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Moving to Mexico : voler de ses propres ailes


Everyone's flying the coop! Our son, Max, moves to Montpellier. Jackie, I told you, moves to Aix-en-Provence. And my Mom is moving to Mexico after her husband, Mr John, flew the coop to Paradise!

"But your mom already lives in Mexico..." you say. No. She lives in Puerto Vallarta--with the rest of the gringos.

Of course my sister and I are alarmed. Mom, all alone now, will be living on the fringes of the city, "in the jungle," as she is fond of saying. And from our phone conversations (which systematically cut off after 11.5 minutes, owing to a telecom hitch), I can't quite make out just what it will look like, her new place, which she has alternately referred to as a cabana and a casita. I finally pinned Mom down....

"So it is a freestanding structure? It has a toilet, a shower, and a sink. That's all? Is that a corrugated roof I see in the picture? Are you sure this isn't a converted garage?!!!"

Heidi is there now, helping our Mom move from the marina to the barrio. My sister is going to stick out like a sore thumb with her blond hair! What will the locals think of the new neighbors? (Neighbor, singular--Heidi heads back to Denver in 3 days.)

"Don't worry!" Mom says. I've already figured it out. I'm going to tell them that I am the foreign mistress of Rocky's father (my mom's housekeeper's brother--a champion boxer who she has appointed as her official Chief of Security--and who also lives in the hood).

"And that makes Heidi Rocky's Swedish half-sister? Is that the story?"

"Don't worry, Honey. Everything will work out!"

I just got off the phone with my sister, who doesn't even know the word heydo (not that I can spell it--but I did once work in a Swedish vineyard!), and who has bug bites from head to toe. "That reminds me to pack mosquito repellent," I said, staring at the solid roof over my head. "Can you think of anything else I should bring when I get there in three weeks?"

"Pack a baseball cap!" Heidi laughed. " hide all that blond hair when you get here. No one speaks a word of English."

I guess my sister hasn't heard about Mom's plan.  Meantime Rocky (not his real name. I'm already feeling my role of protective  sister!) and I are talking on Facebook messenger. He's learning English. Me, Spanish. I'm sure he has plenty of questions--given he thought his mom was Aztec!

I just know Mr John is watching the whole colorful scene from Paradise. I can hear his favorite message: Don't worry about a thing. Just enjoy life! With that, I leave you with today's French phrase, in theme with Mom's new chapter in life. Please wish her all the best. And if anyone out there does dry wall construction--Mom's going to need a new ceiling beneath all that corrugated metal. And insulation as thick as my sister's American accent!

Hasta la pasta, and thank you for reading!

COMMENTS - to leave a comment, click here.

TODAY'S WORD: voler de ses propres ailes

ECOUTEZ - Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's word:
Download MP3

Voler de ses propres ailes, c'est d'être indépendant, subsister par ses propres moyens.
To fly with one's own wings is to be independant, to get by via one's own means.

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My sister, Heidi, and my nephew and niece. Photo taken in March.

HAVAIANAS: One thing both Heidi and I will be packing are a good pair of flipflops! Mom gave me her pair of Havaianas last time she was in France, and I wear them everywhere (even hiking the local calanques!) Click here to order

Colorful Foutas - I will of course be bringing my favorite towel. Maybe I can wrap it around my head and forego the baseball cap? Click here to order.

Mosquito spray or bracelets! Here are some options in case you, too are in the market for some. Click here.

SUNDRESSES! It will be too hot to wear anything else. Click here to order.

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Marika Ujvari

Kristi - take a baseball bat also, along with the baseball cap!!! Give her a big hug for me. She is sure adventurous. She always longed for a place like this, now she has found her dream house in the jungle. Is it a tree house? Please send photos.
Big hugs!

Diane Young

Su madre est muy brava. Or something like that! You really have to admire Jules, a woman who has been through much and is still rocking! Have a good trip and remember your mamacita is one in a million.


Whoa! I'd be worried too Kristi--not that that is a very helpful thing to say. Best of luck to your mom. It sounds as though she's thought it through but gosh it does sound like an isolated place. XOXO much love your way, Sally

Joanne Ablan

Ooh-La-La! I will pray for your mother, Kristi.


WOW, your Mom sure is the adventurous one. I hope that it is safe that far out. We only go to the Yucatan, where I feel quite safe, and I was in Mexico City and the Baja decades ago.
So you are going to visit. Yes, send pics of her house and let us know that she will be safe.


Roger Anderson

Your mom is living out the the adage: "Live long enough to be problem for your children."


Kristi, best of luck to Jules, and enjoy your upcoming visit! You, your sister and your mom are so fortunate to have one another! Sending a big hug.

Linda R.

