Saturday, January 31, 2015

We hav e Arrived in San Miguel

Friends, we made it! We had the movers moving our stuff into the storage unit on Thursday and Friday until 7:00 pm. Not by choice, I can tell you. We handed over the keys to the new owners at 4:00. They seem like nice people and the Mrs. likes gardening, Rene, Judith,  and Helen will have a new BFF.

We left PDX this am at 6:00am. The plane was an hour late due to a light bulb outage. We arrived in DFW too late to make our flight to Queretaro, so we are sitting in the airport until 8:00, a seven hour delay. We will get into San Miguel around midnight. Oh boy!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Three More Days

More packing today, more giving stuff away. Just three more days in the house: Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Fly out to San Miguel on Saturday morning for a month.

We talked to a rental agent in SMA and may have found a two bedroom-two bath multi-level casita for $700 a month near the Jardin. It's cute, Mexican motif, and needing some TLC.

There's nervousness and excitement. Will we like it there? We've burned our bridge here by selling the house. Whoa Mama! We are really going to do this!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Trying to Beat the Winter Blues, More Americans Moving to Latin America

Cotacachi Volcano Ecuador

"The warmer weather. The beaches. The lower cost of living. The many options for health care coverage. And the proximity to the United States.

"Those are among the top reasons that Americans increasingly are looking south of the border to retire, or for those not yet ready to comb gray hair, to start a new mid-life chapter. They are particularly appealing during the winter months, when large swaths of the country are dealing with nasty snow storms and sub-zero temperatures, so says Elizabeth Llorente at or

Everyday Life In Mazatlan by a Happy ExPat

I was wowed when I first visited Mazatlan. My friend Darryl printed up T-shirts that said, "I've fallen in love with Mazatlan." Here's Dave who comments on living in Mazatlan from Retire Abroad! MEXICO:

Hola Barbie,

I have been living in Mazatlan for about 8 months now and I am living in Playa Sur in el centro. The city is very beautiful and has much to offer an American retiree.

The delicious fresh fruit and vegetables at very inexpensive prices are a bonus. I often shop at Fruiteria Emma in the Juarez colonia for amazing prices.

Difficult for me are the lack of some common American foods (grits). As many different ways as they have here for elota (corn) they do not have grits. A giant Sams club and a new Costco across the street from Sams will have many gourmet products and some American foods.

I use satellite radio (Sirius) for stock market, news, sports and NPR. The signal is excellent here. They will merge with XM radio in the next few months for even more options. I brought with me nearly 300 DVDS of US movies as the Mexico DVDS are area 4 (not compatable with US area 1 DVD players).

The local newspaper “Noroeste” is excellent at 8 pesos a copy, but you need to be able to read Mexican. I say Mexican because it is not Spanish. It uses Aztec words like cacahuate (peanut) guajalote (turkey) elote (corn) ejote (green beans) Guadalupe (lupita) achote (savory sauce) guajillo, molcalete, etc. Also the level of slang words is huge and only the locals understand the slang.

Voy a casarme con Angelica en Noviembre en Club Nautica, cerca del Faro (Translated: I will be marrying Angelica in November at Club Nautica by the lighthouse).

Buena suerte amiga!

Sincerely, Dave

Monday, January 26, 2015

Mexico Has Seven of the World’s 100 Best Hotels

A survey of more than 75,000 Condé Nast Traveler readers placed seven Mexican hotels in the world’s top 100.

Mexico’s top hotel (#15 in the rankings) was the Viceroy Rivera Maya hotel, in Playa del Carmen (Quintana Roo). It was joined in the top 100 by Rancho La Puerta in Tecate (Baja California), St. Regis Punta Mita Resort (Nayarit), Las Alcobas hotel (Mexico City), Hotel Matilda in San Miguel de Allende (Guanajuato), Hotel Esperanza in Cabo San Lucas (Baja California Sur) and the Excellence Playa Mujeres (Quintana Roo).

In related news, Grupo Posadas is investing one billion dollars over the next three years to open 49 new hotels, many of them in the firm’s Fiesta Americana chain. Meanwhile, at the opposite end of the hotel spectrum, Motel 6, the “McDonald’s of the hotel industry”, which has 1,200 locations in the USA and Canada, is opening 30 hotels in Mexico within the next three years.

