I fell in love with the mix of peacefulness and activity.
I fell in love with the ease of meeting people and connecting at a real level.
I fell in love with the sense of community and activism which I glimpsed.
I fell in love with the spirituality, the simple sophistication, the artistry - and more.
I barely touched my Morning Pages but instead, spent time with new friends, swam, laughed, explored the nearby village, danced, ate, LIVED, and loved.
My girlfriend arrived and we spent the last few days together, she and I, meeting more people and feeling so at home within this place. We both knew we were under the spell and wanted to return.
Before leaving on March 11, I secured myself a casita to come back to on May 1, for an undetermined amount of time.
I would just go home, get Lila, arrange a few things and be right back.
On the phone that morning, I told my son my plan and he suggested I not get on the plane, saying it could be hard for me to come back. Talks of the virus were very quiet down here, but not so in the US. I had heard enough that I knew I needed to cancel my April Bali Retreat (which was terribly difficult, it turns out) but not much more. Surely he was exaggerating.
Also, I had committed to be a “flight angel” for a pup who was going to his new life in the States.
I got on the plane like a woman on a mission. Seven weeks. Perfect.
As early as SeaTac, everything felt different. The world had shifted on its axis and the look in people's eyes was a little wild.
For the first few days, I resisted.
I moved even faster towards my goal. Surely I could outrun this.
I found someone to rent my room, I made a huge to-do list and wrote it in chalk on the blackboard in the kitchen. I brushed up on my Spanish grammar. I ordered mosquito nets.
After years and years, I was free to go. And I knew where I wanted to go.
I would not get stuck again.
But the walls were closing in a little more each day and as I was washing the dishes one morning, I admitted to myself that I could not leave. The time was not right.
That realization buckled my knees and I sat on the kitchen floor, sobbing all the tears I had never shed 40 years before when I was told I would not be going back to France. Maybe all the tears I still had for my refugee friends, too.
Borders, physical or emotional, are a b***.
So, I stayed. And in some ways, it was sweet. Because somehow, life always has some sweetness. I quarantined with my kid and a friend, and did all the writing, meditating, healing I knew needed to happen.
My team and I launched The Big Gratitude Project, too.
I did not know what to do with the Ballroom. It felt out of integrity to keep it open as my office only. When would it be a place of Community again? Would it ever? I knew it did not need my physical presence to thrive, but it did need humans within its walls. Yet, letting it go was scary.
In July, a friend invited me to go paragliding with him. When we jumped off that cliff into the nothingness, being caught mid-air, being held into the winds told me that I could let go. That I could trust.
In August, we closed the Ballroom.
The next day, I got shingles.
Home was a good place to heal.
And each day I received photos and sounds of life "down there." It was like a lifeline to a parallel universe.
I knew I would go back. I knew I would go back to that exact place. Just not right then.
I made potential plans for January.
By the time October came, I wanted to see how it felt, in Mexico. Had the pandemic erased the joy? Was it a good idea? Would I be safe? Would I endanger anyone? Would my presence there be a good thing or a bad thing?
I took a Covid test and headed down on a reconnaissance trip.
It was so, so, so good.
Yes, the pandemic is here also. There are masks, and signs in stores and beaches can close on a week's notice.
There is also music everywhere, and chickens and dogs and horses running free, and warmth of air and hearts.
So, here I am.
For however long.
Now, back to the questions:
I first found my house through Airbnb and it is a very, very modest little orange-colored casita. The whole thing is smaller than my bedroom in the US and the garden is its main gift. Lila and I are outside 90% of the day.
Am I happy? YES. In a quiet, profoundly fulfilled way. My Core Essences are all over the place: Freedom, Joy, Simplicity, AND Community.
Surprisingly, Convenience is superabundant, too - which I find interesting considering how strong a value it is in the States and how much we think we have it down pat.
Here, all I have to do to get my laundry done is throw it over the wall of the lavanderia down the street. Then pick it up later for $3 and have a great chat with my new friends as I do so. Food is everywhere, alkaline water gets delivered to my kitchen. So do huge avocadoes and hot tamales.
Meeting people has been easy. Local people, American and Canadian people, too. I think that to meet people, we need to dance with a blend of daring to Ask, being willing to Receive, and also find every chance to Give. The fact that I speak Spanish helps, for sure - but I would not say that it is a deal-breaker.
Yes, I feel safe. Everyone's comfort zone is different and I know that mine is a little stretchy. But also, my intuition is strong and I know that the feeling of Safety I have here is real. I can walk in the village at night and not have a second thought. I do not lock my house during the day.
And there are rules to pay attention to, too. I would not drive at night, for instance.
Now, virus wise, do I feel safe? I do. As much or more than I do in the US. I am alone with Lila most of the time and when I am with other people, it is almost always outside. If I go into a store, I wear a mask. The stress level is pretty much zero and I see no fear in anyone's eyes. Again, it's a personal comfort zone. Also, an awareness for me of how contagious and damaging long-term fear and mistrust of other humans can be to the immune system.
The money. I have a budget and I keep a close eye on it, daily. This first month has been more expensive than what I anticipate will be the norm as I wanted to get my house up to snuff. On average, I spend about $70 a week on food. My rent is $500. I believe that there are much less expensive places in Mexico.
I don't know how long I will stay. It has taken me many years to get here and I am relishing truly being here. Not as a visitor.
I trust that I will know.
Lila is really good, now. It was rougher than I had thought, for her to adapt to all the new things. There have been days when I wondered if I did the right thing, for her. As of this week, I can see that we have turned a corner and that she is truly doing well. We are together pretty much all the time, she finally has made friends with the neighborhood dogs and one other cute little dog, too. She lays in the sun, runs on the beach, and even occasionally barks at night, Mexican style. Our yard and casita are her sanctuary and we have both learned to navigate the streets together - chicken, horses, motorcycles and all. It's a good life.
Nothing is forever and sometimes, it takes a leap of faith to create the life we want. Especially when the one we have is already good, it can feel greedy to want more.
For me, it is easy to be comfortable in a lot of environments, to find the goodness in so many different places.
But I know that for now, this is exactly where I need to be.
And so, I am.
SCARED OF THE SACRED