I am a snow bird.
I looked up the definition of snow bird and this is what the dictionary told me: 1. Any of several birds (such as a junco or fieldfare) seen chiefly in winter; 2. One who travels to warm climes for the winter. Since I’m the second definition I thought I’d write about what it’s like to be that particular bird.
Usually I head to Akumal during the last week in October so I’m in town for La Buena Vida’s Halloween party. There I meet up with friends who live full time in Akumal and the smattering of “snow birds” who have started to arrive. For me, this is my first social event. Over the course of the next month or so, more snow birds arrive and our social life becomes full of lunches, dinners, cocktail parties, and meeting up with each other at the beach. Monday nights have always been reserved to meet up with Luis, never to do insurance business, but to catch up on the week with the full-timers and the snow birds who show up. Great way to meet people and enjoy a few laughs.
I asked my spring/summer walking partner, who is a “snow bird” in Florida why she likes being one. Diana tells me the weather is the first reason, along with the beach, the sun, and meeting up with the friends she and her husband have made over the years they’ve been in FL. I see or talk to Diana almost every day when I’m in the states. When I’m in Akumal, we speak, at most, only once a month. Our “snow bird” lives have a life of their own. She’s a shark tooth hunter and has a good friend she hunts with almost daily. I’ll bet they don’t speak very often when Diana is back in MA. Do any of you other snow birds, find this happening to you? I do keep in touch with some of my Akumal friends when I’m in the States, but not as often as I’d like. My MA life gets in the way.
Being a “snow bird” entails a lot of work. My husband created this check list for what had to be done before we headed out for the winter. I am so thankful for that list because some of the items begin at least a month before leaving. There have been a few additions over the years, but sadly, no deletions. Thank goodness for on-line bill paying. When we first started out over 18 years ago, paying bills on line was new to our banks. I thank my sister-in-law everyday for handling my mail. She throws away the junk, opens the important stuff, and e-mails me any random bill that has to be paid. I am so lucky she does that for me. Because I keep the temperature in my house at 45°, I have to empty my frig which means I have to keep watch of what I’m buying at the grocery store. I try not to have too much food left during the last few weeks before I leave. Making sure the “plow guy” is in place so my driveway is plowed for every storm and filling the oil tank just before I leave are also musts.
I learned the hard way by using the on-line form to have my mail forwarded to my brother. The first time I used it, the mail piled up for 2 weeks before it went to his house. Now I just go to the post office, telling them in person. Sometimes the old way of doing things works best. My car needs the battery disconnected and stored away, along with bounce sheets placed in various parts of the car to keep the mice away. Pipes are drained and the well is shut off. Special anti-freeze is put into the toilets. Of course all of this is done at the last minute prior to leaving the house.
Off to the airport and in about 8 hours, I’m in Akumal opening my condo! Flipping on the breakers is the most important thing to do there. It’s easier in a warm climate. My condo is in a residential complex, so I only have a cleaning lady once a week. While I’m away, she comes by once a month to keep critters etc. at bay. My car is at my condo, having been driven around the complex by a good friend while I’m gone. I head out to the local OXXO to get a few things to tide me over. I put the sheets on the bed and I’m good to go. I’ve already had the TV cable turned back on and now that I have high speed internet with Telmex, I’m good to go. Closing up the condo to head back to MA is fairly easy. Not nearly as much to do.
When you break your life into six month increments, the time goes by really fast. Sometimes when I return, people ask how I enjoyed my vacation. I always tell them it’s not a vacation, just my other place to live. I do the same things in Akumal that I do in Massachusetts. Of course, Akumal is a lot more social than living in the woods in New England. Another reason I like being a ‘Snow Bird”.