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Finding My Sea Legs in Manzanillo, Post Hurricane Patricia

Aftermaths of Hurricane Patricia (and Spinal Surgery Recovery)


I hobbled down to the water’s edge, carefully making my way over the steep sand bank that together with torn apart palapas and various floating debris were left behind in the wake of Mexico’s recent hurricane Patricia.

I had not seen the ocean in almost two years since moving to central Mexico in March of 2014. Why we decided to travel on the heels of a hurricane, is well, nothing I can explain with good reason.

I wanted nothing more but to run and jump and splash around, but my brain and my body were not fully coordinating yet since my recent spinal surgery. In fact, they felt much like that marred beach.

Upon meeting the water’s edge, I immediately realized that the strength of the current and the weight of the waves were just too much for my fragile balance and still very present pain. Frustrated, defeated and disheartened, I returned to sit down on the sand and had a good cry behind the partial concealment of my sunglasses.

The Ocean, My Refuge

As a little girl growing up across from Windansea Beach in La Jolla, the ocean used to lullaby me to sleep. Laying in the solitude of my bedroom, the ebb and flow of the waves would create a perceptible aura of magic and safety. She was my surrogate parent, an ultimate soother and a safe refuge in a house of conflict and divorce.

 Finding My Sea Legs in Manzanillo, Post Hurricane Patricia

My kids played, swam, laughed and splashed around with their dad to their heart’s content. While failing at my attempts to choke back the tears, this display of love and unbridled joy gifted me great happiness in an otherwise very challenging first afternoon in Manzanillo.

I would like to chalk my emotional response up to just having had a shitty attitude, but truth be told, my recovery has been no small walk in the park. Being next to an underwater adventure-land was just more of an in-my-face reminder of my physical limitations. I have had to dig deep to get through this, every single day…every single step. And I will.

 Finding My Sea Legs in Manzanillo, Post Hurricane Patricia

Life can change on a dime, often, when you least expect it or have not “prepared for it”. Health issues, deaths of loved ones, heart-stopping news–events and passages that are all part of this dynamic, challenging kaleidoscope of life in its many dimensions. 

This scouting trip to Manzanillo has ultimately resulted in our decision to not move here–at least not for now. And that’s okay. Some plans are made and kept, others change or get adjusted, and others..just completely rerouted.

We are not trees, planted in one place forever. Technically, even a tree can be uprooted and relocated, but that’s a topic for another day.

My most immediate focus is on continuing to regain my strength and health and being present for and supportive of my family as we join hands during another phase of transition and discovery.

I know there are many of you out there–both silent and public–that have followed and supported us since I first began Los O’Gradys in Mexico 3 years ago. I am deeply humbled and grateful for your readership, friendship and support.

Thank you,


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About the author: Together with my Retired Firefighter Husband and our now 19-year-old twins who were just 8 when we immigrated to Mexico in 2012, we have created a joyful life of design and freedom South of The Border. Welcome to Los O’Gradys in Mexico! Saludos, Katie 🇲🇽 ☘️

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Kathie January 14, 2016, 10:28 pm

    Welcome to Colorado.

    • Katie O'Grady January 14, 2016, 11:04 pm

      Thank you Kathie!

      It is a beautiful place and we are taking it all in….

  • Bethany January 15, 2016, 9:28 am

    Hi Katie, wow what an adventure you have been on! Thanks for writing about it as I am thinking about moving from Colorado to Mexico with my family.

    When are you moving to Colorado? If you need any advice on areas or school or anything I can help with as a native from here please don’t hesitate to reach out!


    • Katie O'Grady January 15, 2016, 10:12 am

      Hi Bethany!
      Thanks so much for reaching out!
      We are thinking that by this summer we will make the move from San Miguel de Allende to Colorado. That gives us a few months to work on the logistics and put together the many pieces of the puzzle.
      I would indeed like to ask you a few questions and will contact you via your gmail.
      What part of Mexico are you thinking of moving to?
      Many thanks,

      • Bethany January 15, 2016, 12:14 pm

        Hi Katie, I’ll look for your email! I was thinking of Merida but after reading your posts and comments from others I want to look into the western side too! So much research to do…


  • Kate January 30, 2016, 7:36 am

    We are heading to Mexico in 2 days — just three months (Yucatan/Oaxaca/MC). It’s our first trip back overseas since my 4th child (just turned 13) had spinal surgery last April. We moved back from Dubai to Florida so he could go get treatment at our amazing children’s hospital here. An 8 hour surgery, week in the hospital, incredibly high amounts of pain meds, and then months of slow recovery and tons of ongoing appointments (PT/OT/cardiology/neurology….) have left us all exhausted. He cannot concentrate well — often a fuzzy focus even with reading and is constantly exhausted. It’s improving but slow going. Nursing research shows this is very normal after a huge shock to the system with surgery and then the medication and that it can take a year or so before regaining mental clarity and physical endurance again.

    So be gentle with yourself. It’s hard to be a spectator when you are usually the player but you will get back to normal soon:) Enjoy your time in Mexico too as re-entry back to the US is tough going honestly. People think it’s easy heading “home” but it’s really not.

    • Katie O'Grady January 31, 2016, 2:14 pm

      Hi Kate,
      Thank you for being in contact again.
      Your son is my hero. I look at the scars on his back and can’t (yet can) imagine what your sweet boy—and all of you—have been through. Unbelievable. No doubt your whole family has been through quite an ordeal and I’m sure are all looking forward to 3 months in Mexico—especially with the places you have chosen to go to!
      I feel for your son and the challenges of his recovery very much resonate with me. And yes, you captured it perfectly—the difficulty of being a “spectator” when one is so used to being in the mix of things. The recovery is indeed slow going, but thankfully, going.

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