You never know where you’ll end up

OR WHO YOU will end up with, for that matter.

There’s a photo of me pasted to our refrigerator door.  I was 19 years old and standing with one of my best friends at the time in my barracks room at Castle Air Force Base in Central California. It was 1963.

The friend, Adrian Landres, died about a decade ago.

I paused and looked long at that photo this morning. What a fresh-faced young fellow I was. I sported a sweatshirt tucked into blue jeans and had a watch cap on my head. I was smiling broadly. I had no clue about the future.

Or about much of anything, for that matter.

Adrian was wearing a slick suit he had tailor-made during an assignment somewhere in the Far East.

If someone had told my smiling self that I would spend the last couple of decades (or more) of my life in the middle of Mexico, married to a Mexican, how would I have reacted? With incredulity, I suspect.

Still in Houston in 1999, I visited bookstores (remember them?) and sat in cushy chairs with Retire in Mexico publications. Virtually nowhere did I see references to the mountaintop town where I now live. I recall just one mention of it that said it was not a popular destination due to its being quite cold.

It can get cold. Bring a wrap.

I imagine that advice has changed lots in the past 19 years. When I landed here, there were about 40 Gringos in residence. Many were quite odd, present company excepted, of course. Now there are at least 10 times that many.

And they’re not nearly as odd.

The place was colonially cute but tatty when I moved up from the nearby state capital (eight months there), and it did not change much until renovations got under way in a major way about two or three years ago.

It started with the streets and sidewalks in the dead center of downtown. That work is still ongoing because it’s incredibly labor-intensive. And just this weekend, the city government began a painting project that will freshen the façades of homes and businesses in the downtown zone, free to the owners.

We are a major-league tourist attraction, and the town fathers want to amplify that. Our “look” is from centuries ago, plus we’re one of the top Day of the Dead destinations in all of Mexico.

This is all fun to watch and, of course, it’s increasing the value of our two properties. Here are photos I stole from an online news website.

Screenshot (1)

Screenshot (2)

You never know where you’ll end up or who you’ll end up with. Life is full of surprises and unforeseen detours, eh?

32 thoughts on “You never know where you’ll end up

  1. Ten years ago I would have told you you’re crazy if you said I would be living in the mountains of Panama. Yes, it gets chilly at night and you need a blanket. There is no heat for the winter and really don’t need air-conditioning most of the time. My story is a little different. I am still married to the lady I married 44 years ago in Las Vegas. I am singing in a choir which I never have done before. I am an engineer but retired. Never had a singing lesson. But now I sing with gusto and in key. Folks seem to love me for it. Panama is not as big as Mexico. There is less crime, and it is a bit more expensive than Mexico, but I love it here and the people.

    Leave yourself open to adventures and when you retire, do your homework. I am excited that I get to sing in the middle of a stadium with 8,000 fans in a choir singing to honor the Pope who is coming to Panama in January. I am honored and humbled and happy about this. The culture in Panama is very similar to Mexico. Family is first here. Make a friend, and you are friends with his whole family. Be happy with what you have. I don’t believe in karma but in the divine leading me by the nose to do things to do God’s will. Thanks for the article.

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    1. Ross: Thanks for the feedback. Moderation only happens on the first comment. Sounds like you’re having a great time. And yes, you never know how you’ll end up. It’s downright fun. Feel free to visit again.

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  2. I was pointed in this direction, although I would not know it at the time. Christmas 1959, St. Joseph, Missouri, my grandparents’ house, where I was fascinated by the National Geographic book on the American Indian, poring over it so much that my grandmother would sign over the book to me a month later. The two chapters which were most appealing were about the Aztecs and the Purepechas of Lake Patzcuaro. That Christmas would be the one memorialized by a photo of me wearing red dress, the double cowgirl holster bearing two cap guns tugging my red petticoat out of place. That book still resides on the bookshelf in my dining room.

    The December 1979 issue of Texas Monthly had a piece about the best little hotels in Mexico, having seen those in and around CDMX already, counseled by a guy I’d met in a bar who insisted that I really should see Michoacan, since his uncle had been governor, I set out to visit the rest. And that’s how I was introduced to the Villa Montana, which served as the point of entry to many gringos back in the day.

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    1. Peggy: I thought about putting it on the post, but I decided against it. It would have been the easiest route. To put it in a comment, I’d need to scan it and download it somewhere that allows me to put it into comments. I’ll give it some thought. Maybe I’ll scan it and just send it to you in an email. That would be the easiest for me. And I’m lazy.

