How We Like Living In San Carlos So Far

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I want to let my readers know we are fine in San Carlos, Mexico and have absolutely no regrets about our decision to buy a house here.  We have been here long enough now that I can give you some plusses and minuses and thought I would mention a few.

Minuses:

Scorpions and other insects. We have had two scorpions in the house and a few more outside. They scare me. Everyone sprays regularly with an insecticide inside and out, and regretfully we have started doing that too. One neighbor has lived here 40 years and says he has been bitten twice and was very ill.

There is not a real downtown with a city center and nice architecture.

That it is difficult to find vegetarian or healthy meals in any restaurants……that I know of.

Not very responsive government entities for infrastructure problems that the town has such as water or sewer leaks and water shutoffs with no explanation as to why or even when the water will be back on. We have not been personally inconvenienced with these issues but many others have. The fact that most of our property tax money goes to Guaymas instead of taking care of San Carlos doesn’t seem fair but I hear Guaymas, which San Carlos is really just a suburb of, is broke.

Plusses:

Natural beauty with the prettiest sea colors I have ever seen. Some days the water is deep blue, some days turquoise and other times light aquamarine.  There is an overlook (Mirador) here from which National Geographic named the view one of the 10 best in the world.

The year around warm to hot weather with blue skies.  The majority of the northerners leave in the summer due to the high heat and humidity but we decided to try and stay through one summer to know if it is really uncomfortable. Mid-June is the time when the humidity kicks in and it has but I love it. I can’t get over how we live in the desert with such a dry climate all winter and spring and now the air feels exactly like the tropics. Fabulous! But we have been told July will be hotter and more humid, August more so, and September too, with the heat and humidity finally breaking about mid-October. So ask me again in September how I am loving it!

It is so much less expensive to own a house here than in the U.S.  From property taxes to insurance, to utilities; we are saving so much money I think we could take a South Pacific cruise every year if we wanted to. And groceries! So affordable, but mostly for “from scratch” cooking items. Processed foods are as high as in the US.  Vegetables are fresh, plentiful, and so cheap. At the same time, we are now finding almost anything we want which wasn’t the case in years past farther south in Mexico. Some of the stores even have sections with imported German, Italian, Chinese etc. foods.  And finding items like chia seeds, quinoa, tofu and so on are no problem.

Being able to obtain our US mail here. We use a mail service in Tucson and usually someone goes north at least once a week and picks up the mail to drop off at the Remax realty office in San Carlos which is very convenient to us.

San Carlos has almost everything we need but when it doesn’t, the larger city of Guaymas is only 10 miles away. This is where we go to Home Depot, Walmart, Sam’s Club, and anything else we can’t get in San Carlos.

Feeling healthier with clean air.  No allergies or respiratory problems for me here and being at sea level I feel much better. My oxygen level is now 96-97 compared to 91-92 in Colorado. We have some friends from Colorado that bought a place in San Carlos the same time we did and the oxygen levels situation is the same as mine.

Many many restaurants to eat out inexpensively but at the same time, not healthy but quite tasty!

It is so easy and inexpensive to get work done. Landscaping, plumbing, sealing the roof, you name it.  We had to have a tree cut down and removed. Cost? The equivalent of $12 US. In the US it would have cost a couple of hundred dollars.

Very friendly people, all nationalities included.

Watching and looking at boats. There have been some fishing tournaments recently and the boats take off in the bay in front of our house and with two large marinas in town we can look at boats all we want.

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And there may be more plusses coming up, some of it is hearsay and some have been reported in our local forums and the news.  A small hospital might be built just outside of town. An assisted care facility might also be built on the waterfront in San Carlos. There is more development planned and real estate sales have picked up so the economy is turning around after several years of the downturn that the US experienced.  And another big news item is that Guaymas, which has a shortage of water for the growing city, is planning to build a water desalination plant.

I am sure we will encounter more negatives along the way, but the positives will continue to be in the majority.

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Bought A House In Mexico

With this stunning view from every room……

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Before I tell you more, let me explain a bit. After we returned from the South America cruise we went back to Yuma, Arizona where our motorhome and car were stored at a friend’s house. We had planned to stay a few days and then leave for Mexico but I immediately had a relapse of what I had on the cruise and had to start all over again on the two wretched antibiotics and then follow up with tests to rule out anything really major. All is okay now but it delayed our leaving for a month.

