My Mexican Moments: Chapter 3

“If We Were to Buy?”

Over dinner we sit on our rooftop gazing at the Cathedral glowing in the evening light and play the “if we were to buy in Mazatlan” game … where and what would it be? After 20 days and nights we know Mazatlan is for us. It meets our criteria for retirement, but the icing on the tortilla is the unexpected sweetness of the Mexican people. While they do cherish their families, fireworks and fiestas, they always include the expats. I have yet to detect that they resent our presence. The Mexicans genuinely want to share their delightful life and their joyous spirit. Mazatlan is positively an inclusive society.

“If we were to buy?” The where: Centro Historico Mazatlan is very much like a neglected set of teeth. Some of the teeth are polished and working well. Other teeth have been pulled and are awaiting crowns. Then, there are the teeth which are just rotting away, and you don’t know what’s going to replace them, if anything. Mazatlan snakes around the Pacific Ocean. The southern tip houses the old town, Centro Historico, and the further north you go, you’ll hit timeshares, condos, all-inclusive resorts with lavish golf courses and the Big Box stores. That area is referred to as the Golden Zone. High rises are jammed along the ocean, and new buildings go up faster than you can mix the cement. There’s a small rivalry between Centro and the Golden Zone (GZ), but the need for each other eclipses any antagonistic feelings. Except for some of the timeshare salesmen who whisper to tourists, “Don’t go to Centro;it’s dangerous.” And timid visitors believe these words. We subscribe to the Malcolm Gladwell’s theory of “blink;” within one day we know we are Centro people, bad teeth and all. Centro it is, for evening daydreaming.

“If we were to buy?” The what: Soren adores private courtyards, fountains and large elegant spaces. So do I, but that means honest-to-God Mexican street life which invites choirs of howling dogs, screeching roosters, impromptu banda bands at 2 a.m., floods in the summer and the endless puttering of being a home owner. I remind Soren that for the past six years he’d been telephoning the superintendent in our Toronto apartment to fix everything. He has four tool boxes and occasionally reaches in and fondles a tape measure. I also introduce the unforeseen neighbour factor. One day, a great family; another week, an abandoned ruin; another month, a restaurant; another year, a carpenter’s shop. Bylaws here are elastic and it’s all in who you know. We can buy the most magnificent casa and gain the most magnificent annoyance. You simply can not count on what happens next door. A condo it is, with all its convenient bells and whistles. If I am to grow old on the Pacific, then by gosh, I want a view of the ocean. Not a glimpse, not a hint, but up close and personal. We walk some more, we talk some more and come to the conclusion that you can not get both. A condo in Centro with an ocean view is an oxymoron. We will simply continue to rent.

There are several ritzy areas in Centro which will guarantee us excellent ocean views, but we eliminate them for two reasons: one, we can’t afford the houses, and two, we would require a car. Our goal is to walk everywhere, take the bus or a cab. We have no desire ever to own a vehicle in Mexico. Owning a car in Mexico is the equivalent of us participating in an extreme sport. Not. Ever. Happening.

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