Our nine-month ‘sabbatical’ had my hubby and I enamored with all things Mexico… we were delighted to happen upon a most fabulous event at the trade and convention centre in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Booths bursting with Mexicana, flamenco music, girls in colourful traditional dress and happy informative speakers; all sharing about why vacationing, investing or living in Mexico need not be a dream!
I had to share, beyond the editorial, this amazing woman who so generously champions all that we love of Vallarta-Nayarit and who also decided to make it home. A rare opportunity to reimagine her life presented itself and Madeline took it! Moving to Mexico in 2011, first in Bucerias, a brief stint in Ajijic and then making Puerto Vallarta her home ever since.
Why here? “Vallarta is a great mix of modern and traditional Mexico with an expat experienced public service sector. It’s close enough to Vancouver, Canada for quick flights home and offers easy access to explore the rest of Mexico. The mountains and the bay are similar to what I left in Vancouver and it feels comfortable.”
Before Mexico, Madeline had a nice house in a good neighbourhood and a fancy job title. She traveled regularly and wanted for little, but she worked all the time and when wasn’t working was ‘stuck in traffic’. As often in a North American home, her son was in daycare more than he was at home.
Madeline told me, “I thought Mexico would bring more personal freedoms, and in many ways it has.” Her son has become fluent in Spanish and has a broader understanding of the world. “He went through some challenges and came out on the other side stronger for them. (He might disagree in this moment but I think in the future he will be appreciative of the opportunities.)”
Her role as Editor of the Vallarta Tribune happened by total fluke in March 2013. “I was getting my nails done and picked up a copy of the Tribune. It was atrocious. Clearly they were taking Spanish articles and using Google Translate to publish them in English. Nothing made sense.
A friend mentioned they were looking for a new editor and I called the next day… I was hired on the spot and was basically handed the newspaper with nothing more than a handshake and a ‘Good Luck!’” Madeline oversees the content of the newspaper.
She appreciates being informed and involved in local and national events and learning something new each week. “The best is when I get wonderful emails from readers and advertisers thanking me for the Tribune and what it has brought them.
The readership of the Tribune is a mix of snowbirds, expats and tourists. We’re in all the major markets from Mismaloya to Sayulita and since we reach a broad range of people I think it’s important to have more than just what’s happening in Old Town.”
Madeline shares her goals for the newspaper: “I want to make the paper more inclusive for all the communities we have in Vallarta-Nayarit. We offer positive, intelligent information about Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Nayarit and Mexico. I think it’s important for those who visit to have a better understanding of Mexico and all it offers. I try to educate people through story.
This country inspires me. It has so many edges and smooth parts. It’s colourful and bold and noisy. It’s also diverse and has this incredible depth of history and culture. The natural beauty and the creative beauty I see here, everyday, inspires me.” In her down time Madeline explores the countryside. She points her car in any direction but west and goes for a couple hours until she finds a new paradise on earth.
“There are so many great places to explore just a few hours from the city.” There’s not many places she hasn’t been to and she has tons of experience traveling the back roads. Feel free to ask her for advice on your next road trip.
Everyone knows Mexico is famous for its food. In the bay, seafood reigns king and Bucerias is the place to go for the freshest catch of the day. When guest are in town, Lagostinas on Playa Los Muertos has consistently good food and that million-dollar view.
She also recommends, “Joe Jack’s Fish Shack has the best mojito’s and is great for groups; Los Alcatraces by Costco has excellent Mexican breakfasts; Yeo for sushi; Los Patrones in Pitillal for the world’s biggest quesadillas, and an abuela close to her house makes the most delicious birria; perfect for hangovers,” she confides.
Many expats come to Mexico and focus on charity work. Madeline has no one favourite cause but she does have a parade of rescue dogs (and the occasional kitten) through her doors.
“Until recently I found myself too busy to commit to something regularly so I support a number of charities. RISE and Corazon de Niña are worthy organizations; the PVSPCA and PEACEAnimal Clinic have done amazing work in recent years to alleviate animal suffering.
Pasitos de Luz and the new Casa Connor need all the help we can give. IFC helps the community both Mexican and Expat in so many ways.” Development and change are touchy subjects to those of us who love ‘authentic’ Mexico.
What changes has Madeline seen in her years in Mexico, “The number of people who are traveling to Vallarta-Nayarit is the biggest change. When I arrived the country was still suffering from the effects of the US recession, swine flu and bad press. People and businesses were hurting.
Now we’ve seen tourism practically double and the area is thriving. It’s been an inspiring change to witness. And a lot of kudos has to go to the efforts of the Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit tourism boards in changing people’s perceptions. ”
As always, I ask if you had a magic wand, what would your wish be for Vallarta five years from now and beyond? “I hope that Vallarta and the area can find some balance between unbridled growth and sliding backwards. It would be my wish that the natural beauty of this area is better protected and that infrastructure is improved to benefit all who call this area home.” Why vacation here?
“It has something for everyone. You can do nothing, lie by the pool and sip margaritas or you can get as adventurous as you’d like. Adventures include dining, shopping, playing on the water, in the mountains and in all the little towns, each offering something unique.” Why move here? “Aside from the great weather and affordable prices, the path has been laid.
Moving to the PV area in particular is fairly straightforward because so many have paved the way. The government and service industry understand the needs of the expat community. Anything you need is found here. And it’s a great jumping off point for exploring the rest of Latin America, as well as traveling back to the US or Canada.”
On your journeys around town, promise me, if you see Madeline, give her a great big thank you for all she does for so many.