If I knew then what I know now

Have you ever been asked this question: If you could live your life over again would you do it?

I’ve been asked that question several times and my responses have always been a resounding “no,” but with a caveat that I would if I had the knowledge I have today. That, of course, would be like cheating. You would know how to invest, where to get educated, what kind of life path to take, etc. I think of the movie series “Back to the Future” to conjure up visions of what it would be like to go back to Southern California in the ‘50s with the knowledge of California today and knowing what will transpire over the next 50 to 60 years.
That is what it is like every time I go to Mexico. I feel like I’ve been dropped into the early 20th century. I drive along some of the most beautiful coastlines imaginable that are dotted with little ranchita towns just nestled up against the water. Many of the little towns still have only dirt roads but most have well-paved rock or asphalt streets. Every town has a plaza, which is usually situated in front of a cathedral as Mexico is still a very religious country with most residents being Catholic. Each little town tends to spread out from the Plaza.
Each time I go into Puerto Vallarta I see new buildings under construction that are filled with businesses almost immediately upon completion. But for most of the other smaller towns and villages away from the larger cities, nothing really changes.
My getaway house near San Blas is situated in Mantanchen Bay. The setting is very similar to Puerto Vallarta in that the coastal mountains hug the coastline as a backdrop to the warm calm waters of the bay. The bay in Puerto Vallarta is called the Bay of Banderas, but the settings are almost identical to Mantanchen Bay except Puerto Vallarta already has its resorts rimming the bay and the downtown gets tonier and tonier by the year with new art galleries and specialty cuisine restaurants being opened by foreigners who have found their paradises. But, Mantanchen Bay is just ripe for development … the locals just don’t realize it. Surfers may know though!
Near my house is the small town of Aticama and as you enter from the south the first oceanfront buildings you come upon is an elementary school. Every time I pass that school I project myself back to that age and wonder what it would have been like sitting at my desk while also gazing out at the diamond sparkling waves that roll in on the small point that it sits on. I don’t think I would have been able to pay any attention to my studies.
As you drive a little farther north you come upon a beautiful cove that is dotted with palapa-style structures (poles driven into the sand and roofs made of palm fronds). The bay is well known for its perfect waves, sandy bottom and warm waters (see attached picture of me having the bay all to myself). On the weekends, families literally camp out in the calmer water just standing there drinking their cervezas and lemonades while the children frolic nearby in the soft fun waves.
If this bay were in Southern California, there would be huge resorts with multiple golf courses rimming the entire coastline along with shopping centers and high-class restaurants. But today, it is a dirt road with bamboo and palm fronds with some of the best food imaginable for a small price.
It still amazes me that Mexicans pine for the United States. And yes, I just drove the 1,400 miles back to the United States last week and once I crossed the border in Nogales and drove into the huge and beautiful city of Tucson, the differences were just so stark. The USA looks like that shining light on a hill with all its beautiful communities and shopping malls and skyscrapers. It just amazes me though that the same thing doesn’t take place such a short distance away.
If I still had that youthful entrepreneurial spirit, coupled with my lifetime of knowledge, I would relive my life and be turning Mexico’s natural beauty into a carbon copy of the United States. Going to Mexico feels like being transported back in time. Oh, the possibilities!

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