Tuesday, February 16, 2016

My New Home—From Big City Back to Country

                My New Home—From Big City Back to Country
            Where do I start? At the beginning, you say. That was almost three years ago so let me start with last week and back track to the beginning, what say?

            Last week in Etzatlan I bought a casita. A beautiful brick Spanish style casita with arched windows and doors, tiled roof, and plenty of wrought iron. Sounds like an impulsive buy, doesn’t it?

            Like I said, the process began three years ago when I first went to Etzatlan to visit my new friend Lani. Etzatlan is a small village, about 20,000 people, sprawled in a wide and verdant valley in the mountains north-east of Guadalajara. The town is centuries old with narrow cobblestone streets and ancient adobe buildings. It’s farm and ranch country, emphasis on country.

Etzatlan has no ex-pat community. What it does have is a small section of a working ranch that had been set aside for retired Americans to build two dozen small, Spanish style homes.

            In its heyday most of the residents lived there year round, creating a tiny but active pocket community. Then one died, another became disabled, another moved back to the States to be cared for by family. Any retirement community has such a pattern. It’s life. One after another, people left. But no marketing was done to bring in new residents.

            Consequently, most of the casitas sit empty, some maintained by heirs who don’t want to live there and hope to sell, some abandoned. Lani is not the manager but she wants to see the place built back to former glory. She’s a go-getter. If you get in her pathway, she’ll hook you and reel you in for a look-see.

            Three years ago, I looked. “Lani, I can’t afford any one of these beauties. Besides, Etzatlan is too isolated. My heart is in Mazatlan. Don’t bug me.”

            Lani took me to see another empty casita or two whenever I visited. Each time I drooled but said “no”. A couple weeks ago I hopped the bus to Etzatlan to visit Lani and Ariel and my cousin Nancie and her husband Pat, who had rented Patricia’s casita for several weeks. Two days after I arrived, they bought Patricia’s casita, empty for a couple years, but well maintained. They bargained a sweet deal.

            No, I did not have “buy” fever. I’m a happy renter, privileged to live in a lovely apartment maintained by somebody else. Leave me alone.

            Besides, Joe and Yvonne still lived in the home that most appealed to me. Yvonne has health problems and the couple is moving to Spokane in March. I requested a quick house tour but was denied. Yvonne didn’t feel up to a stranger tromping through her home. I understand. If the house is still for sale, I can see it next trip. I’m not in the market, just curious.

            Two days later Leo, the groundskeeper, brought me a message. Yvonne was having a good day. If I wanted to see the house, come now. Ten minute tour. Why not?

            The entrance patio is stunning, flowers blanketing the high brick walls, with a variety of potted plants. The house is a perfect size for me, has lovely Mexican tile floors and tiled kitchen and bath. The grounds, a virtual park. The spacious roofed patio with outdoor kitchen, sink, plus a barbeque, plus large storage room, plus two storage closets stole my heart. It’s like an extended indoor/outdoor room.

Joe, Yvonne and I sat in the sun, in rockers, on the uncovered entrance patio and visited for an hour and a half. With a handshake, the couple gave me the gift of a home for $5,000. I know. I have never been given anything in my life. It is unbelievable. A fairy story. I must have made it up. A dream I could never have dreamed.

I’m a reader. I read a lot of books. Nothing ruins a captivating novel like an author who wraps up all the loose ends into a neat happy package in the last three pages. Life isn’t like that. So I clutch my gift to me with gobs of gratitude. Life in Etzatlan promises to be another chapter in my adventure.

But, oh dear, how am I going to get packed? What should I take? What should I leave? Where will I find a truck and two strong young men to help me move? What have I done? Help!!!

Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door

February 18, 2016

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