“You’re out of your mind!” This was one of the milder things people said when I announced that after 30 years of living in the paradise of Maui, Hawaii, I was moving to South America. And at 80 years of age. Alone. Without speaking a word of Spanish.
I’m in an SUV in La Paz, in Mexico’s Baja California Sur. The sun is hot and we’ve rolled down the windows as we drive through town. We go at a leisurely pace, stopping at street corners to obey the four-way stop signs; La Paz is too low-key to need many stop lights.
Internet research and guide books are useful for learning about new locales. But nothing compares to the experience of spending time in them. Sights like terracotta roofs topping white-washed cottages, aromas of fragrant wildflowers or your neighbor’s grilled chicken on an outdoor barbeque (churrasqueira), and the sounds of crashing ocean surf or the lilting trill of your local bird population are all characteristics of Portugal that you could never experience from reading a book.
If you plan to spend time in Mexico’s Colonial Highlands and want to look beyond San Miguel de Allende, consider renting a property in Guanajuato, the state capital. This 16th-century Spanish-colonial city, a World Heritage site since 1988, is beautiful and lively, with a vibrant ambience.
San Miguel de Allende is arguably the best-known Spanish-colonial town in Mexico…and for good reason. It’s beautiful (and beautifully-preserved), it has great shopping for arts and crafts, fine dining, plenty of English-speaking locals, a huge expat community, and it’s relatively easy to reach.
It might seem strange to say that I’m a beach person, having spent much of my adult life as a desert dweller. But every vacation during those years was to the ocean, because while I loved life in New Mexico, I craved the ocean and needed at least one week of soaking myself in salt water to regenerate.
Day-Glo purple, tuscan yellow, lipstick red, and electric hues I don’t have names for—these are the colors that hug the roads of the Orosi Valley. They are housed in the stories-tall bougainvillea, pendent heliconias, and multi-shaped bromeliads that cover the region, owing to the year-round perfect climate.
From sun-kissed islands surrounded by the crystal clear Caribbean Sea…to charming villages nestled in the foothills of the Maya mountains, surrounded by pristine rainforest jungle…Belize is a diverse country of natural wonders. Travel through it and all over you’ll meet content expats who are living their dream lifestyle.
A nickname like the Valley of Flowers and Eternal Spring is pretty hard to live up to. But the area around the small town of Boquete, high in the green mountains of the Chiriquí province in western Panama, certainly does. This bustling town of around 20,000 sits at an elevation of just below 4,000 feet.
Imagine waking up each morning to the sound of gentle waves lapping up the shore of a white-sand beach. The warm Caribbean waters are clear, in shades of turquoise and azure. Down the road is a community with shops, restaurants, and, most importantly, lively beach bars. This is what it is like to live on the tropical island of Roatán.