I love talking with and writing about expats because, frankly, the most interesting people in the world live in Mexico. Take for example Leone Ewoldt who has lived in Melaque for almost two decades.
A few years over 60, Leone lived in many countries as the daughter of a military counter intelligence officer, including Japan and Germany. After her parents retired to Jacksonville, Florida she graduated from the University of North Florida in that city with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts in 1975.
A year later she found herself in Seattle working for a company that made hats, which led her to taking millinery courses at a local community college. A year later she partnered with a friend to launch WE Hats (Wilson and Ewoldt), which she successfully operated for 20 years.
But in the late ‘90s her parents came to live with her. Her mother had a brain tumor and died not long after they moved to Seattle and her father had Alzheimer’s. He hated Seattle’s notoriously rainy climate so Leone took her dad to Mexico, landing in Puerto Vallarta and driving four hours south to the small town of Melaque, a few miles north of Barra de Navidad.
It wasn’t long before her dad asked Leone, “Why do we have to go back to Seattle?” He always loved the beach and warm weather, so she closed her store in Seattle and moved to Melaque on Jalisco’s Costalegre in 1998. She cared for him until he passed away in 2002.
After her father died she built a home next to the lagoon by Playa de Navidad. It was a two-bedroom, two-bathroom place with a swimming pool. She lives in the home during the summer low season and rents it out the rest of the year.
Leone traded her hat business for a new life in real estate sales and property management and now operates Lee Own and Rent. She started with just one beach house and now takes care of many homes owned by Canadian and American expats who live in the area, primarily during the high season.
After nearly 20 years of living on the Costalegre, she is nearly fluent in Spanish and also holds Mexican citizenship. She told me, “I just wanted to be a citizen so bad that when I went to take the test you would have thought my life depended on it.”
If you don’t know that much about Melaque, it’s less than 40 miles north of the port city of Manzanillo and about a half-hour drive north of the Manzanillo airport. It sits on the southern end of the Costalegre, which is a series of beaches, capes and bays in the state of Jalisco. If you want to live year-round in Melaque, rents start around US$900 a month and homes about US$175,000 and up.
Leone is just one of the most interesting people in the world who call Mexico their home. You are, also. If you would like to be featured in either our Expats In Mexico Hometown series or our Expat Entrepreneurs in Mexico series, let us know by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org.