One Woman’s Story

Have you dreamed of retiring to the Yucatán? Maybe it’s the beaches of the Caribbean that call to you. Or maybe you picture yourself living in one of those beautiful colonial homes that costs a fraction of what your home costs in the US or Canada? Maybe it’s the tropical climate that beckons you on those cold winter evenings, or the jungles full of life and mystery that offer an enticing contrast to the cold steel workaday world?

Where The Sky Is Born is a book by Jeanine Lee Kitchel, and it also happens to be the English translation of Si’an Kaan (See-en Kahn), the name of the seaside jungle biosphere south of Cancún near where Jeanine has made her home.

Tired of the fast-paced city life in San Francisco, Jeanine and her husband, Paul, took an extended vacation to the Yucatán Peninsula in 1985. As she tells it, a chance encounter on the road to Isla Holbox with an English-speaking Mexican contractor led her and her husband to move to Mexico in 1994 and build a house in Puerto Morelos.

The driver, Alejandro, was in his late forties with the dark, good looks of a Castilian. He waved us over as his girlfriend, Karla, rolled down the window. She looked and dressed like an American, ten years his junior, with her brunette hair cut stylishly short. Both were smiling broadly, as if they already knew us. 

”Where are you going?” he asked, barely an accent to his perfect English.

 “Up to Isla Holbox, through Chemax,” Paul answered. Chemax was a Mayan village 65 km. north, known for its church, one of the oldest in the Yucatan.

”Well, hop in. We’re going to the Coba pyramids for the day and we can give you a lift to the crossroads.”

 It didn’t take long to organize our things and crowd into the back seat. What a relief. Number one, we were out of the rain, soon to be mobile. Number two, the driver spoke our language. As we progressed in a westerly direction, Alejandro spoke casually about himself, where he was from, the San Francisco area like ourselves, and their day trip to the pyramids. He had the 
air of a storyteller about him, recounting tales of spider monkeys and crocodiles that lived at the pyramid site near the lake, explaining that Coba had been one of the largest Mayan cities in the Yucatan, with over 200,000 people, although at present, only five percent of it was excavated.

The man radiated charisma, flashing comfortable smiles at Karla as he chatted easily, all the while fascinating us with his accounts of the Quintana Roo jungles. And if these tales weren’t enough, hundreds of iridescent blue Morpho butterflies engulfed the car in a cloud of turquoise just then, adding a touch of Fellini, or better yet Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

He definitely had our attention. Then he told us about the house he was building in a small fishing village called Puerto Morelos. We were intrigued.

Before he drops them off at the crossroads, he lends them a yellow umbrella. It is the quest to return his umbrella that leads them to the place that they would later call home. Not that their troubles were over at that point…hardly! The book tells of their encounters with the Mexican government and a category-five hurricane… just a few of the hurdles along the way to reaching their dream. We won’t spoil the rest of the story for you, except to tell you that it can be done.

Jeanine and her husband still live in the Yucatán and you can read all about it in her book. You can order the book through

 If you are thinking of retiring to the Yucatán, this book is a great place to start. Where the Sky is Born: Living in the Land of the Maya, leads the reader on an adventure that is not only fun to read, but just the ticket for anyone who has ever dreamed of retiring in a foreign country. In show and tell format, Kitchel walks readers through her experience of buying land, building a house, and pursuing a relaxed lifestyle in Mexico.

Where the Sky is Born is now available on Kindle at at $4.99.

Visit Jeanie’s website for more info about her new nonfiction book – Maya 2012 Revealed.

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Moving to the Yucatan
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