At fifty-nine, Kris fulfilled her lifelong ambition of attaining an Art History degree. She subsequently worked in museums and later she opened a gallery and framing shop of her own. Kris had been planning a trip to Europe where she could drink in the works of the old masters when life took a curious twist. “I received a card from a friend. There was a photo of her, lounging on the beach, with her feet up, enjoying a frosty margarita. This arrived during a blizzard with three feet of fresh snow. I changed my plan as I decided – This is where I want to be.”
When Kris left Madison Wisconsin a few months later, she only planned to stay in Mexico for a year before going to Europe. That was 2014 and in 2018, she is still intending to go… in one more year.
“I didn’t know much about Huatulco except that it would be warm all year round, so that I can swim every day instead of shoveling snow. When I arrived, I remember thinking–OH MY GOD! This place is paradise! I came here in August when it was still very lush and green.”
She spoke some French when she arrived and this helped but she knew no Spanish at all. It has been a struggle, and she is now able to ask simple questions and give directions.
Her contact found an apartment in a Mexican neighborhood that she could rent on her limited budget. Although she lives frugally on her social security benefits, she enjoys an active retirement. She swims and reads and uses a bicycle for transportation.
Kris loves dogs and helps with a local spaying a neutering program in Huatulco. Since she arrived she has fostered eighty homeless dogs, many that have been abused or neglected, and required significant extra care. With the help of Norma, a local vet who also volunteers her time, they have snatched several from the jaws of death, nursing them back to health. “It’s so rewarding seeing them come back to life.” Kris is part of a group who also find loving forever homes for these dogs.
She offers a unique piece of advice to someone planning to move to Mexico based on her unfortunate experience. “Soon after I arrived, two big German shepherds got out of their enclosure and were attacking my dogs. It was awful but what made it worse was that I hadn't learned how to say ‘HELP ME!’ in Spanish. If you know nothing else this is something you should learn. The direct translation will do–‘Ayudame!’ (I-ooh-Da-me). However–‘AUXILIO!’ (ox-ill-E-o) is a more urgent plea.”