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Neighbors’ Squared
December 29th, 2011 by Les

Mark Twain was heard to say…”New Years Day…now is the accepted time to make  your usual resolutions.  Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.”

“If you live among fear-driven sheep, may you, this New Year, choose to be the love-driven shepherd.”  Soren Lauritzen

It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?

These gentle lyrics sung by Mr. Rogers himself bring back memories.

Most of the people in my life, friends and family alike think I’m a good egg though slightly cracked.  I am one with that.  For, dear readers, I am the epitomy of absurd, I love the absurd and take gentle pleasure in observing the absurd in action.  I embrace looniesy with a passion.  If I observe someone dancing in the street….I join in.  If I observe someone singing  a song….on pitch or not….I attempt the same.  If I come upon someone laughing so hard tears are streaming down their face….I begin to laugh as well feeling an instant kinship and not needing to know why they are laughing.  You get my drift….really askew of center and loving it.

I find it amazing when I’m talking with family members or friends and we have a “light bulb” moment .. “what?”…”You too!” … “I thought I was the only one!”

This is the season of many holidays…even if you are not celebrating one of them…you find yourself caught up…if you are in the least bit aware of your surroundings…in the fun of it/them.

Reality is the leading cause of stress.  I spend a good deal of my time not being in touch with it…reality that is.  Everyone stay calm and hand over the latkes, as my Jewish friends would say, before we start taking ourselves too seriously.

I decided to end this year, 2011, by asking more of my neighbors to tell us what brought them to this little area ofMexico.  There were no restrictions.  I asked them to share honestly whatever they would like to share.  I put no limit on the length, going for the message within. 

Enjoy…

Jaime Barbiery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, there is a GLBT retired community in Ajijic…. Who would thought?                                                                                             

By Jaime Barbiery

Not me when I arrived 2 years ago to the beautifulvillageofAjijic.

I visited a close friend who had retired here 6 years ago. My intention was to visit for a 3-month period. In that short amount of time I was enamored with the ability to connect, easily, naturally, with both the gay Mexican and expat community. My close friend introduced me to the weekly gathering of gay expats of various ages whom had also been open to change to make the transition in moving toMexico.  Many have been living here for 20 years or more. Presently our community consists of couples from such diverse places like the USA, Canada, Belgium, Australia, Britain, Cuba, and of course Mexicans too!  All are part of the GLBT community, from affluent to living well on Social Security, all coming together to enjoy the pleasuresMexicohas offered.

During the time I have been here, I have always asked other gay friends to share their story of how and why they ended up here in Ajijic.  Many shared the obvious:

  • Near perfect weather year round and gorgeousLakeChapalaviews
  • Ease of transition into the warmth of the Mexican culture
  • Better standard of living than in NOB (north of the border) on their Social Security and/or savings,
  • Choices of housing either buying or renting
  • Acceptance by Mexicans of the gay culture in theLakesidearea
  • Better and affordable health care options
  • Acceptance and appreciation of Mexicans respect for older adults
  • The ability to nurture our creative side
  • To build on our strengths
  • The ability to form a gay expat community
  • The ease of speaking in either Spanish or English
  • The major city, Guadalajara 45 minutes away
  • An international airport 30 minutes away
  • Diversity of expat culture
  • Just enjoying the retirement years

There is more of course, particularly in my case, the ability to fall in love and legally marry a Mexican man. Who would of thought?

Many of us have started new chapters in our lives.  Some own businesses some work NOB for a few weeks and make enough to live in Ajijic for several months and others like me, who has accessed my creativity and become a photographer.  I invite each of you reading this to take an adventure to Ajijic for a visit and see if our community fits your gay lifestyle. You are welcome here brothers and sisters!

Feel free to contact me directly at jbarbiery@yahoo.com

Please visit my blog: http://jaimesadventure.blogspot.com/

Please visit my website of photography:  http://web.me.com/shiraz5/Site/Welcome.html

Jane and Frank

Jane and Frank’s Excellent Adventure

“We can do better than this”. Six simple words; sounds innocent enough.  But when those words are spoken and it leads to a move from NJ to Chapala MX , and the construction of a home and horse boarding facility, buying and building from scratch in said foreign country, the innocence is kind of lost.  We are two boomers (Jane and Frank) who lived and worked in the NY metro area.  About 10 years ago we started to consider where to relocate when we cashed in our chips el Norte.  One of us hates the cold, the other hates the heat. Got on the internet (of course) and searched for places that had great moderate climates.  Well there’s Kenya (not), and the Canary Islands (but it’s anIsland) and Lake Chapala MX.  As it turned out we both had a long history traveling and even living inMexico(Jane did a year college inMexico City and some anthropology in Oaxaca, we traveled extensively thru Mexico over the years), but had never been to this part of the country.   So we came down checked it out and decided it was for us. 

