Merced County Times Newspaper
The Power of Positive Press

They Call Us ‘Snowbirds’ Because We Fly South To Mexico

John Derby
Times Publisher John Derby

Our home in Mexico, 600 miles south of the border, is calling us, and like Snowbirds, we fly to the warm water and weather.

It will be our winter home for the next five months; however, we will never stop writing.

This will be our 25th year of going south since we first made the trip in 1998, shortly after the fire which burned down our printing plant. The paper was being printed by the Turlock Journal and it did not need a lot of help by us.

We had bought a 32-foot, ocean-going sailboat, and we gathered a local crew and headed out the Golden Gate for Mexico. For us, it would be a trip into the unknown as we had mostly sailed lakes and inland waters, and very little in the open ocean.

We were out to sea for 32 days and nights. Two of the crew jumped ship in Cabo, and another had to leave once we arrived at La Paz. The final journey up into the Sea of Cortez was made only with the two of us.

We still had plans of sailing around the world; however, we took a detour north to a bay called Conception Bay and fell in love with it. It was so pristine. We bought a little Mexican house on the ocean and it has been the foundation for a much larger home where we stay looking out onto the ocean.

The trip around the world never happened and probably lucky it didn’t as we were not trained to sail around the world and neither was the sailboat equipped.

For years we did continue to sail, and still do, but our boat is snug in Alameda where it has become a bedroom on the bay. We still sail off the coast in Mexico but it is a smaller boat and can be removed from the ocean during hurricane season. This year and last year, there were hurricanes and they would have damaged a sailboat anchored in the bay.

Some people ask what life is like in Mexico, 600 miles south of the border, and all we can say is the media has given Americans a false impression of the Mexican people. They have no desire to jump across our border. If given the choice they would not leave their home in our area. They are very content and have the love of their families. And while they may not have all the modern conveniences we have in our California Valley, they want not.

There are no homeless in the street and drugs are forbidden, and if caught, are a very serious offense with hard jail sentences which the courts do not reduce.

The cost of living is half the cost we have in the states. Food is not a problem and we have fresh fish delivered to our door the very day it is caught.

We pay no taxes because we live on government-owned land called “land reclaimed by from the sea.” Despite what people think, you can’t own land in Mexican coastal areas if you are not a citizen of Mexico. It is in the Mexican Constitution.

What happens is you purchase the property through a bank trust. It is somewhat of a scam and the government could take the land away, but normally does not do it. We have built on land which is leased to us for 9 years and 11 months … the maximum length for such leases.

We have done this without problem, and while some people think we can not sell our home, we can and do. However, in reality no one really owns this land, because you are not able to take it with you when you leave this earth.

We feel we are caretakers of the land we live on.

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