My partner and I just returned from a long weekend in Cabo San Lucas, visiting our compadres Robert and Paul (that word, and a savant-like ability to count, comprise the whole of my Spanish vocabulary) who moved from Los Angeles to Mexico a few years back.
As magnanimous and empathetic human beings, we’re tremendously supportive of our friends’ desires to relocate to exotic vacation destinations, provided they have a guest room. We have no real issue with abandonment, since the world has become a much smaller place in recent years and since, thanks to Facebook, we know far more about the daily lives of our friends than we ever really hoped – or wanted – to know.
The issue, really, is envy.
When we visit them, I find myself dreamily contemplating their utopian lives, and fantasizing about giving up our frantic existence in LA and joining them in paradise.
Fortunately, Robert and Paul have learned the drill.
“Look at this weather,” I’ll say, as we sit on their rooftop patio on a 75-degree evening, gazing out at the crystal blue waters of the Sea of Cortes. “It is absolutely perfect. It’s bliss with brown people.”
(FYI, I get a free pass on saying stuff like this – my partner and several good friends are Mexican. Bliss IS brown people, for me.)
“Yeah, it’s way better than when Steve and Scott were here last summer,” Robert will reply. “God, that was Hell.”
“I’ll say,” Paul will add, “between the heat and the hurricanes, you pretty much can’t leave your house from July to November.”
Their attempts to balance my unrealistic view of their lives usually doesn’t “take” on the first try, of course.
“Wow,” I’ll say with barely disguised bitterness as we drive by a Pemex gas station, “everything’s so much cheaper, here. Your gas is a bargain!”
“It’s government regulated,” Robert will reply. “But since the attendant fills your tank, be sure to tip him a few extra pesos so he doesn’t rip you off.”
Nor does the second try do the trick.
“Thank God people drive on the right side of the street, here,” I’ll say wistfully as we whiz down Highway 1 in Paul’s Nissan.
“Just watch out for the other drivers,” Robert warns. “Speed limits and lane markers here are just considered suggestions.”
“Oh, and be sure to bribe the cop if you get pulled over,” Paul adds. “I didn’t do that once and had to go pay the fine at the prison.”
Usually, it requires several more.
When paying the gas and electricity bills, they have to go stand in line at the utilities’ main offices. There is no online bill pay.
Their mail service occurs on a whimsical schedule, and does not include packages, most of which mysteriously “disappear”.
One of them had a medical emergency a couple years ago, and had to be airlifted to the states (at a cost of like $18,000) because if left in the hands of the local hospital, he’d have likely wound up dead.
Eventually, as they batter me with enough of the realities of life abroad, I begin to sober up and realize that Cabo is beautiful – a wonderland of perfect beaches and five-star resorts, full of American expats and kind, welcoming Mexican folk. But I guess, no matter where you live, no existence is idyllic, no locale free from random trials and annoyances.
Maybe my 90-minute roundtrip commute to work and those sky high LA taxes aren’t so bad. After all, that commute means there are a lot of people who know what a privilege it is to live in beautiful, exciting California. And those taxes pay for salaries that generally exclude the need for bribes or visits to the local penitentiary.
I guess, until California breaks off and falls into the ocean, I’ll try to remember that it’s a pretty great place to live.
It’s a kind of bliss. With brown people.