We bought two townhouses in Villa Nova with the intention of eventually moving down and either buying or building a home.  Six years ago a little (well not so little) wrinkle developed in our plan, Jane took up horseback riding after a 40 year hiatus; and Frank soon followed. Within 2 years we had 4 horses and then it dawned on us—uh, what do we do with the horses when we make the move Lakeside?  So we made another trip down to try to figure out where we could board our horses—after all we had seen horses all over the place when we were here before, so there had to be American type boarding facilities—right?  Wrong.  Well wrong, in terms of the type of facilities we were used to in theU.S.  So hence the fateful 6 words.  Instead of boarding we decided to do our own thing.  First, we thought we could find an old farm and renovate.  Then thought we could buy a big enough piece of land to do our own thing.  And then it dawned on us, maybe other boomers that have horses would be interested in U.S. style boarding facilities, so our idea morphed into an equestrian center for our 4 horses, plus 6 boarders, and a home for us, and building lots for some other like minded folks. We found 2 hectares (that’s 4.2 acres) of land up in the hills just east of Chapala and began planning and building our dream—Rancho del Paso.  After 4 years of construction and having to wait out the Great Recession before we could find a buyer for our home in NJ, we made the move.  The following are some notes on our journey. 

Trip With Horses to Valley View Texas

We started the journey on Friday, June 3rd, 2011.  The drive time (according to Google Maps) was 28 hours from our Bedminister NJ stables to the interim place we were going to stage our horses, in Valley View Texas.  For this part of the trip we had a little caravan going.   Jane drove her Caddy with the 2 cats in the back seat, towing a utility trailer with the ATV, and Frank drove the VW  Taureg hauling the trailer with two of the horses (Gracie and Hermoso-the other 2 had already been shipped to our trainer in Texas.)  We bought walkie talkies and used them to keep in touch on route—“10/4, roger that, big buddy”.  Pictures from our first overnight stop:

Car TrailerSome of Our Horses

 

Some of Our Horses

Horse Trailer
On the way we spent two nights in TN at an equestrian community in Spencer, TN  –  to trail ride (quite nice trails), and to check out how it is organized and run (very well).  Overall, a very nice development, but in the middle of nowhere— an hour to a grocery store, 3-4 hours and all you can get to is Nashville or Chattanooga or Knoxville.  Big whoop.  
 
Next we visited some horsie friends who live in northwest Mississippi. Very hot and humid. Interesting side note:  The hubby of this couple likes Mexican beer, Negra Mondelo in particular.  He used to get it at the local Wal-Mart.   Last time he went to get some there wasn’t any and he asked when more would be coming in.  They said never, as the locals had demanded that it be removed from the shelves, cause of the Negra part of the name!  It’s a dark beer and well in Spanish in Mexico they call dark beer negra—cause well that’s what it is, dark.  Sheesh, sometimes the PC attitude in the U.S. does get a little silly.
 
The  8 ½ hours to Valley View TX—very hot (100 +), and very long drive.  Left the horses ad horse trailer, bid a fond (temporary) goodbye to them, and headed to Laredo in the Caddy, with the cats, hauling the ATV.    On Monday we humans, and the cats, cross the border; we’re in Mexico.  Go thru customs twice (because we took a wrong turn and ended up on the bridge going back to the U.S.)  Find the correct turn to go to the place to register our car and errrrrrrr get pulled over by the local cops.   Seems that while we made a left while the light was green, it was after the green arrow had gone out and as we now know that’s a no-no in Mexico.  After some conversation—i.e., Jane going back and forth with the dudes in Spanish, we paid them 400 pesos ($35) [rather than take the $100 ticket and spend the rest of the day at the Nuevo Laredo city hall paying it] and were on our way….  To wait on line for 3 hours to get our car papers—because “the computers, they be down”.   Oh, and it was silly hot, 105.  Almost cooked the cats, but got out of there and on our way by 1PM.  
 
