Lesson learned - a question of who to trust

Yesterday as I picked up a few essentials at Super Lake, bemoaning the fact that I had thirteen dollars left until my pensions come in at the end of the month and wondering how I was going to make it, and, yes, feeling sorry for myself, when I came out of the store I noticed a young girl standing just outside the entrance. She had a crude cardboard sign with English and Spanish scrawled on it saying "please help me. I need food for my baby".

It's a sad fact of life here that Mexicans are forced to beg. Kids are often trying to sell you something. Ladies sit outside places like Super Lake with a cup in their hands hoping you will give them a few pesos. The vast majority of Mexicans live in abject poverty.

As I came out I reached into my pocket and gave her the few coins I had planned for the bus. I couldn't carry what I had on the bus so I was going to need my driver to come and get me, something I could ill afford.

As I stood outside waiting for him I watched person after person just ignores this girl, not even returning the hello she said to them. They saw her sign but just walked by her. As usual with Super Lake, there were no locals coming out because they can't afford to shop there. I wondered if local folks would ignore a woman begging for food for her baby?

After a few minutes watching this I couldn't take it anymore. I asked her to come back to the store with me to get some food for her baby. I told her I was not a rich American so I couldn't get her very much but I would try. She got bread and some small jars of baby food and I treated her to some chocolate for herself. It was only a couple hundred pesos.

She was thrilled at this very small gesture. She told me her name was Melissa and she showed me a picture of her baby, Daniel Alexander. I gave her my card and told her that if she ever faced a day when she had no food to come to my place and I would feed her something. She couldn't stop smiling and even helped me with my groceries when my driver arrived.

My point in telling this story is simply to encourage you to give when you can, especially if you have more money than you need. The locals are an admirable, warm, proud people, happy with little but when someone like Melissa needs our help please give. It will make you feel very good, as it did for me.

As that old radio program used to say, "And now for the rest of the story." Oh, and this is a good one. If all you get out of it is how stupid I am, well, you are SO right.

First, Melissa called me yesterday and asked to meet me at Super Lake so I could buy her more food for her "baby". I told her it wouldn't be much because I don't have it to give her but I would buy some for her. I said I would be there around 3:30 and we agreed to meet. She wasn't there but called me later to tell me she was now at Super Lake and expected me to come back. I said no but told her if she came to my house I would give her a little money. Big mistake!

She showed up a while later with a friend in tow, no doubt because she didn't want to be alone with a man in his apartment, regardless of the fact that I could be her grandfather. So be it. I understood. I fed both of them. Her friend and I went out on the terrace to have a smoke and Melissa asked where my broom was because she was going to do some cleaning for me for the money I gave her. Nice, I thought. Then she said they had to go because her "baby" was sick. We said our goodbyes.

Oh, read on. This gets a lot juicier. A little while later her friend came back alone. Needless to say, I wondered why. I thought she might have forgotten something. She then tells me that Mellissa had shown her my diamond ring and said she was going to sell it! Sure enough, I checked and it was gone! This was the thanks I got for helping her?

We called the police who showed up fairly quickly. They took all the information and then told me to call Uber to take us to the Chapala police station where they would meet us and then go to Melissa's house together. When her friend and I arrived at the police station it was closed. No sight of the two officers that came to my apartment. An officer outside said we couldn't do anything more tonight and we had to come back in the morning.

I figured that my thousand dollar ring would be sold by then so I convinced her friend to go to her house and confront Melissa to give back my ring or she could deal with the police tomorrow. She didn't answer the door and when her friend called her on my driver's phone so she wouldn't recognize the number she hung up on her. Now the plan is to go to her house in the morning with her friend and the police to confront her to get my ring back. No doubt she has either sold the ring by then or will simply deny she stole it. The police believe her friend who Melissa was dumb enough to show the ring to and tell her she was going to sell it.

We gave her the chance tonight to just give my ring back and be done with it. No police. No charges. No possible jail time, but she refused.

The bad part of my story is how stupid I was to trust this girl. It turns out she has five children, all of whom have been taken away from her. For me, as dumb as I know I was to trust her and try to help her, the good part is that I know her friend could have simply gone home and forgotten about it. Instead, she came back to my place to tell me what happened and then she spent hours with me dealing with the police, going to Chapala, confronting Melissa, and now she's doing it all again tomorrow.

