What do you do when you have a chronic illness and have to retire early? You check into living abroad to see if you can get more bang for your buck from your retirement savings.

After lots of research, I had narrowed my overseas retirement search to Panama and Mexico. I went to Panama two years ago to check out the possibility of retiring there (that trip is already chronicled in this blog, under Panama and in reverse order). I liked that country a lot, but now I wanted to see what Mexico had to offer.

My brother John kindly offered to go with me. Although I am only looking to rent wherever I retire, he wanted to look into the possibility of buying a winter getaway.

And where in Mexico did we decide to go? To the biggest expat retirement destination: the communities around Lake Chapala, which is just south of Guadalajara.

I found a great “Retiring Lakeside in Mexico” tour offered by Earl and John. Their website is http://www.retiringlakesideinmexico.com/. It was just what I was looking for, so off we went.

My last retirement trip in Panama was with a group of 14, with lots of driving across the country, a tour leader, and stays in hotels. This tour had just three guests, two tour leaders and we stayed in their home.

I flew from Raleigh to Dallas, met my brother, then we flew from Dallas to Guadalajara.

The Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport was HUGE. Wikipedia says it’s the third busiest airport in the world in aircraft and eleventh busiest airport in people traffic, serving 65.5 million people last year. It has five terminals and 165 gates. The terminals are connected by orange SkyLink trains, which were fun to ride and had a nice view of the airport.

Dallas airport

The scenery changed dramatically when we flew from Dallas to Guadalajara. This huge dry area is the Chihuahuan Desert. Although it looks very dry and flat, the desert is full of basins and mountain ranges. It is the most biologically diverse desert in the world.

Scenery between Dallas and Jalisco

Flying into Guadalajara, Lake Chapala looks very close in the background. It is actually about a half hour drive south of the city.

Flying into Guadalaraja

Our hosts John and Earl picked up us and our third tour participant Deborah at the airport and drove us to their lovely home.

Earl at front door.JPG

The gorgeous entry from inside. Notice the brick barrel vaulting at the top of the photo. This barrel vaulting is a motif that we would see frequently as we visited restaurants, homes and museums. It was usually brick but sometimes it was cobblestone.

Entry door

A nice pic of our hosts Earl and John, my brother John, me and our fellow guest Deborah during one of our daily restaurant excursions.

Earl, John, John, Julia, Deborah in Mexico

Deborah and John hanging out in the TV room.

Earl and John TV room with John and Deborah 2

The hummingbirds LOVED the back patio.

Hummingbirds on back patio

This was our home base for daily trips to see Lake Chapala neighborhoods, houses for sale, markets, restaurants, and a day in Guadalajara. All this in six days! More coming up soon.