I read the title "Moving to Mexico" and I misread the next word as "Votez" rather than "Voler" ... and I thought, "Me and half of the U.S. after November's elections, no matter which way the vote goes!", but I digress. I love the expression "voler de ses propres ailes" whether it be a young person discovering life on his/her own or an older retiree making decisions about "what next?"

In any event your mom will do wonderfully well as she follows life's next adventure. She inspires all of us, as do you.


What an adventure. A new lease on life. Puerto Vallarta is a wonderful, colorful town. I have spent time in the barrio as well as in the nice hotels and fancy homes in the hill. I have never once felt uncomfortable in the less developed areas of PV. The people are warm and inviting, and with Jules' warm vibes, the folks in the hood will embrace and protect her. All the best to you and your family.

Julie Farrar

Your family is sure full of adventure. The best of luck to Jules. Can't wait to get your reports from the jungle.

Louis Flohr

It pains me to read about your Mom. Within her first month there, she will at least be robbed, if not also hurt/killed.

joie in Carmel

Jules will do just fine. She is one resilient lady who does love life. I will venture to guess that within 3 months she will have most of the people in the "barrio " checking on her daily, bringing food, teaching her Spanish and helping her with whatever she needs. The seems to have that kind of persona that just draws people in wherever she is with language not being a barrier. I am sure the place is livable or Heidi would have totally freaked out by now. She does need a well lit room for painting, or at least a good veranda. And she already has her personal body guard.....a well known boxer to boot. She will do this for a year or two and then probably move to France. Love her attitude.


Even if your family is not religious, I advise you to stock up on candles and rush to your nearest church and light them praying for your mom's safety. She is of a certain age and may not be making the wisest decisions. Moving to the outskirts of any Mexican city at this time is unwise, unsafe, and misguided. Wouldn't you feel better if the "shed" were on your property or nearby?


Life was meant to be an adventure - at least that is what I like to think. Give your Mom my best regards. I have often thought about moving to Mexico - San Miguel de Allende. But PV is very pretty - hope her move goes smoothly.


What a stupid/jerk thing to say.

Barbara Mayfield

Good luck to your Mom. Actually going native sounds kind of fun!

Rosemary Lockhart

Your mom sounds like a fun person and brave. Wish her the best and happiness. Have fun on your trip there.

Virginia Kairys

Your mom is fabulous. See where you get your guts!!
Cheers to you both!

Susan Stafford

Wishing your Mom good luck! She's got a lot of spunk and I'm sure she'll do just fine. She's resilient and resourceful - like you.

Betty Gerla

I am a blond older American woman who just happens to own a home in Barrio El Caloso, Puerto Vallarta. I am more than comfortable living there alone in a completely Mexican neighborhood. I walk to the public market every other day to buy local produce, meat and fish that may not be supermarket beautiful, but it is fresh and tastes fabulous. I can sit on my front porch and watch the kids, dogs and chickens play in the street (cobblestones, protected by historic laws) for hours. But I can take a ten minute walk and have dinner in a five star restaurant. Puerto Vallarta is indeed Paradise and unless you have spent at least three months there don't judge it. Kristian, I hope to meet your Mom some day, and possibly you too! I am so sure she is going to relish her new home and every experience it brings.


Goodness, that sounds just a bit scary! But I do like and admire your attitude - not to mention hers! You're an excellent model of how to be realistic but also to look on the bright(er) side. You remind us that it's just no use worrying about what hasn't actually happened. Of course my heart is a bit in my mouth for her - but send her please best wishes and admiration from a 77 year old woman in England who thinks she's magnificent.

Faye LaFleur

A hasty decision after a loss isn't always the best thing. With all the good wishes, hopefully it will all work out. I wish her the best!


Hope all goes well, Kristin! Your mom probably feels a lot more comfortable with the move than you do. She's been living there, and I would guess she knows how to take care of herself. That said, I think she's brave!


edie schmidt


Your mom is a real free spirit. Please keep us posted on this latest chapter in her interesting

Edie from Savannah

Laura C

The most effective yet natural mosquito repellent is lemon eucalyptus oil. This is a species of eucalyptus, not a mixture of lemon and eucalyptus oil. Those of us with blood type 0 are the most susceptable (sp?) to mosquito bites.
My dermatologist says to avoid baseball caps unless the sun is directly overhead. Yes, your nose is hidden but the skin on the sides of your face is not protected. Your mother has it right by having hats with wide brims and, I assume, using sunscreen. Melanoma is a bad scene, and those of us with Northern European background are especially vulnerable.
Good luck!

Carmen Clarke

Buena suerte, Sra. Jules. Que Dios le bendiga en su nuevo hogar.

