Convention Time


Fly Convention At The Pool!!!!!!

Fly Convention At The Pool!!!!!!

Who would have thought that our little fishing town of Chelem would host an annual convention. I didn’t even know that we had a convention bureau. They say that Chelem has 5000 full time residents. I guess if you consider our family (my wife and I, 2 dogs and 1 cat) a family of 5, then 5000 full time residents is possible. But an annual convention?

It appears that the last day of May each year is the end of the annual May Fly Convention in Chelem. Although I did not see an advertisement, it appears that the final night’s activity is a swim party. This year the party was held in our pool.  Now parties are nice. I like swim parties. Only 1 problem. May Flies can not swim. Yes, you guessed it, they try, but end up floating on the pool surface. Although this does not look nice, it has it’s positives.

In the early morning and early evening, these floaters attract swallows who fly over our pool, dive down and pick up a fly or two for their meal. For my pilot friends, I call these flights either a Touch & Go, Fly By, or Splash & Go. This can be great entertainment when we are sitting under the Palapa and the birds decide to make circle passes into the pool, left turn under the Palapa and back into the pool. It is like sitting in the middle of the Indianapolis 500 of bird racing.

Yes, I can clean the convention swimmers from the pool surface, but I like to wait until the Touch & Goes are completed. This is great to watch and our dogs seem to be hypnotized. They sit and watch as the birds fly under the Palapa and back over the pool. The bottom grass on the Palapa is only 7 feet above the patio, so the birds are flying “nap of the earth”. During this activity, we stay seated. No reason to take a chance of a head on collision with a speeding swallow. Every once in a while, a swallow will make 2 splash & goes on the same pass. This is a little like my plane landings only mine were called bounce & goes or sometimes just bounce & bounce landings.

Fly Convention at the Swim-Up Bar

Fly Convention at the Swim-Up Bar

Although we get bugs floating in the pool every morning, the May Fly Convention brought a larger number of floaters. Our pool is usually cleaned each morning, thus eliminating the non swimmers. We check the pool several times throughout the day for non swimming bees. Bees have been shrinking in number in the Yucatan, so we try to save as many as possible if we see them trying to swim. Some are good swimmers and they get to the side of the pool and crawl out, dry off and fly away. Some make it to the pool edge, climb out, dry off and fly back into the pool. Not good direction, I guess their GPS system is still wet from the swim. These bees are helped by our life guard system. This system involves, my wife or myself, getting the swimming bees onto a solid object and then onto dry land away from the pool. We have learned that if you scoop the bees up in your hand, you will get stung and thus the bee will not be saved and you will not be happy.

So any other non swimming bugs are food for the swallows or get netted by our daily local pool boy,  Jose el Alto (don’t you mean YOU, says my loving wife). He cleans the pools daily and is helped by our weekly pool cleaners, Juan Carlo and staff. So the bugs keep trying to swim, the swallows keeping using the pool for a feeding station and we continue to enjoy the flying entertainment.

I am not sure if Mexico has and air force, but since the Blue Angles have been grounded for sequester, this is the best air show going.

Author:  Jose el Alto

Restaurant Review – El Bull Pen

Great Food, Great Atmosphere

Great Food, Great Atmosphere

Whoopi the BAR!

Whoopi the BAR!

Wow!  Another great meal at El Bull Pen.  Friday night was fish and chips.  They are the best and who said you couldn’t find the foods we are used to back home and have them be excellent on top of it.  El Bull Pen is always working at finding out what the expat community is missing from their home lands and setting about to provide it and provide it with wonderful flavor and presentation.

One of the things about our little community/town is most restaurants are not open every day or evening.  Some kind of work on a whim (if they feel like cooking that day/night or not) and others are open on set days and times.  So you ask, how does one know when that restaurant is open?  Email and Facebook!  You make sure you get on their email or facebook list.  If not you could end up penning up the dogs, opening the gates to get the car out, closing the gates, walking all the way back to un-pen the dogs and then walking all the way back to the other side of the yard to get into the car.  Yes, that is our process to go anywhere.  So we do a lot of planning before we consider leaving to go somewhere.  Remember we aren’t getting any younger.

But I need to get back to El Bull Pen.  Below is an example of one of El Bull Pen’s email.

THURSDAY, MAY 23, 2013
~~Freqcuencia Acusti-k~~

Next Thursday, Vegas Style Entertainment!!!
Dinner and Show!!!!!
Don’t miss out!!!!!

