Chapter 31 Life is short. Do it now. Whatever it is…Get moving now.

February 7, 2019

Moving to Mexico:

Chapter 31:  Life is short.  Do it now.  Whatever it is…Get moving now.

Overheard at our favorite tavern, just the other day:

Apparently, it was Bob’s birthday.  He walked in and took an empty seat at the bar. 

“Happy Birthday, Bob.”  One patron said and a few others who knew him chimed in.  I rarely get to visit this place.  I did not know Bob.  He looked haggard, tired and a little disheveled.  He wore flip flops in February, which I think is against the law when it’s raining outside and about 45 degrees.  He wore the uniform of men who have given up on the battle of the bulge: sweatpants and a t-shirt. 

Fiesta Like There Is No Manana, his shirt read.  Apparently, he too liked Mexico.

“Thanks, guys.”  He nodded.  He looked like he was stiff and in pain.  “I’ll have the usual.”  He motioned to the young bartender.  She smiled and handed him a beer and a shot of tequila. 

“I got that.  Happy Birthday, Bob.”  My friend said as he raised his glass.

“Sixty-one years young.”  Bob said.  “Cheers.”  They toasted, and my friend asked,

“Feeling any better?”

“Well, they just put a stint in.”  He said.  “I had two heart attacks last week.”

How do you have two heart attacks and a stint installed within a week of tequila shots?  His doctor just inserted a catheter into a coronary artery and he’s busy inserting booze into his mouth.  Bob is only eight years older than I am. He looked like he was in his eighties, but for the frat boy birthday tequila shot.  To his credit, he finished just the one shot and the one beer and departed after about fifteen minutes.  He limped out of the place, shuffling his flip flops barely above the floor.

Overheard at a salad restaurant Betty loves to visit often, just the other day:

“I can take a mild headwind, but I prefer a strong tailwind.”  Said one suburban, thirty-something male to another.  They were both dressed in understated, overpriced clothing with expensive shoes and watches.  The look of distain on their faces made it clear that they had difficulty breathing the same air as “regular people.”  I tried not to listen, but they were seated at the table next to ours.

“With my team, I’m just too slow to fire.”  His lunch partner said as he picked at his food.  “I need to pull the trigger quicker, cut the dead weight and keep my eye on the prize.

“Even if I didn’t have to make money for my investors, I would still file a fiduciary obligation notice with the Regional.”  The first man said.  Their stupid and overused corporate jargon was sickening to me.  I did not miss dealing with these guys one bit.

“They just don’t realize that a customer-centric price point won’t foster any sort of value add.  We have to be results driven to flesh out the real game plan.  I mean, are they even on the same page as the quarterly action plan?”  Jerk #2 said.

“We bring a lot to the table.  We just need to loop in the nuts and bolts, so we can drill down to the pain point and avoid reinventing the wheel.  If these guys aren’t results driven, they can jump ship and then we can focus on the low hanging fruit.”  Jerk #1 replied.

“OK, I’ll send it up the ladder.  We’ll dump the smoke and mirrors act and get back to the drawing board.  I see a real window of opportunity to move the needle with the gatekeepers and really hit the ground running in the new quarterly pipeline.”  Jerk #2 said.

“Good talk.”

“Good talk.” 

They nodded as they both got up, didn’t tip and walked out, probably headed across the street to the Vineyard Vines store to buy some more pink and blue plaid walk shorts, the expensive ones with the stupid little whales them so everyone knows what a douche you are.  Before heading back to the office after their late-lunch for yet another conference call, they surely had a meeting with the local coffee-infused high-colonic technician that was cleaning assholes like these two out of more than just their money.

No amount of enemas would help these two.  They were permanently full of shit and I was so glad to never have to deal with their ilk again.  No amount of trendy beards, CrossFit muscles and nouvaeu-hipster-social-media- self-importance will prop up the lack of confidence and insecurity they most likely hide.  I know these types and they sicken me.  They had faces needing punches but unfortunately, the best we can hope for is a case of vicious diarrhea from drinking pond water during the next Tough Mudder race. Somehow, guys like this get over on the universe payback they deserve.  Life is unfair.  At least that part of my life is behind me.

