It was 2 years ago this month that we rented our house and began our move here to Bucerias. Last September we moved our first big load of belongings here and really settled in. It is our Mexico Anniversary month. We have survived all 4 seasons, celebrated all of the annual holidays, and embraced the rhythm of this community. I know many of you are probably wondering if our mid-life crisis has passed, if the honeymoon is over, if the ‘phase’ has ended. If we are happy. I dare to ask myself those same questions from time to time and today as I celebrate this anniversary I am confident in the answer. We love it here. Almost every single day I say to Grant “Can you believe this? That we get to do this?” It has not been easy but it has been good.
I have definitely learned a lot and I decided on this anniversary to share 10 pieces of important wisdom I have picked up:
- There really are not 4 seasons here – there is high season and low season; Gringo tourist season and Mexican tourist season; dry season and rainy season; fan season and air conditioner season; mango season and sadly not mango season; hot season and bloody hot season. Today I was teaching the children in my English class the months of the year and most of the little icons I had downloaded for my calendar were useless – no January and February snow, no April showers, no May flowers, no September orange leaves, no October turkey. Just sunshine icons and rain cloud icons.
- Golf carts are not practical means of transportation in rainy season. Even little children will laugh at you when you try.
- Mexican bureaucrats like to shuffle papers and staple papers and stamp papers. That absolutely does not mean you will get what you are asking for. It has been 12 months since we imported our trailer full of tools. We still do not have license plates even though we have been shuffled and stapled and stamped. Maybe next week?
- No matter how many little Mexican children I cram into my little VW, I can always fit in one more. Always.
- No matter how big or obvious your mailbox is, the delivery guy will always stick his flyer in the cracks of the door, under the door, on the car, on the tree. He will even tape the flyer ON the mailbox. He will not put the flyer in the mailbox.
- Mexicans love to sing – I love walking around town and hearing men on job sites, men on street corners, men lounging in plastic lawn chairs, men climbing trees to pick coconuts – men singing old Mexican folk songs without caring who is listening. That just feels friendly to me – like life is one big karaoke party.
- Market analysis and profit margins and business plans are not a thing here in my neighborhood. There is literally a corner store, a mini super – on every single block. All selling exactly the same things. At the cheapest price you have ever seen. You can buy one egg, one diaper, one cigarette, one bun. No one is getting rich – but everyone can have his own business. And this week when I went to buy a loaf of bread at my neighborhood mini super, the owners were in the middle of eating their family meal and offered me a tostado. Customers, neighbors, friends.
- Mexicans really like to please people and hate to say no (well except for the bureaucrats!). A few months ago we noticed a Café that serves cake and coffee in the neighborhood so in the evening we decided to go for a walk and grab some dessert. When we got to the café, we noticed a pizza delivery guy in the doorway and the owner paying for the pizza.
We pushed past and when the owner asked if we wanted something we said that we wanted cake and coffee. Sure. Okay. Then she closed the door behind the pizza guy and locked it – the café wasn’t even open. We looked around and realized her family was there gathered around a table to eat together. She told us to sit wherever we wanted and then she went into the back – into her own home – and brought us some cheesecake and a jar of instant coffee. We sat there, in a closed restaurant, with her family, and ate that cake and drank that coffee. And it was delicious.
- If the sign on the store says it is open from 10-4, it is not going to be open from 10-4. If the gas guy says he will be there in an hour, he will not be there in an hour. If the street sign says STOP, no one is going to stop. If the sign on the baby stroller says it costs $700 pesos, it does not cost $700 pesos. If the internet says the store is at a particular address, the store is not at that address. If they tell you the party starts at 5:00, the party actually will start at 7:00. Get over it.
- Mexico is not an easy place to live. I always thought that at this stage of my life I would want easy. Comfortable. Safe. But I have realized that life is best lived with a bit of uncertainty, a touch of adventure, a sense of being stretched and tested. Yes, some days I get frustrated, I’ve had a meltdown or two, I’ve felt lonely and homesick for things that are familiar. But on this anniversary, I celebrate this new life. Even the crazy parts. Maybe the honeymoon is over – but the good part of the marriage, the real love story, is ahead and I can’t wait!