The operator of the Motel 6 chain, G6 Hospitality, will introduce both its brands: Motel 6 and Estudio 6 (designed for extended stays) during its first foray into Latin America. The first of the new hotels will open in Salamanca (Guanajuato) in late-2015, with additional locations to follow, including Mexico City, Monterrey and several resort destinations.

Less Than A Week

Today is Monday. We leave at 6:00 am Saturday for San Miguel! The last of the packing is close. The movers come Thursday for the last of the furniture for storage. I was a little down yesterday. It seemed everything was taking too long and the house was filled with too many people picking up stuff or just dropping by to say they will miss us, "We wish you well. We think you are very brave."

We get a shocked expression when we tell them we are moving to San Miguel, yet we've never been to the city. But, we tell them, we have friends who live there and they all love it.

You are very brave, they say, hope you don't lose your head. Yes they think we are crazy to leave the US for such a violent place. The topper: we went to Qdoba last night. The cashier was a Mexican-American named Yolanda. We tried a little Spanish on her and she was shocked to hear us tell her we were moving to Mexico. :)

What does "Cabrón" mean in Mexican Spanish?

Luis Fernando Mata Licón, being Northern Mexican since I was born. "'s kind of hard to explain what "Cabrón" means, we Mexicans love to use the same bad word and give it a lot of meanings just as the word "Chingar" and all it's derivatives. And "Cabrón" is one of those words that has a lot of meanings.

Definitely is an insult, you would never say "Cabrón" in front of a child, no matter the circumstances. But it isn't always something bad, it also can mean something very good. For example:

"Soy bien cabrón programando" - I'm fucking good at programming.

But it also means something bad: "Esta bien cabrón el asunto" - The situation is very fucked.

It can also be a person: "El cabrón se escapo" - The fucker escaped.

As a name I think people would think about the third scenario, so if you were planning to name it fucker then you choose the right word.

I asked to the people on my office and they all say "Cabrón" is a gray word, it depends a lot of the context in order to say if it means something good or something bad, but we all agreed that it is a bad word but isn't the worst of Mexican Spanish.

So, say hello to Cabrón!

Webcam Captures Huge Volcano Eruption in Mexico

A webcam focused on the Colima volcano in Mexico captures an enormous eruption on Wednesday morning

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Mexican Guitar Greats Mix Rock and Flamenco

Rodrigo and Gabriela 9 dead alive: Published on 16 Jan 2014 9 Dead Alive is the new album from Rodrigo y Gabriela. Buy on Amazon:

 shares the latest news about RODRIGO and Gabriela, a Mexican acoustic guitar duo, whose music is influenced by a number of genres including nuevo flamenco, rock and heavy metal.

The duo, whose recordings consist largely of instrumental duets on the classical guitar, is set to perform at Bluesfest later this year.

Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero grew up in middle-class families in Mexico City.

Their parents listened to flamenco, jazz and rock music and they were both also exposed to heavy metal.

The two met as teenagers and dated for many years and while their relationship ended in 2012 their musical partnership has endured.

Both are now back living in Mexico City but they began their career in Ireland where they lived for eight years.

Rodrigo and Gabriela have released five studio albums, three live albums and one EP but at Bluesfest they will be performing new music from their new album 9 Dead Alive.

The album has attracted widespread interest since it was released late last year.

"People like the idea that (9 Dead Alive) is a conceptual album, a tribute to different works and actions of people that had a tremendous importance on humanity's course," Quintero said.

The album includes songs inspired by Joan Agnes of the Cross (1651-1695), one of the precursors of women's Spanish literature, and Chilean poet, educator and feminist Gabriela Mistral (Lucila Godoy Alcayaga).

Mistral, who Quintero was named after, received the Nobel Prize in Literature, in 1945. She is the only Latin American woman to have received the prize.

"People seem very intrigued by them," Quintero said. "It's really good because a lot of people are discovering these amazing Latin women in the English-speaking world through our album."

