Category Archives: Small Business in Mexico

Internet Saga

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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.

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

Sonia Diaz Consulting

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My name is Sonia Diaz. My education includes a three-year university degree in Human Resources. Hence, my Licenciada designation. My husband is Canadian and our daughter is 13. My husband and our daughter are my inspiration, my rock, my teachers.

I have been consulting for several years. The information you will find here is based on actual experience on the many topics I cover. I process visas every day. According to the staff of the various offices, I process by more visas, INAPAM, Seguro Popular, drivers’ licenses and citizenship than any other individual in San Miguel.

I work closely with staff at various government offices such as INM, (immigration); State driver’s license office; DIF for INAPAM; Presidencia (city hall); Seguro Popular (healthcare); SAT (taxation) and many others

I work both in San Miguel de Allende and Mexico City and soon Puerto Vallarta. I can also provide most Immigration services throughout Mexico.

Mexico’s greatest consistency is inconsistency. Working relationships are very important in Mexico and they often make a difference in the cost of items, level of service, including outright denial, and timing. Personally, I have friends at every government office at which I interact with. It makes the process so much easier. Bureaucracy is rampant. For example, opening a bank account may take 2 hours and there may be 20 pages of documents. In registering a vehicle if one document is missing or one is not perfect you will be turned away. This includes the need for the original bill of sale to be kept with the car for its’ life and signed off with the exact right words in Spanish by each seller. Every facet of government process is like this.

The visa process starts at a Mexican consulate outside of Mexico, often requiring an appointment. Please be prepared. 

Consulates are fairly consistent but not totally in that some want original financial statements and others printouts; some want a marriage license and children’s birth certificates, etc. Once in Mexico, there is a process at your local Immigration office that may take 8 weeks or more. If one makes a mistake with the bank payment, for example, your funds are lost. If one when entering Mexico does not obtain the proper form or makes errors in the process starting over at a consulate may happen. Plan to be in Mexico until the process is completed which as noted may be 8 weeks or more.

Bringing in a lot of household items with a moving company is expensive and may be subject to tax. Mexico is a country of 123 million people and most items are available here and some better suited for the climate and lifestyle. There is always Amazon.com even in Mexico.

Those who are tourists or temporary residents may bring a foreign plated vehicle. A permanent resident may not.

Do not assume a lawyer is always the solution in obtaining assistance. There are few truly knowledgeable Immigration lawyers. Some provide the service with limited experience as they know expats will pay a higher fee than what they normally charge Mexicans. I, for example, process more visas than anyone in San Miguel and likely more than most anyone in Mexico. Lawyers have called me for advice. The same applies to citizenship as clients come to me after their “lawyer” took their money and sent them on a wild goose chase. I also process more Seguro Popular healthcare memberships, INAPAM senior’s discount cards, driver’s licenses vs anyone in San Miguel de Allende.

Come to Mexico knowing the pace is slower; the infrastructure may often not be to your expectations; you are a viewed by many as having an abundance even though you may not; mañana means not today and not necessarily tomorrow; getting angry at workers and especially in government offices while may be what you wish to do, it never works. Enjoy the beauty and the food and the spirit of Mexicans while remembering half the country is very poorly educated and live in poverty. The minimum wage is $5 US for a 9-hour day.

If you really, really want to help a family, provide all the requirements (on your own or in concert with others) to send their child to a private school. Education is the key to Mexico’s future and you will change not only that child’s life dramatically but also the parents and siblings,

move to mexico bible

I’ve co-authored the book The Move to Mexico Bible with Beverly Wood now available on Amazon to help those interested in making the move to Mexico.

I can be contacted by:

CELL: (044) 415-106-1499

EMAIL: SONIANGEL32@hotmail.com

WEBSITE: www.soniadiaz.mx  

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/www.soniadiaz.mx

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Buying plants in Mexico

Mexico prohibits the import of seeds and plants from other countries. Which means Amazon and Burpee Seeds do NOT ship to Mexico. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds does but customs can sometimes hold the shipment up for months. Other online places to find seeds in Mexico are La Semillería and Rancho Los Molinos.

My favorite place to buy plants is at the weekly tianguis (fleamarket). Usually, I can score a coffee tin or two with plants for under 20 pesos. You can also buy tierra para plantas (feedbags full of soil) from certain vendors. This is usually dirt scooped up from the base of el acebuche (Olea europaea), La ensina (Quercus ilex) or uña de gato (Uncaria tomentosa)trees which is particularly porous and makes a good mix on top of the regular old black dirt. This is what Mama Sofia collected and sold to supplement her income in Cerano.

Seeds packets are most often found at places that sell animal feed, maicería or Alimentos para animales or forraje. The packaged variety is limited but every now and then you can find exactly what you were looking for. I spent 6 solid months looking for semillas de jamaica (hibiscus flower seeds) until I finally found some. They’ve sprouted and I’m excited to see how they grow! These are the best places to get your corn, pumpkin and bean seeds by the kilo or puño (fistful).

You might also try stores that sell productos de jardinería (gardening products). You’ll find macetas (flowerpots) and some general insecticides here. Macetas are also sometimes sold off the back of trucks that periodically come through town offering 3 for $100 sets.

Viveros (plant nurseries) sell live plants but it’s a pot shot what you might find. The other day we were hot to get a banana tree and went to 4 different viveros before we found one. We also lucked out and found a new barrel cactus to replace the one that putrified in the last rainy season.

