- by Fern Corraini
Here's a humorous look at how "Fulltimer" expats stay cool, occupied and happy during the summer in La Paz, Mexico. We don't just survive summer, we enjoy it!
So, it’s still summer in Mexico. And there’s no use skirting around it…it’s hot! Here in La Paz, about half the expat population heads north after a long sojourn of glorious weather.
We call them Snowbirds. But the other half of the expats don’t leave. We call ourselves Fulltimers… or Locos.
Let’s talk about summer in Mexico from the perspective of the Fulltimer. There’s a surprising dynamic that happens once the Snowbirds have high-tailed it north. It kinda feels like when you’ve had company for 2 weeks. The day they leave you give a big sigh, high-five your spouse, get into your schlomping clothes and sprawl on the couch for a day or 2. Here, the Snowbirds leave, and we Fulltimers high-five each other, get into our skimpiest schlomping clothes and enjoy an entirely different lifestyle for a few months.
So what is it we do and how do we cope while the heat bears down?
- We give ourselves permission to relax. It’s OK to accomplish very little sometimes. In fact, it’s good to not push yourself too hard in the heat. It’s actually healthy to watch Netflix all afternoon.
- We find air-conditioned activities we enjoy. We do jigsaw puzzles or Sudoku. We play bridge, rummikub, Mexican train. We crochet or knit (like sewing a bikini during a blizzard), paint watercolors, make jewellery, organize photos. We discover that bowling is a sport.
- We do our errands in the morning or after the cool Coromuel winds blow in around 7 pm.
- We go for paletas (fresh fruit popsicles) at the PolkaDot ice cream store or gelato at Romeo y Julieta’s, and enjoy them while we people-watch the malecon.
- We buy shrimp and calamari at the market and make Mexican seafood cocktails.
- We go to Cinepolis and watch a movie in luxurious comfort…leather recliners, buttons to summon waiters for full bar/food service, soft blankets to cover chilly legs. Yes, blankets!
- We hit the fabric stores, inexpensive and full of interesting things...good for a couple of hours of wandering and a week of decorating.
- We get all excited when rain is in the forecast and celebrate when it arrives…sitting out on the patio under the overhang and just watching the plants drink it in.
- We cross the peninsula and visit the little town of Conquista Agraria on the Pacific side, have a picnic, buy fish right off the boats, get chilly, put on a sweater. Yes, a sweater!
- We go to museums. Actually, no we don’t…but we COULD.
- We subscribe to the 3 S’s of Summer philosophy…Shade, Siesta, Serveza.
- We push an empty cart around Chedrauii for a few hours, frequently passing the frozen foods section.
- We eat a lot of salads. Too many pesky salads, methinks.
- We plug the slowcooker in out on the patio and bake brownies in the toaster oven.
- We snorkel at Los Muertos, kayak or camp on Isla Espiritu, SUP in the bay.
- We head down the street in the evening for tacos, hot dogs or churros. Oh wait, we do that all year long.
- We spend less time sitting on the beach and more time in the water.
- We find excuses to go shopping. Who knew that Auto-Zone was soooo interesting?
- We argue with our spouses over A/C temperatures and fan output.
- We reconfigure our furniture to maximize airflow and reduce arguments.
- We give thanks for our swimming pool or make plans to put one in.
- We still go to pilates, yoga, dancefit, aquafit...but street hockey is put on hold.
- We plug in the little fridge and fill it with beverages.
- We binge-watch TV in the heat of the afternoon. In one month you can watch all 8 seasons of Game of Thrones.
- We try out new restaurants and don’t care if they don’t have outside tables.
- We attach a mister to our outdoor fan and blow it across the hammock. Note: crossword puzzles get damp, dogs get happy.
- We get invited to ‘Christmas in July’ parties…turkey dinner with all the trimmings and without the hoopla.
- We stay hydrated and maintain a good level of Vitamin C by drinking Micheladas and Cubanas. See recipes below.
- We stay cool at soccer and baseball games by pulling a hand fan out of the purse and fluttering it as competently as a geisha or flamenco dancer.
