A Personal Story. . .
Seven years ago, almost to the day,
I first arrived in the Lake Chapala area
to determine if it would be a good place to live
- but much more importantly -
a good place for my 94 year old mother to live.
I met Dolores Sanchez.
I had been working in a local Bay Area hospital as a float,
which meant I floated from department to department as the
staffing needs arose on a daily basis.
One day I was working in a department I didn't normally work in,
on a day I didn't normally work, when one of my hospital buddies
swooped by and said:
"Hey, hows it going?"
"Good! I'm going to Mexico for a couple of weeks tomorrow!"
"A place called Ajijic, looking to see if moving there would be a good thing."
"You know, I think that's where my mother lives,
would you take some things to her for me?"
I arrived in Ajijic with a reservation for only the first night at one of the
B & B's thinking I'd wing it for the rest of the week.
It was smack-dab at the beginning of Semana Santa week!
I should have known better. . .
The next morning when I got the boot from the B & B,
I gathered up all my bags and thought since I'd be mobile now
I'd better drop off my friends presents to lighten the load.
I called the phone number I was given.
"Oh, I'll come right down!" Dolores said.
"Why don't you come back to my home with me and visit,
after all you are a friend of my daughter."
Later, after visiting with Dolores for some time in her amazing
and beautiful Mexican home and looking
at pictures of my friend as a child, Dolores said
she had 2 rental units in the building and one of them was empty.
"Why don't you stay in it while you're here?"
Every morning Dolores would bring down cookies, or fresh fruit,
or some other treat for me and ask if I wanted to ride along
with her while she did her marketing, or looked for a book,
or visited her lawyer.
Then she would send me on my way for the afternoon to investigate
and explore on my own.
Dolores patiently answered all my questions, and there were MANY!
When I determined this would work for my old-lady mom,
I asked about cost of living and rentals.
The following day Dolores took my by the house she had rented
when she first arrived - it was empty.
She called the rental agent
Agustín Vasquez who came right over and showed it to me.
I rented it on the spot.
I took numerous photos of the house and things I thought my mother
would like about the area — including Dolores!
I returned to San Anselmo and some weeks later, amid all the packing
and boxes and piles of stuff,
my aunt (mom's sister) and uncle from southern California arrived.
I gave them my moving-to-Mexico-dog-and-pony-show
and answered each and every question.
They were understandably very worried.
Then when I pulled out the pictures of my trip they were delighted.
My aunt flipped through them and studied them all.
Then she got to the photo of Dolores.
I watched the color drain from her face.
Finally, she looked up at me and said
"How old is Dolores?"
"I dunno, maybe 70s. . ."
"How old is her daughter?"
"I dunno, maybe 40s. . ."
Then she looked up and said
"Oh my God, this is Gabby's sister!"
Dolores Sanchez had been a friend of my family for over 50 years!