Tomorrow, we’ll be boarding a plane in the morning and taking a 10-hour flight to return to Mexico. This trip is a little different for us, and not just because we’ve already been to Mexico 3 times.
In a way, we feel like we’re going home.
Yes, we went to Romania with thoughts of finding a long-term base, and after a couple of months it became obvious that we weren’t ready to settle down. Although I did identify some things we could’ve done differently (like pick a larger city), we both clearly had the travel itch still.
Landing in Prague and making some friends really changed things. If Prague had a coastal area, I’m not sure we would’ve left.
We did discuss the possibility of returning to Prague or to another city in Romania (which does have some coast), but he felt the pull to return to Mexico.
That country does have a special place in our hearts. It was our first stop on our nomadic journey. When we returned to work on opening a business with a friend, Tigger did his first wreck dive there. We got a little more deeply connected to the community and had a variety of friends on the island on our second visit, and he celebrated his 11th birthday on Cozumel.
For me, Mexico was my first international experience when I was a teenager. It left a strong impression on me. Living and growing up in the western US also meant that I had a lot of experiences with a largely Mexican Latino population. I enjoyed the culture, the people, the food, and the language.
Now that Tigger will be officially entering the ranks of being a teenager, he’s wanting to settle down more. He still wants to travel but wants it in smaller doses with a home to come back to. Also, most of his online buddies are in the US so being in Mexico makes it easier for him to connect with them. In Europe, it’s around midnight by the time his friends are getting online back in the US.
And we are both REALLY missing having pets of our own.
On the surface, some people may wonder why we’d pick the touristy Yucatan as our possible long-term base. There were several factors that went into our decision:
- Warm ocean water. We’re both extremely fond of the water. I think Tigger is even more connected to the water. We both want to be able to swim in the ocean, as well as dive, year round. That isn’t something that Europe’s frigid waters can provide, and we’ve already established that being in Asia’s 24/7 tropical steam bath heat won’t work for us either.
- “A better selection of food.” Tigger can be a bit. . . finicky with his diet, which did not help in Asia, where I was quite content. He’s enjoyed European food, but he leans more toward the Mexican food fan spectrum. I can find and make lots of different food almost anywhere, but finding really good Mexican food can be a challenge. Also, when making the shift from constant traveler to staying put, it’s nice to be able to easily find comfort and familiar food.
- The people. As I’ve written before, we adore the people in Mexico. Except for the touts. I love how Mexicans live their life with so much joy and their general openness and friendliness. In many ways they’re a very “live and let live” type of people. We have some lovely friends who don’t live very far away either.
- Cost. As we aren’t rich, and I’d prefer to not spend most of my day having to work while he’s still young, we need to get the highest quality of life for the price we can. The Yucatan is a bit more expensive than some other areas, but it’s still fairly affordable and inexpensive from a US dollar perspective.
- Community. It’s harder for Tigger since he doesn’t speak the language. However, because the area has a large expat community and receives lots of North American tourists, his access to English-speaking kids is going to be higher there which will make socialization a lot easier for him. We didn’t know this when we originally decided to return to this region, but our good friends the Bohemian Travelers are moving to Playa del Carmen in September and that will certainly be a super great situation for both of us.
- Comfort. While traveling we love to experience new foods and cultures. When looking at a place to live for a long time, though, we want things to be a bit easier. While we can function well in many parts of Europe in spite of the language barrier and cultural differences, we’ve spent so much time in the Yucatan that it’s more comfortable. We understand how things work, I speak Spanish, we’ve lived there before, we’re familiar with the area, and so on. The presence of tourists and expats makes shopping and finding our US favorites easier.
- Visas. Mexico is one of the few countries that gives visitors 180 days to enjoy the country. Usually you’re looking at dealing with long-term visas that you procure in advance or doing a visa run every 2-3 months. Being able to arrive in the country and receive 6 months without a whole big process just makes it so much easier.
- Continuing to travel. Locating ourselves not far from Cancun means that we are within a close distance of an airport that often has great fares to other places in the world, especially to Europe and the rest of North America. And Central America is within fairly easy reach. We’re not done traveling. We’re just changing how we do it. We’ve also only barely scraped South America, so when we’re ready to do another longer stretch of travel, we’re a lot closer to one continent we still need a lot more time in. And when it’s time for Antarctica, we’ll probably be going there from Argentina so . . .
- Better temperatures. This is also a Tigger thing. I’m just fine with cooler temps, but he’s tired of the cold. While the Yucatan does get blazing hot in the summer, it’s much more comfortable during other times of the year. Unlike most of SE Asia which stays at a fairly constant “just kill me, please!” hot.
- “Europe is getting old.” I am nowhere near Tigger’s level of being over Europe. In fact, while I’m excited for Mexico, I’m already fighting the temptation to plot my return to Europe. The wonderful public transportation system here will be greatly missed, too.
One of the greatest parts of this lifestyle is the true freedom we have, though. We’re going to live in Playa del Carmen with the intention to stay for at least a few months. In the end, though, if we discover that either (a) we don’t really like the Yucatan as our long-term base, or (b) we’re not really ready to stop being nomadic, well, we can change things up. There are lots of other great places in Mexico for us to explore.
Either way, it’s really hard to go wrong with Mexico.
Have you been to Mexico? Which is your favorite area?