By Suzanne A. Marshall from the November 2018 Edition
We live here permanently now. The journey began almost eleven years ago, and we still believe it was the right move for us at the right time. Winding down our working careers, tired and worn out, we were looking for the big dream. You know, the stuff that movies are made of or maybe even fairy tales. (And they lived happily ever after….). I’ve written before about finding Manzanillo after many trips to Mexico and developing a ‘must have’ itinerary that would seal a deal for us. And here we are in Manzanillo: small coastal city, vibrant port economy, wonderful people, gorgeous oceanside vistas, inexpensive properties and a heavenly climate.
Are we used to it yet? Have we started taking it for granted? Well, you never get ‘used’ to something this beautiful or take it for granted. But you do begin to feel comfortable with it and, as time goes by, you begin to really see how much more there is than just a beautiful place and climate. It has become our home and, with that, the realization that the lifestyle here embraces so many wonderful elements that forethought had little to do with. There are so many conveniences and services available to us that we have slowly absorbed. We are well past the “if things don’t go well here, we can always go home stage”.
We’ve almost completely stopped making comparisons to how it was in Canada and the way things worked there. (Albeit, income tax season still bites!). So, let me randomly begin to tell you what this all means.
During Carnaval before Easter, the two-day parade displays some amazing costumes.
We live permanently in flip-flops, shorts, swimsuits, T-shirt’s, loose dresses and less if possible. Frankly, it’s a luxury I love. Total comfort. We dine out many days a week at eclectic Mexican restaurants where the food is delicious and so inexpensive it doesn’t kill your budget. Many of these locations we can walk to and driving is always a short distance. I have happily given up the long commutes of my former life to big box stores and various destinations. In Canada, we were constantly driving and filling up the gas tanks weekly. Here in Manzanillo we might fill the gas tank once a month or less, another savings for your pocketbooks.
One of the scenic cruises available. We call them the ‘booze cruise’..
That isn’t to say we don’t have a few of the big super stores. We certainly do but they are nearby and integrated into the neighbourhoods. Everything we really need is here. In Canada and the USA, they are often building the big stores in far surrounding areas that force the residents into vehicles. The zoning laws seem to prevent integration of urban areas. Of course, Manzanillo is not a big metropolis in the first place. We huddle along the shorelines and are surrounded by green-topped mountains and plantations. So, in this vein, we’ve forgotten about winter parkas, down-filled comforters, heavy winter wear and boots and even winter tires. There are no more walkways and driveways to shovel and icy roads to navigate. Yipeee! We need less space and live outdoors far more while soaking up the vitamin D and rich, humid air.
Let’s talk health services. Initially, we thought we’d go home if the going got rough; not such a good idea anymore. I’m not talking heart transplants or brain surgery as all of that would be crisis driven and we do have options. But, if we are talking general care, general health practitioners and service availability, I was shocked by the speed with which we have been cared for. Almost no waiting, period. This is not the scene in Canada, where waiting weeks and months is an expectation or the norm for everyone. As wonderful as the medical practitioners may be, they can only handle so many patients a day and the wait lists are long and stressful. The cause? An aging population called ‘the boomers’ and a lack of infrastructure to support them all. I could go very deep into this subject but that’s not the focus here.
With our permanent visas in hand, we are fully integrated into the Mexican health system. It is inexpensive by comparison to say the USA, and in Canada there is a cost for medicines aside from the waiting. The IMSS system assesses an annual fee depending on age. Being over seventy, I paid about 640.00 CAD for the year. In Manzanillo, our medications are free and picked up each month at the clinic pharmacy after our appointments with the doctor.
We asked for a reservation near the beach and ended up on the beach. How accommodating is that? Need a doctor to come to the house? Yes indeed, we’ve enjoyed that privilege as well for a cost of about thirty-five dollars. There
are private clinics that one can visit for minor scratches and bruises or for full-on emergency care. The choice is yours. Recently, a friend here opted for a hip replacement at a private hospital. The surgery went well and she is recovering at home. She has hired full-time help for local wage rates and is very thankful for all the care she is receiving. The surgery costs were 80,000 pesos. Sounds like a lot but in US dollars (where she is from) the cost equates to $4,240.00. Were she in the US for this procedure, the costs would be over $100,000.00 I am told.
During the busy winter seasons we often see people riding the ‘banana’ pulled by power boats.
This type of prompt service is true for all steps in the local health system. Talk about conveniences. Need an X-ray? You can have it taken today and you will leave the office with a copy in hand. They will even email it to you or as directed. Need laboratory tests? Done immediately with the usual allowance for fasting periods if necessary.
How about dental care? I’ll try to control myself here as it is a pet peeve. Lovely people as they may be, dentists in Canada and the USA make out like bandits. There is a reason why foreigners flock to Mexico for dental services. They are top notch and cover every range of service from general care to implants and jaw surgery. A typical visit to a dentist here for a regular cleaning (which is usually done by the dentist) is a cost of approximately 50.00 CAD or less.
Having a lot of fun on Independence weekend, thanks to Pacifica del Mar restaurant and some crazy friends.
Leaving all this important but grim stuff behind, I’ll move on to the fun stuff. First class cinemas with wide seats that are like lounge chairs are yours to enjoy. The cost? About 3 dollars Canadian. What a delight! The freshly popped caramel popcorn is always an irresistible delight as well. Most new movie releases are offered in English with Spanish subtitles the first week or longer, so we often enjoy our local movies. You can book your seats online as well.
Want to take a little excursion? Jump on the Mexican highway bus services. There are several companies to choose from. They are so sumptuous it’s shocking at first. Bus lines here are affordable. They give you a sandwich and a drink when you
board for your first-class adjustable seat with foot rests, lap tables, television, wi-fi service and plug-ins for electronics. The entire bus has first-class seating. With our seniors’ card, a return trip to Guadalajara (5 hours one-way) is roughly 50.00 CAD per person.
Because Manzanillo is evolving as a tourist destination, you will find a lot of English spoken here. This is a saving grace if you haven’t dived into your Spanish lessons yet. We keep working on ours but it’s very handy when often the person you are speaking with is bilingual English-Spanish. The children are taking it in school and English has become an important tool for employment and higher wages. Newcomers will no doubt find this a bonus feature in the area.
Manzanillo enjoys two magnificent bays.
Home services are readily available to residents in Manzanillo. This covers almost everything you can think of including, gardening, housekeeping, painting, boiler (hot water heater) repair, electrical upgrades, car repairs, car washes and so on. And again, the rates are extremely reasonable.
When the body ages, these services become more and more important. So, we retirees like to make use of many of them on a regular basis.
There is such a close social community here, that references for many services are available from friends and social media as will as referral lists that are often available through local organizations.
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Suzanne A. Marshall hails from western Canada and has been living the good life in Manzanillo over the past 8 years. She is a wife, mom and grandma. She is retired from executive business management where her writing skills focused on bureaucratic policy, marketing and business newsletters. Now she shares the fun and joy of writing about everyday life experiences in beautiful Manzanillo, Mexico, the country, its people, the places and the events.