A few hours later, on January 23, I am meeting Irvin and we are caravaning into the countryside. Until the last minute, I thought he was yet another person trying to convince me to look at land somewhere else whereas I was pretty darn sure of what I wanted.
But no, under the bridge, across one river, then two, then three, we go. We are indeed just where I want to be.
He parks his car in the middle of a huge field flanked by the road on one side, another field (cows included) on the other, and the jungle, the mighty jungle in the back. On his phone, he shows a map of all the lots, with little yellow dots marking the ones that are sold.
And there are a lot of dots, indicating that in not too long, this empty field is going to be … no longer an empty field.
You can pick any which one you want, as long as it does not have a dot, he tells me. My dad is selling all of them.
My first thought is to get as far away from the potential new dots as possible, so I walk to the far edge of the field, to a beautiful corner lot butted against the cows and the jungle.
This one, I say. I love this one.
He tells me the price, says how much I must put down, and what the monthly payments would be. He shows me a copy of the little contract his dad and he have used so far. It does in fact look small.
Then confirm that there is no electricity, water nor sewage.
Dang, that land is pretty. And I know enough to know that I know nothing about building, let alone bringing water, electricity nor sewage.
Lila and I go home to think about it.
Over the next few days, I talk with several people. I go back out there. I talk some more.
Irvin, his dad, and I meet at the oldest restaurant in town. I get asked many questions, including whether I have a Mexican boyfriend. I get to meet the grandpa who is 99 years old. AND will be 100 on September 17, he tells me.
Asking around, I hear about what a solid family they are. Have lived in town forever. Following some threads, I spend an hour on the phone with a lawyer who has been recommended to me. She asks to see the contract. When I send it to her, she assures me that we have to do better. She asks more questions, I pass them on to Alvin and his dad. The lawyer tells me we will need a notary (a Mexican notary is a whole different thing than a notary in the US).
At the same time, I get ready to fly out to the US to meet with the consulate and do the first of two parts of my Mexican residency application. I am gone barely two days and on the way back from the airport, I stop at the notary’s to get some information to convey to my lawyer.
Over the next two days, I learn several things, the summary of it being that yes, I can buy this land and that also yes, it is sort of a “creative” arrangement. I want to know more about this creative part. I want to know exactly what my risks are. I am okay with some risks (I mean, what does not have risk?) and not okay with others. So, over the course of another long conversation with my patient lawyer, I come to the conclusion that these are risks I can take and I want to proceed.
That’s when a woman I know tells me that she has lived as close to the jungle as this parcel is and that she would not recommend it. “Go back and see what others pieces are available,” she tells me.
So I do, this time with Irvin’s dad, Jose Luis. And he agrees. “Plus it will be easier for you to get electricity if you are closer to the road,” is his advice. He walks me to a non-descript rectangle of land, points to it on the map, and tells me that this is the one he thinks will be the best for me. I notice that the one right behind has a better view and is butted against a “green area” (no building there).
I point at it on the map and say: that’s the one.
As this unlikely exploration was happening, I was having an ongoing and not so easy conversation with my former partner, who is currently spending time in another village, four hours south of here.
Seven years ago he and I had co-purchased a little piece of land down there, in a village that first stole my heart.
It was his dream to build a home on it and he was on his way to achieving that.
As our time together came to a messy end, I sold him my share of the property and while the small amount of money had been exchanged, I still needed to sign the papers.
Because I told him that the thought of returning down there hurt my heart for several reasons, he frustratingly worked on finding ways for me to do this from here. Our exchanges were not super pleasant and I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t relishing a tiny bit making him squirm. But also, I know how Life works and every day that I wasn’t taking the time to complete this Incomplete I KNEW was a day I was not allowing the energy to flow in the new direction of my life. I knew that I could not simultaneously hang on to this old story AND build the new one at the same time. It just does not work this way. I know it, I teach it, and damn it, even if I don’t like it… that’s just how it goes. It’s a rule.
So I signed, and I sent it all down south with a blessing.
That afternoon Lila and I went back to our little country road as I wanted to digest this letting go, really be with it. I wanted to walk.
The place suddenly felt different, more familiar. It felt … possible and almost within reach, as though no longer a crazy idea.
The next morning, I posted on three local FB pages that I was looking for a piece of land to buy in this very specific area.
Several comments and unrelated responses later, I received a response from Irvin who said: “I have the land for you.”
I didn’t do anything with Pepe’s phone number for about two weeks. Which is a long time for me
Then one day I texted him and he invited me over to his place to look at some land.
His 11-year old son greeted me at the dirt road, moved the barbed wire fence to the side and we walked past the bottom area of their land, the place where the burning apparently takes place, then climbed a green winding hill at the top of which Pepe was waiting for us in his hammock, seven goats gathered nearby.
For one of many, many times I was tenderly grateful to Lila for pretty much never having gotten excited about a cat, a chicken, a dog, a horse, or a goat. This quality has made our life a whole lot easier this past year.
Pepe got up and opened his arms to the 360 degrees view of his land. “You can have any piece you want,” he said.
“Well”, I thought. It all looked quite beautiful, especially the piece with the huge parota tree. However, my gut was trying to get my attention in a way that I have learned could be expensive to ignore. I didn’t.
Over the following weeks, Pepe and I spoke a few times more. When my family came to visit me, I brought them over there. To the country – and to Pepe’s.
My gut was still talking.
I was still listening.