Sunday, August 16, 2009

beach house

We did it. That little pink house on the beach, just a block or so from the town square of Chuburna Puerto? It's ours and that's the view from my front porch at sunset. It's shocking. I'm excited. I'm terrified.

I am a child of caution, the baby of Depression-era parents who planned and conserved and didn't take inordinate risks. Though I cast off their conservative ways in my teenage years and have carried a certain free-spiritedness into adulthood, faced with something as dramatic as giving up my life in the country of my birth and moving to a strange land, it all comes back.

I am afflicted with what-ifs. What if beach erosion takes my little house away. What if the Category 5 hurricane comes. What if the massive number of gringos fleeing the US results in an anti-gringo backlash among the Yucatan people, a people, by the way, who only allowed paler-complected folk into their state in the early 1900s (read about the Yucatan Caste War for details ~ the Mayans were justified, but they are the fiercest of warriors).

The idea of being without income of my own, of relying on my husband is as terrifying as anything. I've earned my own money since I was 12. I was essentially self supporting (clothes, activities, doctor visits) from 14 on. Yes, my parents put a roof over my head and paid utilities and such, but my urge for independence was so extreme that I refused almost all other financial support.

On the other hand, I fell in love with Yucatan. Merida is stunning and such a gorgeous, cosmopolitan city, that it felt like a more beautiful New York. My little village, Chuburna Puerto, is home to 2500 souls. There are tiendas, a cement store, a soon-to-be-internet cafe, and a town square where people gather. There was a carnival going on while we were there, and a real bullfight, replete with blood. I'm told the town is sleepy, quiet, slow most of the year. There's not a Wal-Mart in sight. I can do that.

On Yucatan time, I felt free. My mind stopped racing. Oh, we started planning some changes to the house, but that was fun and wasn't anything like the constant low level hum of anxiety and dread that afflicts me here.

Basically, I have to make ~ or I've already made ~ a decision to go rogue. I'm not going to do what I'm supposed to do. I'm not going to work until I'm 67. I'm not going to stay put any longer. I'm going to be a bad grandma and a worse stepmother. The good daughter in me will keep me around until Daddy's gone, but I don't expect that to be more than a couple of years and then I am out of here for good.

Out of here for good. Out of here for good. I type those words and it seems unreal. Really? Me? Moving to a foreign country? It's incomprehensible. And exciting. And frightening. And really, really exciting. I'm happy. Except when I'm scared. But I'm mostly happy.

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Blogger David said...

Congratulations Lynette! Terrifying and wonderful, I bet it turns out to be the best decision ever.

August 16, 2009 9:28 PM  
Blogger Teri and her Stylish Cats ~ Coco the Couture Cat, Brighton, Disco NoFurNo and Kely said...

sometimes we live vicariously through our's to life!

August 16, 2009 10:49 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

I'm so happy for you and Mike! Any pictures of your little pink house? Strangely, I can't find Chuburna Puerto on Google Maps (yes, that's the kind of stalker I am!).

Keep savoring thoughts of that happiness.

August 16, 2009 10:55 PM  
Blogger Spouse Walker said...

I had to remember to breathe as i read your post. I guess i should remind you to breathe as well perhaps? lol.

August 17, 2009 12:41 AM  
Blogger Willym said...

wishing you and mike all happiness in this wonderful new place...

August 17, 2009 2:10 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Wow. You did it!

It has to be scary, exciting and all the emotions there are..balled into one person.

Take care and I can't wait to go visit you there. ;)

August 17, 2009 11:16 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Wow...that is sooooo cool! Can't wait to see a photo or two. Gary and I have long thought about Mexico as a place to retire, so I'm envious that you took the IS scary!!!! If health care isn't reformed, we may be right behind ya!!!
Good luck!!!!

August 17, 2009 12:52 PM  
Blogger Big Fella said...

Congrats, now the Mrs. and I have a place to lay our freeloading heads if we ever get down there.

You must get a copy of "God and Mr. Gomez" by the late Jack Smith:

August 17, 2009 2:05 PM  
Blogger LSL said...

Holy shit, you did it! I just couldn't be happier for you! You won't regret it. I'm so, so happy for you!


August 17, 2009 3:52 PM  
Anonymous Keith from Ohio said...



You did the right thing. I only hope events in the USA will remain stable enough for you to wait until your dad passes to leave. They make it harder for even simple tourism every year.

Good for you. I wish you all the best. May you enjoy at least a few thousand Mexican sunrises.

August 17, 2009 7:27 PM  
Anonymous John said...

Gosh, how could you think of leaving the USA and not retiring in an electronically-loaded efficiency apartment at a new state of the art assisted living facility, with free donuts and shuttle bus to Walmart for a guzillion dollars a month?

