Tag Archives: Rosarito

It’s All About Following Your Dream

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It’s All About Following Your Dream

Five years ago I came to Mexico for the first time in my life. I was on a mission trip with my church and we spent a week in an impoverished village in the San Rafael Mountains. This trip changed my life forever. And I knew in my heart that someday I wanted to return to this country.

A mere five months later I found myself on a plane bound for Culiacan. My CTesl in hand, the plan was to teach for a year and then return to Winnipeg. I taught secundaria at a private school and immersed myself in the Mexican culture. I began to learn a new language and discovered new foods. Shopping, taking buses and taxis, the process of obtaining a cellular phone, getting a prescription at a pharmacy…………. these were all strange and different. At times the challenges were overwhelming and I was often discouraged. My mantra was “You can do this Karen. It’s only for one school year.”

But something very unexpected happened. I returned to Winnipeg in the summer, but for only five weeks! I stayed with friends initially, as I had to find an apartment and a job. After only one week in Winnipeg, I knew that I wanted to return to Mexico. And when I was offered a job in Irapuato, I jumped at the opportunity.

Unfortunately the teaching position in Irapuato did not in any way resemble the job description proposed in the Skype interview. After a month with no contract in sight, I headed for Guadalajara where I had been offered a job in a language institute.

I settled into life in Tlaquepaque, a quaint Mexican town in the midst of the second largest city in Mexico. I enjoyed teaching and the months flew by. I returned to Winnipeg for six months to have knee replacement surgery. And I was more than ready to return to Mexico!

I  went back to Tlaquepaque where I taught briefly at a language institute. I then moved on to teaching Business English to companies on site. Once again the months flew by all too quickly and it was time to return to Winnipeg to have a second knee replacement.

I eagerly boarded a flight to San Diego and had a car service pick me up at the airport to drive me to Rosarito in the Baja California. I wanted ocean. But I was so disappointed in Rosarito. The element of the danger of living in a border town hadn’t really crossed my mind. The town itself was depressing. I couldn’t find adequate housing. There were no buses. There were more boarded up shops than open shops. The beach area was not nice at all. The sidewalks rolled up at dusk. This poor man’s Vallarta was not for me!

After a week I headed for the bus station in Tijuana. I enjoyed a spectacular ride through the mountains and arrived in Culiacan in the wake of a hurricane warning. I spent a few days with my Mexican family and then was once again on my way back to Tlaquepaque.

This time I stayed for eighteen months. I taught at a language institute and became somewhat of a grammar guru. I obtained my residente temporal and health insurance from IMSS. I jokingly told my friends that I was becoming a Mexican. I even have long, dark hair now and am suntanned year round. But alas I will never wear those high, high heels that are so popular down here. I treasure my new knees too much.

I returned to Winnipeg via Culiacan, Mazatlan, Sayulita, Bucerias, Puerto Vallarta and Calgary. Amazingly all this was within a twelve day period! And that was when I made the final decision to accept a teaching position and move to Mazatlan. And after five hectic weeks in Winnipeg, I was more than ready to return to Mexico.

Why Mazatlan? I discovered this magical place when I lived in Culiacan and enjoyed coming here on weekends. Mazatlan itself is much smaller than Guadalajara. It’s also much cleaner and has far less pollution. But the real lure for me is the ocean. Water is so peaceful and tranquil. I discovered this years ago when I visited my parents one winter in San Diego. They lived right on Mission Bay. And I often dreamed about living near water.

I have followed this dream for forty years. But it is only recently since my divorce that I have actually been able to live my dream. I realized that it was solely up to me to make this happen. And I did. I am now in Mazatlan, close to the sea. When I seek peace and solitude, it’s mere minutes away. I love the sound of the crashing waves. I love the feel of the ocean spray on my face. The sand beneath my bare feet is a heavenly cushion. And I am home.

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The Countdown Is On

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I can’t believe that my time is almost up in Mexico. It seems like only yesterday I arrived in Rosarito, and yet it was almost a year and a half ago.

I had fully intended to settle down in the Baja. However, after a week of unsuccessful attempts at finding an apartment, I decided that maybe Rosarito just wasn’t the place to hang my hat. While the beach definitely had its appeal, the idea of living in a poor man’s Vallarta did not.

After a spectacular bus ride through the mountains and a rather tedious journey south, I arrived in Culiacan in the face of hurricane warnings. But instead I was greeted by hot, humid and sunny weather. I spent a few days visiting with my Mexican family and then headed for Guadalajara.

I rented an apartment in the same house as I had the year before. I was home. My favorite tiendas and taco stands were still here. The neighbors were the same. The only difference was the newly paved sidewalks and streets, most welcome after having had knee surgery. I quickly and easily found a job teaching in a language institute, and the time has just flown by all too quickly.

My life here in Mexico has for the most part been comfortable and fulfilling, despite the challenges of obtaining a work visa and health care coverage. The stress level is significantly lower due to the slower pace of life. There’s always another bus, there’s always another train, there’s always another day.

I enjoy my classes and have amazingly delightful students. The learning experience has been reciprocal, and my students have taught me a great deal about life in general, not just life in Mexico. And I am so grateful to have had this wonderful opportunity over the past few years.

It was extremely difficult to book that flight back to Winnipeg. While I am excited about seeing my family and friends, as well as my book launch, I am not looking forward to the flurry of other activities that await me. After a prolonged absence, there are medical appointments and financial planning that require my attention.

But I am determined to focus on the more positive aspects of returning to Winnipeg. My son had a house built a couple of years ago and his yard is now finished. I have a lot of catching up to do with friends as a lot has happened in the time I’ve been away. There is a new museum I want to visit. IKEA is applying for a liquor licence and Target has come and gone. In lieu of my usual online church service while here in Mexico, it will be great to attend in person. I plan on going to some of my favorite restaurants with my friends. And a cemetery visit is definitely on the agenda to see family who have passed on.

But today is a beautiful, sunny day here in Mexico and my laundry is drying outside on the line. And I will venture out shortly to my favorite incense shop and then spend some time in the Jardin Hidalgo before I teach my afternoon classes.

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