Deb Locke

Bravo to Jules, for beginning an exciting new life chapter which will be rich with new experiences and acquaintances. She will swiftly win the hearts of her new neighbors. Bold and beautiful woman!

Take courage, Kristi!

Barbara Berndt

Do you mean she is moving to the capital city? I assumed you were being clever.

Other folks believe otherwise. Anglos are not always familiar with the nuance.

Jules is a true free spirit!


Our dear Kristi,
I am in awe of dear Jules for her desire,determination and courage in her move to a new chapter in her life.
Wow!What a lady!She makes up her mind and pursues her goal!
When you are our age,(and lurking someplace in the back of your conscious resides the thought that there are more days behind than ahead),even though you never want to be a worry or a burden for those you love,you sometimes just must follow your heart and go for it.
You and Heidi are such wonderful,loving daughters.Knowing that you are always there has to be a greatest joy for dear Jules.
Please know you all are in my prayers.
Asking God to always bless you.
Natalia. xo

Angela Sargent

Perhaps you might think before posting - however realistic it may be. I know nothing of the area that Jules is moving to but your comment is insensitive and worrying
to her family who are many miles away.

Our French Oasis

Hats off to your Mother, what a fantastically spirited and brave lady.

Trina from St. Petersburg, FL USA

What an adventurer! Yes, we would love to see photos. Maybe Heidi can snap one. And maybe there is a story you can tell us on her decision to move.

To the naysayers, I say, if it doesn't work out to Jules' liking, she can navigate her vessel again. As we sail through life, we often don't glide on a straight path, but 'tack' to and fro making adjustments along the way.

May God bless her in her new endeavor.

Rebecca O'Dell

My aunt, an American, lives outside Puerto Vallerta as well. Perhaps they are neighbors! Her name is Juanita McConnell Solas. Her husband is Martin Solas. It is his ancestral home. They moved there from Colorado.

Raisa Mayor Berriz

I love that nothing can hold Jules down. She throws her cares and worries to the wind and goes to where her heart takes her! Wouldn't it be wonderful if all of us could even have a mere smidgen of this joie de vivre?

Jan Hersh

I am sure she will be safe. I am glad you are going. Bonne Chance this time with your flights.

Gloria Maxwell

A sure-fire insect (esp. mosquitoes) is a sheet of Bounce fabric softener in your pocket. Apparently, only Bounce works - not other brands. How exciting that you are all having this Adventure! Stay Calm, dears.



Around the turn of the century, a pair of adventurers from Scottsdale, Ariz., John and Jules Greer, cut a large swath through Yelapa, a small Mexican pueblo, and now John has told their side of it in a scandalous tale of rum and rapacity, Barefoot in Yelapa. Never has the underside of Yelapa, the deals and the scams and the ever-present alcohol, been so thoroughly explored. John and Jules came to town with a few hundred dollars in their khaki shorts and the need to stretch it a long time. They did what they had to do and seemed to have a pretty good time doing it, although they were frequently in crisis and in the process many feathers were ruffled. John is still ruffling back.

They were refugees in Yelapa, victims, John writes, of a real estate deal gone sour and a mailing list adventure that bordered on fraud. They were suing and waiting for their ship to come in, and it was proving a long voyage. Yelapa, a dropout haven an hour south of Puerto Vallarta, offered a relatively cheap place to stay, though not quite cheap enough for John and Jules, who were constantly in difficulties over living quarters. They met these crises head-on with tequila; every time they were evicted, John's first response was to sit down and pour them each a stiff one, or two, for, as he notes, you can't walk on one leg.

Many people have written about Yelapa, but none so far has chosen to do so by telling such pungent tales and using the real names of the participants. Many of the stories Greer relates, such as the sub rosa renting of the Texas Towers, the dismantling of Casa Delfin, and Jules's long-suffering hip, are part of the local lore, but they are told here from a much different angle and no small amount of accusation and self-justification. Greer is not about to go quietly, and he constantly portrays himself as a softy forever victimized by customs he doesn't understand and people who do. To show his true heart he reveals himself as a doglover devastated by the death of a pet.

One has to take this book with a package of Muffin Tom's crystalized sea salt. These events, or something like them, did occur, and had to be there. It is well to remember that the author saw them through an alcoholic haze and that his portraits of local residents are hopelessly partisan. With that in mind, the book is an outrageously funny read. It offers a view of Yelapa not often seen by outsiders, the underside of a tropical paradise. Greer even takes a stab at explaining Yelapa politics, something few outsiders (or even community members) can do lucidly. But Yelapa's not a theme park, it's a real place, as John and Jules found out the hard way.