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      1. Didn’t you post a copy of that photograph in a post several years ago? I think you did. It led to a discussion between the two of us about our respective assignments at Castle. Of course, I may have simply made this all up.

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        1. Señor Cotton: You very likely are correct, astoundingly. I was sort of wondering if I had. It would have been a goodly number of years. Stuff like that does not stick well in my aging noodle. Obviously, far less than it does in yours.

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  3. It wasn’t until my older years that I began to see how events in life can change at any given time, either for the best or for the bad. I’ve found it somewhat comforting to know that if I’m in a bad spot in time, it can change for the better the next day. And anything is possible. You just never know where or what you’ll be doing a few years down the road.

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  4. As a kid who was raised in an evangelically religious family, the biggest surprise for me was winding up spending A LOT of time in honky-tonks. I just love a dance hall and a good live band. And a beer, but no more than two.

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    1. Creigh: Well, that’s interesting. I was raised by agnostics. Was never sent to church in my childhood with the exception of when I visited my Baptist/Methodist paternal grandparents in the summer. It did not stick. But I also have spent A LOT of time in all manner of bars. Don’t care much for live music, then or now, except when I had a snootful. Now I never have a snootful, or even one drink. Teetotaler.

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  5. You’ve done well. I cannot tell you the number of people I know in their forties and fifties who say, “I never thought I’d be in this position at this age.” And it’s not said in a good way. Divorced. Bankrupt. Divided families. Sad stuff.

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    1. Ray: Yes, I’ve done well. I hope you do well too. You’re young yet, comparatively speaking. As for the sad stuff, I too have been divorced, known a divided family, both down here a bit, and up there (big time). Never been bankrupt because I’m sharp with money, i.e. I don’t spend more than I make.

      Come on down … and stay.

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  6. I never would have expected Mexico for my landing place. One never plans that far ahead when you are busy dropping change at local watering holes.
    I notice that there were no engineers from the ADA present when the wheelchair ramps were designed. One of your pictures would be a grand retirement for a trial attorney NOB. Or walking by one will create a opportunity to get a settlement for lots of cash because of its inherent poor consideration for the non-wheelchair person. We probably shouldn’t bring that to anyone’s attention or the next photo you will have will be that of a torn-up sidewalk, repairing the ramp. On second thought that repair would only happen NOB, once a fault is discovered. Both pictures are inviting, but remember the ideal spot for transplants is SMA.

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    1. Tancho: I still pray that most Gringos will head to San Miguel. It will suit them better. As for our wheelchair ramps, what’s the problem with them? They look fine to me.

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  7. Life sprung Mexico on me some 30 years ago. It has taught me much. I’ve given, been taken, and keep going back. Been divorced, survived separated families, lost money, made money and lived a pretty decent life. Still want to go to ALABAMA and see Mr. Ray. I was thinking the other day, life never really turned out the way I perceived it would. I wanted to be married. Now, not high on my list. Too old now, but then I see many people together who wish they weren’t, so all in all it’s been a really good run. No regrets. Oh, just bought another motorcycle. My lady in Mexico wants to ride. She now has a Honda 750 Shadow. It’s a beauty.

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    1. Bob: Alabama is a long way from Canada, and a long way from Mazatlán too, so who knows if you’ll ever have the pleasure of meeting Mr. Ray in person. I won’t unless he comes down here. So you bought your lady a bike? I hope it’s not her first bike because 750 is too big for a novice. You do want to keep her around for a spell, ¿no?

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  8. Señor, you have a bunch of old people for compadres. I guess you can’t help it.
    It’s probably better that way.
    I wake up every day surprised I’m still here. Hopefully, that continues for a while yet.

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    1. Ricardo: Let us keep our fingers crossed. There’s a Gringo couple who live in my hardscrabble barrio just a couple of blocks from us. They’ve been here eight years. The guy is 89 years old. He still drives and doesn’t even wear glasses. Gets around real good.

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  9. I like the fact that you’re having an adventure in your old age, and that you’re so eloquently sharing it with us, your readers. May you have many more adventures.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Redding, CA
    Where the current adventure is getting a bit old.

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    1. Kim: Who you calling old, buster? I am in the prime of life. Well, almost, but I am having a better time than most people of my vintage who live above the Rio Bravo, I wager. Setting off on a brand-new adventure at the age of 55 is something I recommend highly.

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