Mexico – It’s Not All Tequila and Beaches

Living in another country is like a dream to some people. Some are envious of the idea of someone who’s off exploring faraway places instead of living a normal, seemingly less exciting life. When I’ve spoken with people who have never lived anywhere other than their home country, they have this notion that it’s something reserved for these spontaneous nomad-type people, that there’s this unattainable spark about us adventurers living our dreams.

I think that people wrongfully confuse living in another country with touring it. Being a tourist and living are vastly different, and the value of living in another country is too often overlooked.

Right now I currently live in Mexico. Some imagine it is all beaches and tequila, hot weather and sombreros, while few others express a more violent imagination of what it would be like. But it’s neither. I live here like I did back in Canada. I pay bills, I do laundry, I make my bed, I take out the garbage, I watch Netflix and I cook dinner.

The perceptions most people have of what it is like to live in Mexico are very wrong. Even I didn’t know what to expect. People have only these superficial ideas of palm trees and cheap beer, or cartels and ramshackle houses — a view that they’re unable to look past. It’s a sort of ignorance that’s understandable, but it’s one that they’ve chosen not to correct.

Let me tell you — it’s worth correcting.

Living in another country reminds you how incredible life is. Though you get used to a new routine and enjoy a new comfort, something about it gives you an appreciation for everything — things that you wouldn’t usually notice or pay attention to.

You’re reminded that time is fleeting, that your experiences are what you make of them, and that you’re such a tiny piece in this big beautiful world. And, you realize that the world isn’t as different as you expected, that everyone uses Facebook and watches Netflix.

It may not be as glamourous as you imagined, and you might wonder why move somewhere exotic just to end up in that feeling of “normal”. But really immersing yourself in another country could be what gives you that spark you envy so much in others.

It’s the living that creates that spark.

todos-santos

Advertisements

Itsy Bisty Spider

Tarantula

I don’t have arachnophobia but I’m not fond of spiders, especially big ones. So when I opened my front door one evening, just a few days after we arrived in Mexico, I was surprised shocked to see a huge tarantula on the walkway. My husband shooed it away with a broom and we haven’t seen it since.

As we have been out and about in the town, meeting and talking to people, I have learned that NO ONE has seen a tarantula. Not expats that have been here for 13 years, not people who have lived here all their lives. Just my luck.

In popular culture, tarantulas are often depicted going on the offensive. Movies showing tarantulas crawling on people as they sleep. (a big fear of mine) In reality, this is not something that tarantulas do. I have Googled and found out most spiders can sense the heat from our bodies and will avoid us. They are not naturally very aggressive unless provoked.

Still, knowing they are around, I take my flashlight out at night. They are night hunters and hide in the ground burrows during the day, coming out at night to hunt.

 

Water Woes in the Baja

todos santos coastline

Water. The most basic necessity of life and a precious commodity in Baja. Our little part of the planet receives a scant seven inches of rain annually, less than a third of what nature provides mainland Mexico. Todos Santos has enough water for 92 gallons per day per person, but in reality, consumption reaches about 211 gallons per day per person.

Many years ago during our first visit to Todos Santos we enquired about what it was like to live here. We were told, “Don’t build on the hill side of the road, they have water issues.” Now that we live here, and on the hill side of the road, I know what water issues really mean.

I’m not talking about drinking water. Drinking water, water for cooking, washing produce is all bottled. 20L jug of water is very inexpensive, cheaper than 1 500ml bottle of water in Canada. What I’m talking about is tap water.

For the second time in less than three weeks we have run out of water. Apparently the first time the water pump was broken. Yesterday we ran out again. We checked the cistern and, sure enough, it is almost empty.

We aren’t using a lot of water. Our water use consists of a shower a day, toilet flushing, dishwasher every other day and a couple of loads of laundry per week. Apparently that is still too much.

For a Canadian, who has never run out of water no matter how much was used, I find this the biggest negative since moving. Thankfully we have a swimming pool. We’ve been using buckets of pool water to refill our toilets.

Apparently water day is Friday here, which means that is when the pipes are open to let cisterns refill. Our rental agency is having a truck load of water sent over sometime today. When Friday comes around we will have to see how long it takes to deplete the cistern and may need to schedule a regular delivery of water by truck every Tuesday.