And the cost you ask?  Well, one starts off with free Botanas (appetizers) which are the choice (most of the time) of the restauranteurs.  When we went for Fish and Chips night we had a wonderful homemade guacamole with chips.  It was to die for guacamole!  Bright green fresh avocado with right off the vine tomatoes and cilantro.  That is the great thing about where we live, is that everything is made fresh, fresh, FRESH!!!  No canned, frozen or processed food.

Botanas Fresh Guacamole and Chips

Fresh Guacamole and Chips

And the fish is to die for and I don’t even like fish but I eat it all the time down here.  We live in a fishing village so how can you not get fresh fish?  The Fish and Chips is magnificent served in brown paper with a bit of the grease soaking through.  The Fish is lightly breaded and fried, not greasy at all and melt in your mouth delicious!!

Fish & Chips  Ah! Grease

Fish & Chips
Ah! Grease

Sorry got a bit off point, now back to the cost.  A few glasses of great chilled white wine and a few beers (OK, I’m not drinking all of that remember my husband is with me), botanas, fish and chips all for about $300 MXP or $23 USD including the tip for 2 people!  How can you beat that and there is always great entertainment afterward, also free.

So if you are ever in our neck of the woods ya gotta go to El Bull Penn!

Author:  SAS the wife of Living The Dream Joe

Retirement Poll

Hi!  I'm Gammi.

Hi! I’m Gammi.


Hi!  I'm Li'l Bit

Hi! I’m Li’l Bit


Now that I have reached the middle of my life period (don’t you mean the Autumn of your years, says my loving wife), I have started considering retirement. OK, so I may be a little past mid life in years, but not in spirit. Retirement means different things to different people. If you consider retirement as part of changes in life, you could think that getting a new car is  retirement of the old car. Or consider the many pair of running shoes I used during my middle age running phase. Hey, I retired a lot of shoes. But do we ever really retire?

When we started to consider living outside of the USA, we began developing a retirement plan. Where did we want to live? What type of climate?  Do we buy a home or just rent?  Can we take our pets with us to another country?  These and many other questions became part of our conversation. How do you get answers? Research!  Yes, with the invention of the internet, research is much easier and quicker. So research we did. But no matter how much research we did, we still wanted to visit our chosen locations and experience the area. This type of research, or boots on the ground research, can be costly. Is there another way? You bet. Although there are many organizations that provide information about retirement and ex-pat life, direct contact is the best way to get information. By direct contact, I mean the calling and talking with expats or e-mailing expats for comments and answers to your questions. Did we make mistakes? Yes we did, but we tried to keep possible error to small mistakes and not big costly (dollar) mistakes.

So now retirement has started to mean different things in our ex-pat life. We have begun to look at retirement from a different point of view. For example, when we need to replace a fan, I consider that I am retiring the fan. Replacing leaking pipes, bad lights switches and light fixtures are our new form of retirement. A recent example is the retirement of the Rope Toy. Yes our two dogs, Lit’l Bit and Gammi, are spoiled with toys. After over a  year of playing with the original rope toy, dropping it in the pool, hiding it in the sand and playing tug-o-war with it, my loving wife decided that it needed to be retired. I questioned the decision (OK, so I am slow to learn and still question my wife’s decision after all these years). Her argument was simple. Here smell this, she said as she tried to push the toy up my nose. OK, OK  says I, get a replacement (hey, my dad may have raised a fool, but I am not a big fool).  So new rope toy we have. But hey, the old one still looks good to me. What do you think?  Participate in our little poll below.  We will let you know the results and how retirement of the rope toy will be handle if that is how the fans vote.

Costs for Ex-Pats

Trust us it's not as large as it seems

Trust us it’s not as large as it seems


Before we decided to become ex-pats, we began checking our cost of living in the USA. Some of the basic things like home cost, electric, water, gas, food, gasoline, appliances, internet, etc. When we started adding up the costs, we realized that our costs were a lot higher than we thought and were continuing to increase while our income was not. Everyone has different costs which will depend upon where you live and how you live. It is difficult o compare our USA costs with our present costs because we live in a smaller house and have a different life style. So, the best I can do is make a few comparisons.

Electrical is our biggest cost. Unfortunately, we arrived at our new home during the hottest time of the year. During our first two months in Mexico, my loving wife tried to live like we did in the USA and used the air conditioning system every day and night. That may be fine in the USA, but most expats use fans and spend a lot of time outside, thus the AC is only turned on at night to cool the sleeping areas and not the entire house. We pay our electric bill every 2 months and out first bill was 7,000 peso. At the time, this was about $540 USD (US dollars) for 2 months. Hey, that was less than our old costs but way above our budget. With a little learning and using more fans and less AC, the costs are now in the 1000 to 1500 Peso range ($90 to $135 USD) for 2 months. Much better and within our budget.

