SETTLING IN—PART 1 After the lengthy drive from Northern California, I drove past the Ranch and my house, and headed straight for town. It was already 3:30 p.m., and I had no idea if the shop would be closing early or not-- had they begun summer hours as yet, would Veronica be closing up earlier? So I hotfooted it to CSI without even stopping off at my house to unload my laden car, grab something to drink or even let my puppy dog, Gypsy, out for a potty stop. Straight past the rambling homes of El Dorado Ranch that, from an aerial shot, must appear randomly peppered across the desert landscape for miles. Past the various businesses snaking along Highway 5. Past the iconic Arches that are emblematic of San Felipe, my ‘new’ home town along the upper stretches of the Sea of Cortez aka the Gulf of California. I was beating a path to CSI—the computer and DISH outlet I had signed up with-- because tonight was the Finals of Dancing with the Stars and I didn’t want to miss it! I wanted to get my TV service activated pronto! As anyone who knows me knows, I’m an avid dancer myself, but also an avid fan of the show--I don’t think I’ve missed an episode since the series began. Whew! The shop was still open, Veronica was there and within minutes I was on my way back towards the Ranch and to my home. First things first. Check the house to make sure all was copasetic. What? My back door was standing wide open! Oh No! I made the cursory check to make sure nothing was amiss, and finding nothing obviously taken, looked around more thoroughly. It was more a case of a dusty house, bugs that had crept in during the 3 months I’d been gone, and no doubt due to the open door a field mouse or perhaps chipmunk from the back yard had discovered a home within mine, making quite the mess of shredded Kleenex in the guest room. Droppings were throughout the house, so the little buggers (more than likely, where there is one there are a handful) had made themselves quite at home. So before I even unpacked the stuffed to the gills car filled with clothes and personal items, I set about restoring order! I laid out the foggers I’d brought with me, gathered up Gypsy and we headed for La Palapa where I checked emails while the foggers did their thing. With a stop off at the Rancho Market and Deli to pick up provisions and downing one of their mouth watering generous deli sandwiches, my next order of business was some serious housecleaning! Gypsy and I settled into our routines like flies flock to your outdoor table the moment you begin eating—quickly and without hesitation! I found myself unconsciously smiling a lot, or humming to my own musical composition in my head as I put things away, hung clothes, settled in. As I swept and straightened and put things in their appointed places, my eye caught a glimpse of the photographs on my bookcase. One in particular, his big smile smiling back at me—and suddenly I realized I really was HOME. I grinned back at the photograph—it was that moment I knew without a doubt I’d made the right decision to pull up stakes, begin a new life and lifestyle in this Village by the Sea, with its purple shadowy mountains to the west and the turquoise water of the Sea to the east. San Felipe really was my home now.
The first week flew by! I checked my cistern, and found I needed to order water. I’m not lucky enough to have piped water directly to my home. Like most places on the Ranch, water needs to be trucked in. Unlike other areas of Mexico where the water may be polluted and the age old problems of “Montezuma’s Revenge” hits the unprepared or ignorant Gringo, San Felipe’s water supply comes from natural springs outside of town, fed from aquifers stemming from the San Pedro Martir mountain range to the west. The water is high in alkali content—but not polluted. Some of the older homes have large tanks either on their roof tops or supported high up on some sort of a platform, the water gravity fed to the homes. Newer homes have the underground cistern as I have. With water ordered and delivered, and off my list, television service up and running, I next turned my attention to setting up internet service to my house. Until I did so, the only way I could check emails or have any kind of internet connection meant going to one of the local restaurants and tying into theirs. Inconvenient at times, but it did give me an opportunity to meet people and get out and about more. But I was also prone to eating more and certainly enjoying more margaritas than if I was at home! There are several ways to obtain internet service in San Felipe—if one has a land line, a possible internet connection via Telnor might be the way to go. Having no such land line and the understanding there is a long waiting list with Telnor to be hooked up to their new 4G system anyway, I decided at the moment I don’t need one, instead opting to go with the more immediate and fairly reliable dish satellite option. With equipment ordered and installation by Sergio, Done! One more thing off my list! It took a few days, but only a few days, for a different mindset to take hold. That first week, each evening I found myself pushing to get out the door, heading out to the various watering holes and nightlife venues nearby, in search of the perfect margarita, a band to dance to, people to meet and friendships to renew. And by the end of that first week, it hit me—I’m not here on vacation, I don’t need to cram everything into my life as if there were no tomorrow, as if I was approaching the end of a Visit. I LIVE here now! There was no rush! After that, I began to relax and let the magic of the seaside village atmosphere of San Felipe and the Mexican culture seep in and take over. I also realized just how fatigued I was—the months of sorting and discarding of the various things I’d kept for years and now had gotten rid of—the emotional part of letting go of my property, selling it—the realization of the magnitude of this move, this change in my life--suddenly hit me. I just felt so darn tired! And It gave me pause. I didn’t regret this decision, the move. I had been ready for this change for awhile. It was time. Still, selling off much of what one has, selling your home, and leaving your country for another—it is a Big Deal. As much as living El Dorado Ranch and the accompanying neighboring stores and commercial enterprises are similar to what one might find in the States in many ways—the fact remains, I had made a major change in my life and my lifestyle. No question about it. I’m in a foreign country. Their laws and rules are different from what I have known my whole life-- their language is not one I know well, other than a few basic phrases—coming here for a week or so on vacation is quite different than living here full time. Was I ready for this really? I looked around at my home and saw in my mind various projects I am excited about tackling—the garden I look forward to landscaping—the friendships I have already made here and looking forward to making more. I already feel a part of this seaside community—it already has begun to feel like Home. The first steps of settling in had begun!
Baja Belle (aka) Carolyn Richardson followed much the same path that most have in coming to San Felipe--first as a casual visitor, then several times a year, and is now a permanent full time resident. Baja Belle has been a contributing writer to the Kat's Korner column..