Blogs About Mexico Worth Reading–Letters From Mexico

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Don writes Letters From Mexico about his experiences living in Mexico since 2003.

What brought you to Mexico?

I was invited by a guy I met while volunteering at a folk fest. He lives in Connecticut and Mexico and invited me to come to the 1st Turtle Island Bioregional Congress. I did and then had two follow up visits, staying in the community that organized it. On my third visit, I was crying when it was time to go home (back up north). This signaled to me to begin the process of getting ready to move to Mexico.

What was the inspiration for your blog name?

Letters From Mexico was inspired by a previous blog I started when I moved here in 2003, to keep in touch with family and friends in El Norte. I did a Google search, and the only Letters From Mexico was by Cortez.

What area of Mexico and topics does your blog primarily focus on?

I live in the volcanic region of central Mexico, south of Mexico City and East of Cuernavaca, called Tepoztlan. (Try and pronounce that one!) Most of my topics relate to the Mexican culture, and how this differs from the US.

Why do you blog? 

My blog is primarily for retirees in the US who are interested in moving to Mexico.

The site has some information and a lot of my personal experiences about travel and living in Mexico. Hopefully, it will help make the decision about coming here.

What is your favorite blog post? 

Maybe because it was my first post—Get Lost! Is my favorite. It was inspired by some experiences, and by the image of a T-shirt that’s pictured on the blog.

What has been the most difficult for you to blog about?  

My Daily Life in Mexico was the most difficult. I feel that topic is what my audience wants to read about, but I prefer living it to writing about it.

What has been the best experience you’ve had in Mexico?  

I play in blues bands. We had a gig called Scorpio Dance Party. It was to celebrate my birthday and that of a friend. I promoted it for a month, working every day. I’m proud to say it attracted 70 people and all had a blast! I learned that I was able to organize and carry out a project.  

What has been the worst experience you’ve had in Mexico?  

I spent a night in an immigration prison cell in Acapulco. I learned it’s important to have my papers up-to-date.

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What advice do you have for those planning to move or travel to Mexico?

I think preparation should include research: reading books, online material, and talking to friends and relatives who have traveled or live in Mexico.

It’s best done in small steps, in my opinion. For example, don’t buy a house during your first week traveling in Mexico.

Sign up to subscribe to my blog and you get to download free Mexico Travel Tips.

If you are currently in Mexico, how long do you plan on remaining?

Although I am flexible, at this point I consider Mexico my home base. I’d say I’ve not been around a lot. I explored living in Guatemala, but find Mexico more diverse, with hotter music and food.

I’ll stay here until and unless I find something I like better.

Where do you see your blog going?  

My goal is to have the site be interactive, and with the help of my audience, become a published book. I published a memoir and am now revising and updating it. I have plans for two other memoir related books, for different audiences, and these may have blogs.

Where can you be found? 

Twitter and Facebook

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A bit of remodeling–Upstairs

Although I had my heart set on a solar electrical system, even gone so far as to price it, I realized I was putting the cart before the horse.  Before we make manifest electricity (my home improvement goal for 2018), we needed to finish the upstairs.  So since my husband decided not to return to work in September, that’s what he’s been doing.  Of course, it’s now January, and we still aren’t completely finished, but we are closer than we were.

In 2016, we were able to put the roof on the second floor and then put in windows but for quite some time it remained uninhabitable. We used it to store junk.  It was dark and dusty.  But all that was about to change!  

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The first step was to patch the walls.  This is my husband’s least favorite construction activity, so it took about 2 months for him to complete it, one buto (bag) of cement at a time.  Not only did the walls need to be patched, but they needed afinado (refined), which meant a second round of patching, only this time with beach sand rather than brown sand.

As for flooring, oh my, was this a hassle.  When we built the house 10 years ago, we installed a lovely brown tile in the kitchen, both bedrooms, and bathroom.  The outside porch eventually became an interior room but did not have any tile.  Therefore, we hoped we could find something similar to it to tile the back room, stairs and then continue upstairs.  No such luck.  The tile we had used had been discontinued. We went to 10 flooring places and looked at floor models and books until we were cross-eyed. We’d find something we liked only to be told that they only had 3 boxes left.  Or the color was good and there were enough to complete the job, but it was WAY out of our budget. We weren’t just tiling one room, but an entire floor, steps, and the back room. Finally, we found something that had similar tones although was completely different in the patterning and went with that.

