It wasn't an intended road. At least now, looking back, it wasn't something I was yearning for at the time.
I was in Puerto Vallarta to restore a home built there in Gringo Gulch in 1955 by the first "white woman", (National Geographic's description), not mine. Her name was Liz Rubey and she became the Grande Dame of PV for a very long time. It was a much smaller town then and it was THE place to be. With all the movie stars and film people hanging out there starting in the 60's. Ahh, the stories those walls could have told.
Anyway, I went to oversee and handle the updating of the four bedroom house up on a hill overlooking Gringo Gulch. It was an interesting time. I arrived with one suitcase, assuming incorrectly that I would be there for a couple of weeks. There was no electricity or telephone because the bills had not been paid.
I didn't know then what to do and decided I would leave the next day. A dear neighbor, Laura Cardenas, who subsequently became a lifelong friend, assisted with the utilities, well the electricity, and I was back in business and did not leave.
I ended up there for six weeks with one suitcase, no telephone, no radio and no television. Also, no newspapers! The year was 1992. Internet was not even a thought. Therefore I had no connection with just about anyone, unless they knocked on the door and yelled my name. The door was down four flights of stairs at the street level.
Whew, talk about adjustment. IF I needed to call the USA, I walked to a place where I could use a phone to call. My friend, John Horton came down with remodeling supplies and was there for a few weeks helping and coordinating some things with me. I now wonder how in the world that job ever was completed. Oh, and the cost of materials and all new furnishings - a little over $3000. I'd post photos but for some reason Picasa is goofing up and I can't get them to load to Blogspot right now.
The lesson, though, from that six weeks of living out of a suitcase, without benefit of communication, was that I came home and saw my world from a whole new perspective. I was aghast when I looked in the TWO huge full closets of clothes. I was distressed at the din of noise from the TV, radio, phones ringing and just the constant assault of something that had to be done, "Right now!"
One of my clients even commented about it. He said that he didn't want me going back to Mexico while their building was being built because I moved at a slower pace! Really?
Shortly after returning, quite by accident, I read a book where the woman lived on $6000 a year. She traveled everywhere as an air courier or had her travels paid for as she was a writer of travel stories. In this book she said she had six changes of clothes. She said that since there were seven days in the week, she needed six outfits and could launder them on the seventh day. RADICAL.
That book and my experience in Puerto Vallarta was the beginning of turning me from a "Material Girl" to someone who finally had the courage to leave the world of consumerism.
My trip to San Miguel was spontaneous in 1999. I came with a group of five women who had not been to Mexico previously. I of course had and somehow, without me knowing, had been designated "The Leader".
Suffice to say, at that point it was not a pleasant experience. The good thing, of course, is that I finally saw
San Miguel. I didn't fall in love with it at first sight as so many other people do. In fact, the next time I came back I said I was never coming back as it was February and freezing.
However, a subsequent trip in 2000 for six weeks with a friend was the turning point. By then I had changed substantially and was ready for a simple life. Still, I thought I would work til 2005. Destiny had another idea.
When the opportunity arose for me to sell my firm, I didn't hesitate a second. Pretty much the same with selling my house. If I did both of those, why not sell everything - except art and books? I did.
Regrets, no. Do I miss any of that stuff? No. I don't even remember what 90% of it was at the time. Would I do it over again and sell everything? Indeed. It was the most free I have ever felt before or since.
The journey to this life has had its ups and downs, not because of the move or the life of simplicity. The ups and downs had to do with the loss of those I loved, but Mexico has been a good place for solace, solitude and recovery.
This past couple of weeks, after putting all the Christmas stuff away, I've been looking around and wanting to clean out drawers, the closet and downsize some more. I feel a giant garage sale coming. As soon as it warms up. More folk art, clothes, kitchen stuff. I don't really need this much any more.
It IS a great feeling! Maybe I'll downsize to the point that I could live on a boat or in an RV. Hmm, that's an interesting thought! Stay tuned.