Last week we traveled to San Carlos, Mexico. After a lot of research online it seemed to offer the most to warrant a visit. The winter ocean temperatures there are the same as the summer temperatures in Europe when I swim The Channel, homes and rentals aren't too expensive, and it's a very small town that includes Mexican culture with a large population of U.S. and Canadian retirees. After this trip, we have decided to make that our home for the next few years.
Yana, being a bit of a Negative Nancy, got a little anxious the night before we left. She can't help but cycle through all of the scary news stories when trying to search for “is Mexico safe?” on the internet. I'm just glad she got in the truck to leave and off we went. I think she's now glad she went. She has been defending our decision to move with her mom by using all of the great experiences we had while we were there.
First of all, we felt safe the entire trip. Not once did we get the remote feeling that we were on the verge of being kidnapped, beheaded, put in jail, robbed, or raped. Even when we got lost in Hermosillo after making a wrong turn, we both could have sworn we were in Houston, Texas. Aside from a few instances sailing in the Caribbean in September, it's one of the friendliest places we've ever been!
The Mexican people we ran into all through Sonora blew us away with their help and friendliness. Our first encounter with truly helpful was with our international cell phone that we had purchased before leaving. We stopped in Nogales right after crossing the border and went to the first Telcel store we could find so we could get a Mexican SIM card for the phone and have local service. Of course we landed in front of the store that had the young girl who spoke zero English. I knew enough Spanish to get her started, and with the help of the guy at the currency exchange, she assured us we were good to go and the phone would work. Our mistake for leaving before testing it.
Once we got out of Nogales and heavy traffic, we tried to call the realtor we were supposed to be meeting to look at a couple of places to stay for the week. Uh oh! Cue the static-laced, fast-talking Spanish recording of which we could barely make out a few words. We stopped at a couple of gas stations to ask for help with it and we finally found someone who said she understood a little English. Her and another clerk tried for a few minutes and weren't sure what to do. Then an older woman who was mopping the floor came over and started messing with the phone. She dialed numbers and typed in numeric codes and it truly looked like she was hacking the thing. Eventually she got the phone to call customer service and got me in touch with a rep who spoke English. I told her my problem, she asked me for some of my info and in a few minutes said the phone should work. After playing with the phone number combinations for a few calls, I finally figured out how to call a Mexican cell phone and got in touch with the realtor. Do you want to know how long I was at that store with those three women working on my phone? 45 minutes! Remember, this was a gas station...not a cell phone or electronics store. I was impressed. Not sure if I would get that from the lady mopping the floor at Exxon here in The States.
We have other stories of friendliness to go with that one, from the taco stand owner who would play with Doodle while we ate (showing him to all of the other tables in the process) to the Mexican construction workers who were standing in line before heading to work with their snacks who insisted on holding and playing with Doodle...talking to him in both Spanish and some English. We have never experienced this type of behavior in America. We loved it and wanted more.
During our trip we found some good rentals, and a few properties to purchase. We went down just looking to rent, but buying also has its appeal. Over the next couple weeks we will have to play with the numbers and see in which direction we want to proceed. I am personally starting to lean towards buying so we can still build equity and not just spend money renting for two years or more. Buying a house works way differently than in the U.S., but it does have it's advantages...like Albuquerque-priced houses a block or two from ocean beaches....yeah, baby!
Half of me doesn't want to publish information about San Carlos all over the internet because we love the small-town feel it has to it and want to keep it that way. We really liked the fact that there are no traffic lights, traffic, and the only occasional crime is petty theft. It's sad that the media tries to make Mexico out to be this dangerous place when it really isn't. Mexico is the largest Latin country in the world both in size and in economy. I read a post by another author online that said it best. They likened avoiding Mexico because of the drug wars and such to people not going to California because terrorists flew planes into buildings on the East Coast. I agree. Our current location: Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States of America...Our future location: San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico.