Notes From Paradise

Expat of the month
  • Notes From Paradise
  • Notes From Paradise
  • Notes From Paradise
Published on 2016-09-30 at 11:30
We are Lynda & Lawrie Lock. We have lived on Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Mexico since October 2008. Seven kilometers long and a kilometer wide the island is a fifteen-minute boat ride from the large tourist mecca of Cancun.

We are Lynda Lock & Lawrie Lock, in Isla Mujeres, QR Mexico. Currently retired both myself, and my husband were for the most part of our working lives self-employed entrepreneurs with a wide variety of businesses that included an antique store, a freight boat business, a solid waste disposal company, an award winning bed and breakfast, and a micro-brewery, to name just a few. He was also the Fire Chief and I was a volunteer firefighter for many years in another small island community in BC Canada. We frequently say that we have Adult Attention Deficient Syndrome. As soon as a business was running well, we got bored and sold it, only to immediately start a different type of business. In the later years of our working careers we switched to managing businesses for other companies. Lawrie managed a large winery and restaurant complex and I managed a mid-sized hotel.

We are both from British Columbia Canada, having lived in a variety of small communities and large cities. My original hometown located in the coastal mountains of British Columbia is now a deserted ghost town. It was a thriving gold mining town that shut down when the mining company ran out of easily accessible gold. Lawrie on the other hand grew up in the city of West Vancouver, located directly across the harbour from the much larger metropolis of Vancouver BC.

The last city that we lived in before moving to Mexico – the City of Summerland - was located in the heart of wine country the Okanagan Valley, in south central British Columbia.
We have lived on Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, Mexico since October 2008. Seven kilometers long and a kilometer wide the island is a fifteen-minute boat ride from the large tourist mecca of Cancun. We have the peace and quiet of island life, with all of the big city amenities including a large international airport just a few minutes away.

When and how did you decide to move to Mexico? Is it complicated to settle down there?

We had enjoyed short vacations on the western side of Mexico for many years and then we discovered the Caribbean side in 2002. Wow! The turquoise water, good food, friendly islanders; we were hooked. After four visits to the island we purchased an oceanfront lot in 2006 on Isla Mujeres with the idea of building a home. Since we were still working at that time we had planned to live part-time on the island and the balance of the year in Canada. Our new home was completed in seven months, and we spent the following winter living on the island. When it was time to return to work we happened to arrive in the middle of a late spring snow storm. A meter of snow! That was it for us. We told our employers that we would be leaving permanently in October of 2008, and worked until it was time to move to Mexico. In the meantime we sold our home, furniture, paintings, decorations, books – everything.  The only possessions that we kept were some articles of clothing and a few tools or special mementoes. Our rule was; if it won't fit in the car it isn't going. We drove from the Okanagan Valley to Isla Mujeres in our Nissan Hybrid car, taking twenty-three days to sight-see across the south-western USA and central Mexico. Our then nine-year old cat, Thomas, had to wait until we arrived on Isla Mujeres before he could fly with my sister to his new home in Mexico. Thomas the hero in my children's book The Adventures of Thomas the Cat / Las Aventuras de Tomas el Gato thrived in Mexico, living until his seventeenth birthday.

Complicated to settle in Mexico?  We don't think so, but then we have always liked a challenge. Foreigners cannot own out-right any oceanfront property. The property title is held in a bank trust – a Fideicomiso – for forty years, at which time it is renewed. The property and buildings can be sold just like any other piece of property, however unless the purchaser is a Mexican citizen it will remain in the bank trust. We have absolutely no problem with that concept as there are numerous housing developments in Canada that have ninety-nine year leases on the individual titles.

As far as other differences, customs, culture, rules, and laws – we moved to a foreign country to experience something new. We didn't move here to transplant our ideas and Canadian values. This is Mexico. We try to be as respectful as possible of all things Mexican. 

Have you ever lived abroad before? How many countries have you visited?

We have visited over thirty countries in the world, but have only lived in Canada and Mexico.

What do you like the most about Mexico?

The people, the culture, tasty fresh food and living in the tropics ‘ain't that bad' either.

How is/was the cultural shock? What are the main differences with your home country?

It is like being transported back in time to the 1950's:
-    large and close knit families who look out for each other,
-    easy freedom for the kids, not so many organized and scheduled activities.  Just outdoor fun with friends.
-    you are responsible for your own safety and you can't sue someone for your own stupidity.

