Following is an excerpt from our book “From Madison Avenue to the Olive Grove”. In it we related how we started making olive oil in San Miguel Allende, Gto., Mexico. We believe it appropriate to have the following be our first blog as we begin a new electronic journey sharing our experiences and news from our small farm where we produce olive oil "from mountain grown olives".
On December 1, 2015, my wife, Susan, said to me, “Few would believe what has happened in the last fifteen months. My Tuscan dream is now a Mexican dream and it will take an entire book to relate what has transpired in the last fifteen months. So start a new book.”
Today is Saturday, August 6, 2016. Last week, I sent my first book, The Light of the Serene Moon, to the printer, and I expect that soon it will also be available on Amazon.com. That book took me almost eight months to finalize due to the hectic activity of our evolving olive-oil venture.
Today is a special day: it has been exactly two years since we made our first olive oil; this great moment changed our lives, and therefore today is the perfect time to begin recounting these recent events. We hope you will enjoy the story that follows.
Learning about Olives: July 2014
Four days after retiring on June 30, 2014, to San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico, I realized that the anxiety of having very little to do was driving me crazy. Prior to this, I had resided at our home in Mexico for eighteen months, working nearly seventy hours per week for my employer and traveling to New York every eight weeks. I had believed and even bragged that I had transitioned between work and retirement perfectly, and that I would be absolutely ready for the retirement lifestyle. But just four days later, five weeks short of my sixty-ninth birthday and having worked in New York City for fifty years, I was at wit’s end totally trapped, ineffective and feeling like my life was ending.
Over the last fifteen years, we had developed a small farmhouse on ten acres of San Miguel de Allende (SMA) countryside into a gated estate with two houses, two swimming pools, horse stables, a riding arena, myriads of gardens and many fruit and olive trees, all managed by an able family of three; its every cost had been properly projected and well covered within our retirement plan. This is what retirement is all about!
Given all that, one would think I would be very happy, but in reality I was bored; within days after June 30, I was already missing the activities involved in full-time work, as well as its related amenities (meetings, professional relationships, constantly changing environments, etc.). I had no hobbies or pastimes and no one I considered a very close friend to pal around with.
More importantly, I realized that I did not want to live in Mexico, even though we had owned our property there for nearly fifteen years and had made extensive investments to prepare it for retirement. I was in a state of deep depression, but had few options, since we had meticulously consolidated our entire lives into retirement in Mexico. As a result, I felt that I had made a major mistake from which I could not extricate myself; I missed my daughters, my grandchildren and especially living in the United States. Although I had spent the last forty-five years of my advertising career traveling to all the continents, on average, I was flying at least every eight weeks on international assignments. In the end I had always returned home to the US. But not this time, this was a one-way trip to a house in a foreign country.
As I recounted in The Light of the Serene Moon, I desperately wanted out, but I accepted our realtor’s assessment that selling our place was not going to be easy; the market was limited, and not many people wanted to live in the Mexican countryside. Moreover, Susan was not keen on giving up something that she had created and enjoyed, especially since she had lived there alone for the last five years.
The realtor then suggested that while we waited for a potential buyer, we should consider using agri-tourism to generate income from our property and possibly create a positive selling point for a potential buyer. Since at this point I was grasping at straws and had nothing better to do, I took the advice, drafting a business plan that I eventually shared with Susan, and together we refined it into a plan almost sixty pages long.