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Kelly Cheek
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Sounds so sweet with the sun sinkin' low

In an effort to fast-track our plans to move to Europe, we began entertaining some other ideas. One of them involved starting out by moving to Mexico. With a lower cost of living, we would be able to live cheaply and save up some money (from freelance work, from rent collected on property here in Denver, and from overseas investments).

As long as Linda’s folks are still here (they’re 96 and 97), Linda wanted to be someplace relatively close. Mexico is easily-accessible to the States, and relatively cheap to fly to and from.

So, we began intensive research on specific locations in Mexico, narrowed it down to about three contenders, and finally decided on Guanajuato. The other possibilities had large expat communities, but Guanajuato attracted us for a number of reasons, including its lack of large expat communities.

One of the things that fueled our eagerness to live in a different country was the desire to become acquainted with a new culture, to get to know its people and customs. To do that in a place with so much natural and architectural beauty attracted us even more.

We found a lovely little place near the heart of town that will allow dogs. It’s owned by an American, interestingly, a lawyer from Bellingham, Washington. The rent was easily-affordable, and we began thinking about ‘dipping our toes’ for about three months, ‘snowbirding’ in Mexico. With the ability to work online, it didn’t really matter where we were.

The more we thought about it, though, the more we liked the idea of staying longer. If we’re going to do it, why not go (almost) all the way? So we started thinking about staying for six months.

During that six month stretch that we would spend in Guanajuato, Linda figured she could fly back to Colorado twice for a month each time to help out with her folks, while I stay in Mexico with the dogs, working online.

There were some who wondered how we would manage in such a corrupt country. My response was, “pretty much the same way we do now. Have you not seen the lawless lawmakers in Washington getting rich from their corporate donors, while turning their backs on their constituents?”

Well, worse than the governmental corruption, a few weeks after we started considering Mexico, we learned about the increased violence that was taking place in Guanajuato state. The notoriously violent Jalisco drug cartel kidnapped several members of an elite police force in the state of Guanajuato, tortured them to obtain names and addresses of their fellow officers, and began hunting down and killing police at their homes, on their days off, in front of their families. Many officers took their families and fled.

Needless to say, this threw an industrial-sized wrench into our plans. People on Facebook groups in Guanajuato city overwhelmingly responded to this by saying that the violence is in Guanajuato state, not in the city. Even the drug lords appreciate the importance and the beauty of the city, and they leave it alone. Whether that’s true or not, the disappearance of police officers due to their murder or their fleeing to safety doesn’t exactly inspire a great deal of confidence in our own safety there.

And even if it’s true that, as the owner of the house we were looking into said, that Guanajuato is “a microcosm of tranquility and joy,” a microcosm can only be a microcosm by being surrounded by something completely different. As Linda expressed it, how could we enjoy our time there knowing that, nearby, people were being tortured and killed?

Added to that is the fact that we were planning on driving there with the dogs. So before we got to Guanajuato city, we would be driving through Guanajuato state.

I’ve never been to Mexico, and to be honest, the things that attract other Americans to Mexico never attracted me. I’ve never been into the big, slick tourist resorts, which could be virtually anywhere in the world and you couldn’t tell the difference. But the beauty of some of the towns that are off the tourist-beaten path, like Guanajuato, were looking pretty good.

I have to say that we’re both disappointed, but we’re undeterred. Europe is still in our sights, but fast-tracking is, unfortunately, not an option at this point.