I have hesitated to name her until this is hopefully over and maybe I get my ring back, but she works at Super Lake and I hope to be able to disclose this amazingly honest girl's name so you can tell her she did the right thing when you see her.

I pray that tomorrow will bring a better ending to this story. Even if she hasn't already sold my ring and gives it back I don't know how things work here in Mexico. Will she still be charged with theft now that the police are involved? Do I have the right to stop her being charged if I get the ring back? Do I even want to? She's clearly a thief and I don't want her doing this to anyone else. I am trying to warn anyone who sees her begging at Super Lake to avoid her like the plague.

Live and learn.

Just when you think it can't get any worse....

After the police station was closed last night my driver, Salvador, suggested we go to the police station at 8:30 when it opened today. I handed my phone to her friend to make arrangements to pick her up this morning. When she hung up I asked what time he was picking her up and she said 8:00 o'clock. I asked if she had given him her address and she said yes.

This morning I'm anxiously waiting for them to show up at my place. It gets later and later and she has to be at work at Super Lake at 10:00 so I begin to panic. I text Salvador asking where they are? He calls and tells me he is in Chapala, knows nothing about picking her up and doesn't know where she lives. By now, with all this total screw-up, Melissa has had plenty of time to sell my ring. The police no doubt wonder where we are and drop the case.

A very bittersweet end and a huge loss for me. A thief gets away with it. and will no doubt do it again? For me, my trust is gone. Never again will I try to help a local. Expensive lesson learned.

A final note. Just when I thought Melissa's "friend" was so wonderfully honest and was being so helpful, she told me she worked at Super Lake and was working 10:00 until 2:00. My very confused driver, Salvador, and I went to Super Lake to see if Estafan could come with us to the police at 2:00 when she finished work. 

Yup, you guessed it. She doesn't work at Super Lake. Although I am still absurdly confused as to why she came back to tell me that Melissa had stolen my ring, I guess she was in on it from the start. Maybe she came back to see if she could steal something else. I'll never understand all this. I'm out my ring and there's no hope I'll ever get it back And the little thief gets away with it.

If you are at Super Lake and see a girl holding a sign begging for food for her "baby" rip the sign out of her hands and tell her to scram!


As the saying goes, "Is that all there is?"

Unless you are Albert Einstein or Bill Gates it’s probably not a good time to summarize your life. Have you been “successful” in the eyes of others? Has your life had a positive impact on people’s lives? Have you made costly mistakes that have now put you in such a depressive state that you want to end it all? Do you matter to anyone? Has your life just been a waste? Is anyone going to miss you?

After some very tough years, ending up living in a group home in Belleville, Ontario and, in fact, overstaying my welcome there, I had no idea what to do. After disastrous experiences moving to Panama and Ecuador I wanted to give it one more try in Mexico, so I hoped to go for six months on a tourist visa. By a quirk of fate I was given a Canadian Tire MasterCard, which I didn’t deserve having gone bankrupt twice, but it allowed me to book my flights. I had found an apartment in Ajijic that was cheaper than just my room in Belleville. A lot of research told me the cost of living was much cheaper, so off I went last September.

I fell in love with the area the first day I arrived. My apartment was even better than I expected and thanks to my new friends, Francis and Anastasia, I met a lot of great people who I thought were going to be great friends. A couple of weeks after I arrived I met the love of my life, Elba. It quickly became the relationship of my dreams. I had never had this kind of love before. Relationships are always complicated but this one was just incredible. Despite our age difference of twenty years and the fact she spoke no English, every minute together was pure magic, for me at least. Although not what was intended when I gave her a replacement ring on New Years everyone congratulated us on getting engaged. Her two sons, Jonathan and Kevin, loved calling me Dad and her family kept telling us to hurry up and get married. I had never been so happy in all my life.

My plan to just check out Mexico for six months quickly changed. I needed to go back to Canada to apply for my temporal visa to return to Mexico and get married. Elba insisted on joining me on the trip although I told her I could not afford her flights, so she agreed to pay for them. I have gone into great detail on what a total disaster the trip was in another post, so I won’t repeat myself here. As far as it relates to this post what happened only contributed to where I find myself today. When we returned and she ended our relationship in a simple text message it nearly killed me. It was the hardest thing in my life. I felt totally worthless and just wanted to end it all. The future was destroyed and I didn’t even know why I was back in Mexico now. Getting married and all the dreams we had shared together were now shattered. I saw no reason to go on.

