Friday, 13 December 2013

Guest Blogger Series: Mike Lince – The 6 Monthers, Part II

In the second installment of his guest blog series outlining his retired expat adventures, Mike Lince gives us the low down on his time as an expat in Cuernavaca, Mexico

Cuernavaca, Mexico:  January – June, 2013

We were about to max out our six month tourist visa in Panama and had initially decided to move next door to Costa Rica.  We enjoyed our weekend visit to the capital city, San Jose, a few months earlier and we loved the scenic countryside.  Unfortunately, we could get no one to respond to our inquiries about housing in a timely manner. 

Silver baron, José de la Borda, nearly went bankrupt funding the construction of the Cathedral of Santa Prisca in Taxco, Mexico.

Part of our lifestyle of moving to a new country every six months involves researching the next move.  We have mapped out ten years worth of countries where we would like to live.  However, that does not mean each country is easily accessible in terms of finding a home or apartment to rent.  Since our move out of Panama was imminent, we expanded our search to include Mexico, and we chanced upon the connection with an American expat who rented space in his villa in Cuernavaca.

Teotihuacan's Pyramid of the Sun overlooks what was once one of the largest pre-Columbian cities in the world.

Like most Americans, we overlooked Mexico as a place to live due to perceptions via American media that it is a dangerous place.  That turns out to be an unfortunate stereotype.  While it is true that there are places in Mexico where one needs to be cautious, that is true of most countries including the United States. 

Cuernavaca, the City of Eternal Spring, turned out to be an oasis of unexpected tranquility and beauty.  Located an hour south of Mexico City in Morelos State, Cuernavaca was centrally located such that we were able to enjoy sightseeing excursions to local towns and historic sites easily accessible by bus or taxi including two excursions to Mexico City. 

The garden-side pool at our apartment in Cuernavaca

Arriving in January in Mexico meant the pool was not yet heated, although one of the tenants swam daily for exercise.  I was able to join a local health club for about $50/month, which was okay considering I was saving money on food and rent (total cost = $940/month).  We enjoyed short sleeve weather, blooming flowers and jacaranda trees, and more hummingbirds and butterflies than I had ever seen.

Diego Rivera murals decorate the walls of Cortez Palace, now a museum fronting the central plaza of Cuernavaca

Our host/landlord, Dr. James Horn, grew up just blocks from where my wife was raised in Buffalo, New York.  That connection made for an immediate bond that grew into a lasting friendship.  Jim, a retired professor of Latin American History at Brockport University, has lived in Mexico for twenty years.  Among other things he is a lover of fine food and wines.  Every Friday we were invited to join him at one of the many five star restaurants in Cuernavaca.   We sampled French, Israeli, Argentine, German and Mexican cuisine over the course of our stay along with some excellent quality Mexican wines.

The 16th century Cathedral of Cuernavaca is where Hernan Cortez and his descendants worshiped a short walk from his castle.

We never experienced violence or unrest during our stay in Mexico.  We never saw firearms except those worn by uniformed police officers.  We never heard gunshots.  We were comfortable walking the sidewalks to the local supermarket.  And I frequently walked the three blocks to the local tortilleria where I was able to purchase fresh corn tortillas as they came off the oven conveyor belt.  They were still warm in the package when I got them home.  My wife, Florence, perfected the art of cooking fresh totopos or corn chips.  With fresh avocados readily available for about 50 cents, we often enjoyed fresh guacamole.  I still salivate as I think of how fresh and yummy they were.

Flo's homemade totopos taste so much better than commercial variety corn chips.

After living for a year in Latin America, Florence, who does not speak Spanish, suggested we move to an English-speaking country.  Next stop – Scotland, land of bagpipes, castles and Scotch whisky.

About the Author

Mike and Florence met on an Alaska cruise in 2005 and they have been together ever since.  Mike retired in 2011, and that is when their traveling began. They have spent over a year in Latin America.  They have taken a Caribbean cruise, a Mediterranean cruise, and most recently they worked for a month as travel journalists in Croatia.  You can follow their travels on Mike’s blog, Applecore, and view photos on The 6 Monthers.

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