Having never been there, I do not have advice to offer concerning safety, but we once went to a native area in Cabo on the eastern tip of the peninsula. No one spoke English there either. My daughter kept saying to me, where are you taking them (with 5 year old grandson in tow). However, as they say, ignorance is bliss and with some sign language and a few words remembered from HS Spanish, we managed. We were careful, always going in groups and usually back to our rental by evening.

I wish Jules the life she wants to live and Kristin, a wonderful visit with your Mom! May you find peace and contentment with your Mom's choice. I realize it would be a hard one for me to accept, too, but hopefully, all will be resolved! Best wishes!

Vance Anderson-Inks

The tale by Berengere is true to all of us who know P.V.before the turn of the century, who knew Yalapa, and knew both John and Jules Greer. I just got out of surgery this afternoon, but needed to put in my two sense, (if i am making any) before I crash. Hopefully my muddled dreams tonight will show me a technicolor replay of all my days enjoying John and Jules at our club "La Evasion" and out in those magical Mexican jungles.


This is plagiarized from an Amazon website. It is taken word-for-word from Perhaps you don't realize how serious this is?

Chris Allin

Perhaps you should have given Clifford Barney credit for this review...unless you are Clifford Barney.

Chris Allin

Jules has an inestimable spirit. And, she probably has a very good reason for this decision.

We may have met Jules' new BFF...hello Betty Gerla!


Buenos Dias y Buena Surete, Madre.

Cynthia Gillespie-Smith

What's missing in most of the above comments is the fact that most Mexicans are warm, loving, protective people. I spend 5 months a year in Mexico -- not far from Puerto Vallarta -- and could give many examples of kindness and generosity I've experienced among those in my village. With Jules's spirit and nature, I bet she's opening the door on a new and extremely positive adventure. Brava Jules. Hope to see you this winter in your barrio!

Paul Guerin

Come live in Mexican paradise....San Miguel de Allende, Mexico!

Linda Roll

Good luck to your Mom, and Vaya con Dios.

Mary-Jo Johnston

Through your posts I have come to know your mom as someone who lives life on her terms and with a free spirit. I wish her nothing but the best. For you , I wish strength as you deal with all the change in your life. I hope that when you see your mom adapting to her new home you find comfort.


Oh, your mom is an amazing runs in the family.

I think you will feel much better when you personally get to see her new home and judge for yourself. I have friends who live in another country's jungle fringe and they have wonderful, caring neighbors. Until I actually went there I was frightened about the unknown. They know how to be safe, as your mom will as well. My advice is to bring baggy silky long pajama bottoms to tuck into socks in the evening to prevent the mosquitoes that hover near the ankles. Also a light-weight hoodie windbreaker, pulled tight around the face, for the dusky time when the mosquitoes are attacking. Jungle edge equals mosquitoes.

Having your kids move out is hard. So many transitions.... Hang in there!

R. Ward

Please encourage your mother to consider taking a high-potency B-COMPLEX vitamin. I do, and when I was in Italy, I was the only one in my summer class who did not get bitten. I finally stopped using the mosquito net, even! I cannot swear to the cause-effect, but I live in Florida in a jungle-y environment and I am almost never bitten.

I wish your mother the very best and buena suerte in her new adventure, and I am so sorry to hear of her loss.

Marianne Rankin

I admire Jules's courage, and wish her well. I admit to wondering, why move? At all, and so soon after John's passing? Each of us is unique, and what works for one person might not for another. But for every major decision, we should give it careful thought, and know why we chose as we did.

Sharon in N.C.

Sorry, but this sounds scary to me. I hope all goes well. I am anxiously waiting to hear of her new adventures.

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristi,

All the best to Jules and her new adventure! She lives life her way! I would want to be closer to family and enjoy grandkids, etc. I think family is everything and it is nice to be able to enjoy life with them. I am with my mom in Georgia right now and I always wished she lived closer especially now that she needs more care. I think sometimes after a tragic event, people make rash decisions but maybe she has been mulling this over for awhile.

ann sorocki

what an exciting event in your lives! Kudos to your mom for taking such a big step! Obviously all her women are just as brave & enlightened as she is! May she continue to have beautiful, warm & fun moments in her new "digs"!

Leslie NYC



I love your posts and can relate to all the changes you have had and are having in yours and your families lives.
I just have one little tip about bug repellent. Most of the commercial bug sprays are quite hard on your system and have been known to have carcinogens in them. Simple Tea Tree Oil works really well and is 100% naturel. It also helps to heal cuts, bites, and is a great mouthwash when diluted if you suffer from any gum problems. Just rub a few drops on ankles, knees, elbows, back of neck, even a little combed through your hair. it's strong smelling but really works.

Good luck to your lovely Mum!!


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