Episode #100 – Marc interviews Lotus Miller for her side of the story on moving to Ajijic, Mexico.
In this special Episode 100, Marc’s wife, Lotus Miller, is the guest. Marc has talked about the issues from his point of view, so now we hear about her experiences. Listen in for a forthright review of what she has found and what she feels about it.
[1:27] Marc welcomes you to Episode 100 of the Repurpose Your Career podcast. When Marc launched this podcast late in October 2016, he never imagined you would be downloading this podcast in the thousands of episode downloads per month. Over 45K episode downloads occurred in the first nine months of 2018.
[1:58] Episode downloads have tripled since the podcast was featured in the May issue of AARP Magazine.
[2:06] Marc certainly didn’t think he would be recording episode 100 outside the U.S.A. A lot has changed since the show debuted. Since the podcast launched, the economy has done very well but not for everybody. Marc has written on the blog that the recovery has been very uneven.
[2:28] While the published unemployment rate for Boomers is 3%, many of our generation have dropped out and are no longer being counted. Health insurance is a political punching bag. This is why Marc is living in Mexico — for better health care and cheaper health insurance.
[2:54] Who would have thought a few years ago that people over 55 would be so poorly treated by our health system? Our world in October 2018 looks a whole lot different than it did in October 2016. Therefore, this podcast will continue to evolve.
[3:13] Marc says thank you to everyone who has written an iTunes review. Marc really appreciates when someone rates or reviews the show.
[3:23] Here’s what Marc has planned. He has a series of fascinating guests to interview. Next week Marc will interview Bob McIntosh, a renowned LinkedIn expert who will discuss how to use LinkedIn in your job search.
Now on to the podcast…
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[3:36] The following week, Marc will have Michael O’Brien, who, like Marc, suffered a near-fatal bicycle accident. Their accidents were nearly identical and occurred one year apart, to the day.
[4:01] Marc will survey the audience in the coming weeks. Marc would like your input. What do you want from the next 100 episodes?
[4:11] Marc will launch a Patreon page in early 2019. Patreon is a platform for performers and content creators to raise money. This podcast costs about $400 a month to produce. Marc will be polling the community of listeners to see if there is an appetite for anyone who’d be willing to contribute to defray the cost for making this podcast.
[4:48] For Episode 100, Marc “rattled his brain” wondering what he could do to make this episode special. After consulting a number of folks, including the Podfly team, Marc decided on interviewing his wife, Lotus Miller, on her experiences about their move to Mexico.
[5:04] Lotus is not a recovering engineer but a former Registered Nurse and a massage therapist. A lot has changed for Lotus and Marc in the last two years. Marc has chronicled their journey to Mexico on the blog and in the podcast. What surprised Marc is the magnitude of the positive response. You folks like hearing about their journey.
[5:26] It has not always been pleasant, like when Marc recorded Episode 29 from Lotus’s hospital room after returning from Ecuador five days early or grappling with health insurance and tax implications. Marc remembers completing his income taxes in Ajijic last April, digging through the insurance company’s portal for claims they had paid.
[5:54] Marc is a really smart guy, and he found taxes really difficult. What does the ‘average Joe’ do? It’s ridiculous.
[6:06] As Marc records this episode, they are preparing to drive back to Austin. As this episode is published, Marc and Lotus will be on a three-day drive to Austin to empty out their condo and prepare it to be rented. After 40 years in Austin, Texas, it’s time to move on.
[6:29] Marc will continue in the coming year to record episodes about their move to Mexico, but maybe not as frequently — you tell Marc what you would like. Marc has been very open about sharing the good times and the bad. It has not been easy, but many of you have told him you appreciate how open and frank he has been.
[6:48] Four podcast listeners have visited the Millers in the last four months. If you are interested, ping Marc.
[7:01] Marc welcomes Lotus to the Repurpose Your Career podcast. They are recording in the second bedroom of the casita. If it sounds like a concrete bunker, it is!
[7:21] It was a year ago that Marc and Lotus first visited Ajijic. The first things that got Lotus’s attention were all the dogs lying on the sidewalk in the sun and often sleeping. There were some dog droppings on the sidewalks. Some dogs were in fenced yards.
[9:57] Lotus thought the people in the neighborhood looked comfortable and happy, though not rich. When she greeted anyone in Spanish, they were always happy to acknowledge her with a “Buenos días” or a “Buenos noches.”
[10:55] Marc remembers when Lotus greeted a woman with “Buenos días,” and the woman corrected her with “No, no, no, no! ‘Buenos tardes!’” Lotus found the elderly ladies very nice to her.
[11:36] As time passed over a couple of visits, what at first seemed odd to Lotus, now she doesn’t notice. The dogs on the sidewalk seem normal to her. Most of them are not street dogs, they are just allowed to run loose. People feed and take care of dogs that are unowned. In general, there’s not much difference between owned and street dogs.
[12:57] One dog, Chiclet, seemed to be a street dog, but then somebody took it in. Marc and Lotus give details.
[14:09] The weather and foliage were much different from Texas. Everything is so green, in the rainy season. People had ivy on their walls. Trees bloom in the fall, covered with purple or orange blooms. Plans get Lotus’s attention because she loves the outdoors. The town and the lake are surrounded by mountains.
[16:07] Lotus notes that the native speakers of Spanish speak much faster than she can understand. Over the year, her grasp of it is coming along. Even in English, Lotus prefers slower speech to faster speech.
[17:54] Lotus loves the food in Ajijic. There are a lot of Italian restaurants in Ajijic! Lotus has met a lot of people of different nationalities, which may play a part. Lotus, from Austin, is accustomed to eating Italian food or continental food. In Texas, she rarely ate Mexican food, but she is eating a lot of it now and finds it so much better.