- We often forget to wear underwear, on purpose.
- We go fishing for summer fish like dorado, marlin, tuna, bass.
- We repeat the mantra: "It’s a dry heat”.
So there you have it. We Fulltimers actually enjoy the summer months in Mexico. Things are quiet, slow and slothful, and the heat actually bonds us. You know how the weather is always the first thing we talk about during northern winters? Well, down here, ”Cold enough for you?” is replaced with “Aye, hace mucho calor hoy, no?” Instant connection, instant bonding. We’re all in this together.
Before climate change caught up with us, the heat used to predictably disappear on October 14, 15 or 16…as if a switch had suddenly been turned off. It’s less predictable now but no less anticipated or appreciated. And when the blissful cooler weather arrives, so do the Snowbirds. The community dynamic changes again…things speed up, more events and activities fill the calendar and we eat a lot more appetizers. We’re glad to reconnect with our Snowbird friends again and get back into our winter routines. Then, wait a few months…and it's time for us Fulltimers to start whining about being chilly.
Fill a large glass with lots of ice
Add about ¼ cup fresh lime juice
Add 1 bottle ice-cold Pacifico beer
(you can use any kind of beer you like, but it’s a travesty)
Fill a large glass with lots of ice
Add about ¼ cup fresh lime juice
Add a couple shakes each of…
Maggi or Jugo sauce
Salt and pepper
Add 1 bottle ice-cold Pacifico
Find a hammock and enjoy!
Fern Corraini is a veteran traveler and explorer who moved to La Paz from Canada twelve years ago and is happy to call Mexico home. In addition to her international travels, Fern has been an English teacher in Canada and Guadalajara, a customs officer, a beekeeper, a sandblaster, a travel rep in the Dominican Republic and a motel owner. When she’s not busy keeping Vista Properties organized as our administrator, Fern loves to cycle, visit the beach and spend time with her two rescue kitties. She loves La Paz and firmly believes that the taco is the perfect food.
Daniel Bailey says
Fern; I enjoyed your article for the content and humor. My wife & I are 8-year Mexico “expat wan-ta-bees” from the Chicago area who have explored (on-line & on-the-ground) La Paz, Mazatlan, Merida, and (yes) the Cabo, Cancun & Porta V. areas, as potential resettlement locations. Mazatlan (north, nearer to the Marina area) feels right, but primarily due to home costs and lacking the courage to “pull the trigger”, we are still just “buzzing-around” / “looking” and trying to decide if we should actually make a decision. Any kind words, frank talk, ideas or helpful impressions/viewpoints you may wish to offer would be greatly appreciated. In any event, thanks for the article and your contribution to expats, and great spirit that has driven you to live your dreams! Dan
Thanks, Dan. I’m glad you appreciate my warped sense of humor. It sounds as if you are doing all the right things on your way to becoming expats, exploring your options online and in-person. Once you get settled somewhere I know you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. The low cost of living, the weather, the culture, the pace of life…you know all the benefits of living in Mexico. Of course, I’m going to encourage you to come to La Paz and, in particular, El Centenario. La Paz is NOT a place that is defined by tourism and overrun with tourists. It is the capital of our state, Baja California Sur, and a government/university town. It has world-class beaches without hoards of beach vendors, lounge chairs and tour groups. It has a solid cultural scene (art, music, theater), lovely restaurants and great shopping. Our little pueblo of El Centenario is just 10 minutes away…quiet, casual and a friendly mix of Mexicans and expats. Both places are worthy of your consideration…just depends on what you’d like your expat lifestyle to be. Our team at Vista are all expats who chose to move here, buy here, build here and spend the rest of our days here. We’d be happy to give you the grand tour and help you with your decision-making. There’s a lot to consider, that’s for sure. Come visit us…maybe your heart and gut will make your decision clear. I will email you with my “frank talk” and personal opinions…I remember how thirsty I was for personal input when we were at the same stage as you in our planning. Thanks for taking the time to write, Dan. I appreciate it. Fern Corraini