Lorena's Note: Dobie and Sergio are homesteading in a former coconut plantation on Mexico's Pacific Coast. From their latest update:
For the last 25 years, I've spent the winter camping out on a beautiful beach on the Pacific coast of Mexico. Being a fairly sociable person, I've made some good friends in the nearby town, and had come to think of the place as my second home. For the last 10 years or so, I've had fantasies of living there full time.
A couple of years ago, it because evident that I had to make a change in my present living situation. I had been living in a house in northern California that I had bought with a friend in the late 1970's. I lived happily there for many years surrounded by a (relatively) pristine ocean; deep, mysterious forests with huge redwood trees and a caring, supportive, like-minded community. However, I was tiring of the foggy, grey, cool, summers and of the assault on the environment - increased logging, increased development, an influx of rich folks and a general stepping up of the pace of life.
The situation came to a head when both my housemate and I invited our partners to come live with us. Suddenly, what until then had been a spacious two bedroom house, became a rather cramped two bedroom house.
After a couple of years of mentally trying out possible solutions, I realized that the only option was to move out. The perfect time to try out my Mexico fantasy (helped by the fact that my partner is Mexican and after 14 years in the States was feeling the desire to go back to Mexico to live). Luckily my housemate agreed to buy me out, enabling me to look for some land to buy near my favorite beach.
With no real estate agents, newspaper listings or "for sale" signs, it's not so easy. I put the word out, and started checking things out. In this rural area, most of the people live in town and have their "potreros", or agricultural land on the outskirts. Having grown accustomed to living rurally, and growing my own organic veggies, I was not ready to live on a lot in town (even though town only consists of a few dirt streets), but was hoping to find a few acres where I could build a house and also have a big garden.
I wanted to be reasonably close to town, realizing that being too isolated might not be so safe, but far enough away so that I wouldn't have to smell the neighbor's pig. Buying land right on the beach, although appealing in many ways, didn't feel as secure (ownership of the beach has been disputed for many years), and certainly would make large scale gardening more difficult, if not impossible.
As luck would have it, a friend brought me to look at a piece of land that seemed to fit my fantasies. The woman who owned it was a widow, her husband had died the year before, and although she didn't really want to sell any land, was in need of some cash for basic necessities. The same friend connected us, and helped us along with the purchase. Since this is ejido land, it can only be owned by a Mexican, so we put the land in my sweetie's name.
Unfortunately, we only found out about the land being for sale about a week before our tourist cards and car permits were due to expire, so everything had to happen right away. We made a "down payment" and agreed to send the rest of the money when we got back to the States. So there's the story, in a nutshell, of how we came to "own" (you never really own ejido land, but only the rights to use it) a hectare (2.5 acres) of coconut palms (including 3 mango trees, about a dozen limones, a tamarindo, a guava and several guanabanas) on the edge of town, (where we could have access to running water and electricity) and only about a mile and a half from the beach. The best of all possible worlds!
After several months back in the States, selling, giving away and packing up all of my worldly possessions, I headed back down to Mexico in October, ready to start work on the land.
The first step was clearing the boundary lines so we could put up fencing to keep the cows out. The land hadn't been farmed for about 20 years, and the neighboring cows grazed freely.