Thanks to a couple of good friends at the time they convinced me that I wasn’t worthless and urged me to go on. Time heals all wounds. Not true for me. My life had been turned upside down and the wonderful memories of our time together have haunted me everywhere I go. I also had no clue why she had so abruptly dumped me. Still don’t. She refused to tell me why. She refused to answer my pleading text messages or talk to me. At one point she simply said she wanted me to “disappear”. What a great thing to say to someone who’s suicidal.

Then a month or so ago I discovered I had only twenty-eight dollars in the bank and I whole lot of month left. I had also run out of my critical medications for my diabetes. No food. No meds. No hope. I reached out for help from anyone. I offered to sell an interest in my website business. I applied to the local Canadian Legion for a small loan to get me through. Although a couple of people offered small amounts of money for food this was not a solution to the mess I was in. After a day of not eating and drinking far too much, which is not normal for me, I was crying my eyes out in horrible depression and just wanted to end it all. A friend sent over a doctor and two of her colleagues to talk me down. She offered help in not letting them take my dog from me. She offered help with money and some work. She offered help with getting my meds. She gave me hope. She took my bottle of rum, which considering the condition I was in was probably a good thing.

The next morning they came without warning and took my dog, Rollie. Then despite all the offers of help Dr. Lupita basically disappeared on me. Luckily John Kelly, President of our local Canadian Legion, called me and we had a very long conversation. We talked about getting my meds through Seguro Popular, which I didn’t even know was possible. We talked about a small loan from the Legion to help me get things in order, most importantly to keep my business alive that I had worked so hard on for so long. Again, that glimmer of hope appeared.

Now, three weeks later that glimmer has gone dark again. Seguro Popular said they can’t help me with any of my meds. My blood sugars have been hovering around thirty, which is very dangerous because at thirty-two you risk slipping into a coma. Although I couldn’t afford the hospital anyway, falling into a coma would mean the end because no one would discover me in time. At least I would go quietly and not need to deal with suicide.

All the horrendous issues coming at me every day, like the numerous issues with my idiot landlord, like no hot water, no electricity and no internet, were just daily hurdles that challenged my patience, but nothing was worse than what happened with my “friends”. The reaction to my painfully honest post about ending it all was such vicious attacks on me. How these people could be so cruel and not get how dangerous their mean words were to someone already on the edge just baffled me completely. The only way for me to survive was to block and ban them. I simply couldn’t take anymore.

That no one in my long list of six hundred supposed Facebook “friends” gave a damn came as quite the shock. Even my new found granddaughter, Mackenzie, didn’t respond. I had been so looking forward to meeting her finally when she came to Mexico for a wedding next year. I apologized that I would not be here and explained why, but even that got no reaction from her. I got the same reaction from colleagues back in Canada, some of whom are rich beyond compare. I had sent detailed investment proposals to them, not just investing in the website business. Things that would make them a lot of money, but got zero response.

Still fighting not to just give up I started a GoFundMe campaign asking for just a dollar. I had seen sixty or seventy million people view and comment on the dumbest things so I thought they might be willing to invest a single dollar. Not a single response. I even asked my famous friend Andrea Pearson to add a post on her Facebook page encouraging people to visit my campaign but got nothing other than a private message that she hoped things would improve for me. I even asked her if she might donate that first dollar to kick start the campaign, but got nothing. My life is not even worth a person donating a dollar? How’s that for “is that all there is?”

I’m not looking for pity or charity. I am looking for a reason to go on. I just hope that anyone who knows me understands just how hard I’ve tried to go on. Without my critical meds it will all be academic soon. I don’t know how I will be remembered, if at all. Maybe just some nutcase, but I just want anyone who ever cared about me in any way to know how hard I tried.

Gracias.

