From what I had found thus far Ajijic was alone at the top of the leaderboard, but there was a lot of Mexico left to look over. I had immediately ruled out anywhere near a border (drug war territory) and the major tourist spots. I wanted to have a comfortable and peaceful year. I also wanted nothing to do with Mexico City (Mexico to the locals, as I have mentioned before) due to cost, congestion and pollution. At the same time I did want to be near good medical facilities, airport and water. That still left a lot of territory (all of Baja and the Sea of Cortez, for example) and at least one "tourista" destination, Cancun.
Why Cancun? Well, for just one reason . . . one of my best, if not my best friend on the entire planet lives there. Kerry moved there in 2006. It would be nice to have a familiar face to see occasionally. More than that, Kerry had been a trusted friend for a long, long time. I knew that even after I had searched all of Mexico there would be at least one trip to Cancun in the mix. It would be foolish not to visit and check things out.
With that in mind I went ahead with my investigation. It didn't take too long to rule out Baja and the Sea of Cortez, beautiful though they might be. (Here you may want to ask why I would think deserts are beautiful. Its a fair question and the answer is simple: I just do!) But, beautiful though they may be, they would be too hot, lack great medical facilities, have no discernable cost advantage, and, in this case, would be subject to hurricanes into the bargain. A no go.
I knew little about the Mexican mountain ranges but I soon found out that there are three major ranges: The Sierra Madre Occidental (western), Oriental (eastern) and del Sur (south). The Occidental runs south from Arizona, the Oriental from Texas and the del Sur begins south and a good deal west of Mexico (I'll be calling Mexico City, Mexico from now on) and runs along the west coast toward Salina Cruz.
In the Occidental there were no major cities--meaning no state of the art medical and no major airports. In the Oriental range Monterrey seemed to meet the medical and airport requirements, but a search revealed summer temps could reach 107 Fahrenheit (42 Celsius). Too hot and no water nearby.
In the del Sur range Oaxaca (wa-hoc-ah) was tempting. Situated in a valley in the mountains at about the same elevation as Ajijic, Oaxaca is an old colonial city a bit larger (250,000) than Ft. Wayne. It is surrounded by small towns and has a similar climate to Ajijic, albeit slightly warmer. It does have a U.S./Canadian ex-pat community though not so large as the Lake Chapala area. Cost of living is reasonably low and there is plenty to do. Photographs I found show it to be beautiful. The absence of a nearby lake was all that kept it from the top of the list. Wherever I was to end up, Oaxaca would be worth a visit while I was in country. You can check it out by going to utube and checking out. Click Here I think you'll like it, too.
Next: Merida, Cancun, Tulum and environs