounded on all sides by mountains that create a simi-tropical climate with ideal temperatures all year-round.

As we are below the Tropic of Cancer, the sun is directly overhead now, making this month the hottest month of the year.  Temperatures are hitting the high 90’s during the day, but fall rapidly after sunset to the 50’s and high 40’s overnight.  There isn’t a house in the entire area that has heating or air conditioning, as neither are needed.  Open windows at night, and a slow-turning ceiling fan provide all the cooling necessary for very comfortable sleeping.

By the time the sun returns to a position directly overhead, we will be in the middle of the “rainy season,” when we receive 90% of our yearly rainfall.  Believe-it-or-not, it rains mostly at night!

Here is a link to a bunch of information on the area, I’m not a tour guide, hell, I’ve only been here for a total of two weeks!

Now to some pictures of our new place, but first, here’s a shot of a very pretty girl playing soccer:

Ajijic is a small village, you can find it on Google Earth, and part of the village (the main road that goes from one end of the lake to the other) has street view, so you can see our markets, Walmart, pharmacies, doctor’s offices, etc..  The crime rate here is very low, in fact, virtually nonexistent, and part of the reason for that is the security built-in to most, if not all of the private residences.  Crime here is mostly crime-or-opportunity.  That is, if you leave something lying around, you can expect it to be gone.  It’s just part of the culture.  We call it the “Gringo tax.”  There are few, if any break-ins, or assaults, in fact, far fewer per capita than Wilmington, NC, or most any other American city.

Our home, pictured to the right in this view from the street, has garage doors, and a people door, opening into a little courtyard with a small garden and patio.  The iron rods on the top of the wall are part of the security I was talking about, and would make it very difficult for anyone to gain unauthorized entrance.

The “people door” is nearly invisible, in this shot, just to the left of the open garage door. The garage doors are automatic, by the way.

The shot on the left is just inside the garage doors, looking towards the back of the house.  The dome is a skylight in the ceiling of the second bedroom.  To the right is the laundry “shed,” and to the left is part of the patio.  Not a very informative shot, I admit.

To the right is a picture of our small garden, and the patio where we enjoy morning coffee and breakfast.  The windows, which we leave open all the time, front our living room.  As these windows face in the direction of the lake, we enjoy the onshore breeze that emanates from that direction in the late afternoon and evenings.  Note the decorative bars on the door and windows, more of the security I mentioned.  You can also see a hint of the mountain range over the top of the roof.

To the left is our living room, with huge wrap-around couch, working fireplace for cool winter evenings, vaulted ceiling, and large-screen color TV.  The walls, like those throughout the village, are solid masonry, so fire danger is low, and insulation value high.  We will be replacing some of the decorations with our own, when our stuff arrives in a couple of weeks.

The floors throughout the house are tile, a little slippery in places, I must admit, but we don’t run much anymore!

The view to the right is from the fireplace looking towards the dining room, and the second bedroom.  To give some scale, it’s about fifty feet from the fireplace to the dining room wall.  The master bedroom is to the left, and the second bedroom is off the dining room to the right.  Across from the second bedroom is the second bath.  The kitchen can’t be seen in this picture, but it’s to the right, after the first arch.  Sounds confusing, but it’s really a very simple house.

To the left is the kitchen.  Gas stove, plenty of cupboards, the house came with a good selection of kitchen utensils.  Unfortunately, no dishwasher!  We are installing a whole-house water purification system this week, so the need for bottled water will go away.

Gethyn has cooked only a couple of meals here already, as we are kind of slow to stock the larder, as eating out here is just so damn reasonable.  I’ll get to that in another post.

The master bedroom, to the right, is our future craft room.  One of our main criteria for a rental home was that it have sufficient room for quilting, and this room has it.  We will probably move the bed a little, and Gethyn will have about three times the space she had in Hampstead for her quilts and sewing.

My hobby requires only a little room, and there are several niches in the house that suit me quite well.  I may even use the laundry room for a space, although I would be lonely out there, and Gethyn would probably miss me (I hope)!

Lastly, the guest bedroom.  The slider opens for the cool breezes from the lake, and the skylight provides plenty of sunlight during the day.

And that’s pretty much it!  We ended up with a little house not too dissimilar to the one we left behind, with the same openness and simple design.  We will be adding little touches as we go along, we have a one-year lease, and much of what we may add, we could bring with us, should we leave.

It’s not too hard to purchase property in Mexico, but it’s not exactly as simple as it is up north.  Not knowing the area, the people, the laws, or much else, we thought it best to rent for a time ’till we really know what we want.  Renting is pretty convenient, as our rental payments and utility payments will all be remitted to our property manager once-a-month by a check drawn on our US bank in Hampstead!  We don’t even have to change money to pay the rent.  The all-inclusive rent for this little place, by the way, is $850 USD.  For you Google Earth folks, it is number 6 Miguel Blanco, about two blocks from the lake.  More later.