How to “live the dream” between the mountain and the sea.

The sea is exceptionally calm this morning when I walk onto the balcony to stretch. It’s just after eight but it’s so quiet and still and the sun is only just peaking up from the Sierra Madre at my back so, somehow, it feels much earlier.

A skin diver is scouring the rocks with a panga waiting nearby to receive his catch. All of this is unusual, since the divers are usually unaccompanied. Then again, I’ve never seen the water so calm on the rocks below my little apartment. He must be collecting quite a bounty this morning. I hear there are bands of red tide elsewhere in Banderas Bay the last few days, but it is clear as a bell here on the south side and I can see each mossy rock nestled into the sea bed like an emerald waiting to be mined.

I go inside to water the plants (those coleus are thirsty little things,) and get the coffee going, measuring a couple of tablespoons of some new “gourmet” Mexican coffee from Chiapas into the cup of my stovetop espresso maker. I haven’t tried this before, and I’m looking forward to it but trying to keep my expectations low. Even though Mexico has some world famous coffee growing regions, it is not especially known for having much of a high brow “coffee culture” and I assume all of those delicious beans must be shipped elsewhere because I have been hard pressed to find anything decent on the shelf amid the rows and rows of instant coffee crystals. Granted, I haven’t looked hard, but it is certainly not as easy to find good grinds in the grocery store as it is in the States.

Wandering back outside, the diver has moved on around the point with his companion boat but another panga has replaced them. This one hovers just offshore with a single driver manning it. He must be cleaning his own catch this morning, because the pelicans are swarming him.

A juvenile Pelecanus occidentalis in flight. They nest here year-round. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

As sea birds go, I love the pelicans. None of the clatter and racket of gulls, which I am lucky not to have here, and no interest in your unattended lunch. They fly so near to the balcony on their daily migrations up and down the coastline that sometimes I think I could almost reach out and grab one. Somehow, they are exceptionally graceful in flight—and unexpected thing if you’ve ever watched one waddle around on land.

Ortalis wagleri, a near cousin of my own West Mexican Chachalacas. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

There are other birds out this morning. I still don’t know all of them, but I’ve learned a few. The chachalacas are just now beginning to stir in the trees, preening and hopping from branch to branch as if they, too, are considering the day’s to-do list. Later they will decide, and announce the news to the whole neighborhood in the most horrendous cackle you’ve ever heard.

The hummingbirds are out, too. They’re flitting around some wispy yellow flowers on a tree I don’t know the name of. Maybe it’s some relative of the mimosa, with it’s soft fluttering pompoms. Whatever it is, both the hummingbirds and the chachalacas love them and while the hummingbird leaves no trace of its visit, the chachalacas will plow through rough shod, as boisterously as their conversation, and devour the buffet.

I’ve thought about moving into the city. I could find even cheaper rent, I’m told, and it would certainly be less isolating. I’m sure Porkchop would enjoy walks through town, catching up with all the pee-mail around. But I quite like it here. The biodiversity is amazing for a place so close to the city.

This narrow strip of cliffside jungle between the mountains and the sea has geckos and garrobos, more birds than I could ever hope to identify, coatimundi (or so I’m told,) at least a million species of butterflies and moth (only a slight exaggeration) and countless other insects both fascinating and not, periodic plagues of frogs, several kind of crabs inhabiting both land and sea, parrots nesting in hollowed-out termite hives, and boas and tarantulas (neither of which I’ve seen, but I’m oddly looking forward to it).

I love living in this crazy zoo and getting to know these odd neighbors, even when they invade as they did the other day—a swarm of minuscule ants swept through my house taking every last lingering crumb with them…and then were gone before I set in to figure out what to do about them.

A man told me yesterday that my life here didn’t constitute “living the dream” according to the status quo.

Well, sir. I beg to differ.

I’m not sure how much you’d actually have to pay me to put me in a sterile penthouse apartment separated from all of this but outfitted with the standard array of high-end human creature comforts, but it wouldn’t be cheap and I certainly wouldn’t actually pay anyone else for that life. I suppose it’s true, we all have different expectations of what we need and want out of life—what we require to make us “happy”—and I accept that not all would find the value in these simple pleasures.

Why do I find joy, for example, in flicking a gecko turd off the seat of my patio chair before settling in with my morning coffee?! Surely others would consider that a horrific inconvenience, but to me it’s a love note from a shiny little translucent thing that ate up all the mosquitos in the night.

Thank you, gecko.

17 thoughts on “How to “live the dream” between the mountain and the sea.

  1. You know so much about the animals that inhabit the world around you, it’s fascinating reading about it. Sounds like a beautiful place to spend your mornings, even with not-so-delicious coffee.

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  2. You are so lucky to be living in a place and have that view every single day! I also love that your pet’s name is Porkchop! hehe I’m sure he/she loves to chase the birds.

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  3. omg this was a quite delightful read! i haven’t come across many people living this kind of lifestyle, but i can certainly see the appeal. sounds dreamy and zen!

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  4. I can feel the calm atmosphere while reading, it seems like the perfect place to relax. I love those cute geckos, and hate the mosquitoes, haha! Perfect match 😉

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  5. Ahhh, your writing style is like a breath of fresh air, much like the air I felt like I could actually taste from your balcony! It’s true this life isn’t for everyone, but all that matters is that you’re happy – which you and all your amazing little creatures seem to be! 🙂

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  6. I love your definition of living the dream. It is different for all of us – and yours, waking up with the sea before you and the mountains behind you, sounds beautiful!

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  7. I loved reading this! It’s a nice change of pace from other blogs (including my own sometimes) and gave me a sense that I was there with you. I love how you set the tone and the scene — I wish I had been sitting right there with you! I’m quite observant myself of these occurrences and love nature as well.

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  8. This post reflects your very take on life and it’s absolutely optimistic which is something I just love. Its amazing to be surrounded by so much natural beauty and abundance and no matter what others tell you, you are indeed living the dream.

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  9. I can see why you like the place more than a penthouse apartment. I would choose your way of living over all fancy houses and apartments as well. Great article!

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  10. A talented writer living a purposeful life with Porkchop. Thump thump goes my heart! I’m eager to check out your other posts. Do you consider yourself a Latinamericanist?

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    1. Interesting. I can’t say I’m really familiar with the term! I’ll have to look into it and see! I will say I am very into *extremely* slow immersion travel and I am loving learning about my new home here and can’t wait to explore more.

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