By: Jim Scherrer
As we all know, Christopher Columbus, while searching for China, first discovered the Americas when he arrived in San Salvador in 1492. On his second voyage, he landed in the Caribbean Islands, and on his last voyage in 1498, he arrived in the area of Venezuela. In 1497, the Italian sailor Giovanni Caboto (John Cabot), exploring on behalf of England, landed in Labrador and Newfoundland. Unfortunately, neither of these sailors was very well educated nor inclined to thoroughly document their voyages.
In 1499, an educated Italian named Amerigo Vespucci joined a Spanish fleet and sailed to Venezuela. A few years later, the king of Portugal enlisted Vespucci to pilot another voyage to Brazil and by 1508, the voyages that Vespucci participated in were well documented. Although Amerigo Vespucci was a relatively insignificant person and had never led an expedition or discovered anything, his name appeared on much of the documentation and many of the New World land surveys.
Using all of the freshly generated documentation, a German cartographer named Martin Waldseemuller prepared the first map of the New World in 1507. With documentation prepared by Amerigo Vespucci as his guide, he merely used the word Americus, the Latinized version of Amerigo, to indicate the New World. Consequently, the entire Western Hemisphere eventually took on the name Americus which later became known as the Americas. It probably should have been called Columbus or Cabot but it could have been even worse; just imagine, The United States of Vespucciville!
Before we get too far into this article let’s first define “America”. The Americas are the lands of the Western hemisphere or New World, comprising of the North American and South American continents with their associated islands and regions. Today, in the minds of most United States citizens and for that matter, in the minds of people throughout the world, the term “America” refers to the United States of America; however, that term is open to debate. For the sake of this article, we’ll be referring to the United States of America when we use the term “America”.
The next term that we must accurately define is “North American”; all too often we think of North Americans as those from the United States and Canada. Again, that’s a misnomer because North America actually encompasses the entire North American continent which includes the US, Canada, Greenland, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean Islands. Therefore, “North Americans” are those residing anywhere in the North American continent. However, for the sake of this article, we’ll be referring only to those from the US and Canada as “North Americans”.
Typically, when we think of escaping from America, we’re referring to Americans emigrating from the United States to some other locale. With the current depressing state of the economy, politics, crime rate, standard of living, etc., there are numerous reasons why US citizens are more interested than ever in retiring abroad (beyond the boundaries of one’s own country). Today’s broad availability of inexpensive international telephone, Internet, satellite TV, transportation, medical care, etc. have essentially eliminated the primary reasons for retiring and remaining in the US.
Now, more than ever, with the numerous reasons why one might desire to escape from America, the question is; where in the world would be the most logical retirement destination? Most would agree that it would be somewhere that has a lower cost of living without compromising on the standard of living, someplace that has relatively close proximity to the U.S., a safe and clean place where English is understood, etc. Other important criteria for retirement include the size of the community of like minded North Americans (US and Canadian citizens), the availability of activities for retirees, of world class medical care, fine dining, telecommunications, etc.
Most travel and retirement magazines list a number of wonderful retirement havens in the Americas including Costa Rica, Panama, and Ecuador. Although all espouse fine climates, beautiful scenery, low costs of living, etc, Mexico generally tops the list. Many of these locations are either too far away or lack all of the amenities that North Americans are accustomed to and require whereas certain Mexican retirement havens have all of the required prerequisites for North Americans retiring abroad.
After residing in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for almost 13 years, we can state emphatically that PV has it all! During the past decade of growth in Puerto Vallarta, the city has more than doubled in size with its infrastructure being completely upgraded to current international standards. Every amenity that one would expect in a city of 350,000 inhabitants can be found in Puerto Vallarta.
Regarding Vallarta’s proximity to America, please refer to the North American map. You might be amazed to see that PV is approximately the same distance from Chicago, Minneapolis, and Portland as New York is from Houston, Dallas, and Denver. Relatively speaking, cities such as Houston, Dallas, Phoenix, and Los Angeles are virtually next door to PV. Another factoid; Puerto Vallarta is nearer El Paso, Texas than is Texarkana, Texas.
For comparison’s sake, let’s consider Maui, Hawaii which lies on the same latitude as Puerto Vallarta and obviously has an ideal winter climate. However, Vallarta’s winter weather is better; during the seven month period of November through May, the average daily temperature in Vallarta is 73°F with virtually no rain whereas Maui’s average temperature is about the same but with more than two inches of rain per month. Needless to say, as great as Maui is, traveling to and from there is quite expensive and time consuming; retiring there could be cost prohibitive.
This map puts the whole concept of moving abroad into a totally new prospective. With the many advantages that Vallarta has to offer, including its proximity to the US, it’s quite obvious why approximately 50,000 Americans (those from the US) have escaped from America and now call Vallarta home. The fact is that their new home is still in America (the North American continent) and generally a short 2-3 hour flight away from their family and friends.
In summarizing, now you know how you can escape from America without leaving America. Puerto Vallarta still has all the charm of a Mexican fishing village yet now has all the amenities necessary to make it one of the finest retirement destinations in the world. Just pack up your bags and head south to PV this winter and find out for yourself, but do so with caution; you’ll not want to return home!
Jim Scherrer has owned property in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for 26 years and resided there for the past twelve years. The mission of his series of more than 70 articles pertaining to retirement in Puerto Vallarta is to reveal the recent changes that have occurred in Vallarta while dispelling the misconceptions about living conditions in Mexico. For the full series of articles regarding travel to and retirement in Vallarta as well as pertinent Puerto Vallarta links, please visit us at PVREBA.