[19:06] Lotus finds the quality of food amazing; the sauces are very slowly produced in the morning. Lotus has not been a fruit eater but she is starting to enjoy the mangoes. She does not like the papayas. International companies grow various berries all year long, available fresh at half the price as in the U.S. Farms surround the lake.
[21:19] Lotus goes to tianguis or open-air markets. There are three she goes to, the Chapala Market, the organic farmers’ market, and the Ajijic Market. Lotus describes the markets and when she goes. She tells about one woman at the Chapala Market, who chops up a chicken on the spot as Lotus likes.
[24:07] The Chapala Tianguis is a sensory experience. Marc talks about the array of goods available there, in at least half-a-mile of displays.
[25:00] Lotus discusses the organic market. Lotus soaks vegetables in an iodine solution before eating them fresh but doesn’t need to do that with vegetables from the organic farmers’ market. The Ajijic Farmers’ market on Wednesday is a scaled-down version of the Chapala Market.
[27:12] Lotus talks about seafood. It is more flavorful than she has found in Austin. I Kilo of shrimp for about 100 pesos, or about $5. Lotus serves it with no seasoning. Marc notes both he and Lotus have lost weight without trying.
[28:12] Lotus tells about riding the bus. The driver takes off while you are still handling the fare. The buses run to cities all around the lake for a few pesos. When the bus is full people stand on the back of the bus and hand their fare up through the crowd. It is not unusual to see school children riding the bus by themselves.
[30:11] The back seats of the bus are very bouncy on the irregularly paved cobblestone roads with holes. Some drivers are cautious and others zip around, but they get there safely. Marc and Lotus have ridden the bus to Chapala and to Jocotepec. From Ajijic to Jocotepec (about 15-20K) costs 12 pesos or about 60 cents.
[31:51] Sometimes musicians will perform on the bus, maybe with their children.
[32:27] Lotus talks about the Lake Chapala Society, where Marc and Lotus are members. They have much to offer expats and visitors. Lotus takes Yoga classes there. Lotus knows of bridge groups, Scrabble, and Mahjong players. They have too many activities to list. They have the largest English library outside the U.S.
[33:42] Lotus has been checking out books and reading a lot; not watching any TV since they have been there. She is looking forward to bringing a U.S. DVD player, because the English DVDs she can rent cannot be played on a Mexican DVD player, only on a U.S. DVD player. They are U.S. formatted DVDs and Blu-Rays.
[34:21] There are many ponds and so much greenery. Marc and Lotus were eating at an outdoor cafe at the Lake Chapala Society and a very large avocado fell from a tree onto the awning and rolled off. They took it home and ate it later. It was so good. The avocados and other local foods in Mexico are always good and fresh.
[35:53] There are grocery stores that cater to expats, with lots of packaged foods.
[36:00] Lake Chapala Society assists children in schools and classes and offer art classes for children. They give back to the locals as much as assisting expats. The expat community has created and participates in many nonprofits in the area in the arts and the schools and spaying and neutering dogs and finding homes for them.
[37:07] In spite of their daughter’s prior misgivings, Lotus feels very safe and happy in the environment and with the people around her. It is a slower-moving life. Mañana means no more than ‘not today.’
[38:09] Most of the crime in the big cities is cartel against cartel. There are one million American expats living in Mexico, not to mention from other countries. Expats are very welcome by the government and do a lot of good for the community.
[38:09] There are a lot of similarities between Austin and Ajijic. Austin grows by 150 people every day. People are also moving to Ajijic like crazy. The rental market necessitated Marc’s and Lotus’s early move, to make sure they got the property they wanted. There’s a lot of gentrification occurring.
[39:49] On their first visit, and again, right now, it is a month of religious feast days with fireworks shooting off at 5:00 most days in the morning for a month. The events move from chapel to chapel carrying a statue to represent a saint. There are horses and bands parading as part of it.
[42:56] September 16, Mexican Independence Day is a big celebration of performances and fireworks, starting the weekend before. Lotus admires how the Mexicans celebrate things. If you don’t like the noise, “probably don’t come here.” Mexicans celebrate at the drop of a hat. Some chapels, from the 1600s, are rented out for celebrations.
[45:03] Lotus is disappointed to miss The Day of the Dead, this year but it will still be there every year. Lotus is looking forward to the dry season, the winter. It should be mostly sunny. The dry season high is usually about 75 degrees F in the late afternoon with the low in the low 50s or even into the 40s.
[46:00] Marc and Lotus were there at Easter this year, and the Mexicans really celebrated that, so Marc and Lotus want to know how they celebrate Christmas.
[46:19] Lotus would advise first-time visitors to get the book, Moving to Mexico’s Lake Chapala, by Lisa Jorgensen. Marc also recommends this book. Lotus likes a smaller-town feel and that’s what she loves about Ajijic. Ajijic is an indigenous peoples’ name, not a Mexican name, by the way.
[47:30] Marc thanks Lotus for being on the Repurpose Your Career podcast.
[47:36] Marc notes that Lotus is very much on board with this plan. Your experience may differ. There have been a fair number of divorces after couples move overseas and one just loves it and the other just craves to return to the U.S.
[48:01] The one who loves it isn’t always the member of the couple that instigated the move. It’s not as simple as one might think. Half the people who retire overseas, return in less than five years. It’s half for health, and the other half because they can’t handle the cultural change. Lotus is pretty excited about what she has found.
[48:59] Watch for the opportunity to help Marc work on the third edition of his book Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for the 2nd Half of Life, with Susan Lahey. He will be forming a team of volunteers in the coming months to read pre-release versions of new chapters. Look for the sign-up sheet coming soon!
[50:19] Check back next week for Episode 101! Marc will interview Bob McIntosh, the renowned LinkedIn expert on using LinkedIn in your job search.
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