I was born and raised in Northern California, it wasn’t until I retired south of the border living in a small fishing village seven miles outside of downtown Puerto Vallarta that I experienced my first hurricane. My very first hurricane was predicted to be a level 5 AND the worst in recent history.
My first thoughts were, I can handle this. I grew up with earthquakes with collapsing bridges and freeways. I surely could handle a hurricane. I believed the locals, and the expats were making too big of a deal out of high winds, rain, thundering, and lightening. I was WRONG.
It was one of the most frightening times in my life. It was the expectation that got me. I could feel the wrath of what was coming. I’d never seen Mother Nature’s fury up close and personal for over a few minutes. I was only familiar with the floor or earth moving below my feet and me running or driving quickly to a safe place. Once there I’d stand under a doorway, like I’d been taught in elementary school, or hide under a strong table. Continue below:
Waterfall next to the apartment building. Retirement in Mexico
None of these skills were going to help me with the side of Mother Nature I’d never seen before. For me, this was a new kind of terrorism where no one could be held accountable. Fortunate on most days, but very unfortunate during Hurricane Patricia, I live just feet from the sea on a 200 foot cliff. Okay, don’t believe me to be wealthy with a famous style villa. I’m grateful for my one room small studio with an over sized patio, which the landlady redesigned and placed the kitchen on the patio.
The apartment building is literally in the jungle and there are animals to prove it. I love the sounds of the birds and when they stop tweeting back and forth, I go inside and lock my studio doors, front and back.
Back to Hurricane Patricia. My landlady and her husband were kind enough to take me with the rest of their family up into the mountains during that weekend. Continue below
We tied down the patio furniture on each floor of the apartment building before packing a small bag and loading into the car for a trip to Tepic a small mountain town about three and a half hours from Puerto Vallarta in the western Mexican state of Nayarit.
“Hurricane Patricia made landfall near Cuixmala on Costa Alegre, about 180 miles south of Puerto Vallarta. She landed as a category 5 monster, with sustained winds of 165 miles per hour, down from a stunning 200 miles per hour (325 km/hr) measured only a couple hours earlier.”
Wouldn’t you know it, Patricia, the strongest hurricane ever recorded in history would be my first experience with hurricanes!
I couldn’t believe I renewed my lease, but I did as millions of others who live in hurricane destinations around the world do each year. I’m now a person who lives with hurricane seasons. Funny thing, now I’m frightened of earthquakes but not hurricanes. Strange how the mind adjusts to protect us against ourselves.
Well, it’s hurricane season again, and I’m writing this article to help potential expats understand the emergency escape plan in this part of Mexico. Also, I wanted to share how grateful I am to have survived a Category Five coming my way.
I say to people who have never been in a hurricane but want to retire in Mexico, it’s not as bad as it sounds on the news.
1. You know before hand when a new hurricane is forming.
2. You can choose to stay or run.
3. If you don’t have a car you can catch one of the luxury buses to a mountain city or any town where the hurricane is NOT headed. You can eat from Oxxo or the street toco cart if cash-flow is an issue, or if the ATM’s aren’t working.
4. You can stay gone for the duration of the hurricane and return to your living quarters when it’s safe. If it’s not safe, you are still alive and you have your medication, passport and personal items with you, which for me included my computer.
5. Either purchase a ticket back to your home town in the States, Canada, or Europe or stay the course and help rebuild your new home.
Visiting Mexico during hurricane season is the cheapest time to visit. Puerto Vallarta was full of budget-minded tourist on the weekend Patricia paid a visit. The resorts loaded guest into buses and drove them to a safe place to wait out the storm.
I am grateful. If Patricia had hit Puerto Vallarta like it was predicted, things would have been very different for the city of PV.