Do you miss anything from your homeland?

No, not really. In Canada the rules and regulations increase daily – primarily, it appears, in an effort to avoid being sued. 
We do miss old friends who don't enjoy travel. Family, on the other hand, always seems to find us. The typical reaction is: No, don't come back to Canada to visit, we'll come see you in Mexico. Perhaps the turquoise water and warm sunny weather has something to do with their response.

Any 'memories of an expat' you would like to share with us? Your best souvenir? Or maybe your worst experience?

Our best souvenirs: new friends, great memories and thousands of beautiful photographs of people, places, and things.

Our worst experience:  Patience was the hardest thing to learn. When to give up and when to move on. Accepting that a guarantee doesn't mean much. You have to be calmly persistent to get service for any appliance or piece of equipment that is theoretically under guarantee. Seven weeks of polite and daily phone calls, from one of our Mexican friends, and eventually we got our new refrigerator fixed by the manufacturer. My friend's words of wisdom regarding guarantees were: It's a game of Survivor. You have to outlast, outwit and outplay your opponent to win. That really made us laugh!

What does your typical day as an expat in Mexico look like?

We're retired so life is a lot less hectic than when we were working. We get up at dawn, take our small mixed-breed adopted dog out for a walk, and enjoy our morning coffee together while planning our ‘busy' day. Then there is decision on meals for the day. Eat at home?  Go out? What should we have for our meal today?
Later in the morning we do household chores and maintenance.

Living on the beach in tropical climate creates lots of maintenance headaches; rust, salt corrosion, and wood eating termites. However living by the ocean is pretty damn wonderful so it's worth it.

We enjoy spending time together, still happy and deeply in love after thirty-six years together. We have a large circle of friends, some that live here year-around, and others that come for the winter months. October to April is a busy time on the island with festivities, family, friends and visitors. The summer months are our wind-down, re-group time.
We read, a lot. A book a day, each. We haven't watched television for over ten years.

I try to write every day either for the blog, or as a contributing writer to Mexico News Daily, and the Yucatan Times, or for the novel that I plan to launch as a Kindle E-book in October.
And sundown is celebrated with a glass or two of wine, and another walk for our pooch, Sparky.

When did you start your blog? For what reasons?

Notes from Paradise – Isla Mujeres started as an email to twelve family members in June 2009, just to keep them updated with our newest crazy-adventure. My husband Lawrie Lock and I share the blog writing – whoever has a bright idea for the week writes the article. I take 90% of the photographs because I habitually have a camera attached to my hand. The email list eventually grew to over five hundred people as family and friends passed it to other friends, who passed it along to more of their friends. We had many strangers who emailed and asked us to include them in the weekly email list. Sure, delighted to!

We decided to turn the weekly email into a web-based blog in September of 2011. Since then we have had over 333,000 page views with the weekly average now hitting around 10,000 pages views. The response is astounding!

I have also written and self-published a hardcover book for children: The Adventures of Thomas the Cat / Las Aventuras de Tomas el Gato. The story is narrated in both English and Spanish, and features 32 beautifully illustrated pages. My illustrator, islander Diego Medina and I won a Silver for our "The Adventures of Thomas the Cat" at the International Latino Book Awards, for the category mentioned. The category is Best Children's Picture Book – Bilingual. Diego and I are working on a sequel to the first book, and I am close to publishing my first novel: Treasure Isla, on Kindle e-books.

Did you make new friends with your blog?

Yes! The biggest kick we get is when a stranger approaches us in the grocery store, or the ferry line-up, or even walking our dog and says: I love your blog! I can't wait to read it every Friday. Wow! 

Why did you register on and what do you think of the website?

I registered to have access to other adventure-minded folks, and to promote our blog once we decided to post it on the web. The website is good, but huge! It takes a bit of searching around to find information.   

What advice would you give to the other members who would like to settle in Mexico?

Lynda: Come with an open mind and an open heart. Leave the “Why don't they do this? Why don't they do that?” attitude back in your own country. Unless you apply for citizenship - you are a guest. Be respectful, be cheerful, and enjoy the experience. 

Lawrie: Do it! If it doesn't work out – change. There are no rehearsals in life, you only get one chance. Enjoy!

Notes From Paradise