It feels like we JUST got back home to Kelowna, BC – but in pure Kashlee fashion, we have already planned out the next destination.
This time we are doing things a little differently.
Last year was hard on both of us. Trevor lost his father to a battle with cancer in April and it left our family devastated. Six months after our loss, we decided we will still carry-on with our tour through Asia for the winter. We had already made plans to tour through Japan, Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam the Philippines and Malaysia, and we knew that is what Trevor’s father would have wanted us to do.
The only problem is our hearts were a little heavy during our trip. We started to find our Asia tour more exhausting than exhilarating and we succumbed to burn-out. After touring through Japan and Indonesia, we scrapped all plans for the remaining 6 countries and decided to just ‘hang-out’ in Vietnam for the remainder of our Asia tour. We just didn’t feel like exploring. It felt more forced than anything.
While Vietnam was a great place to spend 5 months, it was also one of the hardest places we’ve lived. We were in a smaller, more rural town, and day-to-day life can be a struggle for expats to adjust. Our homesickness started to grab hold of us and broke down our spirits a little. Pair that with some health issues we developed from living in such a hot/humid country, and we were just counting down the days to leave. That is NOT what we imagined our ‘travel life’ would look like.
One of the things that kept us going was: knowing my parents were flying to meet us in Japan in April and take a cruise ship back to Canada with us. Had it not been for this once in a lifetime trip together, we would have left Asia early and come home. But we wanted to experience this 14-day sailing with them so badly, we stayed and waited.
This entire experience taught us a LOT about ourselves, our limits and what we value in life. Because of the heart-ache and struggles we went through last year, this year we’ve made an easier and lighter travel plan.
In October, just before our lake-lot closes up for the winter season, we are moving down south for 6 months until it opens back up for spring.
The destination we’ve chosen is:
I literally couldn’t be any happier with our decision to move to Mazatlan for 6 months. Mexico has always occupied a large piece of my heart and soul. I love the music, the culture, the language, the people, the food and the community of the country. Although we’ve travelled all over the world, it’s Mexico that keeps pulling me back like a magnet.
Mazatlan is a vibrant city on the pacific coast of Mexico. If you know where Puerto Vallarta is, Mazatlan is 450km to the North. Also, if you’ve ever been to Cabo, Mazatlan is directly to the East, across the Gulf of California.
It has an historical and colonial style ‘old town’ area, with many coffee shops, restaurants and beautifully colored buildings. The more modern and newer area is called the Golden Zone and hosts many condos, hotels, shopping malls and cinemas.
We chose a condo in the Golden Zone that is steps away from the beach! It really has everything. The malecon (boardwalk) is one of the longest in the world and the beaches are spectacular. There is an old-style theatre that hosts orchestras and operas, a beautiful main cathedral, a marina, and is also a major gastronomy hub.
Why We Chose Mazatlán:
We chose Mazatlán for a few different reasons! It was the one place on EARTH that completely checked every single box for us. Since we had such a hard time last year, we wanted to make sure we picked a location that was easy, fun, simple and inspiring.
It's Close To Canada
I know Mexico might seem far to Canada for some people, but for us it’s insanely close. There are 4.5-hour direct flights from Mazatlán to Calgary and Vancouver. When we were in Vietnam we felt trapped because it would be at least 3 flights over 24-36 hours to get home. This winter it’s a simple direct 4-hour flight, which is such a relief! If we get stuck with home-sickness we can hop on a flight and be home in no time.
Family and Friends Can Visit
When we were in Asia, it’s a pretty hard sell to have family and friends come visit you. The flights are long and expensive, and they would have had to take weeks off of work. Mazatlan is so close that someone could fly down for a weekend to come visit us! This makes us so happy because sometimes we feel so isolated and alone when we travel.
We purposely chose a condo with an extra bedroom, so we can host guests.
I Speak the Language
Granted, my Spanish is a little rusty from non-use these days, but it’s a language I am so passionate about. I can’t wait to be able to get back into communicating in Spanish every day. While Mazatlán is still a tourist city, it’s not nearly as ‘English’ as Cabo or Cancun.
It will be such a contrast to being in Asia where I struggled to understand almost every conversation, menu and street sign. I think when we get there I will hire a tutor for the first month to help bring my level of Spanish back to fully fluent.
It Has Every First-World Amenity
Okay, this one is going to make me sound so shallow and basic, but it’s completely true. I’ve done the ‘South-East Asia budget travel’ stint, and I am SO OVER IT! I’ve traveled to places with no convenience stores, no tampons, no deodorant, and I’m done with that. We’ve spent time in areas with little huts for restaurants with mold on the walls and cockroaches that climb over your feet while you eat. Done with that too. I want to be able to get things like protein powder, makeup brands I like, quality skin-care, and even familiar fast-food on cheat days.