August 18, 2009 6:07 AM  
Blogger LzyMom said...

So excited for you!

August 18, 2009 11:20 AM  
Blogger Tate said...

My goodness! I am so happy for you! Funny how thoughts become dreams, dreams become possibilities, and then reality. A kernel of thought becomes a whole new life. I am very excited for you. You deserve years of those beautiful sunsets. Good Luck!

August 18, 2009 2:53 PM  
Blogger dpaste said...

Big news and quite momentous. I can't imagine doing the same. Thrilling and terrifying.

August 19, 2009 12:41 PM  
Blogger BigAssBelle said...

Thanks, all of you. It's so sweet that you're excited for me.

Noon today the lawyer's signing papers with the owner and giving her our down payment.

I'm on tenterhooks until it's done. Still fretting she might back out.

August 19, 2009 12:56 PM  
Anonymous Mark H said...

Wahoo! YES, terrifying IS the word all of feel near retirement when we don't have the gated house & $2 mil in the bank (at least...according to Republicans)....but, Lynette, we have made it so far (company bankrupt in 2001).....and sure, some expectations were scaled back ...but we've been happy. WHEN Rodger gets set to retire....who knows? That's another 8 years..... MY BEST to you and MIKE!

August 19, 2009 1:51 PM  
Anonymous lynette said...

Oh no! Call a waaaaaambulance!!!

Papers couldn't be signed. The woman we're buying from owes money to the man she bought it from. They're old friends and he financed it for her.

His wife recently died and she didn't have a will. His half of the house went to his sons. He has to get his sons to sign releases before he can sign our purchase agreement.

Once that's done ~ about 10-14 days ~ he can sign the agreement, BUT THEN it has to go through probate for some reason. So we're looking at 4-6 months.

Sigh. It's bad, because it leaves me fretting. But it's good, because I have more time to save $$. We have the keys to the house now, so we officially have possession, which counts for a lot under Mexican law. I guess even though we're not in it :-)

Thanks for the finger crossings. Any time you feel like crossing another one or two, feel free.

August 19, 2009 2:08 PM  
Blogger tankmontreal said...

Lynette escapes!! FĂ©licitations! And this'll be ahelluva lot more comfortable for you than the Canadian option.

August 19, 2009 7:54 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Like Joe, I checked out the area....I think I saw your pink pending......complete with boats in the foreground!!! Lots of work, but that's right up my alley! Sounds fun! But I have to say, when you said there was a glitch, I grieved like it was my own!
Hope it all works out..........

August 19, 2009 10:00 PM  
Blogger BigAssBelle said...

Chris, when I walked into my little cottage in Tulsa in 1989, it had high gloss stark white walls in every room, textured ceiling tile, gold marbled mirrored tiles on half the walls. There was a different color and texture of shag carpet in every room, and it had lace curtains everywhere and a single tree smack in the middle of the front yard. Oh, and the woman who owned it had taken china painting classes, so the bathroom cabinets had little scenes all over them. You know, china painting scenes :-) And it was very very pink. And the bedroom had a window opening into an enclosed porch. And there was a teensy little extra bathroom stuck in a closet in the 3d bedroom. Oh, and the back room we use as our den now had a great big odd concrete structure and the most atrocious linoleum square tile.

Somehow, despite all of that, when I walked in ~ after looking at 60-70 homes and making offers on three ~ it felt like home. I knew it instantly.

It was the same way with this little beach cottage. I walked in the back door, saw the ocean out the front window, took a deep breath and felt instantly at peace.

And then the artist in me started looking at its concrete oddities and the mismatched floor tile and the ugly facade and the weird open hole off the front porch and I could see a lovely roofline and an extended front porch with ceiling fans and burnished talavera tile. I envisioned dark wood divided pane glass in the much enlarged windows, the same tile outside running inside, a kitchen beautiful with classic Mexicna tile. The back yard in my mind is two levels with spaces for lush greenery and an outdoor kitchen, a pool and a terrace under a shading roof. Steps run up to the roof where a wonderful little wooden palapa will stand over chaise lounges and hammocks for watching the sun rise and set.

In my mind, it's heaven, and at peso prices, it actually is heaven ;-)

I can't wait. After turning my little cottage into a stained glass, oak floored, architectural beauty, I thought I'd never want to renovate anything again. I do. Did I say I can't wait? can't.

August 20, 2009 11:16 AM  
Blogger BigAssBelle said...

Oh, and I really can't wait to see the architect's drawings. Supposed to come some time in the next couple of days.

And the before and after photos are going to be big fun. I will share, of course.

August 20, 2009 11:18 AM  
Anonymous Yvonne said...

Lynette, what a magnificent adventure! Looking forward to reading about/seeing photos of your loving transformation of the little pink house over time. (Your blog is certainly going to change!) Best of luck to you.

