Category Archives: Cultural Challenges

International Women’s Friendship Month

September is International Women’s Friendship Month. So how do these international friendships typically pan out? Sometimes not so well, sadly.

Living in rural Mexico often means isolation for women who have chosen to come with their husbands to the lands of their ancestors. Friendships with other women are slow in developing, if ever. And yet, women need the support of a tribe of their own, not just the husband’s sister or aunt or cousin. 

Studies have shown that deep, abiding friendship between women can counteract stress–and moving to a new culture is certainly rift with that. Women have an innate drive to communicate, which moving to an area where a new language is spoken can inhibit. Friendships occur over shared experiences, beliefs and values–things that are not found in the new environment these women have settled in. 

Friendship can help women combat loneliness, improve their chances of surviving breast cancer, and generally help create a satisfying quality of life, no matter where a person lives. 

So why is it so hard to foster friendship in a new country?

Unfortunately, we have an inherent bias built into our perceptions that takes deliberate effort to overcome. We tend to choose friends who look like us, have a similar background, and social values. When we are faced with making connections with people who neither look like us nor have a shared history, we need to work more at finding commonality than we would otherwise. And while we immigrants to Mexico may be driven to find connections, the women that live in our village with long-time established friendships, are not. 

So where does that leave us? Depressed, lonely, and ill. Online friendships sometimes help with the worst of this, but virtual buddies can’t ever replace an actual friend. 

In June, I was able to visit my hometown for the first time in 10 years. I stayed in the home of my best friend since third grade. I thought that it was just me, who had been living in relative isolation for so long, that most enjoyed our time together. So I was surprised when my friend said that she really missed the company of women, both her girls were grown now. 

at shannons

We talked about the growing Amish community in the area and whether they had a better support system than most women. After all, they have shared values, a common background, activities, and history. Since that society of women is closed to non-Amish for the most part, we weren’t able to do more than speculate.

Bringing these thoughts back with me to Mexico, I started to feel less resentful of the women who refused to befriend me. The closed society of women here is no different than the Amish community in Pennsylvania. Which of course, makes it difficult for interlopers like myself to establish deep and abiding friendships. 

shopping with e

So where does that leave me? I will continue to enjoy my virtual interactions in the various Facebook groups I am in, including two that I help manage SOTB Bloggers and Women Surviving Rural Mexico, which I invite you to join if you live in Mexico. I will keep trying to be supportive of the women as they struggle with their online presence and daily interactions in Mexico. I will try to remember that I have an internal bias as do the women I come in contact with, so I mustn’t hold it against them. And I will continue to cherish the friends that I have no matter the distance between us. 

How have you made and maintained your friendships with other women?

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Cultural Challenges, Uncategorized

Not Taking The Blame

An actual picture of the elusive chicken feather guy rounding up his animals in the morning.

The other night, the horse guy, as opposed to the chicken feather guy, let his animals out to graze. Up and down the road they went, eating whatever tickled their fancy.

The next morning, the guy whose wife and kid planted some corn on their lot down the road came charging up to the house, beer in hand at 9 am to yell at me. He didn’t get too close. All three dogs got riled up and wouldn’t let him within 100 feet of me. Mr. Aggressive wanted to know if we had goats. We do. I didn’t deny it. He said that the goats ate all his corn. I said they didn’t. He should check with the guy who has sheep right next to his lot. 

So Mr. Aggressive went down to that house and banged on the door. The Borrega guy only comes before and after work so I shouted down that he needed to try at 5 pm or 8 am. You could see the steam rolling out of Mr. Aggressive’s ears. 

The corn field in question.

Mr. Aggressive went to town for some barbed wire and another beer and went at it. He hammered and drank and drank and hammered for 20 minutes or so. Curious, I decided to mosey on down after he’d left. Sure enough, he put up some sort of wire thing–not exactly a fence. He also nailed up a sign which I couldn’t figure out. Something about putas. If I couldn’t figure out the sign, what makes him think the livestock will stop and read it before helping themselves to young, tender corn shoots?

So the next morning, Mr. Aggressive lay in wait for Borrega guy who denied any and all knowledge of any corn eating. Borrega guy also pointed out that the poop right there in front of the lot wasn’t sheep or goat poop, which resemble little rabbit pellets. 

Not sheep, not goat, not even horse.

I’m not sure that the cow patty convinced Mr. Aggressive of anything. Neither the Borrega guy or we have cows. Of course, we could have brought one from another location to divert suspicion I suppose. Last night, the chicken feather guy let his animals out to graze again.

I have to quit rolling my eyes so hard. I’ve nearly given myself eye strain.

eye roll

***

Have you read all of our previous animal adventures?

wwzzcover

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Animal Husbandry, Cultural Challenges, Homesteading

The Internet Saga Continues

lag

Remember how one of the ladies that makes tortillas for my sister-in-law said that Los Amoles, the community WAY up the mountain had internet service. She gave my husband the contact number one day and we called. It took two days for the salesperson to return the call, but he did and I set up an appointment for him to come out and visit us the next day at 11 am.

He arrived at 11 am which was the last time he arrived on time throughout this entire agonizingly long process. We were ready to sign up immediately. It was satellite internet, via Star Go,  not wireless internet. It was designed to be used by banks and other institutions so there was always steady internet. It used the Hughes Network System, which has been around a while.

