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By Barbara Schaffer

Sunny days are all alike, but every rain is different. Some rains come through my bedroom window, some come with winds that threaten my trees, some come down heavy and others light. During thunderstorms I disconnect my laptop and watch downloaded episodes of the Sopranos in bed.

In my garden

When I decided to retire to Puerto, after 20 years as a high school Spanish teacher and a previous career in journalism, I asked Joanne of the Hotel Flor de Mar'a for advice. She said the most important thing for living here was to have "a project" to occupy my time. Wise words. A friend has noted that during their first year in Puerto, many people build a house, the second year they plant a garden, the third year they drink, and then they move away.

I am fortunate in that I came here with both long term and short-term projects. I built a house and planted a garden, but I also continued to teach and to write. Which is not to say that retirement is not challenging, at least for me. I may be the captain of my ship, but I sometimes sail into the doldrums.

A major attraction of Puerto for me was the nightlife. I've always enjoyed going to clubs, hanging out with friends and new acquaintances, and listening to live music. Even in the low season, there are places to go. I've met so many interesting people from all over Mexico and the world just by going out at night. The one thing we had in common was time to talk and think and live the moment - the magic of Puerto.

Spanish class

Daytime also has its joys. There are so many activities and so many opportunities to share in the life of the local community. Many of the classes listed below are taught in Spanish and most of the participants are from Puerto, but they all welcome non-Spanish speaking foreigners. I keep hoping that the patience and courtesy of the Oaxacan people will rub off on this city girl.

One pleasant surprise about finding myself with so much free time is that I have actually developed new interests. I am presently teaching myself how to make music videos to put on YouTube. My son, 33, says I'm a typical 15-year-old. So be it; I have passed through the difficult years of child raising and careers, and now like a school kid on perpetual summer vacation, I look for ways to pass the time. I can stay in bed as long as I want, but it's so much more satisfying to get up and do something before I go to bed again.

Sol de la Costa, August 2008


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