As usual, we wanted to go to Mazatlan but I was afraid of another relapse and wanted to be closer to the border in case we needed to hurriedly return to Arizona.  99% of all people who drive their motorhomes down the Pacific coast of Mexico make their first nights stop in San Carlos, 240 miles from the border and just 300 miles south of Tucson. We have been here often but only stayed 2 or 3 days before going further south.

We stayed at Totonanka RV Park as always but this time we were flabbergasted to see it so full. There are 135 sites with only 4 left when we drove in and they were all gone a few hours later. After that, motorhomes coming in had to park in the aisles. This was wonderful to see after being so empty the last 8 years with people afraid to travel in Mexico by RV.

We met two neighbors near us right away and one of them said that two days later Remax was having open houses. The next day they gave us a sheet with the addresses and we thought this was a good chance to see what the inside of houses in Mexico looked like. We immediately liked the first one we looked at and even went back to see it again. In fact we liked it so much we seriously considered buying it but wanted to see more houses to be absolutely sure.

So I made a list of houses I had found online and the next day a realtor took us around. All of them were super nice and such a bargain compared to US prices. But when we walked into the 4th one we knew without a doubt that was the one. Wow and more wow. Now Steve normally has to think things over for a long long time before he makes a decision but as soon as we left the house he asked the realtor (without asking me but that’s ok in this case) what he thought we could get the house for and that we wanted it. The realtor would only say that the owners had turned down several offers below the listing price. Nevertheless, we offered less than asking price and it was accepted!  We moved in 17 days ago.

I know you want to see more pictures so here are just a few of the many I have taken already.

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Many of the houses in Mexico have walls around them with metal gates. The 2 car carport is partially seen on the right and there is a courtyard with potted plants on the left. We want to make the courtyard lush with more landscaping.

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This part of San Carlos is called the Caracol Peninsula. It’s a hill with about 350 actual lots but some houses are built on double lots and quite a few lots haven’t been built on yet. There are currently about 200 houses with a few more in the process of being built. The real estate market has suddenly heated up and 5 contracts were written just in the Caracol the week we signed ours.

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All of the pictures I am showing today were taken from our house. The flowering bushes are the neighbor’s on our left.

 

 

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There are always boats to watch as the entrance to this bay, called San Carlos Bahia, is at the left end of our peninsula and the San Carlos Marina is around the bend on the right. The Sea of Cortez is on the other side of the narrow spit of land behind the boats.

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I feel like we are staying in a five star hotel for a one star price. To give you an idea of what we paid for this house, it was much less than what the median price of homes in Colorado Springs is. So now you have homework to do. 🙂 Included in the price were all the furnishings.

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I like the Romeo and Juliet balcony out of the guest bedroom.

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The previous owners said they spent all their time in the front so they could chat with neighbors walking by.

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We call this area at the bottom of the lot The Orchard as there are 4 orange trees, 1 grapefruit, and 2 mango trees planted along the two sides of the pavers.

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For days we had been catching a wonderful aroma and finally saw these new orange blossoms. Wonder what it will be like when all the orange trees are in full bloom.

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Can you imagine what it would cost to live in an area like this in the U.S.? Not even close to possible except for multi-millionaires. I am happy to answer any questions you might have through the comments or the Contact Us tab.

Cruise Days 23-26 Going to Cape Horn

There were several relaxing days in a row cruising channels, fjords, and the Strait of Magellan.

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The Strait is a navigable sea route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans below Chile and above Tierra del Fuego. I wondered why ships would even go around the dangerous waters of Cape Horn but learned the Strait is difficult to navigate due to unpredictable wind and dangerous currents.

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This is Cape Froward, the southern most point on the South American continent. I purposely used this picture to tell you how we did laundry for 31 days. By hand!  Unlike many other cruise ships, Norwegian ships have no laundromats because they want you to pay $20 a bag (a small bag at that) to have them wash and fold (ironing not included). We knew this in advance so brought along a collapsible canvas bucket, clothes line and pins, and a shampoo bottle filled with liquid detergent. It is safe to say we saved ourselves at least $200.
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The television in our cabin had a map that displayed our route in varying zoom lengths. It would be so easy to get lost here due to the many waterways and islands.
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Strait of Magellan
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The Beagle Channel

The Beagle Channel, also known as the Avenue of the Glaciers, is a strait in extreme southern South America that separates islands of the Tierra del Fuego Archipelago. The channel is one of three navigable passages in South America between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The channel was named for the “Beagle,” a British ship that Charles Darwin used to explore the area.