Sometimes you might come across a tricycle vendor and I encourage you to stop and take a look. You might just find exactly the plant you are looking for.

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Filed under Alternative Farming, Small Business in Mexico

Planning a party in Mexico

Mexico loves to celebrate! You’d be hard pressed to find a family that hasn’t shared their life events with the friends and family in the form of a fiesta! And really, why not? Life events from christening to funerals, all have their own form of celebration.

 

More often than not, parties are not held at the celebrant’s house, but at a rented Salón de eventos (party hall) or cabaña (cabin). The owner will provide electricity, bathrooms and a clean-up crew, but usually not much else.

So the next party stop is to make arrangements with a place that advertises Se renta sillas y mesas (tables and chairs for rent). You’ll request a certain number of chairs and tables and sometimes tablecloths to be delivered to the rented venue shortly before the event. You’ll need to ask specifically whether the chairs and tables will be set up for you, or if you’ll need to have that done by the nieces and nephews an hour or so before the party. Just so you know, most often the chairs are flimsy metal contraptions with not nearly enough seat for your rump marked with the Corona logo.

A lot of people have the decorations made, which adds a personal touch to the event. Weddings and Quinceañera especially have adornments from florerías and tortilla servilletas (napkins) hand embroidered with names and dates from those ladies that sit in the market. Be aware that these are meant to be gifts for attendees, along with the larger table decorations, so if you want one as a memento, set it aside BEFORE the party otherwise you might just find there’s not a single one left.

On the other hand, there are places that rent themed decorations for events. These are NOT meant to be taken as souvenirs. The decorator will charge you for missing items so make sure your guests know the decorations are rented. You might be able to rent nicer tables and chairs from these party planners as well.

 

You will be able to hire a DJ (sonido) and servers (meseros) at places that advertise those services. Often the chair and table renters can refer you to a cousin that will be able to meet your music and serving needs.

The food is ordered from an establishment that specializes in that particular food preparation. Carnitas are the most common party fare so you would make arrangements with one of the regular carnita sellers to fry you up some pig during the day so that it will be sizzling hot when lunch/dinner is served. Usually, the food preparer will make arrangements for delivery, but it’s best to check. The same is true for cakes from the pastelerías.

Tortillas are also ordered ahead of time from a Tortillería. My sister-in-law often gets orders of 30 kilos or more for events. The host (or person in charge of the food for the event) places and pays for the order and she makes arrangements for her ladies to come at a specific time so that the tortillas will be piping hot for the event. She wraps them in tin-foil and keeps them hot in a cooler. She doesn’t deliver, so someone needs to make sure someone picks up the tortillas at her establishment before the party.

More luxurious parties might have a hired bartender or maybe el primo de su tía handling drink orders. Most parties have 2-liter soda bottles scattered along the table and people serve themselves. Many party guests bring their own alcohol as well, occasionally bottles are provided by the host in the spirit of self-serve.

Plates, cups, napkins, and eating utensils, even at most fancy dancy parties, are desechables (disposable) and purchased in bulk by the host, not the meal preparer at stores that sell desechables.

If your party calls for a piñata, make sure you fill it up with a mixed selected from the Dulcería (candy shop), otherwise, the whackers will be sorely disappointed when nothing but confetti falls out.

Many salones de fiestas (party halls) have a children’s play area. You can also rent inflables or brincolines which are those inflatable slides or jumpy castles to add to the fun. Make sure you have an extension cord long enough to power the inflator.

Make sure to book a videographer for pictures and a video montage of the event. Most foto estudios offer this service.

Make-up and hairdressing are done at a salón de belleza (beauty salon) or you can hire a beautician to come to your home prior to the event for some beautifying. Manis and pedis can be set up at places that offer Aplicacion De Uñas (nail application).

While women often buy their party outfits, men often have the option to rent their suits or mariachi costumes. These however often require tailor fittings beforehand, so check with the establishment on making arrangements.

Financing an all-out shindig comes from the pockets of the padrinos (godparents). Take, for example, the Quinceañera. Every aspect of the event has a specific madrina/padrino.  It’s important to acknowledge the contribution of each and every madrina/padrino publically so as to avoid offense. In fact, best to thank them several times in front of an audience over the course of the event. For the most part, these “contributions” make up the “gifts” to the celebrant rather than a pile of wrapped boxes. If you are asked to stand as madrina/padrino for a life event, make sure you know exactly what you will be responsible for.

I’ve seen a few invitations for events but for the most part, attendees are invited personally or brought along by someone who was invited personally or is a madrina/padrino for the event so don’t be alarmed if there is a sizable section of people you don’t know at your party. There’s always enough food and drink and if not, there’s always someone willing to go find more.

If you are dead set on invitations, you can make a master copy and have them printed out or copied at a place that advertises Se Hacen Copias (Copies made here). I wouldn’t recommend printing them on your own printer because printer  ink is extremely expensive.  Then you can spruce them up with sparkles or colors.

Parties quite often last long into the night and maybe part of the early morning. Somebody will bring the Café de olla (pot coffee) to keep you awake. The important thing is to remember is that you are making memories commemorating these transitional life events and not to be too fussed about those little annoyances (or that loud-mouth sister-in-law) that come up. Now go and have fun!

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Filed under Mexican Food and Drink, Mexican Holidays, Parenting Challenges and Cultural Norms, Small Business in Mexico