In 10 days I felt we shopped at every retail store known to man, sometimes multiple times, searching for a specific wrench or wirenut, etc. that we can’t find in Mexico. Lowes, Home Depot, REI, Frys, Walmart, Target, Trader Joe's, Best Buy, West Marine (of course), Campers World, (breath)….Kohls, Sears, Guitar Center, Harbor Freight, etc etc. Whew! You name it, we were there.
I am not a shopper. I do not enjoy going to the mall and walking around for hours perusing each and every store. So I don’t. I have to be in a certain mood to do that, and it happens once every couple years. So while we were on our ‘forced march’ shopping extravaganza, furiously driving from one store to the next, it was not only tiring physically but I actually got TIRED of spending money!
While it was cool to finally be able to shop in familiar stores and get exactly what I needed in 1 or 2 stops (as opposed to 5… or just not), the tendency to buy “just because it’s there and I might never get this chance again as I will be in Mexico for 6 more months” was intense. I really had to concentrate to rein myself (and Brian) in. Did I really need to buy that 20-pack of peanut butter toasties crackers? Yes. Yes I did.
Funny thing was, as much as I missed having a car for convenience, I was literally EXHAUSTED from all the shopping and driving around we felt we had to pack into our stay. On top of our buying spree, we also saw 2 movies, and had 8 misc. appointments for dentist, hair, VA and eyes. And we drove the hour down to San Diego 3 times in 2 weeks for various appointments or parts pickups. By the end of our stay, I got a major cold. The return trip was miserable for me, and probably almost as miserable for Brian (who NEVER gets sick), having to put up with my sniffling and hacking. I haven’t had a cold since I stopped working …almost a year ago...not until I go back to the states. Ironic.
Best and Worst. The best part was visiting with friends. The worst part was it wasn’t enough. We just didn’t have enough time to see everyone. I returned to my former place of work and several people were out the day I showed up. That was my fault for trying to surprise them, but I was sad. There were so many others I wished we could have seen but we knew it would have been too much. So, to all of you who we neglected, know we miss you and think of you often.
We realized something significant though – except for our friendships, there are just some things we don’t miss about San Diego...
It’s cold here! When we left La Paz it was 95 degrees; the 65 degree weather in San Diego was COLD! Yeah, I'm the first to admit I am a whimp.
We don’t miss the driving so much. Missing HAVING a car and missing DRIVING it are two different animals. While driving in Mexico can be nerve-racking, it is just as nerve-wracking in San Diego… for different reasons. It was a bit worrisome to be driving a Mexican plated rental car under Mexican rental-car liability in the most sue-happy state in the union. That week our friend was threatened with a lawsuit for an accident that was 100% the other guys fault, AND he could prove it. It wasn’t until he threatened to sue back that they started back-pedaling. Mind-boggling stuff. San Diego is no Mayberry, it’s the land of lawyers and insurance.
We both don’t miss TV. We now watch DVDs or Netflix only. I felt bombarded by commercialization when watching TV almost every night for 2 weeks. I now feel like I DO need a new car “Mossy Nissan…it will move me.”
We do not miss screaming children in Walmart (I notice kids are much more well-behaved here).
We do not miss working. You know that stressed feeling that creeps up into your chest while driving into work every day? You begin cataloging all the things you need to get done that day, knowing you can’t possibly get to them all? And it’s so bad on Sunday nights that you can’t sleep, worrying about the coming week? Each day I waited for that next proverbial shoe to drop. Name your shoe: firings, hirings, more firings, impromptu board meetings, website’s down, catalog is late, printer is down, insert X challenge here. Yeah, I am happy to report I am free of that anxiety. I will take a cheaper lifestyle any day. I DON’T need that new Nissan after all.
The number one thing… and really the only thing we truly DO miss… is our friends and our family…much more than we thought. I was disappointed we did not get a chance to visit with some very good friends. And there was simply not enough time to talk about everything that has happened with each person we DID get to see. I could not have foreseen that visiting with someone for 2 hours would simply not be enough! And this happened again and again. This sounds crazy coming from a couple of people who have the tendency to be non-social. I guess we have discovered we really DO like people. ;) We talked more in two weeks than we have in two months. I’m surprised I didn’t get laryngitis.
All in all, the entire trip went like clockwork. We bought all our necessities, saw some friends, ate some good food, fixed our solar panels, got through our appointments and renewed our visas. By the way, the Tijuana entry into Mexico took us only 40 minutes to get our visas at the immigration office. It was actually much easier than I thought. Visas in hand, there was NO line at the car checkpoint on a Saturday at 10am. They didn’t even stop us to check our passports. I had filed paperwork with the La Paz customs office for our $3000 worth of solar panels to make sure we were not dinged with paying 16% import taxes on them since they were a boat repair item. I probably shouldn’t have even bothered as they barely garnered a glance, but we felt better knowing we had the paperwork in case we were asked.
The trip back down was uneventful; same hotels, just no down-time in Loreto unfortunately. Driving was definitely easier the second time around. And 21 days, 4500km, and a really dirty car later, we are safely back in La Paz. We kept the car purposefully for one extra day so we could do one last grocery shopping extravaganza at Mega and Chedraui to provision for our two-month trip up the coast starting May 4th-ish. We were happy to give up the car and get back to the boat where I had the best night sleep ever. It’s good to be home. Yet we kept speaking of San Diego as going back “home” too. So which is it? I guess we have multiple homes now. Where our friends and families live…and wherever the boat is.