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Look closely behind the shoreline mountains in the center and there is a glimpse of a much taller mountain. 
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Glaciers galore along the Beagle Channel
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Beagle Channel
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The passengers on the first half of the cruise to Valparaiso were mostly North and South Americans. The southern half had to be at least 75% German speaking, 20% South American and other countries, and maybe 5% English speaking.
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Ushuaia, Argentina

We cruised the Beagle Chanel in the morning and by noon docked downtown in Ushuaia, the southern most city in the world. It is located on a wide bay on the southern coast of Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego with mountains in every direction.

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Ushuaia is the gateway and re-supply point for ships going to the Antartica
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For several years, we talked about driving our former small motorhome to the tip of South America and know a couple who did just that. This rental RV is parked on the waterfront along with two others. Flying down and renting an RV would certainly be a lot easier.
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I judge every country by what is in their bakeries and Argentina gets a B+ based on looks. However I can’t grade on taste because fortunately I still did not have an appetite. I think I am the only person that always loses weight on cruises. Nine cruises to date = five times ill. 
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Ushuaia, Argentina

Our ship pulled out at 8 in the evening for the trip to Cape Horn where we would arrive in the morning.  I tried to find reviews and information on cruise ships going around the Horn and what would happen if it was really rough, as these waters are considered to be the most dangerous in the world.  I did find a video of a Holland America cruise ship on a wild ride in an unexpected storm 2010 but our forecast called for decent weather.

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Cape Horn was fairly calm but our Captain explained if the seas were rough then we could quickly duck behind the cape in a channel. We stayed near the cape for an hour while the Captain turned the ship around so that every side could get views. This was one cruise that I am so glad we had a balcony as most of the decks had plexiglass shields.
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A much smaller cruise ship, the Hurtigruten, was able to get closer to the cape.

It had been chilly for over a week and now we start heading north to warmer weather. Everything is in reverse in the southern hemisphere. It is summer in December and the days are very nicely long.

Cruise Day 21 – Chacabuco, Chile

That night after leaving Puerto Montt I began running a fever and feeling so bad I knew the shore excursion was a no go for me the next morning so I urged Steve to go. Normally, Norwegian requires 48 hours notice in order to refund a cancelled excursion but when Steve went to the desk to give it a try, there was a waiting list of people to take my place and we got our money back.

Puerto Chacabuco itself is a small town lying at the east end of a narrow fjord and is a popular jumping off point into western Patagonia and is also a hub for ferries that connect the port with Puerto Montt and the island of Chiloe. We learned from our research before the cruise that there are no local tours or taxis in port so the only option would be a shore excursion through Norwegian.

Steve left early for the all day tour to Coyhaique and the Simpson Valley. He took our little Lumix camera and brought back some good pictures to show you.

 

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Steve’s tour bus crossed a narrow part of the Andes to visit Coyhaique nearArgentina.  Coyhaique is Chile’s youngest city, founded in 1929 in order to have a presence near the border.

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Coyhaique town plaza

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Steve took this picture from quite a distance away but assumes this is a vineyard planted vertically up the side of the mountain.

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The Simpson River is known for fly fishing with King Salmon weighing 40 pounds.

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Meanwhile, back on the ship, I never left the room and watched the clock all day for when Steve was due. This port is a tender port, meaning everyone has to take lifeboats to and from shore and that held Steve up getting back on time. The ship was just leaving when he got to our cabin and I told him I needed to see the ship’s doctor. I had a high temperature and my abdomen hurt to where I couldn’t stand up straight. The nurse put me in a bed and drew blood which confirmed infection that called for two kinds of intravenous antibiotics and other medications. The IV port was left in and I had to return every 12 hours to receive more antibiotics. We had two sea days ahead of us.

After the two sea days and the morning we docked in Punta Arenas, Chile my temperature was normal and blood work was almost normal so the IV port was removed. But I was still in pain and the doctor wanted me to go to the hospital. I asked if I would be returning to the ship and he said he couldn’t guarantee it. In other words, if the hospital decided to keep me, Steve would have to hurriedly pack our bags and leave the ship and stay in a hotel. I declined and therefore was required to sign legal paperwork not holding Norwegian liable if something worse happened to me and also if they had to suddenly go into an unscheduled port for a hospital, that I would pay for the ship’s additional fuel.

So then I was given 6 different medications to take and two of them were antibiotic pills that made me sicker than I was to begin with. After a couple of days of that I really wished I had gotten off the ship in Punta Arenas. We had travel insurance and our unused cruise fare would have been refunded as well as return airfare along with the medical costs.

Ten more cruise days to go and hopefully some of it can be enjoyed.