I was in line for a rental car at Cancun airport—it was a franchise of one of the big-name companies from the U.S. I watched the couple before me walk to the counter clutching their printed out reservation.
You look out from your terrace over a vast tropical garden. You’re surrounded by heliconias and bromeliads in shades of vivid red, bright yellow, orange, and combinations in between, along with orchid blooms. Banana and mango trees are heavy with fruit.
“I have lived in and visited many wonderful places in my life. But only two that were magical to me, where I felt an immediate feeling that I belonged there,” says expat Paula Nunes. “San Francisco in the late ‘60s. And San Miguel de Allende in 2012.”
Scot and Vicki Lyall like to joke that “we went downtown to buy a bottle of liquor and bought a condo.” It’s not far from the truth. The couple had been coming to the town of Playa del Carmen, on Mexico’s Riviera Maya, for years for vacations.
Thanks to its popularity as a beach vacation destination, Mexico is perhaps best known to most North Americans for its resort towns like Puerto Vallarta and Cancún.
Mexico’s Riviera Maya is a much-loved tourist destination. Hotspots like Cancún—with its all-inclusive resorts, shopping, and nightlife—and the chic and sophisticated Playa del Carmen to the south, are popular with visitors from around the world.
Set in Central Mexico, the Colonial Highlands region has been drawing retirees and other expats for decades. One town in particular has been a favorite, San Miguel de Allende, which is about four hour’s drive northwest of Mexico City.
High in the Peruvian Andes, life is lived much as it has been for centuries. Locals farm corn, potatoes, and other crops. The indigenous tongue, Quechua, is the first language for most of the locals, who are descendants of the Incas and fiercely proud of that heritage.
Cusco, in a valley high in the Peruvian Andes, has a history going back centuries. Starting in 1400, it was the capital of the vast Incan empire.
A few years ago, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, I was enjoying a beer at a local bar while I watched the football game. I was living in Costa Rica at the time—in the Pacific beach town of Tamarindo.