Monday, May 28, 2012

My Pencil Box is Red

By early August we had actually made it to Patzcuaro, and what became immediately evident to me was how little Spanish I spoke. This would not have been such a surprise were it not for the fact that I had been studying religiously for two years prior to leaving Vancouver.

When we first arrived here we spent endless hours walking the streets, exploring the markets and listening to the people. I was confounded by the fact that I could not understand a single word anyone was saying. In retrospect, when I see myself standing in the street taking this in, the term "deer in the headlights" comes to mind. There are a number of reasons that I found myself in this situation, not the least of which, is the inane things they teach you in Spanish classes. It came to me in a blinding flash that I was surrounded by hundreds of people who did not give a crap that my pencil box was, indeed, red.

In Vancouver when I had learned enough Spanish to begin stringing sentences together I was so delighted that it didn't really occur to me that I was unlikely to use most of the content I had learned in an actual conversation. Alright, I admit to using a certain amount of hyperbole here. When I arrived in Mexico I did have enough of the fundamentals to ask the questions for things I needed to know. I simply couldn't understand the answers. This was a totally unexpected conundrum, and I guess it had also not occurred to me that everyone would not speak as slowly and clearly as my instructors, both in the classroom and on CD, had done.When confronted with rapid-fire Spanish spoken with slang and numerous different accents I was completely daunted and feared for ever actually being able to understand people here.

OMG They Talk So Fast

I have been enamored of Mexico for over 20 years and now that I was finally living here, the fact that I was  unable to interact with the people around me was devastating. However, it was those same kind and patient people who  taught me that there are many ways to communicate. I found their patience and good natured teasing with my limited Spanish and their willingness to share and teach incredibly heartwarming. I began to relax and remember why I had come here in the first place. The language would come eventually.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


I was determined to leave  Vancouver by the end of June 2006. We left at 6:00 PM on June 30th. Granted, it was a little late to begin such a major undertaking but sometimes you just have to jump in with both feet.

We spent about a month exploring some of the United States that we had not seen before and discovered that Larry the rabbit was a pretty good travelling companion, not to mention quite a conversation piece. His cage and litter box and other assorted belongings took up the whole back seat so it was a good thing that we really had rid ourselves of everything we owned. We purchased a small trailer before we left to house a few sentimental things and a whole lot of books and music.

We had gone to Las Vegas about 3 1/2 months prior to our leaving Vancouver for good, to get married. Although we had been together for 18 years we had never gotten around to doing that. Actually, in retrospect, we were married for much of that 18 years, just to different people. However, we had rectified that situation several years earlier and decided that it would probably be a good idea to be legally married before we went to Mexico and bought property and such.

Viva Las Vegas!

 So we brought my cousin and her husband along with us to be the matron of honor and the best man and our friends who lived in Henderson, near Las Vegas, gave me away. We were married on April 1st by Elvis ( I don't think it was the real one) who picked us up in a pink Cadillac convertible, once owned by Lucille Ball. He brought us to the Tropicana Hotel where he performed a very musical ceremony in a beautiful gazebo.
After the wedding a long and interesting party ensued and a good time was had by all.


If you are in Vegas and want a fun Elvis wedding check out the guy that did ours.

Now 3 1/2 months later we found ourselves again, in Las Vegas. After a few days visiting the same friends in Henderson we were again on the road and looking forward to finally getting to Mexico. By then it was nearing the end of July and the temperature was 116 degrees F. We had air conditioning in the SUV so this wasn't really a concern until the thing coughed and died in the middle of the highway, the SUV not the rabbit.

Sitting there in 116 degree heat, waiting for a tow truck, I put Larry in my lap and removed all the soda  cans from the cooler and piled them on top of him. Rabbits have no way of cooling off the way cats and dogs do and can die of heat exhaustion very quickly. Luckily we hadn't gotten too far down the highway and there was an air conditioned hotel not too far away.