August 20, 2009 11:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you taking Spanish lessons?

August 20, 2009 5:17 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Okay.....I know that feeling all too well....I remember the disappointed look on my friend's face when I showed her my newly purchased house, but It was home like you said! I love the challenge of redesign and making some place my own. Good luck on this adventure, and everything you have planned sounds wonderful to me.....I love Mexican tile and homes filled with the culture......I know you will have fun!!!!!!

August 20, 2009 10:42 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

OH....I forgot to tell you about the fact that every wall in my house had wallpaper.....not my thing, and the bathroom had yellow and silver with birds.....oh God! Even on the cabinets.....lots of work!! Since I'm a diy girl, that meant taking off the paper and re-texturizing the walls! Oh, the stories of being a homeowner!!! In Mexico, you'll have a lot of great craftsmanship to rely on at a good it before you move in, but be there for some of it, so you can oversee it....

August 20, 2009 10:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My Uncle John moved to Puerto Vallarta (yeah, lots different from your neighborhood) a few years ago. His life is great. Perfect? Not so much. But in every way he's been delighted to withdraw from difficulties of everyday life to think and draw and write. All good things.

Best wishes

August 21, 2009 1:00 PM  
Blogger Tate said...

Anytime you need an extra day laborer, I am only an email away. I will work for food and a couch to crash on (and siesta time to hit the waves).

August 25, 2009 4:25 PM  
Anonymous rusty o.o.t.f.f. said...

Congratulations to you both.
May your new home be filled with love, joy and peace.

August 25, 2009 6:39 PM  
Blogger more cowbell said...

OHMYGOD! OHMYFUCKINGGOD! I'm sitting here ... crying and with goosebumps. And shocked that I'm this affected by your post. Ohmygod, Lynnette, I am so happy for you ...

and if it's possible for you ... maybe ...

I'm stunned and thrilled for you.

August 25, 2009 9:04 PM  
Anonymous Sherry said...

Lynette - NO Worries - Congrats Ahhh- Yes. Hey we're your neighbors Calle 5. We'll be there in Nov ..hope to meet you. Relax, have patience and enjoy your new ride. Cheers Sherry

August 26, 2009 12:14 AM  
Anonymous Michele said...

Yay Lynette - and Mike! I think it's fantastic. I know it will work out. Slainte!

August 26, 2009 1:43 PM  
Blogger TR Ryan said...

Six continents - 90 countries - untold number of cities later - Merida is my very favorite spot in the world. Completely magical. It was such a well kept secret for so many years. Glad you found it!!! I hope to join you there some day!

August 26, 2009 11:54 PM  
Blogger Bruce said...

Hi Lynette,

Long time lurker, first time commenter here and a lover of the Yucatan, although I've never been there. There is a great website
by an expatriate couple from California who have lived in Merida for several years. It might help you adjust to the area and the way of life. I've been dreaming of retirement there for about 5 years and have done some research on the culture. The Mayan people are very friendly and accepting of the gringos from the north. You'll do just fine there. Congratulation and best of luck with the purchase. Oh and thanks for sharing your incredible writing!!


August 27, 2009 12:38 PM  
Anonymous Debbie said...

Congrats! I came across your great blog just before you went off to buy your new beach house. Looking forward to further adventures. We're hoping to do the same thing very soon. Like you, I pore over the real estate listings, blogs and forums at every spare moment. It's my main procrastination technique! We're still unresolved on the question of beach or city (Merida). Any tips or suggestions?

August 27, 2009 4:05 PM  
Blogger BigAssBelle said...

I so appreciate all of your good wishes. It's wonderful. I wish we could all go. Lounge around on the beach all day, take long naps in the afternoons, grill fresh fish and chop veggies from the market for supper. It would be heaven.

August 28, 2009 11:00 AM  
Blogger Murray Dunlap said...

Lynette, thank you for the kind letter on my web blog Yucatan 48 (and if that was confusing, Yucatan 58 is the name the medics gave me since i was out cold.)
I know you will love the new beach house and hope the hurricane you fear never comes!
Be well,

August 29, 2009 8:54 AM  
Blogger Linda said...

I just read every word you wrote from 2006 until now in two days. Could. Not. Stop! You take my breath away.

August 31, 2009 4:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read this blog the day before I noticed Jimena, the now 155 mph beast. Good luck.

September 01, 2009 9:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL, wait. I'm thinking the Baja. YAY FOR YOU NOT GETTING WIPED OUT!

September 01, 2009 9:13 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Congratulations on making the jump! We're a couple of years behind you. We're just finishing building a place at the Chuchul Ha entrada in Chuburna. We're coming down in Nov to check on progress.

Brian and Tracey

October 17, 2009 4:36 PM  

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