Book Report

Beginning Again in a Foreign Land: Todos Santos and Pescadero, Baja California Sur by Virginia Mazzetti

Beginning Again in a Foreign Land is a book consisting 20 quite deep interviews of American women who are living alone in and around Todos Santos. These women have given us their deepest feelings, thoughts, and conclusions of life alone in a foreign land. Most of them do not even speak Spanish, and yet they muddle on, and actually muddle quite well. The ladies are all more than 50, and some are way more than 50.

Our guide on this journey of alternative retirement is Virginia Mazzetti, who prefers to be known as Moonstone. The name pegs her as an old hippie, and that would be correct. She raised a family in Washington state, not a known habitat of the type, but then Moonstone has never gone by anyone’s expectations. She is, however, a good writer and draws us into the conversation she has with each of her 20 friends. “Conversation with friends” is more accurate than “interviews”. Moonstone makes it easy for the reader to feel involved with each woman’s experience in building a life here, most of them far from town, and many quite isolated.

The only thing these divorcees and widows seem to have in common is their age and their spirit. Some have been caught by Moonstone on a rather tough day and they’re feeling the pressure. Yes, there is pressure among the peace of the solitude. Living in the desert is not easy, there is always something that needs fixing. Fiddling with their various types of housing is an everyday adventure, one that none of the ladies can deal with other than to call for help.

They are so creative and positive in building and maintaining their various living arrangements, and Moonstone does such a good job of presenting their challenges and responses to those problems, that we are sad when the chapter ends and we can’t chat more with that woman. That makes one wonder why we don’t reach out to more people living an alternate lifestyle, and chat them up ourselves.

We get to know why and when they arrived; Most are here to live more frugally. They arrived about retirement age and after they raised a family. Some adult children are supportive, some not so much, and we get details of how that plays out.

These women, most of whom live off the grid, struggle just to get the lights on and the water running, and so can be compared to the pioneering women of the American plains. Does this book give us a peek into those early pioneering women’s hearts and minds, too? I think so. Moonstone’s friends have that same grit, determination, and pioneering spirit. Read this book and meet your amazing neighbors and maybe gain more empathy with all pioneering women anywhere, and from any time.

Beginning Again in a Foreign Land: Todos Santos and Pescadero, Baja California Sur is the full title. You can get it at Amazon, a paperback with a colorful cover delivered to you is $12 or download it for $5. A good read.