It turned out that the oil pump in the car had failed and 9 days and $6,000.00 later we were again on the road and looking forward to finally getting to Mexico.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Reality Check

When my father passed away late in 2005 it occurred to me that there was really nothing else holding back our plan to move to Mexico. Todd sold his old BMW.  I sold my Mercury Mystique and bought a Ford Escape, which I felt was very apropo to the circumstance.  I gave notice and quit my job at the end of February 2006. Giddy with relief and excitement I began the process of divesting myself of all my worldly possessions.....and was suddenly overwhelmed by the enormity of what we were about to undertake.

After taking inventory we realized that we owned a virtual mountain of THINGS. Including a small rabbit named Larry and all his possessions. We had a large, very full, condo as well as 3 storage lockers. One storage locker held all my father's belongings and that was a monumental undertaking unto itself. I also had a storage locker that I had had since before I met Todd, (a remnant of 2 previous marriages) as did Todd (from one previous marriage).

 Somehow when I manifested this vision of leaving our lives behind and moving to an exotic foreign country I had envisioned us freed of all ties to our past and possessions, gleefully racing down the highway with nothing but the clothes on our backs. At the time I had not considered how this was going to be achieved. After inventorying and sorting everything we began having garage sales and packing boxes to go to the Salvation Army. We pawned off everything they would take on our friends and relatives. As the storage lockers and closets slowly emptied we began to think that perhaps we could do this after all.

It was now June of 2006 and time to put the condo on the market. We didn't want to take any chances and hired a house stager to help expedite things. She had us paint the entire apartment beige from stem to stern and redo the kitchen and bathroom floors with something more neutral. She felt that a lot of our furniture wasn't right and that we should rent some to show the place. Good thing we still had storage lockers, but it sure felt like a step backwards! I guess she knew what she was talking about because the condo sold for more than we were asking at our first open house.

Beige, Beige, Beige

We were very surprised that our home had sold so quickly and stunned when the new owners wanted us to vacate within the week. At the end of the week we stumbled exhausted and sleep-deprived from our home, rabbit cage held between us, and wondered what the heck we were going to do then....

To be continued....

Sunday, May 13, 2012

From There To Here

Hi, my name is Shannon. I am new at this so please bear with me while I find my way around.

For the last 30 years I have been in and out of the beauty industry. Mostly in. I have worked for the manufacturer, the distributor and in retail. All of these aspects of the business include high stress, high pressure, low self esteem and abominable pay. Not surprisingly this has left me with a somewhat jaded view of the industry as a whole.

 However, if nothing else, the beauty industry educates their minions VERY well.
I have worked for Estee Lauder, Lancome and Shiseido and have sold Elizabeth Arden, Orlane and numerous other prestige lines. I have also sold a number of dermatological lines such as  Roc, Vichy, Evian and La Roche Posey. Over the years what I failed to receive monetarily was certainly given to me in knowledge. I hope to share some of that knowledge in this blog.

I would also like to share some of our experiences and adventures in our new life here in Mexico.

 My life in Vancouver had narrowed to the vantage point of a rat on a wheel. I worked ridiculously long hours and rarely saw my husband Todd. My social life had become almost non-existent because if I ever did have some time to myself I was too tired to do anything about it. Much to my amazement, and gratitude, my husband was incredibly understanding when I told him that in order to protect my sanity I wanted to sell everything we owned and run away from home. To Mexico to be precise.

Unfortunately Todd did not share my infatuation with Mexico. So, in order to rectify that, I coerced him into taking a vacation with me to Cancun. Not really the Mexico I had in mind but a good place to begin. Seeing as we are scuba divers I thought this would be a good way to ease Todd into the idea that Mexico was not such a bad place. As it turned out the beauty of  Mexico and the warmth and charm the the people caught Todd off guard and by the end of the vacation he was as smitten as I have always been.

When we got home Todd began researching Mexico and finding interesting places for us to visit. We found that the mountains of central Mexico held the most fascination for us and for the next few years we visited several different cities each year until we'd chosen the place we wanted to live. This is how our new life in Mexico began, 6 years ago in the city of Patzcuaro, Michoacan.