I was again reminded that we were doing the right thing.

As much as I love the familiar, I would rather long for it than be bored by it.

*Write that down!  Oh, I just did.  And I liked it, so I made it BOLD.

I can’t just keep seeing the same faces around me, all getting older, fatter and fading away.  It’s like we are all just waiting for the first of our group to die, but that has already happened, a few times.  Now, it’s just “who’s next?”  And what will we say?  That they lived the life they wanted, filled that dream bucket and marched on to the hereafter happily?  Probably not. 

“Too soon.” We’ll say.  “Too young.”

Because no one ever says the what they really think at your last party for fear of repercussions.  We all get superstitious at THAT party.  Otherwise, they might just say,

“He worked himself to death.  Never got to take that trip.  So many things left undone.”

I’m stuck in a long TV movie with a predictable ending and I have been desperate to change the channel for years.  What a shame it would be not to try.

Money did not fill the hole.  Things did not prevent the urge.  Noise did not silence the sound.

I need to see a new place, new people and have new experiences.  Perhaps being so poor when I was young and moving so often has made it unnatural for me to remain in one place for too long.  It’s not a negative thing.  It’s just that fish don’t fly, and birds don’t eat underwater. 

A reader reached out to me and told me a terrible story about his brother who had recently retired after decades of hard work. 

“It’s cancer.”  His brother said.  He had worked his entire life towards a retirement that would now be consumed by doctors, chemo and illness. 

I remembered my uncle who worked as a firefighter his entire life.  After retiring, he was diagnosed with cancer.  One of his bucket list items was to finally get to visit our home in Belize.  We took him there, but he could scarcely enjoy the trip.  He had no energy and slept most of the time.  Our biggest adventure that week was scouring the island for Pedialyte.  We bought every bottle for him.  He never got to try any of the local food or drinks.  He was dying.  Every morning, my family left it up to me to check him in his bed.  I would enter his room silently, asking for him quietly.  He lay in bed so still.  I could not hear him breathe so I had to touch him to make him move.  I prayed each day that he would move.

My mother passed away from cancer.  She had so many things she wanted to do in her retirement.  She loved her grandchildren dearly and wanted to spend more time with them.  Her medication made her so manic that we could not trust her with the care of our young son.  It broke my heart, but we had to constantly lie to her.

“Maybe soon, Mama.”  I told her.  “He’s got a baseball game this weekend.”

“I just want him to have a sleepover at Grandma’s house.”  She insisted.  “We always have so much fun.”

“I know.  I’ll get him there as soon as I can.”  I had to lie to her.  She would forget asking.  She could not take care of him anymore and he was too young to fend for himself when she nodded out or was intoxicated from the many pills keeping her alive.  When she was diagnosed with stage four cancer, she did not last long.  She fought just thirty more days, wasting away to an empty shell, before she passed away in a bed I rented from Hospice.

Many people reach out to me and we discuss their desire to move to Mexico, but so many keep finding reasons to delay.

“Our plans keep getting pushed back.”

“We were leaving this year, but it looks like 2020 now.  Maybe 2021.”

“Once my husband gets his act together, we’re out of here, too.”

“We just need to finish this one last project.”

I get it.  We delayed our move, so our son could finish high school.  We could have moved and home-schooled him, but we didn’t.  We made a decision to delay our move for the center of our lives, our son.  And we could delay our move further now because Betty was just offered a very lucrative job, one that would make more money than we need to remain here in California indefinitely.  Wisely, she turned it down.  No more delays.

Money did not fill the hole.  Things did not prevent the urge.  Noise did not silence the sound.

I have decided to begin helping as many future expats as I can.  I have a house that can serve as a launching point for many people. 

We built our home as three units hoping that friends and family would regularly fill the two units that we will not occupy, but we know better.  Deep down, we know that none of them have what it takes to break away from their daily grind for a week in Tulum. 

“Our daughter has a soccer game.”

“Maybe sometime later this year.”

“Man, I just gotta work.”

Jeez…a soccer game for a thirteen-year old holds you back?  Don’t they play more than one?

Will she remember that game more than the time you took her to Mexico?