 The drive from Nuevo Laredo to Monterrey is through some of the bleakest country we have ever seen.  The funny thing though is that while it was still bloody hot for the first 2 hours or so, we started to climb and the temperature began to drop.  The further south we went from the border the more the temp dropped—really weird— but really welcome.   Overnighted in Matehuala, which is the half-way point.  Stayed in a so-called “no tell” Motel.  You drive in via a portico and register via an intercom and one way glass, drive around to your unit, park your car in a garage and enter your room.  Very clean and simple, well sanitized…vibrating bed, mirrors, and towel dispenser right by the bed.  You guessed it No tell = a place to take your mistress to have some umm fun, and not be seen by anyone.  It goes even further.  They have “room” service; you call in your order to the front desk, and they bring it and pass it thru the wall to you on a lazy Susan type affair, you pass the money back all sight unseen.  Overall, it worked very well; it was secure, clean, and only 400 pesos for the night.
 
Tuesday drive the rest of the way to Chapala.  Checked into a garden villa at Nueva Posada (one of the great little hotels in the area) and had a late dinner there to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary!  We did it.  10 days of driving, covering 2,800 miles.  We’re beat, but here.  No rest for the weary however.  Spend the next 2 weeks traveling to Guadalajara with our builder and designer to pick tile, plumbing fixtures, hardware, appliances, lights…..  Spent the next 4 weeks after that pushing the guys to finish the house so we can move in. It was supposed to be ready in April, oh well. After another 6 weeks we arranged to have the cats looked after by a wonderful person we met in La Floresta while we embarked on the next part of our journey—getting the horses into Mexico and down here Lakeside.
 
Tales From Our Trio to get The Ponies

We flew back up to Dallason Sunday August 3rd, 2011.  Our trainer picked us up at DFW and drove us back to her new ranch inDecaturTX.  Spent a couple of days there; Frank getting re-acquainted with his two horses (Pildorin and Mi Principe Hermoso), and Jane getting to know her new boy Adorno de Oro and cuddling with her mare Agraciada Dama.  Two horse trailer – hence, 2 trips needed.  We first trailered (that’s a verb, to horsie folks) down to Laredo with Adorno and Pildorin, and overnighted the horses there. BTW – it was 111 degrees inLaredo that afternoon — we wimped out and got one of the stable hands to clean out our trailer so it could pass through Mexican customs OK.  And, we had hired a customs broker to take the horses over the border.

The horses were picked up at 8:30 the next morning and our broker took them in his trailer to pass through Mexican customs, while we cleared Customs and Immigration and got the permit papers for bringing in our SUV and horse trailer. We got a green light for customs; they took a quick look in our empty horse trailer then waved us on. It took over 4 hours for our broker to get the horses through Customs (it was supposed to be 2), as there was a big herd of cattle to be inspected. Our broker led us to a feed store inNuevo Laredoand we loaded up with hay and feed for the trip (can’t bring anything organic across the border), and got the horses loaded and hit the road by 1:30 pm. The broker did a great job; the horses weren’t even sweaty, in that awful heat! And, once we were on the road and moving, they stayed cool with the air coming through the trailer.

Many, many people had warned us of the narco gangs and gunfights and prison breaks etc. up by the border, but we had clear sailing. LOTS of armed troops around the border and on the road between Nuevo Laredo and Monterrey(always traveling in groups, never alone, often with an armored personnel carrier in the convoy, and jeeps with a gunner on duty) but we felt very safe.   3 hours south of Laredo, we again started reaching a cooler climate. The temperature fell 40 degrees in 2 hours, as we drove up into the mountains.

We were following some directions written a couple of years ago — and it turned out that the gas station we were counting on, was on the other side of the road which was now a divided highway, and we couldn’t reach it. We drove for another hour and a half, watching the “Range  Left” gas gauge dropping and dropping. We did everything to save gas, slowed way down, drafted a semi-tractor trailer. We thought we were toast!  But, we covered the last 5 miles on “0 gallons of gas left” and made it to a Pemex station. Whew!

