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Am I, a middle-aged man, crazy? Seek advice! (Guatemala City)


My situation is rather strange, I think. I am looking for advice about moving to and living in Guatemala City at this rather late stage in my life. I am a 56-year-old American, still youthful, originally from the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN) but have been living in Silver Spring, MD (Washington, DC metro area) since Protected content . I have a stable, kind, amiable personality but I am not well-traveled outside the US. I have fallen deeply in love with [...], a wonderful Guatemalan woman half my age Protected content lives in Guatemala City.

[...] and I met online on a reputable clean social website and then became friends on Facebook. We’ve known each other for over one-year, online, but know each other very well and we feel very comfortable and compatible with each other. She has invited me to come live with her and her mother. [...] is a lawyer, as is her mother, and she owns her own modest but nice modern home in GT City. Her verbal and written English is excellent. I don’t know hardly any Spanish save from what I remember from learning it in grade school. I can read it pretty well though.

[...] knows me very well and understands my dire situation here. She knows what I look like, doesn’t care about the wide age gap nor about our national and cultural differences. We nonetheless click well together. She knows that I likely could not find work in Guatemala City but I could possibly assist in her law work for anything done in English, like legal research or writing and editing. [...] says she doesn't mind that I would stay at home while she works, though she often works from home too. She says it's "no hay problemo" even if she comes home after a hard day and sees me watching television or playing on the computer, that she understands I will help out around the house as best I can and be supportive in any way that I possibly can.

In September Protected content , I lost my job as a library researcher/abstractor/indexer for a government educational database (ERIC). My employers wanted to keep my—they praised my work—but had to downsize due to budget cuts in a terrible and difficult economy. I am having great difficulty finding another job and am living on savings and the kindness of my sister and her husband who are keeping me financially afloat. I am worried and rather frightened that I don’t have much of a future in the United States.

[...] is very sweet, smart, loving and compassionate, and I think she is sincere and genuine. She is not a user nor abuser, nor an exploiter, and neither am I. She says she will take care of me and she says her sister, a doctor, could attend to my medical needs (hypertension, diabetes). I know Guatemala does not have universal health insurance coverage. I’m normally cynical and skeptical and very wary of people’s motives and intentions, but I truly believe [...] is honest and sincere and won’t do anything to jeopardize or hurt me nor would I hurt nor take advantage of her. We genuinely love and care for each other. We are both romantic and especially lonely but we try to be realistic too. [...] has a good life in GT, with a good job, and I can't ask her to move to the US where she's likely only find work as a maid at minimum wages. I won't allow her to be exploited here.

If I expatriated to Guatemala City, it would be the most riskiest, most extreme thing I have ever done in my entire life. I do understand that Guatemala is most beautiful but can be very dangerous in places. We both like to go out and explore but we’re homebodies too, so we probably wouldn’t go anywhere dangerous especially at night. I am a very gentle and sensitive person, but not rugged. Ideally, [...] and I need to first meet in person. We chat daily through Facebook and Yahoo Messenger and have Skype’d too. I need to go to Guatemala to see if I could adapt to it and cope with the culture shock, but due to present circumstances I cannot afford such a trip. She plans to come visit me soon.

How should I prepare for such a drastic move and life change, should I decide to do so? I have a current passport. Do I need a visa? What all do I need to know and do? She says she will take care of me and that I would not be a burden to her nor to the state. I believe that expats have to leave the country every six months while their visas get reviewed and renewed. Is this true?

All this sounds crazy, nutzoid—add in the bit about a gringo’s midlife crisis and so what if it is, ya only live once—but I would like the advice of all you experienced expats for what this rather naïve man who is seeking to make huge and positive changes in his life to do. This is why I joined InterNations, to get advice from all of you experienced wiser expats, and to hear your own stories.

~Dan Mesnik