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.