Mazatlán is a bustling city. We chose our condo based on how close it was to a gym, a convenience store, a Walmart, a healthy coffee shop, restaurants, the beach, etc. I won’t be ‘slumming’ it at all. I won’t have to grit my teeth and bare it, or just ‘go without’. I can literally get anything I want within a short walk from our condo. This is AMAZING after 2 straight years of travelling in South-East Asia.
I mean, I can walk to a MacDonalds… so it can't really get any better 😉
Mazatlán is still affordable
If you have been following me for a while, you’ll know that Puerto Vallarta is my go-to place in Mexico. I have probably been there 20-30 times. I absolutely love the city with all my heart. The only problem is, everyone else and their dog has caught on to how great PV is. The prices have SKY-ROCKETED this year. The exact same condo we might have rented for $1200/m in the past is now going for $3500/m. What? Who wants to pay 3x’s the price for the same accommodations? Not this girl.
We looked at many of the major tourist cities and they all have a similar story. They are either WAY to overpriced for being in Mexico, or they are so Americanized (like Cancun) that you wouldn’t even know you weren’t actually in the States. We wanted a place that still had a lot of original Mexican culture, but was still very affordable. Mazatlán was the perfect match.
Prices for condos, restaurants, and entertainment are still very reasonable – and culture is on point.
The Weather is Perfect
We are blessed with hot weather all summer-long in Kelowna, BC. We absolutely love how warm and sunny our season is out at the lake. However, during this last year in Vietnam, we both developed some health issues from being in non-stop heat and humidity. There were days when the temps in Vietnam would reach over 40 degrees with extreme humidity that made daily life almost impossible. It was so hard to walk anywhere without risking heat stroke. We made a promise that we would NEVER commit to any location long term that had that kind of oppressive heat.
Mazatlán has PERFECT weather in the winter. It is much cooler and dryer than Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, Huatulco or Playa Del Carmen.
When we get there in October, it will be pretty dang HOT, but it cools off for the next 5 months of our stay. The average high in winter there is about 26 degrees, with a low of 14. HEAVEN! Most months call for 0 to 1 day of rain, with humidity levels being some of the lowest for a coastal city.
It's a City First
The population of Mazatlán is over 650,000 – which was important to us, as we wanted to live in an area that was a CITY first, and a tourist destination second. We’ve found that when we stay in places that are a tourist destination first, everything is more expensive and lacks local culture/community. Mazatlán is a major city with all of the infrastructure you would expect, including world class hospitals, public transport and other services.
Isn’t Mazatlán Dangerous?
When we told our family and close friends about our decision to move to Mazatlán for the winter, many of them looked at us like we’d lost our minds.
“Isn’t Mazatlán in Sinaloa? As in… one of the most dangerous places in the world!?” a friend asked us.
While Mazatlán is located in the state of Sinaloa (made infamous by the Sinaloa cartel), which has a ‘avoid all travel’ warning by the government of Canada, the city of Mazatlán is NOT included in that travel warning. The travel advisory is for the non-tourist cities of that state, but very clearly exempts the city of Mazatlán all-together. Mazatlán is a VERY safe city and has been a top choice for many Canadian and American expats for decades.
We have no worries whatsoever about choosing Mazatlán for our winter home. Mexico at times is painted with a very broad brush that does not reflect an accurate truth.
Our Condo in Mazatlán
We chose our condo specifically for it’s location in the middle of the Golden Zone.
From our living room and master bedroom, we have a beautiful view of the ocean, which we really wanted this year. We are steps away from the beach, a juice-bar, Oxxo mini-mart, and great coffee shops. For longer walks we can take the newly redone boardwalk (malecon) down to the mall as well as dozens of high-rated restaurants.
The condo itself is a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom and has a full kitchen that I can continue my new-found love of cooking in. It's very modern, cute and comfy! The couple we are renting from seem so nice and we are looking forward to meeting them.
Summer in the Okanagan
Since it’s not even July yet, I realize I have an entire summer to explore my own backyard in the beautiful Okanagan. All summer long I am going to be writing articles about Kelowna and the surrounding area, so I can really make the most of my time at home.
I love Kelowna and I am so happy to be home. Even though I am excited about Mazatlán, there is a small part of me that just wants to stay here forever. I think after filling my summer with nature, friends, family, RV living, and the lake…I will be recharged and ready to go in October.
For now, I will just be enjoying my time at home and creating content around beautiful BC and all it has to offer.
Thanks for reading my first ‘journal' type entry! I will be trying to post 3-4 of them per month to be able to connect with you all on a more personal level!
If you have ANY suggestions or requests for Okanagan blogs, I would love to hear them! Same goes for questions about our move to Mazatlán. Comment them below or feel free to send me a email or message on social media.