Saturday, January 28, 2012

Second Thoughts, Again

Right now, a month after our return from the latest south-of-the-border idyll, the common wisdom is that we--or at least, I--will put off retirement for a year or two. The thinking now is that we will move this coming summer to a little community just north of the city, right next to the Sound and a ferry to the Peninsula, but still convenient for me to work. It's odd how our Mexican retirement plan has been eclipsed.

The first doubt in that direction came from the emotional and political jolt of Occupy Wall Street. For us, it restored a lot of the hope we've had for years that something akin to good sense and humanity could actually come to inform our governing, and a wonder at what, together, we can become. We were inspired and invigorated to hang around here in the States for a while longer.

For me, there was also the realization that I've got a lot of invested in my work. I feel like I'm just now, after seven years, hitting my stride as a teacher, even though there are weeks, like the one just past. It was a struggle to make up for lost time from four snow days the week before. And all the time, in the back of my mind, has been anticipation of next week's 28 half-hour, mid-year conferences. Then, there's this long season of getting up in the dark, and coming home 13 hours later, also in the dark.

On the plus side though, I feel the heart-warming satisfaction of one of my ten-year-old students finally having four days of focused learning, accompanied by a steep decline in disruptive behavior. A couple of weeks ago, I confronted him privately about his habit of stealing and then denying it. Maybe that served as a catalyst to him becoming less self-destructive.

And then, there's the money and health care angle. I'm not sure we could have a decent life here in the States, so, if we stay here a little longer, I can bank more into retirement. BFF can carry the torch of our revolutionary flame, while guiding us to a more sustainable way of living, and working on better health.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Back Home

We came back from Yelapa, Mexico two days ago, after ten relaxing days in the sun. This was our third December in Casa Ana Rosa, managed by the matriarch of one of this isolated fishing village's leading families. The only way to get there is by water taxi, half an hour from Puerto Vallarta.

The bottom floor of the triplex-sized building is Sra. Lorenzo's home where she lives with her husband Ronco, and, during holiday times at least, an extended family of two grown sons, and a daughter, her husband, and their two girls.

Joining this nucleus for Christmas Eve dinner on the patio were a number of aunts and uncles and cousins. We were also invited to the feast, along with the half-dozen others staying in the building, all presided over by Ana Rosa's stern-looking mother, Dona Antonia. At least, this small, elderly and intimidating woman gave me a stern look when I arrived some minutes after she had been seated.

From the core of the family, though, we were treated as good amigos, especially since BFF and I had just given a charity to a couple of the relatives present who'd had some bad luck. It was much appreciated. The last few years have seen tough economic times in Yelapa, following a decade of growing prosperity. This past year, unfortunately, was following the trend--still fewer tourists in the village, and especially on the cash-cow beach. Even so, our welcome was warm, as usual. One of the pleasures of being in Yelapa is the friendliness, or, at least good-humored tolerability, of the people.

Our balcony overlooks a cove (half surrounded by twinkling lights at night), and out into the huge Banderas Bay. Just below us is Cafe Bahia, run by an ex-pat female chef, refugee from NYC. This cafe is fronted by the pier (el muelle), where virtually all the people and goods come and go, to and from this small village.

We had a plan to spend the winter portion of our upcoming retirement here in Yelapa, while the rest of the year we lived somewhere higher, away from the coast, and thus cooler and not so prone to excrutiatingly sweaty summers--somewhere like, but not, Guanajuato. But things seem to be moving in another direction.