We will probably hear the same excuses we heard when we lived in the Bahamas for three years and exactly no one came to visit.  No one except our retired, single mothers who each came out once on our dime.  Even two women with nothing holding them back could not get the energy to come out on a free trip.  Even they were bound by a routine that did not need them.  It did not even exist. 

Are we that awful?

I used to torture myself with that question when our friends and family could not find the time to come and visit this paradise we were living.  But it was not the answer.  We are fortunate to have many people in our lives who love us dearly.  They all wanted to come but timing, finances and other things prevented them.  The loved us.  I knew that.

I had a girlfriend break up with me once who said,

“Sometimes, love just isn’t enough.” 

That one hurt.  I think of her often.  Cancer took her, too.  She was in her forties, married with a young daughter and spent the last few years of her life traveling the globe for treatments, exhausting her families fortune only to succumb in the end to that evil disease.  I am fairly sure her “to-do-later” list was long and unfortunately, unfulfilled.

We built a home that can house three families, or more.  It’s ready now.  I am offering it to my readers so that they may experience that same thing that drew us to Tulum, Mexico.  I can’t offer it for free, but I can offer it at a reduced amount.  Right now, we list the property at $150/night for each unit.  I can reduce that to just $99/night for each unit.  If you have kids, bring them.  We have a couch that folds down into a bed which may be split into two separate bed as needed.  If you have two couples, each unit can sleep four people comfortably.  It’s not going to be like renting a huge suite at the Bellagio, but you will have everything you need to experience the life we have built in Tulum to see if the area is for you.

A reader recently reached out to me, wanting to relocate to the Mayan Riviera after her husband retires this year.  They are going to stay in my place for a few weeks while I help them find a rental that will fit into their budget.  They have just under $1,000 budgeted for rent and I have already found them several places for $400-500/month that will work perfectly.  They were doing research online, which is fine, but many of the places they liked were priced low because of the location.  Every place has crime, noise and congestion.  The Mayan Riviera is no different. 

When I was planning on moving to San Francisco to attend college, I scoured the newspaper (remember those?) looking for rentals I could afford.  I kept finding really low-priced apartments in a place called The Tenderloin.  Not being from San Francisco, I foolishly rented a place on Jones Street at Turk Street.  I knew I had made a mistake the minute I arrived to unpack my stuff.  There were crackheads, prostitutes and drunks everywhere.  That first week, my pickup was carved up by someone with nothing better to do.  Later it was stolen, so I had to get a Honda scooter.

“Parking here is nearly impossible, anyway.”  I consoled myself.  I had to chase people off the scooter every time I wanted to go somewhere.  Each morning when I had to head to leave for City College of San Francisco, I had to politely ask intimidating and intoxicated individuals to please let me wipe the urine and booze off my seat, so I could head to school.  Eventually, the scooter was stolen, too.

I did not know the area and I paid the price.  I had to endure six long months, walking in the rain and through a gauntlet of crime and danger before I could finish my lease and move.  If my reader decided to move to Playa Del Carmen without knowing the area, she could spend a lot of time and effort permanently staining their first impression of the area with a negative slant, simply because they moved to the wrong area, the wrong building, the wrong place.

I know the Mayan Riviera very well and have a team of people working with me now who can insure that every one of my readers finds the best home for their needs.  Use my place as a soft landing.  It’s EASY living at Casa Collins, believe me.  You’re in a fully furnished, turn-key home with a pool and high-speed WIFI.  If you’re worried about cell phone roaming, check out T-Mobile’s North American Plan:  unlimited data, calls and texts in Canada, the USA and Mexico.  We use it and it works flawlessly.  Before we had the WIFI installed, I streamed Netflix and YouTube at my house using my phone’s hotspot link with no problems.

My property manager can stock the house with food and drinks if you require that, or you may simply eat and drink on the resort for a very low cost.  As my guest, your all-day food and drink pass is just $50 each for five-star cuisine and more alcohol than I would advise, especially if you are on a fact-finding trip.

Of course, you’ll need to lounge in the pool and have food and drinks brought to you for at least a day or so.  That’s part of the “facts” you will “find”, right?  J  You are not moving to the Mayan Riviera to work like a slave.  You and I have already done that.  Let the staff pamper you a bit.  You have earned it.

