For the past five years, I have lived in several different places for varying amounts of time.
When I first separated from my husband, I moved back to Winnipeg and lived in a small apartment. This was the view from my fourth floor balcony.
I had never lived alone before in my life and my daughter thought it would be a good idea for me to have a cat. So off we went to her friend’s farm near Manitou to select a kitten. I named her Vanessa and she was simply adorable!
She was great company. My already cramped apartment became even more crowded with all of her toys and a scratching post. As she grew, she became quite mischievous. Vanessa shredded the screens on my patio doors and bedroom windows. She ripped up the linoleum in the bathroom. And I can’t believe how high that cat could jump!
Vanessa was beautiful, but unfortunately not well suited to apartment life. I reluctantly told my daughter that Vanessa would have to go. Fortunately my daughter was living on a farm in Brunkild at the time, and was able to keep her. Vanessa was much happier running freely about the acreage. Actually, I think I would have been happier in that environment too, but I remained in the confines of my small apartment for a few more months.
Shortly after graduating from university, I found myself on a plane headed for Mexico and my first ESL teaching job in another country. I lived in Culiacan, Sinaloa for eight months and taught secundaria at a private school. But more importantly, I found my Mexican family.
It was really difficult to leave Culiacan and return to Winnipeg. Reverse culture shock set in and the five weeks were very stressful. I have wonderful friends who took me into their hearts and homes, but it took a lot of moving around as I stayed with six different people that summer.
My next stop was Irapuato, Guanajuato. I was hired to teach primaria in a private school. I stayed only two months. There was no contract made available and no health insurance as promised. And the school added extra hours and activities. When I was offered a job in Tlaquepaque on a Saturday night, I packed hastily and was on a bus Sunday morning headed for Guadalajara.
I began teaching at a language institute where I had students of all ages. I had just settled into the house when the decision was made to move us to a house closer to the school. Time to pack my bags again!
I did stay in that house for just over six months. Until one Friday night I arrived home to find that the street was being ripped up the next day in order to replace the water pipes. Time to move again. I was waiting to have knee surgery and was in no position to navigate a torn up street. Here is what it looked like the day after I left.
With the help of my friend Alfredo, I was packed and in a taxi to Central Nueva within an hour. And then I headed to Culiacan to spend some time with my family.
Then I was off to Mazatlan for a few days of sun and sand.
A friend picked me up at the airport in Winnipeg and I stayed with her for about a week. My daughter asked me to babysit her cats while she was away and that turned into a three week stay instead of only one week.
I then rented a room in a house where I stayed for three months. It wasn’t the greatest environment for recovering from knee surgery. My walker didn’t fit through the bathroom door, the shower was in a bathtub with high sides and there were dangerous scatter rugs everywhere. There were steps at the front entrance that kept me housebound until I was able to give up the walker and graduate to a cane. The house was also in an area far away from my children and my friends. But I was very grateful to find somewhere to stay on a month to month basis for such a reasonable rent.
I then moved into a furnished apartment downtown for two months. It was nice to have everything on one level, including a washer and dryer. And it came with maid service as well.
And then I returned to Tlaquepaque. I moved into a house that I shared with four other people.
I lived here for almost six months, before returning to Winnipeg via Culiacan and Puerto Vallarta.
In Winnipeg I was very fortunate to rent the most perfect house for recovering from a second round of knee surgery. It boasted a wheelchair ramp, a walk-in shower with a seat, a raised toilet and magnetic accordion doors. And I stayed there for the entire six months!
I returned to Mexico via Denver and San Diego. My goal was to spend the winter in Rosarito in the Baja Norte.
But the housing situation left a lot to be desired. Rosarito can best be described as a “poor man’s Vallarta.”
After five days I headed for Culiacan to visit my family. My nietos had grown so much in just a few months!
And then it was time to return to Tlaquepaque. I am staying in the same house as last year, but with new housemates.
As I write this, I have been here for two months. And I am seriously contemplating moving on in the near future. There is so much of Mexico that I still want to explore.