Tag Archives: Blogs about Mexico Worth Reading

Blog About Mexico Worth Reading–Saltillo Expats

Today’s feature blogger has been a supportive part of my SOTB Bloggers experience.  I’m pleased to introduce you to Jill, blogger at Saltillo Expats, Loving the Land of the Flour Tortilla (Meximamma) and Jill Michelle Douglas.  I don’t know how she does it!

What brought you to Mexico?

I came 19 years ago for a study abroad semester.  Then I met my husband.  I came back 15 years ago to see if he was a keeper.  He was.  Finally, I came back for good 10 years ago after we got married.

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What was the inspiration for your blog name?

I started my blog on a whim almost 9 years ago.  I didn’t plan much out, and all the names I could think of were already taken.  Finally, I stumbled on meximamma (because meximama was taken).  After all, I was planning to write about what it is I like about Mexico and about being a mom (I started this when my oldest daughter was 5 months old, partly to keep my mom and friends up-to-date).

Then, after a few years, I decided that I hated that name.  It seemed a little flip.  It made me cringe.  So now I write at jillmichelledouglas.com because that URL will never make me cringe.

It was still my second choice name because Jill Douglas is apparently a famous rugby commentator in the UK.  My own name was already taken!

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

When I started my first blog, we had recently moved to northern Mexico.  (My husband is from Mexico City.)  It’s a whole different Mexico out here, and the blog was my attempt to nail down and explain some of those differences.

I started writing about Mexico and my kids.  For the Mexico posts, I’d try to paint a picture about those elusive things that I find charming here, things that are different from the US.  And as a new mom, I had a lot of new-mom reflections that needed an outlet.

Now I don’t really notice those difference between the US and Mexico anymore.  At least I don’t notice them here because I’m so used to living here and the oddities I encounter here are normal now (so they’re not really oddities anymore).  That’s why on my new site, I have very little about Mexico at the moment.

But we have traveled extensively, and I’m hoping to write about destinations in Mexico, share photos, and explore great places to go here.  Less sociology, more tour guide.

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Why do you blog? 

I now have two blogs:  my personal blog and one for foreigners moving to Saltillo, Coahuila, Saltillo Expats

A few years into my blog, I found that I really enjoyed exploring my city and writing about what Saltillo has to offer.  Saltillo is home to a huge GM plant, Chrysler, John Deere, Freightliner, and numerous automotive suppliers.  Thanks to my blog, a number of women who were about to move to Saltillo contacted me, wanting to know more information about Saltillo.  They had mostly the same questions, so it seemed clear to me that SaltilloExpats was a necessity.

This has freed me up on my personal site to focus more on parenting, exploring faith and Christian beliefs, and anything else I find helpful.  If I’ve learned something that turned out to be particularly helpful, I write it down and share it on my personal blog, so 1) I don’t forget what I learned and 2) just in case others would be interested in learning from those experiences (just as I enjoy other blogs that explore those topics).  I’m hoping that Mexico will flavor the site, but it’s no longer the central focus.

What is your favorite blog post?  

One of the last posts on my old blog was a story about taking a chance and seizing the moment while I was on vacation two years ago.  I like it for the memories I was reliving, and for the reminder that we need to take advantage of opportunities when they’re presented, not waiting for some undefined time in the future that may be more ideal. That time might never come.  (And I tend to be a waiter.)

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

Refraining from disclosing too much personal information.  I’m an open book from the Midwest, where we trust most people.  My husband is from Mexico City, where they believe everyone is out to get them. (That’s only a slight exaggeration, for all those chilangos who are going to protest that description!)    He does not yet know that I have a blog named jillmichelledouglas.com, and it might just be better if he continues to be oblivious about that.  😉  After all, my whole name is out there (which is probably too much personal information).

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

Assimilating.  Specifically, how do I describe that?

I read once that it’s suspicious if expats spend all their time with other expats or go to the other extreme and refuse to associate with the other foreigners.  Now that I have a number of friends, both Mexican and foreign, people I can have over for dinner, people who will watch my kids when I’m supposed to be in three places at once, I feel like I’m home.

