Because we have not completely wrapped up the zillions of details of our move south, we are back in Canada for three weeks to finish taxes, finish construction, and finish packing. There are a lot of ‘finishes’ before you can truly experience new beginnings. Last year when I met with a Career Coach Warren, he told me my Kolbe Index indicated I love to brainstorm and start projects, but I get bored with the carry through. I am strong in “Fast Start” and not so strong on “Follow Through”. (Mind you he told me I should NEVER be an implementer, working with my hands and now I’ve laid tiles and sawed stuff with a power saw….). The point is that I am pulling at the reins to get going, but I know that we need to finish well. So we are back in the North doing Follow Through stuff that must be done.
It is impossible not to compare my two homes – and I don’t mean our physical houses (although there are some serious differences between my fancy new house with all the fancy new appliances and my simple Mexican home). No, I am thinking about the differences between the world I have lived in for all of my life and this new place I am trying to be accepted in. Maybe I am mostly thinking about the differences in me and in Grant and in the things that we now value. Not better. Just different.
So here is a preliminary comparison
The Obvious Stuff
- It is cold in Canada! There is great irony in that fact that my Canadian friends are rejoicing that this has been a mild winter (usually warmer than -15) and my Mexican friends are lamenting that it has been a very cold winter (in the mid to low +20’s). The human experience is just very tied to weather and no matter where you live, every conversation begins with a tiny bit of complaining about the weather.
- The food is unbelievable in Mexico! We often ask ourselves what food we miss from Canada, and the list is pretty small. A Tim Horton’s coffee. Houston Pizza (the really thick meaty kind). Spring rolls from Viet Thai Restaurant. My zoodles since I couldn’t pack the spiralizer last time. A pumpkin pie. That’s about it. When we are in Saskatchewan we constantly whine about the lack of proper tacos – or any Mexican food – in Regina. Taco Time doesn’t cut it after eating Chilaquilies at Ponchos or Mole Enchiladas at Taco Itzel. We are slowly raising our picante level and are making our own Green Sauce now which makes everything delicious. Still can’t stand cilantro however which eliminates me from every being a true Mexican foodie.
- The noise level is hilarious in Mexico. I have told many stories about the joyful celebrations in our neighborhood in Bucerias. First Christmas, then New Years, then the Patron Saint Festival, then some teen girls Quince, then some random dude’s birthday, then the 9 hour Karaoke party, then…… You get the picture. At the end of our 6-week relocation trip we were just beginning to ignore it all and sleep at night. Then we got to our house in Lumsden – a new ICF home (Styrofoam and cement) – super insulated and unnaturally silent. No traffic in the valley after 9. No music in the streets. Total silence. And then we couldn’t sleep there. We laid awake the first night home, unable to sleep because of the eerie quiet. It was beautifully peaceful, with the moon sparkling on the house rooftops – the complete opposite of the loud joyfulness that surrounds our Mexican home. Not better….. just different.
- $$$$$$$. Much of Mexico is poor. I know that there are many poor people in Regina as well. There is addiction, child abandonment, child prostitution, poverty, illness…. It’s in every city in every country. But in Canada we have social networks of government that at least make an effort to close the gaps. We have medical care and education for everyone who will show up. There are welfare programs and food banks and intervention programs to try and save the children who are lost in family dysfunction. In Mexico, the money that should flow to those who are struggling is blocked by crazy systems and non-existent programs. Children are not mandated to go to school – and in fact there are crazy bureaucratic barriers that make it difficult or even impossible. Children must show a birth certificate before they can register for school. Only a mother can get this birth certificate. Many did not get one at birth and now cannot afford the $200 it will cost. Or children who have been abandoned by a mother have no way to get this piece of paper. And so they cannot go to school. Those who need it most cannot access education. Wages are unbelievable low. Minimum wage has just been raised to $73 pesos (that’s about $6), not for an hour but for A DAY! $6 a day to raise a family. How can a family or a community prosper in this environment? It has been inspiring to watch both the Mexican community and the many Gringo associations step up to care for the people who have needs and I am super excited to be part of organizations such as La Fuente Riviera Church and Manos de Amor who care for the poor, and especially the children in Bucerias and many surrounding towns and villages.
The Not So Obvious Stuff
- We move a LOT slower in Mexico. Those of you who know Grant and I in Canada will not recognize us in Mexico. We are slow …. Bordering on lazy. I suspect this is somewhat temporary. We arrived in Bucerias in mid-December really tired (especially house-builder guy Grant) and we have taken some time to rest and vacation. We sit on our balcony or in our garden and read and play Candy Crush and talk and maybe even nap. While I expect that to change, I am pretty committed to guarding our time here. We are definitely planning to be involved in the orphanage and the church, but we are not going to organize every minute – we are going to leave time to just play with the children and to open our home for fun stuff with our new friends. Grant is ready to start building our dream home and I am continuing to do my job from a distance so that will be enough structure for us. The rest of the time will be for beach picnics and boogie boarding and watching hummingbirds in the garden. I welcome you keeping my accountable for this plan!
- My heart is very soft. I am now a crybaby. I cry at everything. I cry because the hibiscus bloomed. I cry because Lupita is too cute today. I cry because every child should have their own dad, not just an old white guy from Canada who throws them around. I cry because I knew I shouldn’t have tried the ‘mas picante’ sauce. I cry at the airport and bus station because the kids are here. I really cry at the airport and the bus station because the kids are leaving. I think mainly I cry because I now have time to feel stuff instead of just rushing to do stuff.
- Home is wherever you are today. When I am in Mexico I refer to Lumsden as home, when I am in Lumsden I refer to Mexico as home. Today, I am trying to embrace the snowy day, the beautiful new home I am in, the friends I have missed, the family I will soon spend time with and I will make sure I get a Tim Horton’s coffee and a springroll and some pumpkin pie. I will try to figure out how to import butter into Mexico. In a couple of weeks, I will pack 6 more giant suitcases with the stuff I haven’t been able to buy in Mexico, like my zoodle spiralizer, and I will head to my new home. I will try to embrace the crazy noise and the humid days and I will build a new life. And I will be home. Not better….. just different.