We got to our hotel in Matehuala at 7:30 pm, in a torrential downpour (now, Matehuala is in a desert climate. Go figure!). We were beat. Frank turned a corner in the parking lot and ran over a curb, which blew a tire out on the trailer. Horses still on the trailer, and we had to find out from the hotel where we were stabling them for the night – we didn’t have the address but knew that the place closed at 8 pm. AARRRGGH! Well, Frank changed that tire in 10 minutes flat (with help from a bell boy and a hotel manager) and the front desk called the vet who was providing an overnight stop for our horses. Turned out, this vet (Amulfo Castillo Guerrero) had been a student of our vet in Guadalajara, Dr. Anguiano. Small world!

We picked up the horses the next morning, drove 8 hours down to Dr. Anguiano’s in Guad, and off-loaded the horses at his stables where we left them there for the 4 days while we traveled back north for our other 2 horses. 

Our adventure continued the next day when we headed back north toLaredoto pick up the other two ponies, Gracie and Hermoso. We saved the easier horses for the second part of the trip, when we figured we’d be whacked. Our trainer brought the horses to Laredo for us.  A little tougher trip this time. The broker picked our horses up at 7:30 am but it took 10 hours for him to get the horses across the border at Laredo on Monday, so we over nighted in Nuevo Laredo, in a hotel with armed guards in the parking lot.  We also got hit up by the customs guys this time when we crossed the border and had to pay duty on things like my muchly-used saddle, and the lamps and electric fence we were bringing down with us, etc. But, only about $100 duty in all, not so bad except for the extra 2 – 3 hours in line, waiting to be inspected. The high that day in Laredo was 117 degrees….

The next day we drove to Matehuala, over-nighted there again.  Curious, we were stopped at 5 different federale checkpoints and had to show our horse papers each time. The first trip, we never ever had to show the papers.  Drove to Dr. Anguiano in Guad the next day, left Gracie and Hermoso with him, and picked up Adorno and Pildorin. We got to the Rancho in early evening, and turned Adorno and Pildorin into their stalls.  Finally, there be horses at the Rancho!!

 Then settled into our temp rental in La Floresta – hopefully only for a couple of weeks! Went back to Guad the next day for Gracie and Hermoso – arrived in a tearing rainstorm with hail, took a couple of hours to get the horses and their paperwork because Dr. Anguiano was teaching a seminar on injections into the lower leg joints – he had students from all over Mexico attending.

Movin’ In

Friday August 19:  We finally have a working toilet in our new house, and the kitchen is about done (fridge is finally delivered). So we clean up the upper floor and start to move in and unpack the container of stuff we had shipped down in February.  A lot of the lighting will consist of bare bulbs hanging out of the walls and ceilings, and we haven’t located our mattress in our storage area yet, and the only clothes we’ve found are either heavy winter stuff, or part of our “Too small to wear but too good to throw out” collection.  A lot of construction design and development work left to be done but hey, we can live with that.

September- early December:  we are in residence at the rancho!  Us and our 4 Peruvian Paso horses, 2Bengal cats, and 2 adopted Mexican dogs.  As well as a varying crew of 10 – 20 workmen, our stable hand, and a part-time maid.  We’ve never been so happy in our lives.

In parting dear friends…..

May we live in a world at peace and with the awareness of God’s love in every sunset, every flower that unfolds, every baby’s smile, every loved one’s kiss, every wonderful person in our lives and every astonishing and miraculous beat of our heart.

The way to find out if your mission on earth is finished…if you are alive, it’s not!

Thank you to our friends, Jamie, Frank and Jane for sharing.  Happy New Year to our readers.

David and Les Lawrence

Christmas in Ajijic

 

A Manger Scene

 

Another Manger Scene

Precious Child

 

Another Christmas Scene in Ajijic

 

Peace Be With You


2 Responses  
  • Cindy writes:
    December 29th, 201111:24 pmat

    Dear Les,

    As always,I love reading your blog! Very interesting to hear all the ways Lakesiders ended up in Mexico. Best wishes for health and happiness in 2012 to you and David!

    un abrazo, Cindy

  • LuAnn Oburn writes:
    December 29th, 20118:04 pmat

    Thank you Les for your beautiful, slightly off-center prose and David, for your amazing pictures. Mostly thank you for the gift of your friendship, one that we will treasure always. May 2012 bring you both the gift of good health and everything you desire to lead a fulfilling life. Happy New Year!

    We love you!

    Terry & Lu


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