I’ve done it. After months, perhaps even years of indecision, I’ve done it.
I’ve booked a one-way flight to Mexico City. I’ll be leaping out of Boston and into the great unknown on January 12th, 2016. Wish me luck.
Of course, those of you who’ve read along for a while know I have a certain flair for the dramatic. And I’m not letting you down today. You see, it has been nearly two years since my Great Mexican Roadtrip, undertaken in my trusty Toyota pickup. As those of you who read along know, it was a truly amazing adventure. And it’s been one I have wanted to repeat, albeit with some different destinations.
But how? Sure, I could just get back in the truck and head west on the MassPike and retrace my steps from the last trip. But part of me has hesitated. Frankly, with the exception of a few highlights like New Orleans, (one of my better posts, IMHO) seeing friends in Houston, and a couple of other interesting sights along the way, I didn’t much enjoy the US leg of the trip. And that doesn’t mention the fact that just getting to Laredo is a nearly week-long effort, and with gasoline, hotels, and meals costs about $750, one-way. And I definitely didn’t enjoy the return part of the US leg either. In one last, desperate effort to finally get home at the end of that roadtrip, I ended up making a marathon 15-16 hour drive from Knoxville, TN to Boston, driving through pelting rain nearly the entire time, and arrived home, completely spent, at 3:00 AM. Nope. Don’t want to do that again. Also, since I’m going to be leaving in January, it’ll be harder to avoid snow. While the interstates are generally well-cleared, the fact of the matter is that in the end, man is no match for Mother Nature when she gets cranky. And spending hours stuck on an interstate in a blizzard is one experience I have no desire to try. Not even once.
Admittedly, I will be giving up some convenience and freedom. I loved driving around Mexico, with its lovely vistas of volcanoes, open fields, and other interesting terrain along with the ability to stop wherever and whenever I wanted. And I only had to schlep a lot of stuff between my truck and a hotel, rather than dragging suitcases through town. But the Mexican bus system is excellent and can get you everywhere, since many Mexicans don’t own cars. They manage somehow, and so will I. Of course I can always rent cars too, and typically at less than fifteen dollars a day, it’s a pretty reasonable alternative if I want to visit a remote ruin or some other place off the beaten path.
Aside from just getting away and doing some traveling, I have some other goals for the trip. First, Edgar needs my help. As it turns out, he went ahead and purchased the store where he works, but didn’t tell me about it until a year later. As you might recall, he most definitely did not want my advice on the initial purchase. I think he just wanted the store so badly that he was basically willing to throw all caution to the wind. But the former owner ended up agreeing to a series of payments over three years to finance the transaction. All of this was unbeknownst to me until September when Edgar told me he had “three confessions to tell me.” One of them was the purchase of the store. “Why didn’t you tell me sooner?” I asked him. “I thought you’d be mad,” he replied. “Mad? It’s your life; I was just trying to help you make the best purchase possible.” Since that September conversation, I have become more involved in the business, doing various bits of financial work for him, and helping him to analyze the (scant) data that he did have on sales and expenses. And now that he has run the business for more than a year, he’s come to realize that maybe I do have something to contribute after all. So I’ll probably spend a couple weeks as an in-house consultant. I’ve already done some work on point-of-sale systems.
The second goal is to try to develop some clarity on whether I can ever get off my duff and move to Mexico, if only seasonally. I’ve redoubled my “fantasy real estate shopping,” both in DF and in Zacatecas, if only to better understand the market. But I have been (rightfully, it turns out) nervous about the prospect of the peso continuing to decline. And I’m fairly convinced that such a decline is likely to continue, possibly terminating in some kind of panic where the peso gets marked down to ridiculous levels. That day, if it comes, will be the time to strike. Of course that topic by itself could be a very long essay. But the import here is that I’m inching away from the idea of a near-term purchase and closer to the idea of renting. After all, who wants to buy property only to see its value plummet immediately, if only via currency?
A recent perusal of online rentals in Zacatecas turned up a three-bedroom house at the edge of the Centro Historico available for $265 (USD) a month. Frankly, it’s kind of a crappy house, but it does have a garage, a nice view of the Centro (as far as I can tell), and is in a neighborhood I like (Mexicapan). For any number of reasons, it probably won’t be the house that I rent, but it does give me a good sense of what’s available, most of which is astonishingly cheap by Gringo standards. And by renting something in Zacatecas, I could kill two birds with one stone, simultaneously figuring out whether I could really live in Zacatecas, and having an adventure if nothing else.
Likely view from above house:
Needless to say, details are all up in the air. I’m not sure how long I’ll be in Tehuacán or what might transpire there. Edgar and I are officially “not” boyfriends, though it certainly seemed otherwise when I was with him in DF in June for Gay Pride. Still, after he confessed to buying the store, we had a *very* frank conversation about many things including “us,” whereby I told him that adorable as he is, he is simply too young for me. Full stop. There’s a more than twenty year age difference; in my mind that is unbridgeable. He took it well, but despite that there’s still a high level of ambiguity in the relationship. So we’ll see what happens. The potential for drama abounds.
Oh, and the return? Well, I paid only $150 for the outbound flight, and before I fully committed to it, I checked returns. Most weeks in February and March, I can fly back to Boston on a one-way ticket for $183. Given that I consider a $400 round-trip to DF to be a pretty decent price, and have often paid more than $500, what is essentially a round trip with an open return date for $330 seems like the deal of the century.
So in less than a month, more Mexican adventures await. I’m on the edge of my seat!
If anyone has any experience with flying in on a one-way ticket, a comment would be especially appreciated. (Does Mexican immigration care?)