 


Mexico

The decision to move to Mexico involved a lot of research before I made the final decision. My time in Belleville was coming to an obvious end because I had overstayed my welcome at the group homes I had been living in. That and they had put my rent up from $379 to $479 which was a lot for a single room and not affordable on my lowly pensions. First I considered going back out west where I had spent fourteen wonderful years, the best of my life at that point. There were two factors that convinced me that moving back would not work. The first was that the cost of living had skyrocketed. The apartment that I had rented for a time for $350 a month was now being rented for a thousand dollars! The Okanagan was now becoming a place only the rich and famous could afford. The other and more important issue was that my life would be a pale shadow of what it was before, for many reasons. My mum and dad were now gone and my relationship with my brother and sister was over for many reasons. I also wouldn’t have all the toys I had before, like my dirt-bike, my boats, and my snowmobile. No biking with my Dad which we had done for years. No floating on the lake tied up to other boats and no skiing. I wouldn’t even be able to afford things like my roller-blades, which I did every summer on Sundays, or bike the Kettle Valley railroad which I did many times. Yes, life would be a lot different. The only good thing would be going dancing at the Corral and my many wonderful friends, and, of course, living in the most beautiful place in Canada. 

My thoughts about Mexico were tempered by my very poor experiences in both Panama and Ecuador. I wondered if Mexico would be the same, but it was worth investigating. Life is timing and something happened that made Mexico possible. My credit rating was terrible because of my bankruptcies and how I left BC for Panama, owing everybody. When I first bought my bicycle a while ago Canadian Tire had a credit card promotion. They suggested I buy the bike on credit and pay for it right away. I would get some kind of points so I didn’t see any reason not to take advantage of the promotion even though I knew I would never get a credit card. To my considerable shock, they sent me a card with a two hundred dollar limit. Over the next few months, everything I bought went on the credit card and I paid it off immediately. Before I knew it they were increasing my credit limit, over and over. finally to an absurd ten thousand dollars! They even gave me another promotion where I paid off four thousand dollars and got another four thousand dollars of credit with no interest. So, even though by this point I owed them a lot of money I had enough credit to get a flight. At the time I had zero idea how I would ever pay it all back but at least I could go to Mexico. Yippee!

Now that I had the flights possible I started researching where to go and discovered the Lake Chapala region. My first impression looking at photos is that it reminded me of the Okanagan. A very similar lake, at least I thought so (I was wrong) and surrounded by mountains. Looked great. Then I started looking for rentals and found an apartment in what’s called La Floresta, an upscale neighborhood. I contacted the owner to see if I could get some photos of the place, but he didn’t have any. That’s when I met Francis Dryden. He was kind enough to go over to the apartment and take some photos for me. It looked really good and the rent was six thousand pesos a month, less than I was paying for just a room in Belleville. I agreed to rent it and sent the owner the one month deposit. It looked like I was on my way to Mexico!

As it turned out I fell in love with Ajijic the day I arrived. It was so beautiful and the weather was incredible. I met the owners, Perry and Kathy, of the apartment and it was everything I expected. Francis and his wife, Anastasia, were just wonderful those first few days after I arrived. They took me out just about every night that first week. We did the bars where fantastic groups were playing. This is when I first met Jonathan, who was playing in the Ajijic Jamm Band at Adelitas, a place that would mean a lot in my future. I made so many great friends those first few days. I didn’t think I could ever be happier, but I was wrong.

On Monday nights it’s impossible to get a table at Adelita’s but Francis and Anastasia had a permanent reservation so I usually sat with them. One fateful night my friends Bill and Violeta were sitting at a table with the most gorgeous, sexy girl I’d seen and they invited me to sit with them. I asked her to dance despite being terrified that she was way too much for me, but we were great together. It turned out she smoked so we went outside for a cigarette. When we finished she snapped her fingers at me to go back in. I said she wasn’t my wife so don’t be snapping your fingers at me. She responded with those fateful words. “Come on baby”, about the only English she knew. It was a moment I will never forget. The night ended and I honestly thought nothing would come of it because she was way too gorgeous to be attracted to me. She was also twenty years younger than me so I knew she wouldn’t be interested in me.

Fast forward a few days later and I get a call from Bill. They are at La Bodega and he says she, Elba, wants me to come. I am surprised, to say the least, but I figure she just wants someone to dance with, so off I go. It’s hard for me to describe the night as anything more than magical. At one point we go for a smoke and it just seemed to be the right moment to try to kiss her, so I gave her a little peck. She responded with the most passionate kiss I’ve had in my life. To make a long story short she moved in with me and it was pure heaven. We were so in love, the best I’ve had in my life. It’s a long story I told elsewhere but we got engaged that New Year’s Eve. Life could not have been better. I was so happy.

