on the one hand

July 31, 2009

self-sufficient-life-coverThis morning I was standing on the roof  looking out over the countryside.  I heard before I saw them, Eric and Cristobal racing to work on Tequila and Christina, with Tequila’s foal trying to keep up.  In the distance, I could see the staff car, stopped on the road while the shepherd urged his flock of goats and sheep on ahead.  The sky was an incredibly clear blue, without a cloud, and I could see the mountains clearly in the distance.  Can life be better than this?
Yesterday was not a good day. The previous night, we had a torrential rain storm which knocked out the transformer and resulted in both the water pump at my house and the pool pump at Shanti burning out. Clearly, both of them had to be fixed–and immediately. In Mexico, that means cash on the barrel head–it’s as if credit cards had never been invented.

I remember years ago in Chicago when I had to put a new roof on my restaurant and it cost about $6000 (which I charged).  And for weeks I couldn’t sleep wondering how I would pay for it.  And now, years later, I’m worrying about scraping together $600..


mudraA recent article I read suggested that it would be useful to think what you would be doing if you had no financial constraints, and you had already helped your friends and family financially, and established a foundation that gave grants to the causes you believed in.

And I realized that I would be doing exactly what I’m doing now, except that the specter of debtor’s prison wouldn’t be lurking over my head…which would be very liberating–but possibly not quite as adrenaline producing.

It’s said that it’s the journey that matters more than the destination.  I hope I can remember to enjoy the struggle.

employee of the month

July 26, 2009

horsesAlejandro (the handyman) and I were walking along the barbed wire fence that separates my property from the surrounding ranches, when two young boys rode up on their horses, asking if there was any work to be had.

We are in the process of putting in a vegetable garden, and my other employees were helping haul rocks away from the designated area, when Felipe (the cook) went tumbling down the hill when the wheelbarrow overturned, and I decided that possibly this was an unwise use of labor…so the boys showed up at the right time.

And since their horses were going to be hanging out with us while their owners were working, why not put them to use as well by offering rides around the property?  (And they also provide the best possible fertilizer for free!)

This is a picture of Tequila and her month old foal–so if you come to Shanti, we now offer horseback riding–the only caveat is Tequila has never worn a saddle or a bridle…


It has been quite some time since I took pen in hand, dear reader…but I promise to be more faithful henceforward.
One would think that after opening three businesses, I would have learned a thing or two, but inevitably, one would be wrong.

Once again, I have overspent, thrown all my energy and money into building the kind of place that I would like to go to…and as usual, failed to realize that the rest of the world is not on the same page as I am.

My original thought was to build a small hotel out here in the countryside…but I left my life in Chicago to have a better life–I mean, to have a life outside of work…and a hotel requires attention 24/7.

So then I thought, why not an oasis–a place where one could come for the day, relax on a chaise lounge by a turquoise pool, watch the clouds drift by overhead, eat fabulous Indian food, perhaps take a yoga class or a massage…and then, refreshed and invigorated, head into San Miguel and party or whatever the night away (while somebody else–not me–waits for you to come back at 3 a.m.)

Great concept, right? Easy to comprehend, yes? Appealing, yes?


Suggestions that have been made to me:

!. Open at 7 a.m.  so that I can come out and get my exercise by swimming laps–and give me a reduced rate, because I have no intention of using any of your other amenities.  (I would like to introduce this woman to the woman who approached me for a reduced rate on her coffee at my old restaurant in Chicago because she brought her own mug.  I think they would have much in common.)

2. Hire a d.j. and allow smoking and serve real food like burgers so that people can really enjoy themselves.

Hindsight is always 20/20….I also would never have tried to import anything at all into Mexico…I would have done what other people do…smuggle it in!  I have two shipments of  fabulous things that I bought in India–one shipment sitting in Veracruz, one in Manzanillo, accruing fees and whether I will ever see either of them is a mystery unbeknownst to me, a mere mortal.

I think I can safely say that I have recovered from my initial “nostalgie de la boue” about Mexico (I’ve always wanted to use that phrase!)–I think I should write a short Kubler-Rossish piece on the five stages of infatuation with moving to a new country.

But as I told my beloved brother, people pay millions (unfortunately not to me) to live this kind of life–surrounded by open country, hummingbirds sipping nectar from the flowers, sheep and goats crossing the road in front of my car…and really, what would I be doing in Chicago now?

My moods swing between plans to raise chickens, and plans to drown myself in the fabulous (heated at great cost) pool.