First came Snooki and The Kardashians. And now? AWOL Americans. That’s right, there are reality stars here in the mix. We haven’t got our own reality show, but eons ago we did film an episode of the US television show House Hunters International and this week our episode is airing.
For those of you aren’t fans or haven’t seen it, the show is a delightfully addictive television show that follows a person or couple as they look for a place to live in parts of the world outside the US (there’s a version called House Hunters for those looking for real estate in the US). Sometimes they follow people looking to buy or, as in our case, people looking to rent. On each episode the house hunters visit three different places in the city they are looking to move, weigh the pros and cons of each one and at the end of the episode they reveal which one they finally chose. It’s a fascinating look into the real estate market and how much it costs to live in all the different parts of the world.
For awhile the show was an inspiration of sorts. Back when Jason and I still lived in Kansas City and were trying to figure out how to go AWOL we used to watch the show religiously. We had a lot of moments watching couples searching for houses in Paris or Prague or Playa del Carmen when we would look at each other and say ‘well if they can do it, so can we.” So when we decided to finally pull the trigger and move from Kansas City to Playa del Carmen and the opportunity presented itself for us to be a part of the show, well why not?
As you might have noticed, we made the move quite a long time ago, we actually started filming the show about a year ago. Reality TV is not exactly real time. First we filmed our ‘back story’ about why we are moving, what we hope to find in Playa del Carmen, what kind of an place we would be looking for, etc. in Kansas City.
It was weird and awkward and sometimes uncomfortable and it took us way outside out comfort zone.
We then moved on to film for 3 days in Playa del Carmen. First we met with our realtor Liz from Renting Playa del Carmen and told her what we were looking for in an apartment and then we went and looked at 3 different apartments. We also filmed lifestyle scenes around the city like us biking around and we were even filmed scuba diving. Wearing wetsuits on national television. Awesome.
Because I’ve been asked this question several times I’m guessing many of you are wondering the same thing – so how real is it? My answer? It’s real enough. The apartment we pick on the show is the apartment that we picked and lived in for the year we lived in Playa. The rent is what we paid. The real estate agent that we use in the show is the same one that we used in real life. In fact Liz not only found us a great place when we first moved to Playa del Carmen, she also became an even greater friend. And those are really our friends and family on the show.
There were some things that definitely weren’t so real, for example almost every shot required multiple takes. That meant we had to have the same reaction three or four times in a row. There’s only so much enthusiasm you can muster for a courtyard, bathroom or swimming pool before it starts to feel a bit forced. And the apartment that we picked? Well we might have already been living in it. And that going away party might not have been the first one our friends threw for us. And the ‘conflict’ between Jason and myself? Since we rarely fight and tend to agree on most things it might have been a bit contrived. But never once did we do anything or say anything we didn’t feel completely comfortable with. And the most important thing of all of this is that we had fun. In fact we had a lot of fun. We got to hang out with our friends and family for a few days, we got to make some new friends with the production crews that came to film us and we got to have yet another new experience which is really what this new lifestyle is that we signed up for.
Look, I’ve watched the show and I’ll admit that I’ve judged some of the people who have appeared on the show harshly. I’d wonder why on earth they picked the place they did or I’d wonder how on earth they were even married or together because they didn’t agree on ANYTHING. And I’d wonder why they didn’t have a sense of humor or sense of taste or common sense in general. And then we filmed the show and you know what I can promise you right now? There’s a chance that one or both of us is at some point going to say something idiotic. Actually, I don’t think it’s just a chance, I can almost guarantee it. There were 4 very long days of having a camera pointed at us capturing everything we said and I still cringe thinking about some of the things that came out of my mouth. I also cringe to think about how we’re going to look. There was no hair or makeup crew. We wore the same clothes for three days in a row. When we filmed in Playa in the middle of summer it was already hot. And then we had to close all the windows and doors and turn off fans and any air conditioners because all of those things interfere with the sound. And did I mention it was rainy season? We started one day filming outside where we got caught in a torrential downpour. About five minutes after the downpour ended we were back to filming. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that ‘wet dog’ is the hot, new, trendy look these days. But we got over ourselves and our vanity and just went for it.
Honestly we filmed the show and then went about our lives. We even moved on to start our house and pet sitting gig here in Xcalak. So when we got the notice that the film had an air date it was a bit of a surprise followed by panic followed by ”holy crap,” this is actually happening. The show doesn’t air here in Mexico right away so a DVD copy will be mailed to us sometime in the future (depending on what everyone who watches tells us, we may or may not watch it….) but for those of you interested in tuning in to see the end result our episode of House Hunters International is scheduled to air (always subject to change) in the United States on HGTV this Thursday, July 3 at 10:30pm EST and 1:30am EST.
Filming a television show takes a small production crew but a lot of accommodating other people to make it happen. Thank you friends and family who let us film in your homes and agreed to act like you like us. A big thanks to Wah Wah Beach Club for letting us film multiple scenes there – one of the best beach bars in Playa del Carmen, go now! Scuba Playa – a great dive operation in the heart of downtown Playa. And Renting Playa del Carmen – Liz is a great realtor and an even better friend.