In May of 2019 just months before we moved to San Carlos our Coldwell Banker real estate agent, Norene, asked if we would consider applying to take part in the HGTV show, Mexico Life. She had been on the show with other clients a few years earlier and had once again been contacted to find willing participants for the upcoming season. During a moment of “why not” thinking we agreed to give it a shot. Norene submitted our names and within days an email from Left/Right TV arrived with an application attached. Filling out the information gave us time to reflect on our decision to move to Mexico. Of course it asked the typical your name, age and are you a felon questions but also included deeper probes to mull over. Tell us about the place you are currently living? What made you decide to move to Mexico? List the top 3 things each of you are looking for in a new home. Are there any deal breakers in selecting a new home? Describe your significant other. Tell us about your family. What are your hobbies? What do you hope to gain from your move to Mexico? What’s your vision of life in Mexico? And here we thought the application process was a mere formality in which we would simply provide our names and take an oath of secrecy.
After submitting the application we discovered relinquishing our information was only the first step. A few weeks later we learned we “made that cut”. Step two was a 60 minute Skype interview. We had used Skype a few times but were not seasoned experts in video conferencing. Thankfully, my technowizard friend, Gail, came to the rescue. She dropped by, set up Skype and had me practicing calls all in hopes that Mike and I would not inadvertently hang up on the interviewer. We were ready for visual examination. I had made sure our clothing was colorful and coordinated which is completely embarrassing as I type it into this entry. We were anxious as we clicked to answer the call however the interviewer, who appeared to be about the age of our eldest daughter, put us quickly at ease with her bubbly, laid back personality. An hour later we thought, this could be fun. Over the next few weeks we packed up our home, said our goodbyes and hit the road for Mexico not having time to give much thought to the television version of Mexico Life.
Easing into our new life in San Carlos we bumped into Norene and decided to do lunch. As we caught up we discussed the possibility of being selected to film an episode. Norene is such an incredible spokesperson for San Carlos and would ensure our little town came across as a real Mexican treasure. Our confidence in her guidance had proven true with the purchase of our home. We thought that together the three of us could share with others our love for the area. We all felt it would be a great experience if it came to fruition. This was exactly when that old playground mentality, the dread of being the last one chosen for the kickball team, began to seep into my brain. What if we didn’t ever get an email? Did they like us? Did they think we were weird? Would we make the cut? Weeks crawled past with no “you’ve got mail from HGTV” lighting up my inbox. I was glad we had been told to keep the application process on the down-low. At least I hadn’t prematurely revealed the prospect to others.
In early August an email showed up telling us we had indeed been selected. Just complete the legal paperwork in order to move forward. This official form basically involved agreeing to spend three full days being filmed touring homes, participating in activities, and visiting local venues. We also had to agree not to share photos before airing. In return we would receive…the experience of being filmed for a reality TV show. We signed on the dotted line and waited to learn the dates the HGTV would arrive in San Carlos for filming. During this time we worked with HGTV producer, Sarah, and her assistant to figure out locations we would visit, adventures that would show off San Carlos and reasonable “wardrobe” options. Norene meanwhile was focused on selecting the properties we would tour. I won’t lie, at this point nerves set in and I began to contemplate, “What did we agree to do? There’s a real chance we could embarrass ourselves on national T.V.” Oh, well…such is life.
Early morning on October 12th we met the Mexico Life crew in front of the first home we would tour. As we stood by with Norene they busily unloaded cameras, box lights, tripods, sound equipment, and recording monitors. Crew members scurried around setting up equipment and determining best locations for creating perfect shots. One guy even had the task of manning a cooler filed with water, soda, and Topo Chico and the giant box of snacks, sunscreen and insect repellent. This obviously wasn’t their first rodeo. It seemed they had thought of everything. As seasoned as these people were at their jobs, they were also unbelievably helpful, patient and professional with newbies. The two of us fumbled around for a bit as we learned the ropes. Don’t look at cameras or boom mics, just acting “natural” in a very unnatural situation and follow the golden rule, “If you’re walking, you’re talking”.
Once we warmed up, we had a delightful time with cameras in our faces, trying to appear as if the filming crew wasn’t walking backwards a mere five feet ahead of us in an attempt to capture our true reactions upon entering the homes. We became comfortable being mic’d up, having relative strangers tape cords to our torsos and asking for the sound to be cut if we needed an el bano stop. For three days we sweated in the sun, laughed at bloopers, dealt with rain showers, changed in and out of clothing, rolled our eyes when jackhammers roared to life in the house next door moments before the scene was ending which meant a “Take 2” was in order, visited great places, cared way too much about office space, dining areas and views and enjoyed meals together between rushing to the next location for shooting. Credit must be given to the astonishing team put together by HGTV who turned what could have been a daunting adventure into a mind-blowing memory.
Mike still claims he not only turned in his “man card” during the process of filming but gave up his entire deck with his overuse of the term, “accent wall”. I fear the selection of footage for the “recreational event” knowing part of it took place on a beach in bathing suits, god forbid. We both agree it was an experience like none other. The episode featuring us is slated to appear on Sunday, September 27th and again on Monday, September 28th. It’s entitled, Embracing the Beauty of San Carlos. The description of the episode created by the HGTVers is… “An empty-nester couple decides to make a new home in San Carlos, Mexico. They’re looking for water views with a minimum of two bedrooms and he needs an office space for work, but she’s concerned with having a separate dining area for entertaining.” Tune in, if you dare, to see which house these empty-nesters select. We will be watching alongside you, figuratively of course, to see how the editors squeezed three full days of filming into a 22 minute made for TV episode. We will be secretly praying that we don’t come across as complete idiots. We certainly hope you enjoy Mexico Life as much as we do.
*Images are courtesy of our realtor, Norene.
September 15, 2020
“As long as you can laugh at yourself, you will never cease to be amused.”-Unknown