A more specific best experience?  (One that kind of crowned the assimilation process for me.)  Almost three years ago, the orchestra for the state of Coahuila held auditions for a vocal section.  I auditioned (which was a great experience in itself) and much to my surprise (given those who I also heard audition and the size they wanted for the choir) I was asked to join.  We’ve done a zarzuela (Spanish opera), sung Queen (in an orchestra setting), sang for the Nutcracker, sang for the last minute of Puccini’s Suor Angelica, among other things.  It had been growing in me for some time that I really missed making music with others, and this has been a phenomenal opportunity.  (Not to mention a great chance to learn musical terminology in Spanish!)

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

Without a doubt, the years 2011-2012.  The narcos were running amok around here and, more often than not, it felt like we were living under house arrest.  And, back to the hardest part about blogging, I couldn’t write much about it, as we were afraid that they’d somehow find my blog an target us.  (Highly unlikely, of course.  But crazy times and crazy people call for a lot of extra caution.  Laying low was the name of the game.)

I learned that if they come back, we’re getting the hell out of here.

I also learned that times like that draws people closer.  When there were alerts, people were better about calling their friends to make sure they stayed at home or avoided certain areas of town.

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

Learn Spanish.  As much as you can before you come.  But, keep in mind, no matter how much you learn, it will never feel like enough.  Then get a Spanish teacher here and keep learning.  Even though you may sound dumb, use the Spanish you’ve been learning. Slowly but surely, it will get better.  Unless you don’t try.  Then it will never get better.  So learn Spanish.

How long do you plan on remaining in Mexico?

Forever.  Unless we get an opportunity we can’t refuse.  Even then, we’ll probably come back.

Where do you see your blog going?

Wherever the wind may take me.

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Where can you be found? 

Facebook

Pinterest

SaltilloExpats

Jill Michelle Douglas

Land of the Flour Tortilla

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Blog About Mexico Worth Reading–Ventanas Mexico

Kerry Baker is a blogger and author. She blogs at Ventanas Mexico: Resources for Full- or Part-time Life in Mexico.  Her published works include Interactive Guide to Learning Spanish Free Online and If Only I Had a Place: The Aspiring Expat’s Guide to Renting Luxuriously in Mexico for Less.
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What brought you to Mexico? The U.S. has become so much a “gig economy.” After moving to Denver in 2014, I struggled finding anything other than contract work every now and then. I moved to Mexico to save money while I figured out what my next step would be.

After I made friends here, learned Spanish and realized how much better life was in Mexico for a person of average means, I began to see that Mexico could be an answer for many people like me, people with some resources but who are scared to death by what they see in the U.S today, both in terms of the healthcare crisis and the demoralizing political climate.

I truly believe for some people, Mexico could make the difference between a healthy, happy retirement and one where you are just surviving day to day. With my blog, I wanted to address some common, even silly misconceptions. For example, I spoke with a person yesterday that couldn’t believe Mexico had Uber!

What was the inspiration for your blog name?  What a mistake that was!  Ventanas means “Windows” in Spanish, and I liked the thought of the website being a window to see how life really was in Mexico. Big mistake. I didn’t know anything about SEO.  

I used to be a professional fundraiser and in a fundraising campaign, you have to make some of your most important decision when you have the least knowledge, at the beginning. Having a business is like that too.

What area of Mexico and topics does your blog primarily focus on? Comparisons. Comparisons between the U.S. and Mexico in housing, cost of living, safety, healthcare, language, and relationships, especially friendships with Mexicans because I find the dynamics very different from my friendships at home.

Why do you blog? At times, I write for me, as my SEO for those blogs clearly shows! I also write for my intended audience, things I wanted to know before coming here that had nothing to do with getting a visa temporal or the water. I wanted to know my life would be good here, that I’d be able to duplicate aspects of my life that were important to me in the U.S

What is your favorite blog post?   Just like being a filmmaker, your favorite is never the most commercially successful. The Best Date Night Songs in Spanish.” I love Spanish language music. I love to tell stories. Being able to actually share songs via links in the post and get a little personal by telling a relationship story made it my favorite.