Not only was she the unconditional proverbial love of my life, but her family also made it all even better. When I went to stay with her in Guadalajara over the holidays I was going to meet her extended family. I had already had Jonathan calling me Dad and our relationship could not have been any better. I was so nervous about meeting her mother because I was Canadian and more because of my limited Spanish. No sooner had we got to her mother’s place and I met her and chatted a little than Elba told me her mother really liked me. I was so relieved! It was the same with all her other family. On Christmas Eve I met her other son, Kevin. We had a great night and the last thing he asked me if he could call me Dad. When we met her brother he said “welcome to the family”. Given what had happened with my own kids abandoning me for years Elba’s family was the new family I now had. I was even more in love even though I thought that wasn’t possible and I was so very happy.

She ended up coming with me to Canada to apply for my temporal visa so I could come back to Mexico, to get married. Little did I know the tragedy I was about to face. 

Our trip to Canada was the trip from hell. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. They took my tourist visa by mistake in Mexico City so they wouldn’t let us on our flight to Toronto and then they wanted nineteen thousand pesos to book another later flight, which I refused to pay, of course. It was a nightmare and I had quite the argument with AeroMexico because it wasn’t my fault that the guy had kept my visa. Finally, they agreed and put us on standby for a much later flight. This was going to screw up everything from our booked train to Belleville and our hotel reservations. The hotel turned out to be yet another nightmare. It was also the coldest I had ever experienced in March. It was freezing and I worried that Elba couldn’t handle it because she had never been anywhere that was this cold. Regardless of the problems we had she was a trooper and handled it all beautifully. It just made me feel even more in love with her. We spent ten days together, going through every challenge imaginable but somehow we survived.

Our flights were equally screwed up on the way back. Somehow AeroMexico had us booked on different flights from Mexico City to Guadalajara. Not great but they were short flights and only an hour apart. When we got to Mexico City I reminded her that the time was an hour different so she needed to go early to catch her flight. For some reason she ignored me. I kept telling her that she should get to her gate. She finally went very late and of course missed her flight. Now more grief with AeroMexico. I had to pay another three thousand pesos for something that was clearly her fault, not mine. Now she was booked on another flight later than mine. 

When we finally got together in Guadalajara this was the first indication I had that something was wrong. We needed to find an apartment for the end of the month so I thought she was coming back to Ajijic. Instead, she said she was going to her apartment in Guadalajara because she “had an appointment the next day with her lawyer”. I sensed that was a lie but I figured she would come the next day after. When she did come to our apartment I was out for a few hours. When I came back she had a bunch of her clothes packed, plus some of the ninety pairs of shoes she had brought from Guadalajara. When I asked her what she was doing she said we were going to get a smaller apartment and there wouldn’t be room for all her things so she was going to sell some of them. Again I sensed that was another lie. When we went to Adelita’s she didn’t sit with me. She sat with some of her girlfriends. When I asked her to dance she said no for the first time. When we finally danced she kept looking at the floor instead of laughing and looking at me. I knew something was very wrong. She was supposed to come back to our apartment but instead she said she was going back with Jonathan to her apartment. Now I was really worried. 

That night the most fateful, distressing, hurtful, life-changing thing happened. She sent me a text in Spanish ending our relationship. Although I knew something had changed after we came back, I never thought this was ever going to happen. I couldn’t deal with what had happened. I had no idea why she had done this and begged her to talk to me, but she refused. To this day, a year later, I still have no clue what happened. I fell apart, crying for days and felt my life was over. I felt totally worthless. I considered swimming out in the lake far enough not to make it back. I saw no point in going on. It was the first time in my life that I considered just giving up. I barely made it through the most difficult time of my life.

A year later I’m still struggling, even more now because of other problems. The apartment I moved into last May has been a nightmare because of the landlord from hell. There’s probably been a least a hundred days that I’ve had no hot water but he refuses to repair it, whining that he has no money. He has no clue about a landlord’s legal responsibility to provide basic services. The electricity has been out for days. The internet, which is so critical for my work, is up and down every day and often down for hours. I’m currently in the midst of trying to find a place for the end of the month but so far nothing. The biggest issue I’m facing is with my meds. Another long and complicated story but I’ve now been without most of my diabetic meds for six months and I have no idea how to get more. I am at great risk of having a heart attack or stroke, neither of which I can afford if I end up in the hospital. It doesn’t look good. 