Buying all the tiles at once was a major purchase and construction had to be delayed just a bit since we also needed to buy the pegasolejo (cement for laying the tiles) and bujilla (grouting).  But just like the wall patching, little by little it got done.

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The Border Rights Clinic

Al Otro Lado

Today I’d like to start the newest series, Charity and Non-Profit organizations in Mexico, with the Border Rights Clinic, a refugee program that is part of Al Otro Lado, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization incorporated in California. Al Otro Lado started as a project in 2012 between Nora Phillips and Esmeralda Flores, a completely unfunded, informal alliance between two close friends who were committed to the same thing but on different sides of the border. Nora, Esmeralda, and a group of very dedicated volunteers, colleagues, and friends have collaborated on countless cases since and have succeeded in facilitating the return of several people back to the US after they were deported, via lawful mechanisms such as the U Visa, the Credible Fear screening process for refugees, and Humanitarian Parole

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The Refugee Program works with asylum seekers and their families in Tijuana, Mexico who wish to present themselves to U.S. authorities. The organization is also involved in legislative, media and legal advocacy efforts to challenge systemic human rights violations perpetrated.nicole ramos

Nicole Ramos directs the Border Rights Project.  She works with U.S. based attorneys who have case investigation needs in Mexico or need assistance understanding how to navigate Mexican state systems and social service programs.  She also writes expert declarations on discrete issues in Mexican asylum cases.

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The Border Rights Clinic joined Al Otro Lado in December 2016.  For several years, Al Otro Lado held large-scale legal clinics for deportees and refugees.  Nicole Ramos ran a small private office that functioned more as a nonprofit, focusing on individual representation of refugees. Combined, the organization is now able to do both, provide legal clinics, and direct representation of clients.

Nicole: (Working with the Refugee Program) “has turned my life completely upside down. I feel like every day I am at war with a system intent on destroying the spirits of human beings and that is exhausting. I am also at the same time uplifted by the resiliency of my clients, their determination to survive, and they give me strength and hope to move forward. Working this whole year without a salary has humbled me, and made me realize what is important, and what is not merely a luxury out of reach, and not important at the end of the day.”

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The Border Rights Clinic is in need of volunteers on both sides of the border.  To get involved, complete the volunteer application here. Another way you can help is by providing short- and long-term housing for asylum seekers.  If you are able to host an individual or family of asylum seekers, please email Jose Mares (mares@alotrolado.org).  Cash donations are also always welcome. A donation of $500 USD to the Border Rights Project would provide individual Legal Orientation for five detained asylum seekers.  A donation of $5,000 USD would pay for one Refugee Clinic which provides legal orientation for up to 50 refugee families.

 

 

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2018 Blogging Resolutions

I am trying out some new New Year’s Resolutions ideas this year.  I know, I know–soooo cliche.  I promise I’ll be brief.

The first “new” item on my list was to pick a word that will represent all my blogging goals for 2018.  I have chosen the word CREATE.  I will focus on creating new material, new series and new readers during the next 12 months.  I also hope to create a small income, but that’s really a secondary goal.

The second is to CREATE a mission statement for my blog so that all my goals will align with that central theme.  So here it is…..drum roll, please….

My blog’s mission is to assist non-Mexicans (Expats) learn about living in rural Mexico by sharing our family adventures and disasters along with the stories experience by others and to keep my mom up-to-day on our daily happenings.

In order to advance the above mission statement I have the following goals for 2018:

I hope to develop a variety of featured guest posts including but not limited to: Charities and Non-Profit Organizations, Inspiring Authors in Mexico, Blogs about Mexico Worth Reading, Small Businesses in Mexico, and Individuals Braving Mexico. (See Your Stories About Mexico).

I plan to participate in the April Blog Challenge based on the topic A to Z Reasons I Love Mexico along with my SOTB Blogging Group.  Last year I completed the A to Z Survival Series.

I really would like to finish and translate (well, my son will be doing the translating) my animal adventure e-book.

I am determined to continue with the Herbal Lore monthly posts about local plant life, their medicinal properties and the lovely teas you can make with them.  Plus offer relevant e-book bundles when they become available.

And that’s it. I told you I’d be brief.  I’ll post an update (and hopefully release date as well) mid-way through the year.

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