What has been the most difficult for you to blog about?  I don’t think I’d feel pressured to write about anything that I felt was difficult to blog about. People have strong beliefs about safety in Mexico that I feel I need to debunk, although it’s like talking in the wind most times. Both countries are safe. Both countries are dangerous, just in different ways.

What has been the best experience you’ve had in Mexico?  My best experience was making my first Mexican friend. What I learned is that when you want to make new friends, wherever you are, you should pick one or two “targets” and focus your entire being on them.

That means showing up wherever and whenever you think they might be (even when they’re not).  Ultimately, particularly in Mexico where social circles and families run so deep, 1-2 good friends and those they know can keep you pretty busy.

What has been the worst experience you’ve had in Mexico?  I had emergency surgery in Mexico. It’s too much to go into here, but I fully relate it in a blog of mine.

What advice do you have for those planning to move or travel to Mexico? That’s very broad!  “Learn the language,” is a pretty safe bet. I started learning at 55 and am fairly fluent. It can be done. Without it, your experience will be half as fulfilling as it could be. Still good, maybe even great, but half.

If you are no longer in Mexico, do you plan on returning?  I spend the majority of my year there.

If you are currently in Mexico how long do you plan on remaining? I will most likely retire in Mexico.

Where do you see your blog going? My site has become more of a book promotion site for my two books, If Only I Had a Place: The Aspiring Expat’s Guide to Renting Luxuriously in Mexico for Less a book on renting luxuriously for less in Mexico, and  Interactive Guide to Learning Spanish Free Online which I use every day myself to improve my language skills.

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Anyone considering Mexico will need to live in their target town at least for six months. Renting in Mexico is very different. On top of that, those relationships you make the first six months can set the tone of your whole experience.

I had the good fortune that my first roommate in Mexico was a Canadian property manager with 12 years experience in Mexico. She taught me dangers, as well as sharing the more delicate culturally-based differences in renting in Mexico. My experiences over the following four years added to what she shared with me.

I would never rent for six months in Mexico without having someone I trust looking it over first (I’m not talking about Airbnb rentals and the like. Those are probably trustworthy but too expensive for a six-month period).

The book has a listing of rental concierges I’ve recruited. Almost all have an online presence. People “on the ground” like I had with Elise was key to my sanity in the first few years.

When I finished the book, I was concerned about information not applying all over Mexico. The rental concierges were able to confirm certain information before it went to print.  

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My book on learning Spanish is my real first love though.  Most people give up learning Spanish because they get bogged down with one program, like Rosetta Stone, and get bored.

If you use different tools every day, that doesn’t happen. The book’s interactive links take you to the best sites and features on the web. Lots of different sites and tools, most of which you’d never find without doing what I did, which was spend six months researching over 300 language learning sites.

A student can translate music, do flashcards, a little reading, a podcast, in a single one hour period. That’s what my sessions are like.

Where can you be found?  Ventanas Mexico has a Facebook page with a little more serious content, like articles related to the U.S. Healthcare crisis. I’m also on Pinterest with a “Recipes That Translate” board, language tips and photos from the most popular expat areas.

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Blogs About Mexico Worth Reading–Call it Kismet

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Jules, a blogger at Call it Kismet, was born in Eastern Kentucky and is currently cruising the Pacific coast of Mexico on our live-aboard sailboat.  Here’s what she has to say about her life.

What brought you to Mexico?  

Opportunity to sail in a different country.

How has your life changed?

My stress level had lowered dramatically.  Mexico has a very casual vibe. We don’t have a car, so no traffic problems.

How has your belief system changed?

 It hasn’t.

How have you changed?  

I am learning to become more patient and not so time-obsessed.

What challenges have you overcome?

Living in a small space (boat) with my husband and 2 dogs has simplified my life.

What challenges are you still facing?  

I still miss shopping at Target and Marshalls.

What keeps you going?

Good friends we have met along the way and travel with keep me from getting lonely.

What accomplishment makes you the proudest?