When I first made the decision to come to Mexico I knew I had two problems. One, my meds and two, my pensions. I had started working on the city portal site for Ajijic, something that I had done in both Panama and Ecuador. I had done a ton of research on websites here but they all had an ulterior motive like selling Real Estate. There were no sites to provide information to both tourists and residents. I figured it would be possible to make enough to replace the pension I was going to lose because I was out of the country for more than six months. It would also allow me to get my meds, most of which are cheaper here in Mexico. So far despite my best efforts, I haven’t made a dime.

And now as is said here’s the rest of the story. Shortly after the breakup, my good friend Don Row asked me if it was okay to date Elba. He had already told me when I first met him that he would have gone after Elba if she hadn’t been with me at the time. I told him he certainly didn’t need my permission because she dumped me. They recently got married so I guess it worked out for him. 


A Fool In Love

Despite my horrible experiences in both Panama and Ecuador, including my fiancee in Ecuador who just ripped me off, I wanted to give it one more try with Ajijic, Mexico. Anyone who follows me knows how I was thrilled with Ajijic from the minute I got here. My plan quickly changed from spending six months here and returning to Canada to finding a way to never leave here. That was before I met the love of my life.

The first night we met she was sitting with two of my dear friends, Bill and Violet. I asked her to dance and she was an incredible dancer, plus we seemed to have an instant connection on the dance floor. She was absolutely gorgeous and I knew this might be trouble.

When we went out the front of the restaurant to smoke and finished she sort of snapped her fingers and told me to come back in. I pointed at my ring finger and said she wasn't my wife. She replied in perfect English, "come on, baby". How could I resist that? After every subsequent smoke she said the same thing. One time as we came in I said to her if she was my wife one night with her would probably kill me.

I went home that night thinking how much I liked her, but at the same time believing that there was no way a girl like that would go for me. I could not have been more wrong.

The following Friday night she was out with Violet and Bill and Violet called to ask me where I was. We had got our wires crossed about an earlier dinner with the Munch Bunch. I reluctantly said I had just got home from the dinner and couldn't go out again. Not ten minutes later Elba phoned me to tell me she wanted me to come down.

The next day Bill phoned me to say that Elba wanted him to invite me down to La Bodega that night. Still somewhat surprised that she wanted to see me I agreed and met them there. To say that it was one of the best nights of my entire life would be a gross understatement. We danced. We talked. We laughed. We had a great time.

At one point the band played a slow song and we were the only couple on the dance floor. I did my usual fancy footwork, the kind that only a woman who has danced with me for years can get; but Elba was there step for step. It was a very romantic dance. When we went out for a smoke I told that was the best dance I had had in my life. She smiled and said she was going to tell me the same thing.

I thought it might be a good time to sneak a little kiss to sort of test the waters. She responded with the most passionate kiss I had ever had. From that moment on we were hugging, kissing and holding hands the rest of the night. It was pure magic, tainted only by the fact that she had to go back to Guadalajara the next morning. It all ended far too quickly.

The next morning I wondered if it had all been a dream and she wasn't feeling the same way as I did about her. I sent her a text message and the next thing I know we're texting each other all day Sunday and most of Monday even though she's back at work. She was coming back Monday night to Adelita's so I booked a table for us with Bill and Violet again, their friends Bruce and Helen who are visiting Violet from Washington, and Jack. It was yet another wonderful night. She was supposed to be staying at Violet's, at least that's what she told her son, Jonathan, but when they first arrived at my place he brought in her luggage, so there went that plan. Obviously her son is far too smart to be tricked.

Obviously as a gentleman I can't tell you anything about our weekend, except to say that it was literally the most wonderful, amazing, romantic, happy as hell weekend of my entire life. Despite our obvious language differences we talked for hours and hours. We discovered we had more connections than anyone either of us had been with before. To be corny, but blunt, I was the first time in my life that I knew what true love really felt like. She was quite literally the women of my dreams.