Betty and I love to go to the resort on certain days.  Most days, we go exploring but sometimes we love to do nothing more than sit poolside, meet travelers from all over the world and drink more than we should, eat more than we usually do and go home tired, pruned from hours in the pool, a little tipsy and slightly sunburned.  We treat Bahia Principe as our country club, a place we could NEVER afford to live here in California.  In Mexico, it’s easy.

Recently, I posted something on Facebook that lit up the site:  “What’s your Go-Year?”  I was keeping in touch with some expats in Mexico type sites and posted that question.  I got so many varied responses, again peppered with the usual delay excuses, because most of these sites are populated by people still dreaming of escape to Mexico.

I loved the answers I got from people already living in Mexico.

“We left in 2016.  Best thing we ever did.  Our kids are now bilingual.  They learn so quickly.”

“I’ve been here since 1998.  I’ll never go back to Michigan.”

“I left the cold of Virginia ten years ago.”

“I came here in the 1960’s and just never left.  It’s the only home I know.”

I did get one response that was sad, but made sense:

“I have to go back to the States.  I just can’t make it financially here.  No work.”

That had me check my spreadsheets for the thousandth time.  I live by a budget.  I believe we will be OK, but I still check regularly.  I don’t want to go there and fail.

I know a guy who tried life in the Mayan Riviera.  He got divorced and wanted a new life, so he sold his house, split the money with his ex and left.  He went with no plan and limited money.  His work-from-home job fired him because he drank too much and was unreliable.  This caused him to spiral into a hole of depression, alcohol, drugs and several get-rich-quick-gringo schemes that only drained his funds faster.  He blew it and had to be brought back home to live with family members while he rebuilds.

There are many cautionary tales in the Caribbean and the Riviera.  Too many people go there and go crazy, doing things they would never do at home, partying too much and squandering their savings in a year or so. 

In Mexico, Betty and I will do the same thing we do here:  work, exercise, spend time with friends, explore and travel the area.  At night we will go to the resort once or twice a week for some entertainment.  During the day we’ll spend hours at the beach and pool, play tennis and I will probably pick up where I left off with my awful golf game.  Now, I will finally have time to practice and get better.

We’ll cook our dinner, watch a movie on Netflix or Prime and take a dip in the pool.  In the morning, we’ll have a quick meal, catch up on the news online using YouTube TV and head out for a walk with our small dog.  During the day we’ll do…whatever we choose.  Because we finally can.  Because we’re alive and by the grace of God, healthy.  Because we live in an area that does not require us to work into our seventies just to exist.  We can avoid the senior center and those awful old-people cruise ships when we’re so old we can’t do anything active anymore.  We can do these things because we were bold enough to reward ourselves with a life many people dream of but hold themselves back from, fear and excuses being their guide, their jail cell.

If you are ready to at least try the life I describe, hit the links below to view my units, choose a date and email me at  Ninety-nine bucks a night for my readers will book out quickly so if our place becomes fully booked, we’ll find you another place.  This can be done.  It can happen.  Don’t let life get in the way of living.

Life is short.  Do it now.  Whatever it is…Get moving now.

2 thoughts on “Chapter 31 Life is short. Do it now. Whatever it is…Get moving now.”

  1. Tom,
    The conversation between the (what I call “millennial gitf&@ks” ) is so on cue and absolutely the same as what I hear when I go to Austin on state business! I was nearly on the floor! You left out the “cartoon haircut, yet lumberjack bearded” descriptive though. I’ll forgive that.
    You have been communicating with my lovely wife Cathryn, and we are about to pull the trigger. We want your place for ten days, to include our 31st anniversary which will be 28 May.
    I can’t wait to meet you one day, maybe grill you a steak- Gordon style.

    1. Gordon, thank you so much for reaching out. I’m glad that conversation struck a chord with you too. It made me want to vomit. Don’t tempt me with a good time. I will take you up on that steak my friend. Also, I forwarded your contact information to my property manager, Craig Verbeck. He will be reaching out to you and I’m sure he will tend to your every need. Let’s have that beer and a steak soon. Thank you, Tom

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