Today, an old-fashioned sponge bath is called for.

Learning Spanish

fluent

I was born and raised in Canada’s only official bi-lingual province, as children we had French classes from K-10. I’m not fluent in French but I can get by.

French and Spanish are both Latin based languages so one would think I’d have an easier time learning Spanish. But no. I find myself confusing the two languages. So I end up speaking a mashup of broken English, French and Spanish. So confusing.

It will come in time, the more I use Spanish and the less I think in French.

The Spanish lessons I’m taking at Hablando Mexicano are helping agreat deal. My husband and I were able to get into a small group class that was paced perfectly for us. Twice a week for 4 weeks. Our instructor, Ivonne, is excellent. We’re having a lot of fun and learning so much.

Retire to Mexico

retire-to-mexico

Moving to Mexico was key to retiring young and being able to live a high quality of life on a fraction of the income that my husband and I used to have when we were both working in Canada.

Our tiny town is made up primarily of Americans and Canadians with a few Australians, who came in search of the same thing we did — an awesome lifestyle on a budget.

Due to the low cost of living, people are able to retire earlier and the average age of new arrivals is mid-fifties.

There are younger people – some single, some raising families – but they are not retired. Many have started their own businesses and others work for local businesses.

Life in Mexico

live-the-dream

Living in Mexico, surrounded by mountains, palm trees and picture-perfect beaches sounds like a dream. Wake up, enjoy a cup of coffee and fresh fruit picked from the trees around your house, walk along the beach and maybe go for a swim to cool off from the sun’s warmth. This is paradise. This is a dream come true.

But this might not really be the dream life for everyone. Here are 9 reasons why you shouldn’t pick up and move to a tropical destination.

1. The heat can be unbearable. Of course, you realize that the temperatures in tropical countries stay high year-round. But have you accounted for the humidity? Your hair will be a constant disaster. Your sweat will sweat. There truly is no way to adequately prepare your body for the onslaught of late summer heat in Mexico or other tropical countries.

2. The bugs. Oh, the bugs! The bugs in Mexico are literally everywhere. You can kill millions of mosquitos, and you know what? There are still millions more. There are sand fleas, cockroaches, spiders, scorpions, and ants. Flies. They are everywhere.

3. Tourists. Tourists everywhere! They come in droves, they take over your tiny town and your favorite restaurants.

4. It can be isolating. You might feel trapped and separated from the rest of the world. You certainly won’t know what’s happening in the news because nobody watches it. You won’t have the latest gadgets everyone back home is talking about. You won’t see the newest films in theaters, nor catch the new TV series as it actually airs. You will be behind in everything. And you will look out into the never-ending sea and realize how small you truly are.

5. There are dogs and cats everywhere. Seems like everyone here has at least one dog. Dogs that bark at everything and everyone. And strays. Mexico has a serious problem with stray animals — there is no denying that. They will be in the road, they will beg for food at the restaurants and they will relieve themselves wherever the mood strikes.

6. The internet is not reliable. It is slower than slow. Watching the connection churn and churn is frustrating, especially when you are used to LTE.

7. Speaking of slow, mañana doesn’t necessarily mean tomorrow, it just means not today. I’ve learned that Mexican society operates within its own time frame.

If you’ve read all these reasons and think that life in the tropics sounds horrible, you most certainly should not move to the Mexico or any other tropical country. Come for a week, take your sunset photos, and head on home.

If, however, you’ve read these reasons and found a positive aspect to each and every one of them, then you do truly belong here. After all…

1. Humidity is great for your skin and it sure beats sweating while shoveling snow.

2. Geckos eat bugs, and they also make for adorable little companions running around your patio and windows.

3. Tourists bring income into the local economy.

4. Isolation can be liberating. You have time and space to reconnect with yourself.

5. You could take in a stray animal and honor Bob Barker’s request to spay and neuter your pets.

6. Making things difficult to acquire means you question how much you really need them. And usually the answer is that you simply don’t.

7. “Mexico time” forces you to reflect and relax, an idea that could benefit many North Americans these days.

If you — like me — can see the positives hidden in challenges and difficulties, then you will absolutely love life in Mexico. If you can laugh at yourself and embrace change, you will find paradise. Just be honest with yourself before taking the leap.