Since I’ve returned to Cancun from my grand and successful medical adventure in Florida about 6 weeks ago, we’ve been fortunate to have been visited by two different parties who have come to Mexico to either check it out for a future retirement destination or just to goof off. Although I wasn’t in top form, we enjoyed some great times visiting and eating sumptuous food in wonderful, local restaurants!
One couple has been living in Cuenca, Ecuador for the past couple of years and now feels that it is time to leave. They ran down their reasons for us and why they were looking at Cancun and Playa del Carmen here on Mexico’s Caribbean coast. We get it! Where a person chooses to live and why are extremely personal decisions and really isn’t something that should generate criticism from anyone. Nevertheless, that doesn’t stop many from criticizing.
The other guy, a good friend and his buddy, were just here on a lark, hoping to find a way to fly to Cuba and back within their abbreviated time frame. Didn’t happen! He’ll be back when he has a bit more time and some better organization and maybe I’ll go with them to Cuba! I’ve always wanted to go to Cuba!
An interesting phenomenon that was a part of the expat culture in Ecuador (and perhaps other places although I’ve not seen it here in Cancun) placed those who chose to leave Ecuador after a period of time, in the crosshairs of criticism from those who have claimed Ecuador as their permanent residence.
New expats, filled with hope and enthusiasm, arrive in their new homeland. They feel all the excitement of someone on vacation in an exotic land. They write to their friends and family about their wonderful new experiences. They post pictures on Facebook and write long narratives about their new friends, scary bus rides, new foods, the unbelievably horrible drivers and the amazing scenery. But then time passes…years may pass and one day, they realize that they are no longer thrilled with their choice. I think it’s like any other relationship. Some will last a life time while others will last only a few chapters. So what?!?!
If you are retired and have not anchored yourself to any particular geography, it’s absolutely fine to move. See some more of the planet. Divorce your old life, and start dating a new one!
The truth of the matter is that a significant number of expats will not stay in their newly chosen homeland forever. Some, like Diane and I, will stay for a year, two years or more and decide to move elsewhere. Some may move back to their home country while others move on to another expat destination. That’s when the criticism begins! For reasons completely foreign to me (no pun intended), those who announce their impending departure from Ecuador will come under fire as if where they chose to live had some influence on those remaining behind. While I could speculate as to why some folks behave this way, it seems pointless. (I’m thinking chronic constipation)
Those of us who have chosen the life of an expat have faced the numerous challenges associated with such a move. Some folks truly adapt to their new lives, their roots growing deeper and stronger with each passing month. Those folks love their lives or at least, claim to love their lives while others struggle to merge into a new culture.
And to be perfectly candid, some who are living on the financial edge may be trapped in their new expat country without the necessary resources to make a change even if they wanted to. Those folks would be hard pressed to make it in the States with such limited resources anyway. It is a financial reality. A single person trying to make it on $900-$1200 per month of Social Security income often struggles to keep body and soul together. Some of those folks do much better in many Latin American countries than they can do in the states and I applaud that effort.
Many have said the language barrier provided a greater challenge than anticipated. Some, like Diane and I, discovered that medical services were lacking in some critical disciplines and moved to another location for access to improved medical care. Advanced research can never provide all the answers. One must discover many, many things once on the ground and figure things out along the way.
The short of it is that at my age, I’ve finally learned to live my life with no concern for what others may think. Diane and I make our decisions without regard for the judgments applied by any friend, casual acquaintance or family member and we refuse to let fear be the thief that steals the life we could have.
We have structured our life so as to be able to cross borders and breathe the salt air of a different sea or ocean anytime we choose. Our lives now fit into 6 suitcases (okay…maybe 7 or 8) and if the need dictates or the whim arises, we can simply buy a couple of airline tickets to begin our next chapter. There is nothing more important to us than us and we now have good friends on several continents who share similar philosophies. We belong to a wonderful tribe of folks…folks like you! We are Expats (or future Expats)! We are adventurous. We are bold and we are grateful! But most of all, we are happy!
Thanks for being part of our tribe!