We've been together for coming on two months now and although we've had some communication issues, mostly because of the language, we're still very much in love. She's retiring at the end of this week so I am hopeful that she will be able to spend more time here in Ajijic.

Stay tuned.

 

 


Friends, Romans, lend me...okay, friends. HELP!

Sadly I lost my oldest and dearest friend with whom I spoke for hours before deciding to move to Ecuador. She was very helpful and helped me make that important decision. If I had to make a guess I think her hubby wasn't keen on her talking to me for hours. So be it, but now I really don't have anyone to bounce ideas off of to know if I'm just crazy or thinking straight.

The issue is what do I do with my life and where do I go from here? Ecuador obviously turned out to be a disaster on so many levels, not the least of which was the falling Canadian dollar which meant I could not afford to live there, or anywhere for that matter. When I made the decision to move to Ecuador after months of research I never planned to come back to Canada, ever. As John  Lennon famously said "life is what happens while you're making other plans". So very true for me.

The last couple of years have been more the result of a series of unfortunate events. Things certainly did not go as planned in Ecuador, forcing me to return to Canada and somehow end up in Belleville, Ontario, the very last place I ever thought I would be. I viewed it all as temporary to just give me time to figure out what I was doing and sort out some of the messes I had, like needing to replace my passport (still a nightmare). Living in the reno was a big mistake but I appreciated the help when I came back with no plan. Then I moved into a group home in Belleville, then to another one a few months later and stayed for over a year. Again, not planned. My time was up at the group home and I ended up in the hospital and also had nowhere to move to once I got out. Graciously I was allowed to move to yet another group home but with only three months max. As I have for the passed several months I've been looking for an affordable room from Trenton to Kingston. Having visited Kingston last year several times I really like the city. There is so much more to do there than there is in Belleville.

The issue with finding a place in Kingston is the thousands of students who live there during the school year. They pay outrageous rents, or should I say Mom and Dad pay them, plus they rent for the whole year when they are only attending college or university for eight months. It's crazy! I need something under five hundred at the most and that's hard to find. In the meantime I'm also looking in Belleville only in case I can't find anything in Kingston.

The primary issue here is whether it matters where I live here in Canada. I've been researching a place in Mexico to death, called Ajijic (Ah-hee-hick). It sounds wonderful but so did Panama and Ecuador. The climate is described as the second best in the world. Unlike Panama and Ecuador it's not hard to find things you are used to because the Walmart is just down the street. Food is cheap. There's tons of things to do. There's a very large Expat community, many of them Canadian. Spanish is the local language but apparently even most of the locals speak English, mostly those working in the stores and restaurants. The community in both Ajijic and Lake Chapala, which is not far away, is vibrant. Everything I learned encouraged me to start designing a city portal website. It's called AjijicToday.com but it's not ready for the public yet. My primary goal is to create a unique business directory for people to find things and then charge modest fees for local businesses to become members. Eventually I want to expand the city portal sites to everywhere in Mexico and hopefully generate enough income to replace my lost pension.

Obviously a big consideration is housing. It's not cheap and most rentals are in US dollars, which is worth far more than our Canadian dollar these days. The dollar has closed under 73 cents recently. Not good. I have found a gorgeous fully furnished house in a gated community with a pool. It's two bed two main bath so I would need to find someone to share it with for the six months, October to the end of March. If I look at the prices for a small one bedroom apartment I could easily get three hundred dollars in rent, leaving me paying less than three hundred a month, which I could handle. I've been in touch with the owner and he has confirmed that everything is included. I only need to buy propane and that's only a few dollars a month. I can take the bus anywhere I need to go.

A new wrinkle in things just happened. I was sipping a coffee when I suddenly felt something metal in my mouth. I spit it out and it turned out to be a decades old gold crown that had fallen off. I went to the dentist hoping that they could recement it back on, but no luck. It was worn down very thin and had a hole in it that could not be repaired. I asked how much a new crown would be and was shocked when they said a thousand dollars! Not a prayer I could ever afford that. As you may know dental costs in Mexico are far less than in Canada. I've asked a friend to check for me but I think we're probably talking two hundred max. That means putting eight hundred towards my budget for Mexico. Although I doubt I will ever have any extra money, a few years ago I had an estimate done on all the dental work I needed. It was over four thousand dollars and that was without the crown. I assume that I could get whatever I need done in Mexico a lot cheaper. Might even be worth putting it on my MasterCard if it's that much cheaper.

