Sunday, March 8, 2015

Five years and the last two months...thoughts from Ricardo

We are five years out living in a different culture and having more adventures than one can dream of.  We have made our home base for this time in San Miguel de Allende a place that we visited 15 years ago and have returned to almost every year until our retirement five years ago.  We have made many friends there and have found opportunities to use our skills to make a difference and of course to keep ourselves busy.  We are now house sitters and haven't paid rent for most of the time since our retirement.  This has enabled us to afford many trips to other Latin countries and to the USA to visit our family and friends.  We have been to many places outside of the U.S.......Ecuador, Peru, Patagonia, Spain, Chiapas,and various other locations in Mexico.

Now we are like gypsies who try to carry our homes on our backs and live as simply as one can during this time.  Since we found a locker to store more "stuff" our possessions have grown just a bit more. Our life together remains pretty similar from place to place with the main difference being its physical and cultural attributes. The world for us has become a very interesting playground.  We have always found wonderful people and great vegetarian food. Our day often begins with a stretch or yoga class followed or preceded by a cup of tea in one of our many favorite places.  We choose to be in places where we don't need to have a car, just our two good feet.  Currently we are living in Latin countries and visiting the US just once, maybe twice a year.  Needless to say we are thankful for this opportunity that many in the world could not even dream of.

If you have been reading Susan's blog posts then I don't have to describe all the details of the past few years. I shall bring you up to date on our recent events.

This last month has brought us to many different places. The big news for me is that I just turn 60 and was able to spend that occasion with Joanna (my niece) and her family on the islands of Turks and Caicios. We had never heard of this place before and now it is a memory forever. My great niece Sophia, whose name means wisdom, has the same birthday as I do. I will never forget this birthday where she turned 3 and I turned 60, even when I'm older and maybe a bit senile. We met Joanna, Stephan, Julian and Sophia there for five days of great fun.

The children never stopped entertaining us and we are looking forward to this summer to share more time with this precious family.  OK, so what about the island is so special? "Everything!" The beach is very long where you can find time to be alone and just look at the incredible turquoise water. The beach is guarded by the second largest coral reef so there are hardly any waves. The food was incredible not to mention the large hot pool with a fancy restaurant inside.  We were able to spend hours with the family playing and eating fabulous and delicious gourmet food in the pool! The kids never wanted to leave the pool and I can't blame them. We were all spoiled to the max.  Not to shabby I must say.

From there we headed up north to Asheville, North Carolina where Susan was invited by our professor friend Amy Lanou to talk and give a cooking class at the University of NC at Asheville.  Even with a snow storm, 25+ people showed up for her talk.  To say the least, I'm always very proud of her and her intentional way of living, which was the theme of her talk. The next day she filled up the large demonstration kitchen with eager people to learn more about eating and living with intention.  For all of you who know Susan you can see why I am so happy to be apart of her journey.  We had fun staying at the home of Amy and Sophie with two snow storms! What added to this part of our trip was the weekend spent with our friends from Chapel Hill, Rosey and her husband Allan.
Rosey and Allan at the Flatiron Bldg in Asheville
Always make delicious food with Rosey!
At UNCA kitchen with Amy
Making delicious plant based food
We were able to catch up with them and my cousin Susie and husband Terry who brought along his beautiful mother, a real southern beauty. In this short time in Asheville we met or reconnected with many others...Corinna, Sandy & Bob, Dusty & Nancy, Sven Pedersen and Leanne Campbell and her son Stephen. It was a walk down memory lane meeting as some of these people we had not seen for many, many years.
Susie, Terry and his mom in Asheville

We left Asheville after a week in the cold, to journey back to southern Mexico to a place called San Cristobal de las Casas. This is our third time here in three years and we are calling this our vacation time. Here we have few friends and obligations. This is our time to be selfish and only think about ourselves though missing greatly all of our friends and family.  

This town is very special to us for so many reasons and too many for me to list. However I would like to describe it as best as I can.  San Cristobal has a new age feel without being too wu wu. The restaurants almost all understand veganism and will have a plate or two to serve people with our type of palate.  Living here we have very little chance to use our native tongue and have to rely on our Spanish skills. The yoga here is great and at a reasonable cost which allows us to go sometimes twice a day. The town has tourists here but of two kinds, neither seems to be in the need of five star accommodations though I'm sure one could find such place here. The older tourists come here to see the ruins, the city and nature and will only stay a short time. The younger tourists, which are many, stay longer to just enjoy being in a place of comfort and social consciousness and are mostly Europeans and South Americans. Funky clothing and dreadlocks prevail! So, every day is filled with things that we enjoy and in ample quantity. We are already thinking about planning our next time here and maybe again later this year. This time we are renting a beautiful home for this month and another one next month. For me there is a deeper reason why I so much enjoy being a part of this world here in Chiapas. When I was just a young twig of a boy, I would visit my grandparents and great aunts in Guatemala City. Even though it was only a few visits, I remember with all my senses the joy I had being close to them. Here in San Cristobal de las Casas, I can feel and remember it as it was just yesterday. The music is marimba, beans are black, people are Mayan and are wearing there ethnic clothes, the smell of wood burning, the high altitude with its fresh air and the children playing as there is no tomorrow. So for me being here and this close to the border where my mother was born fills me with a special kind of joy. It's like coming home to a home I never had.

Our "casita"
The funky cactus in our yard
Our house
Our yard

Thank you for traveling with us on our adventure in Latin countries and maybe in the future we will venture to other destinations where they don't speak Spanish.  With love from Ricardo y Susanita.