Here's Why You Should Plan a Trip to Mazatlan

Photo: Mazatlan Tourism Board

Christine Delsol, Special to SFGate, updates us on the changes in Mazatlan. Here's an excerpt of her story:

Mazatlan's malecon, the seafront walk tracing its long crescent beach, is one of the world's longest at more than 14 miles. It's a delight all on its own — especially when traveled on one of the open-air pulmonias built on modified VW bodies — but it has the added virtue of being a pathway to restaurants, the city's cliff divers, the aquarium and baseball stadium, and the lighthouse. Baby sea turtles are released along here each year, and it is the official staging ground for Mazatlan's Carnival celebration, a family-oriented version that is counted among the largest in the world as well as the Festival of Lights at the end of November.

This isn't the first time the malecon has gotten a facelift, but this go-round has one of the most eye-catching ever, with a phalanx of tall palm trees, which are lit up at night. It looks more tropical than ever now. New benches also have been installed along the entire length of the malecon. They've also restored the surfaces, which makes it cleaner looking and easier to walk, and installed new benches spanning the length of the boardwalk.

It can't be a coincidence that the malecon's makeover was completed in time for Mazatlan's 117th Carnival celebration, which will be celebrated Feb. 12-17. Right after that, the Spring Cultural Festival has a program of 75 performances of ballet, contemporary, classical and folkloric dance, song, opera, music, literature, film, documentary and theater. The Day of Music, Jose Limon International Dance Festival, Children's Cultural Festival and the Festival of Youth are all under the umbrella of the cultural festival, which runs from March to July. You don't need to look far to find an excuse to head down and have a look at Mazatlan's latest facelift.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Biggest Lie You've Been Told about Going Offshore

Bob Bauman JD writes at International Living Postcards

Is it un-American to go offshore?

In the United States, government officials and the U.S. Internal Revenue Service have for years done their best to convince people that obtaining a second passport is somehow crooked, even unpatriotic. The media persists with this steady drumbeat of negativity, even though the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld the legal and constitutional right of U.S. citizens to hold dual or even multiple citizenships.

Indeed, a second passport—a second citizenship—is one of the most important tools in any sovereign person's personal and financial toolkit.

This idea that it is unpatriotic for otherwise good Americans to have foreign bank accounts, own foreign investments and real estate, and live in foreign lands has long been the unspoken policy of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and other government agencies.

In fact, I even once heard an assistant U.S. Attorney General publicly state to a conference of several hundred lawyers and bankers in Miami that, at the U.S. Department of Justice, whenever an individual had offshore accounts, he or she was assumed to be engaged in something that was probably illegal.

Despite this pressure from the top, attitudes among the public about offshore measures are changing...

It's been slow up to now; that makes sense when you consider human nature, which dictates that most folks prefer to make and save their money in their home country. After all, most people are comfortable with the familiarity of their domestic economy of our home nation, even if the government is near bankrupt as it is in America.

In 2014 the number of Americans with a valid passport hit a record 117,443,735. That's more than double the number a decade earlier, and a huge jump from the number of U.S. passports in the 1980s. Today more than one in three Americans have a valid passport, versus one in 30 back in 1989. (Another 1.4 million Americans living near the Mexican and Canadian borders had "passport cards.")

But most do not realize the ease with which a second passport can be obtained. This is especially true if you have a parent or grandparent who is, or was, a citizen of selected foreign countries including Ireland, Italy, or Poland among others.

There are many good and sufficient practical reasons why aware Americans should "go offshore" financially—simple financial survival first among them.

At a time when the United States government is deeply in debt (over $18 trillion) and the president and his radical allies are promoting wealth redistribution, with major banks still on the brink, prudence dictates offshore planning and activity.

Offshore you can find far greater asset protection, stronger financial privacy, higher returns in carefully selected markets, more diversification of investments and among currencies, increased safety and security, both personal and financial, and deferred taxes on annuities and life insurance.

Unfortunately relatively few Americans are taking advantage of the fruits of global diversification. I think you owe it to yourself and to your family to take advantage of offshore advantages. At the very least, you should hold a portion of your assets offshore—just in case.

So-called "patriotism" does not require us to commit financial suicide when there are reasonable escape exits to better places.

For these good reasons—and for self-interest as well—none of us can afford to be xenophobic in this 21st century.

There's a whole wide world out there—offshore—and you need only recognize that fact and act upon it.