The first consideration is whether I can stay where I am for another three months. Given the normal terms of transitional housing, which is a maximum one year stay, I am confused as to why I was only given three months here. In all of their homes there have been exceptions to the rule, often for those who don't deserve it. I have been a model tenant, always paying my rent on time and helping out wherever I was. If Mexico is in the cards for October and I am out of here at the end of June that means I only need somewhere for three months. Obviously it would be a lot better for me to simply stay where I am for an additional three months, but I don't know if that is even possible. First job is to ask.

If I can't stay here then the decision is do I find somewhere, anywhere actually, to live until next year when I might be better able to go to Mexico. There are issues with that of course, like paying probably more than five hundred a month for a simple room, which will eat into the budget for Mexico. If I can stay where I am that puts another hundred and twenty-five dollars a month for three months towards my airfare and getting a new passport. Also, according to people I am chatting with in Mexico I can rent a decent place for far less than the five hundred a month I would be paying here in Canada. Everything costs a lot less in Mexico, especially food which is very expensive here. I figure I am spending at least three to four hundred a month on food here and that's just for the basics.

Yet another factor is what do I do with all my "stuff"? Over the last year and a half I have invested in far too many things for my own good. Much of it was things that where I lived didn't have, like a coffee maker, dishes, utensils, even cutlery. For work on my websites I invested in a Dell 27" monitor because the screen on my laptop is too small for my failing eyes. Back when I lived on Foran the TV was monopolized by guys who loved sports and not much else so I rarely got to watch any TV. I was at Best Buy on Boxing Day and they had an amazing sale on a Toshiba 43" TV/Monitor. The guy I was with said they probably had an extra TV box and there was a cable running to my room, so I jumped to buy the TV. That didn't work out and I tried to sell the TV at a huge discount but never did sell it. It's now our TV at the new house but the owner hasn't expressed any interest in buying it, so either try to sell it again or leave it here at this house until I return to Canada. It's not something I could easily put in storage because it didn't come with a box.

Thanks to the dollar store and some of the really cheap places in Belleville to get stuff I have far too many clothes to take plus many of them are things I would not need in Mexico, like winter coats and boots. If I'm coming back it would not be for the winter months so I wouldn't need any of it, but just like what happened when I intended to move to Ecuador, I gave all my winter stuff to Value Village, then needed it all again when I was forced to come back to Canada. To be safe I think I need to put anything I don't need in Mexico or won't fit into my luggage in storage. That means renting a locker at about fifty dollars a month, but I think that's the safest route given that I will be coming back in April next year when I will have a better idea if I am moving to Mexico permanently or not. Not sure about things like my bike or my bird feeder. What was I thinking? lol

A very big consideration is family, just like it was with Panama and Ecuador. Although I will never understand it until the day I die and not even then, my family has abandoned me long ago. I haven't spoken to my daughter in almost twenty-five years, despite ongoing efforts to reconnect. My son has blocked me on Facebook and I've never met four of my grandchildren. My son's oldest daughter requested that I remove her photos from this website. Really hurt. One of my grandkids has just recently connected with me on Facebook and she was very upset that her parents had prevented her from making her own decision on whether to connect with me or not. I'm beyond thrilled that we have chatted. The issue with moving to a place like Mexico is the same one I struggled with for Panama and Ecuador. The choice was to sit here in Canada, waiting, possibly forever, for my kids to change their minds and reconnect with their Dad, or go, knowing that if they expressed any desire to reconnect that we could Skype or I could come back to visit them. I hate to accept that I will die without ever again seeing my family, but it's been something I cannot force. I've tried everything to no avail.

Well, there you have it. Confusing, eh? If you've read this far, well, congratulations! I would honestly welcome frank opinions from anyone, no matter how blunt. For the first time in my life I am very confused and not able to make a firm decision. I've usually made a list of the good and bad to help me, but this time there is so much to consider, so much that could go wrong, and all of it tempered by my experience with Panama and Ecuador.


My Outdoor Adventure

This was truly my "experience of a lifetime" and I just wanted to share it with you. If you ever venture to Puerto Vallarta do not miss this one!

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