Shedding our material life. We had two beautiful homes and two cars. But it was all just “stuff”.

What things do you miss about your life before?  

Being close to family. But my parents died recently, so I don’t feel the desire or need to return to the US.

What have you found is no longer important to you?

Material things like houses and cars. And shoes. I now wear flip-flops every day.

What do you consider the defining moment in your life in Mexico?

When I got my residency card I realized that Mexico truly and legally is HOME.

How do you spend your free time?

All my time is free time. Since we move around a lot, I go “Urban Hiking” to explore the local towns.

How do you maintain yourself/your family financially?

 Retired.

How have you overcome fear?

No fears.

How have you grown as a person?

I am a work in progress but am mellowing out.

What skills have you learned in Mexico?

A bit of language-learning. I take classes at marinas sometimes and went to Spanish School in Taxco for 6 weeks.

What skills do you still have to master?

The language.  Each summer, during hurricane season, we plan to continue our travels inland for 3-4 months and take Spanish classes in different areas.

What inspires you? What angers you?  

What angers me is the vast overpopulation of homeless animals. But I am inspired by the groups that are raising awareness and helping with spay-neuter and rescue.

What would you do differently if you could do it all over again?

I wouldn’t change a thing.

What is your current goal?

 Just going with the flow for now.

How do you make your life meaningful?

I surround myself with good people.

Do you volunteer?

Since we move around a lot, it is difficult to volunteer, but I frequently donate $$ to animal welfare groups.

 

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Blog About Mexico Worth Reading–Africans to Yucatan

Somehow or other, I ended up an administrator for the Facebook group Foreigners in Rural Mexico although I am not exactly sure I’m the right person for the job. On the other hand,  I am a foreigner and I do live in rural Mexico.  In my new position as group leader, I’ve met a number of interesting people. Today, I’d like to share my newest blogger find, Denise from Africans to Yucatan.

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What brought you to Mexico?

We wanted to live a simpler life.

What was the inspiration for your blog name?

We were part of a great group of friends. Each couple had a nickname and ours was “The Africans” because we were born in South Africa…Since we immigrated to Canada in late 1990’s we thought this would be a fitting name for our new move.

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

Our blog focuses on our experiences moving to the Yucatán.

Why do you blog?

As you can imagine we have friends and family all over the world (Oman, South Africa, New Zealand, England, Canada, the US and now Mexico). This was the easiest way I could keep them all updated on our experiences. I also thought if anyone else was interested in moving to Mexico, it would give them an honest perspective of a couple who is semi-retired with very limited funding.

What is your favorite blog post?  

“Music: The universal language”

It features the south Mérida youth symphony orchestra, which is a local program that helps marginalized youth to expand their horizons and has an immense positive social impact on the youth involved. I enjoy writing factual pieces about initiatives that help local people and we had such a great experience when we attended this event.

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

Missing Canada and already loving Mexico. It is difficult to explain the roller coaster of feelings about moving to a new country and not come across as flaky, ungrateful or judgemental.

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

We have had several experiences of our neighbors being generous despite their own hardships. There is a definite spirit of caring amongst the Yucatecan people. This generous spirit constantly reminds me that I am so much more fortunate than many and I strive to be more humble.

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

One of the vendors at the Plaza Grande verbally assaulted me when I told him that I did not want a tour of the Cathedral. It was an unusually negative reaction, based on my experience of several visits to the Yucatán and specifically Mérida. It just reminded me that not everyone welcomes foreigners to their country.

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

Do your homework. Do not go on what other people say. We all have different expectations and standards. Most of all, know why you want to move here. Mexico is not the same as Canada or the US, do not compare it and don’t try to make it “Little wherever-you-are-from”. If you do, you are the same as the immigrants who went to your country and wanted to change your culture to fit in with their beliefs. Celebrate your own culture, while remaining respectful of those in your new home.

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

We plan to stay here permanently.

Where do you see your blog going?  

I am just going to continue my blog in this informal manner for now.

Where can you be found?

I am on Twitter or on Facebook and of course at Africans To Yucatan.

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