No – my love/hate relationship isn’t with my husband (although some of you may think so!); it is with my second home here in Ajijic, a property my husband and I purchased several years ago.
Even before we decided on this particular house, I knew it would be a love/hate relationship. A house in a foreign country, a place to return to and leave for months at a time, year after year, was not in my plans. As well, it was a scary proposition purchasing a home in an area we had known only for a couple of weeks. I was quite content in Halifax, Nova Scotia, but my husband wanted to escape the cold Canadian winters. At the time, I couldn’t quite understand his reasoning; he was still working, but said he could manage being away from his businesses with the aid of a computer. On the other hand, I was retired and hated the cold more than he did; in another world, it might have been me trying to convince him.
A big part of my hesitation was due to the fact that my first two grandchildren (both girls, born three weeks apart) had just entered my world a few short months previous. I had waited for what seemed like forever for grandchildren, and I could not fathom leaving them for months at a time. My husband, with his own grandchildren, was “old hat” in that department, but being a grandmother was a new phase in my life, and I needed to relish every second.
We lived in our Mexican house, located smack dab in the middle of the village, for two short weeks before returning to Canada. That year, I was in denial mode, hoping December might take a holiday and not return. But, as we all know, time passes – even faster as we age – and a new year is thrust upon us before we know it.
Unfortunately for me, the first of December arrived. We were going to be gone for four months.
We had booked a return ticket only, as we drove to Mexico that year in order to leave a car there. Over fifty-six hundred kilometres separate our two homes, a good seven days’ drive. We took our time travelling, however, even spending an additional two days in New Orleans. Horrors we experienced at the US/Mexico border and the drive through Mexico are best left for another narrative.
We made it to Ajijic safely, our car jammed to the brim with household items. It was exciting that first year, I will admit. We had a house to furnish and turn into a second home. We met many new people and garnered a lot of friends, most of whom we remain friendly with today. We explored the countryside and soaked up the Mexican culture. Before we knew it, it was time to fly back to Canada. And, somehow, I survived!
This is now our sixth winter returning to Ajijic, and, unfortunately, I still have a love/hate relationship with the whole idea of a second home. I love our house in Canada, but hate leaving it and all it represents (family, possessions, a certain contentment). I love returning to it the end of March, but I hate getting re-settled. I also love our house in Mexico, but hate the sprawling spiders and my incessant need for that house to be as spotless as the other. I love our friends, but hate the fact that some dear friends don’t return year after year as we do. I love travelling, but I hate the hassle of flying, with interminable waits, unexpected delays, lost baggage. I love arriving in Ajijic to the warm temperatures, but I hate unlocking the door in the dark, not knowing what scary creatures might be lurking inside.
I also like that, for the most part, our Mexican house is rented while we are away, but I hate sorting through our locked closet of personal items, unpacking our suitcases and putting the house back to “our” normal after renters have made it theirs. Why isn’t our decor and layout good enough for them? As well, there is always something broken or missing.
I still miss my grandchildren terribly when I am away (I have four now, including my son’s wife’s child), but I have slowly learned to cope without them for the several months we are gone. While I write this, unbeknownst to my husband I’m loving the fact that this will be our shortest winter ever here in Ajijic (only two months), which means I’ll see more of my precious little beings this year.
However, I know when March 30 arrives, I’ll hate to leave our lovely paradise.
My love/hate relationship continues…
(An edited version of this appeared in the February 15, 2012, issue of The Lake Chapala Review.)