Destination Mexico … amongst the palms and the pelicans

It seems like another universe, as I glance back at Canada from our new home in sunny, warm Mexico … just “South of 20.”

It was just yesterday, Dec. 30th, and it was -2 C on the skating rink that passed for a parking lot at our glamour-free motel in Comox on Vancouver Island. Our WestJet flight was frozen to the tarmac in -31 C Calgary and we were stranded after a year of meticulous planning to escape BC indefinitely.

Carmelo, our Mexi-rescue-mutt, was in the process of being repatriated to Bucerias on Banderas Bay in Nayarit and didn’t have a clue. He was being asked to take a leak on ground too frozen for his paws to endure for more than a few minutes. He went one way, I went another and the crushing thud onto the ice butt-first was just the punctuation mark I needed to confirm that our exit would not be a flawless one.

On New Year’s Eve, our second attempt at freedom was a success and, with Carmelo crammed and still confused under the seat at my feet, we rose, de-iced, above the Strait of Georgia and our WestJet pointed itself south for destination Puerto Vallarta.

For Donna and me, it was the first chapter of a new adventure and the final BC curtain call after a year of exhaustive planning and logistical juggling.

It all began last January. I was standing in the kitchen in our Campbell River rancher looking out over a yard a foot or two deep in snow and marvelling that the global warming theologists still had pews from which to preach hellfire and ruin. Out of the blue Donna said: “Let’s go and live someplace warm.” I folded faster than Superman on laundry day: “Yes, Dear; whatever you say.” Well, it wasn’t exactly like that, but you get the drift.

Settling on Bucerias was the easy part. Getting here took every spare moment over the next 11 months. First item of business was the ubiquitous To-Do List. Here are some of the major items that demanded our attention: Renew passports for 10 years, book flights (February to find rental, November to take possession of apartment, December to move), book Mexican consulate visit in Vancouver to apply for visas (and organize investment portfolio to qualify), find property manager for long term rental of our home, find appropriate sized storage locker for 25 years of accumulation, book a mover, sell vehicles, research veterinary requirements, research Mexican health insurance (and notarize – apostille – important documents  with Mexican Embassy in Ottawa), work with accountant to plan filing taxes remotely, convert all important government communications (CRA, GST) from snail mail to online, update wills, notify utilities, unlock cell phones … and the list goes on for pages.

In the coming days and weeks, I’ll focus on some of the most significant challenges to ease the way for those of you who yearn for an extended stay amongst the palms and the pelicans … whether for three to six months like hundreds of Canadian expatriates in this area, or for the long haul.

I’ll also report on some of the challenges you may face finding a suitable place to rent and generally getting settled in your new life.

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