Water was a major expense at our old home. To be fair, the water company in Arizona had really high rates in our area. Our present water costs are 500 Pesos per year ($48 USD) for city water. We do not use the city supply for our house as we have a well that supplies everything except drinking water. We drink bottled water at a cost of 150 peso ($12.50 USD) per month.

We have police, fire department and excellent hospital services with ambulance.

So what are our costs for an average month? Cost are in Mexican Pesos MXN (USD = US Dollar)

Internet-$750 , Yard Service-$650, Electric- 1250, LP gas- $200, Cell Phone – $100, Gasoline for auto- $500 (at about $3.35 USD per gallon), hair cuts for male & female-$300, Pool service including chemicals $1300 we have a very large pool. So for about $5500 pesos ($460 USD), we have our monthly costs excluding food. Since we own our home, we have no mortgage costs, but nice homes can be rented in our area $500 to $750 USD monthly). Food costs can range from $3000 MXN up, depending on what you want to eat. Local markets have great veggie, fruits, breads, eggs, beer, wine, alcohol, etc. They also have meats, chicken and fish, but since we have both Costco and Sam’s Club in the area, we purchase our meats and paper products from them.  If we were to purchase meat, chicken or fish from the locals our cost would no doubt be less. In summary, our costs per month range between $800 and $1000 USD.

And our property taxes here annually are $1,540 MXN ($125 USD annually).  Our property taxes in the US were around $4,000 USD annually.

Did we give up some parts of our old life style? Yes. For example, we no longer live in a country club setting (but that is available in our area). We still have a swimming pool which is about 4 times the size of our old pool. Our house is smaller which is good because there is less to clean.  But we can afford to go out to dinner more often (more on dinning out in future blog posts).  Do we miss our old life style? No, but we do miss our friends and family that were a lot closer. All things considered, we are living comfortably for less and enjoying our ex-pat adventure.  And believe us when we say we have met some wonderful people done here.

So if becoming an Expat has been on your mind but you have some fears about doing it, just remember life is short and you may never have the opportunity.  We have never been anywhere in our travels whether we spoke the language or not (most of the time not) where people weren’t very willing to help us no matter what the situation.  Just remember to do your research and follow your gut.

Author:  LivingTheDreamJoe

Book Review – The Spy Who Left Me – By Gina Robinson

The Spy Who Left My - by Gina Robinson1

Gina Robinson – The Agent Ex Series

“The Spy Who Left Me” by Gina Robinson is the first one I have read in her “The Agent Ex Series” and I am looking forward to reading the remainder of her books in the series.  This book was light, fun and easy reading.  It was recommended to me by my husband and OK maybe as my husband would say a bit girly but fun none the less.  And this one had enough action so some men might actually enjoy it.

It all starts when Treflee Miller ends up going on her cousin Carrie’s bridal party to Maui after Carrie dumped her fiance Kane, a week before the wedding for cheating on her.  “Carrie had planned a Hawaiian wedding and honeymoon and she was going to get them.  Well, a Hawaiian vacation anyway, with her bridesmaids in tow”,(quote from the book).  But upon arrival at the resort Treflee finds out as she is getting out of their transportation from the airport, who is standing in front of Treflee but her six-foot-two, gorgeously muscled, sun-streaked blond haired soon to be Ex-Husband.  See Treflee’s soon to be Ex, Ty is really a spy.  And before Treflee can open her mouth to say his real name, introduces himself as Ty Smith signaling to her not to blow his cover.

As things move along Treflee continues to accidentally get caught up in Ty’s spy adventures nearly getting herself killed a couple of times with Ty always seeming to be just around the corner to save her.  This naturally gives Treflee mixed feelings regarding their hopefully soon to be divorce.

As I said it is  fun, light and easy reading perfect for a vacation read or on your way to work (on the train or bus naturally).   I do not suggest trying to read this while driving although I have seen people trying to do that.  It can have disastrous results.

OK just a bit of an explanation here on the links provided above for the book.  Please remember we are just an ol’ couple living out our lives in Mexico (can’t afford to live in the US anymore).  From time to time there will be links provided to something we have tried out or are familiar with and think you might be interested in purchasing or researching further.  And from time to time if you are interested in purchasing something we have suggested just click on the link on our blog and purchase it through one of the Affiliate Programs we are a part of.  There is no additional charge to you and for more information please refer to our Affiliate Disclaimer Page.

The author of this blog is SAS the wife of LivingTheDreamJoe (and the one who does all the backend stuff)