Editor's note: In his bestselling guide to the offshore world, former U.S. congressmen and legal expert, Bob Bauman, tells you much more about how the right offshore strategy could benefit you. He'll share more about how and where you could get a second passport...where the best offshore havens in the world are today...and how going offshore could help to protect your financial freedom and privacy.

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Conversation: Arielle Thomas Newman’s Big Adventure in Mexico

Cindy Hoedel of THE KANSAS CITY STAR writes about Arielle Thomas Newman of Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, who is owner of Yoga By the Sea, Newman, a longtime Kansas City choreographer, dance critic and yoga instructor, moved to Playa Del Carmen with her husband in 2001 and opened a studio where she offers classes and teacher certification. This conversation took place at Port Fonda when Newman was back in Kansas City to give a workshop, which she does a few times a year.

Your life sounds like a fantasy: Pack it up and move to a tropical beach. Why did you decide to live in Playa Del Carmen?

I had a friend who was a travel agent and she had a connection in Akumal, a little beach town south of Playa Del Carmen, and we would go there. At one point, I realized that I had made three separate one-week trips there in one year, and I don’t go anywhere that often. So I thought: Huh, that’s interesting.

Then my husband had an opportunity to sell his part of a family business and do something else, and I said, “Let’s check out Mexico, where I’ve been going.” It was a big and bold move.

What was house hunting like down there?

It was crazy. We had one weekend to find a place. We rented a VW Beetle and loaded our suitcases in that and we ran across a guy who was a real estate agent who spoke English. It was a Saturday and his office closed midday so we had to find something in one morning.

Our criteria was, you had to be able to see the sea. The first place we had, if you went up one story to the rooftop and peeked over the trees, you could see that strip of azul blue of the Caribbean.

For the past 10 years we’ve rented an apartment a block and a half from the sea.

What is your business like?

I have a yoga studio on the roof of a boutique hotel three blocks from the sea. You can see the ocean, the palm trees and all of Playa Del Carmen.

I have local clients, mostly ex-pats who live there full time and snowbirds, and also tourists who find me through my website. I can teach in Spanish and English.

Besides the weather, what is different about living there as opposed to Kansas City?

Time moves more slowly. I learned that “ahorita,” which the dictionary says means “right now,” really means “maybe tomorrow or maybe next week when I want to do it.”

You have to pay all your bills in cash. So you go to the electric company to pay your electric bill and the phone company to pay your phone bill. And you have to go to the bank to pay your rent. There are quaint and lovely aspects to that.

Why were you not afraid to make such a radical change in your life?

I was afraid. But I did it anyway.

I call myself a reluctant adventurer. I have these big adventures, but somewhat reluctantly because I carry some fear around with me while I’m doing it. I’m a worrier and a warrior. But the rewards are there.

To reach Cindy Hoedel, call 816-234-4304 or send email to Follow her, Twitter @CindyHoedel, and at

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Puerto Vallarta - January 2, 2015

In a growing trend over the last several years, Puerto Vallarta is once again named as a top retirement destination by a travel magazine.

International Living’s list of best places to retire in 2015 says Puerto Vallarta’s expat community makes for an easy transition into international living while also offering real estate deals much lower than what you would find in the United States.

In May, CNN featured a story on expats living in Puerto Vallarta, estimated to be over 40,000 around the bay and over one million nationwide. That was shortly after US News and World Report named Puerto Vallarta as a top retirement haven for expats which they titled “an affordable and sophisticated haven for expats”.

Peddicord’s retirement index, a group that ranks the affordability and overall quality of life for retirees, named Puerto Vallarta among the best international destinations for retiring on a budget and high marks for quality of life.

With tourism on the rise in Puerto Vallarta and closing out one of its best years in 2014, more people are taking notice of Puerto Vallarta as more than just a place to visit.

International Living ranked Puerto Vallarta just below Ecuador and Panama which offer slightly lower cost of living due to smaller nation economies.

Puerto Vallarta offers a vibrant expat community and organizations that can help people interested in retiring to the area. Expats in Vallarta is an excellent source of information and also a great way to meet people in the expat community while in Puerto Vallarta.

Sayulita, Mexico

A beautiful morning in Sayulita, captured just before sunrise.