Published On: Sat, Nov 26th, 2016

Driving through Mexico for one year: an interview with Chuck Bolotin

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As the founder of Best Places in the World to Retire, we have more than 8,500 answers to questions about moving abroad, provided by more than 500 contributors.  In contrast to other sites where the content is provided by people working for the site or those with an agenda to promote certain places, our site was designed to include the views of just ordinary people who moved abroad, and to have many people give their opinion on each answer, so that the answers and perspectives are more credible and balanced.  As part of this, I had never personally even visited almost any of the places we cover.

After two years of this, we were talked into adding the personal perspective of doing what so many of the expats on our site had done, and experiencing becoming an expat firsthand.  We felt that we could add a good amount of value by driving through Mexico with two dogs, and doing so from the perspective of complete newbies.  That way, we could report on our experiences in real time, as they happened, without having those experiences changed by time.  We felt that lots of our readers would benefit from and enjoy reading about our little problems and surprises, so we decided to go ahead and do it.  I go into a good amount of detail on this on our first story in the sequence, “Why We Will Be Driving Through Mexico for the Next Year: A Road Trip Series

The following interview with Chuck, features his recent “Road Trip” across Mexico, a series of articles that have attracted the attention of thousands of TYT readers. This is what he told us:

1. How did the idea of the Road Trip came up in the first place?
As the founder of Best Places in the World to Retire, we have more than 8,500 answers to questions about moving abroad, provided by more than 500 contributors. In contrast to other sites where the content is provided by people working for the site or those with an agenda to promote certain places, our site was designed to include the views of just ordinary people who moved abroad, and to have many people give their opinion on each answer, so that the answers and perspectives are more credible and balanced. As part of this, I had never personally even visited almost any of the places we cover.

Man and dogs at Playa Santispak, Baja California. (PHOTO: Chuck Bolotin)

Man and dogs at Playa Santispak, Baja California. (PHOTO: Chuck Bolotin)

After two years of this, we were talked into adding the personal perspective of doing what so many of the expats on our site had done, and experiencing becoming an expat firsthand. We felt that we could add a good amount of value by driving through Mexico with two dogs, and doing so from the perspective of complete newbies. That way, we could report on our experiences in real time, as they happened, without having those experiences changed by time.

We felt that lots of our readers would benefit from and enjoy reading about our little problems and surprises, so we decided to go ahead and do it. I go into a good amount of detail on this on our first story in the sequence, “Why We Will Be Driving Through Mexico for the Next Year: A Road Trip Series”

Balandro, Baja California Sur (PHOTO: Chuck Bolotin)

Balandro, Baja California Sur (PHOTO: Chuck Bolotin)

2. Did you finally drive all the way to Mérida, Yuc.? (cause the last article we published on Friday Nov 11, was about Ajijic)
Given our extremely hectic schedule and unpredictable challenges and opportunities, our stories can be as much as 6 weeks behind our actual experiences and location. As I’m being interviewed by you, we’re in Merida, but we have yet to write about San Miguel de Allende or the drive to get here to the Yucatan.

Chuck Bolotin with Pemex attendants in Baja California Sur. (PHOTO: courtesy Chuck Bolotin)

Chuck Bolotin with Pemex attendants in Baja California Sur. (PHOTO: courtesy Chuck Bolotin)

3. Did you run into any situation that could’ve been considered dangerous or hazardous during your road trip?
One of the most significant concerns of our readers is safety, because, in general, Mexico has a reputation as being an unsafe place. When we told our friends and family about our plans, most of them were very concerned about our safety. We were even told by Mexicans living in near us in Arizona not to go!

Well, our experience relative to safety has been completely different than our preconceived ideas and those of well meaning friends, family, and the assorted Mexicans who gave their opinions. This phenomenon of the reality being so much different than the preconceived belief has been a consistent theme on our trip. You believe Mexico to be one way, but the reality can and usually is very different.

Jet Metier with people on the beach who offered her a beer in Baja California Sur, Mexico. (PHOTO: Chuck Bolotin)

Jet Metier with people on the beach who offered her a beer in Baja California Sur, Mexico. (PHOTO: Chuck Bolotin)

We have never encountered any dangerous or hazardous situations whatsoever in Mexico caused by any interaction with Mexicans. The reality has been quite the contrary. The only dangerous situations we encountered were with the roads and other drivers. Especially in Baja, the roads can be very narrow, with little or no shoulder, and especially on the mainland, Mexicans tend to take way more chances driving and drive much faster than in the US. Unlike the US, you have to always be aware in Mexico when you’re driving.

4. What would be your tips or advice for people planning a road trip across Mexico?
My first advice would be: Do it! Mexico is a surprisingly and often a stunningly beautiful country, with lots to see, especially when traveling by car, and the people are great.

That being said, the road conditions can, in some areas, be harrowing. As I wrote in one of our articles, don’t bring a nice car; bring a good car. It would be almost impossible not to get some dings and scratches, and there are areas where it would be very inconvenient to break down, especially in Baja. Good tires are a must.

Street in Ajijic bird's eye view (Photo: Chuck Bolotin)

Street in Ajijic bird’s eye view (Photo: Chuck Bolotin)

I talk give my suggestions and what we learned in the article, “”Tips and Observations About Driving Through Baja California, and the Release of Your “Inner Mexican”.  If you follow these very easy to follow guidelines, you will be incredibly richly rewarded. We have loved our time here.

5. Do you consider that many Americans are going to come to reside in Mexico after the US election result?

Starting the night of the election, we saw a big spike in traffic to our site, and it has settled back down only slightly since then. However, that being said, every four years, we are told about people who, if their candidate doesn’t win, will move abroad. It does happen, but it is rarely the only reason. People tend to move for more permanent reasons and for the very real advantages which living in Mexico offers, including an extremely attractive cost of living; superb, high quality, extremely low cost healthcare; better weather; and to experience the overall Mexican lifestyle, which for many Americans, reminds them of when they were growing up in the US and which can be much less stressful.

photo: pinterest

Ajijic (Photo: pinterest)

6. What do you forsee in the near future (after Trump takes office on January 20th) for the Expat community in Mexico?
These are all very good questions and deserving of a thoughtful answer. I wrote an article on this (“What the Trump Presidency Means for Americans Living South of the Border“) in which I asked if there was fear on the part of Americans living in Mexico of any sort of resentment or retaliation.

The consensus was that there was nothing to worry about, and at this point, I don’t have any reason to doubt that. We can just hope that whatever happens on both sides of the border, we all remember that we have been, and should remain, as friends.

Jet_Metier and Chuck Bolotin in Jocotepec garden and house (PHOTO: courtesy Chuck Bolotin)

Jet_Metier and Chuck Bolotin in Jocotepec garden and house (PHOTO: courtesy Chuck Bolotin)

Interview by Alejandro Azcárate for The Yucatan Times

Mexico Travel Care

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