We had to be approved of course. So we gave him a copy of our property certificado (ownership certificate) and my husband’s IFE. There was some holdup at the main office because there wasn’t a street address but we explained that the certificate does list the block, lot number, and fraccionamiento (neighborhood) so the appropriate address would be domicilio conocido fraccionamiento La Yacata. (Known address Neighborhood La Yacata). Plus the salesperson sent the GPS coordinates of the house. With that, we could proceed.

We waited another week for a copy of the contract. Every day we contacted the salesperson who called the main office where he was told the office lady was busy and hadn’t gotten around to our contract. He called us the following week to tell us we should be receiving the contract, sent via email, that afternoon. We didn’t. Three days later, he came out to the house and called the main office from here. The office lady said that my email didn’t give an address–What on earth did that mean? No email gives our address. We went back and forth with the salesperson about this. So the lady at the office asked if I had an alternate email address. I did. The contract was sent. When I checked the contract, the original email was misspelled. That was the problem.

So, I entered a virtual signature just like I do for my taxes and sent it back. Nope, not good enough. We had to go to a cyber cafe to print the 10-page contract out and sign it, scan it and send it back via email. Nope, not good enough. Each page of the contract needed to be signed. Another scan and sent. Nope. Each page has to be signed on the right side. Another printout, sign, scan and send. Nope. It must be signed in blue ink, not black.  HOLY MOTHER OF GOD! Another printout, signed with blue ink, scan and send. Finally!

The installation would be scheduled in about a week. So we waited. By this time, we’d lost any enthusiasm we had for this internet service. A week later, the installation guy came. He unloaded his equipment and started swearing. He had forgotten the antenna. He asked if we really needed it installed today. He had driven from Leon. Yes, we wanted it installed. So he made some calls. About an hour later, he tracked down an antenna here in Moroleon and went to pick it up.

Installation took about 3 hours. The installation guy said that the service would be bad for about 24-48 hours as it calibrated. Fine. He also mentioned that the internet we already had would work just fine if we had an antenna. Hmm, I’d have to look into that.

Over the next few days, we were further disappointed with the service. Even though I was very clear that I needed enough Mbps to teach online, the package only came with 3 Mbps. So we called the salesperson again and asked if we could increase the service to at least 5 Mbps. He said we would need to call the main office. So we did. My son asked about the high ping–more than 300. The service technician said that since it was a satellite service, it would always have that ping, making it usable for online gaming and Skype calls. We decided to up our service to 5 Mbps anyway.

The service technician sent me a list of requisites via email. Among them was a picture of the modem and router numbers. No problem. I even typed the numbers below the photos. The pictures were not clear enough. So we took another set and sent them. Nope, still not good enough. Ok, a third time. After those too were rejected I decided to cancel the request. We’d manage with the 3 Mbps.

And we are. The satellite internet works for everything but classes and gaming. It’s stable, reliable if a bit slow and extremely expensive! The amount of internet we use for other activities means that we don’t have enough for the full month, about 3 weeks really. Then it becomes even slower, rendering it useless for most things. 

We’ve discussed trying to get out of the 2-year contract, but for right now, we’ll let it stand. Something is better than nothing right?

 

2 Comments

Filed under Cultural Challenges, Economics, Teaching

Internet Saga

i-dont-always-have-a-slow-internet-connection-23899039

If you remember, after quite a quest, we managed to get internet service at our house in La Yacata. The first month, it worked like a dream. Thus, my decision to move my office from The Little House in Sunflower Valley to La Yacata.

Then came the time to pay for the second month of service. We headed to OXXO, which seems like it just might make banks obsolete, to pay the bill. And the next day, our internet service tanked. Instead of getting upload/download speeds of between 8 to 10 Mbps, they hovered at .08 or less. Nothing would load.

We thought perhaps it was a one-day deal. Maybe there were some adjustments being made to the service. Maybe a glitch in the system. After all, the month before had gone without a hitch. Only, the bad stats continued and continued and continued. I canceled a week of classes.

We called the service support line. After all sorts of “troubleshooting” that we had already done, the service representative hung up on us. So the next day, we tried again. This time the service representative admitted that since we were officially outside the coverage area, there wasn’t really much he could do to help us.

So we went to the place where we had bought our modem and requested a service technician. We were told he’d be out around 4 pm to check things out. I canceled my classes again. At about 4:30, the service technician called and said he thought the problem was that our payment hadn’t been processed. I knew that was a bunch of hoo-ha since I had received an email confirmation of the payment. He said he’d look into it and call back. He didn’t bother to come out to La Yacata.

So if the service technician wasn’t interested in coming to us, we’d take the modem to them. The next day we boxed it up and went back to the office. Their solution was to wait for the service technician to come from Morelia and have him take the modem home with him. Moroleon is officially outside the coverage area. The fact that the internet works in certain areas is apparently a fluke that this office was capitalizing on. So in theory, connecting the modem in a coverage area would “reset” the internet and allow us again to have usable service.

It took two days for our modem to take its trip to Morelia and back. The result was that yes, for a while it did what it was supposed to do. And yet, there were sporadic outages and low service periods which unfortunately often coincided with my teaching hours.

Some research on the company shows that overall the internet service only rates 3 out of 5 stars and that even though they promise nation-wide coverage, that’s not necessarily the case. There had to be something better out there.

6 Comments

Filed under Cultural Challenges, Economics, Employment, Small Business in Mexico, Teaching