Tag Archives: living in Mexico

A Day in the Life in Owl Valley

Sarah Sass from Homestead Uncensored has shared a day in her family’s life in Owl Valley.

Today is a bright blue Tuesday in the first months of rainy season.  To tell the story of today as a constant norm is to cheat dry season’s Sundays when abundance is entangled in drought.

There is no typical day here, only the hope that today is what you have prepared for.

Today will look very different from three days from now when calories begin to run low and water levels drop with no guarantee of relief.  Keeping this in mind puts “today” into context, regardless of abundance or lack.

Knowing that rainy season alleviates as much as it exacerbates helps to tell the whole story of a normal day on a homestead in Mexico.

Our days exist in the vesica pisces of harder and smarter.  The meeting place for comfort and the archaic.

Early morning is devoted to animals.  Scythe cuts back alfalfa.  Corn that came in by the ten-thousands is milled to cover the day’s needs.  Three buckets of river water to fill the trough.  Independent cat finds a mouse while hungry dogs play chase underfoot.

This routine is repeated before the sun sets.  Only then, the cat dines on the day’s last basking lizard.

After the final dog is fed, my day of housework begins while my husband makes a mental checklist of the farm’s to-dos over the last cup of coffee.  Today: Cut carrizo for roofing on the new sheep shelter.  Collect mineral-rich “black gold” from the banks of the flooded river to contribute to the piles of goat manure which will feed baby avocado and citrus trees in coming months.  He leaves for the fields with a machete and shovel.

Coffee beans roasted and ground.  Pineapple vinegar started with breakfast scraps.  Harvest is tucked in to begin their fermenting slumber. Kombucha’s black tea steeps while amaranth bread doubles in size.  I sort lentils alongside the six-year-old as he draws the flags of North America and learns that ‘y’ sometimes impersonates a vowel.

All meals and all lesson plans are made from scratch and consume the entire morning.  Everyday.

Halfway through the morning dishes, there is another chore for the list: replenish the household’s 1200 liters of water from downhill.  Before the well can be uncovered, a neighbor, his wife, son, daughter-in-law and toddler grandson are in our living room.  They have come to invite us to their home for tejate.  In the next hour.

The actual act of drinking tejate is all of three minutes, yet this invitation will consume the rest of daylight.  I send along freshly baked muffins in my place.

With water’s return and a house to myself, dishes are finished, floors are swept and mopped, beds stripped and remade.

Barrels of last night’s rain need filtered for laundry.  It has gotten late and afternoon clouds lurk around the adjacent foothills; it’s best to postpone towels and blankets for another day.

Twenty gallons filtered and divided up between buckets posing as washing machines; in dry season they stand in for bathtubs when only warm water will do.

Sheets, pillow cases and throw rugs washed, rinsed and spun.  By hand.  Everything is washed by hand.

Next up kitchen towels and napkins.

Then child’s clothing.

Finally husband’s.

Beginning the cycle again with my clothes in a week from now.

The shortage of time and covered clothesline drags the chore out over five days.

To avoid musty disappointment, I need to catch the early day heat and pre-storm winds, yet outrun her raindrops.  This takes planning.

Rainy season renders the river unusable as the water takes on the hue of ore.  This limits our laundry water supply to what collects in rain barrels.  Assuming storms don’t lose their sense of direction in the dark and head into other foothills, leaving us dry but with a turbulent river.

Once the river settles, washing returns to the banks where under the shade of soap nut trees and ancient Sabinos, socks are scrubbed one-by-one in the canal while the child digs holes in the sand with a chunk of broken coconut shell.  We watch Kingfisher dive among the shallow waters and Crab scuttle; our footprints in the mud alongside the chickens’.

There is a trade-off for laundering in paradise.  Schlepping the wet clothing back uphill to the covered lines, yoked over the shoulders.

Totally worth it.

Agrarian and domestic toil may only appear harder as their true genius is kept secret.  Fifteen hours of laundry strengthen bodies and determination.  Corn harvest pulls us together for weeks as we shuck and grain and retell old stories.   Eating homegrown and foraged meals around a fire under a canopy of stars fills more than ravenous bellies.  Today is always a great day.

In the last minutes of consciousness, a reflection of the day fills me with accomplishment for all the work that was done.  Gratitude that no one was injured, no animals fell prey, and for the rainy hours, we three spent on a 500-piece puzzle of mushrooms, ferns and blackberry bushes.

Before succumbing to exhaustion, I reach for my husband’s hand, both raw from work.  My mind isn’t on tomorrow.  Only the songs of the tree frogs while a swollen river babbles on about cycles, flow, and human’s faulty need for predictable permanence.

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A bit of remodeling–Moving on up

The design of our new living space was intended as a living room/bedroom combination.  We couldn’t move upstairs until the stairs were tiled and the bathroom completed but had to move most things before the handrail on the steps was installed.

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The first items to get moved were those in the backroom.  That way, they would already be out of the way when my husband was ready to tile the backroom.  So my treadle sewing machine, the table, and chairs from my mother plus the cupboard where I kept all my fabric scraps found a new spot upstairs. My husband lengthened the shelves in the cupboard so that it was more spacious. It now serves as a mini-kitchen cupboard, the bathroom closet and fabric scrap storage.

Then the piano and the chairs I bought which were at the little house in Sunflower Valley came over.  We had to enlist a helper for the piano because even though it was a spinet and not an upright, it still was as heavy as a horse.  The neighbors thought we were moving out, but we aren’t.  I still will continue to rent in Sunflower Valley because we do not yet have electricity and internet services in La Yacata.  But we won’t be moving the piano again. Of course, now the little house is all drab again.  Guess I’ll have to work on livening things up there for my next project!

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Curtains needed to be made for those new curtain rods from Harley the carpenter.  We went to 10 fabric stores in town.  Yes, there are 10 fabric stores in our town. In fact, I would estimate there are at least 30 since Moroleon is known for its textiles.  In 9 out of the 10 we stopped at, I didn’t find anything I liked.  In the 10th store, I found a lovely brown embroidered fabric but the girl working there said they didn’t sell by the meter, but by the roll.  Umm, ok.  Well, I didn’t need a roll of fabric.  I toyed with the idea of ordering fabric online, but in the end, I found a large curtain at the Bodega which I cut into 6 smaller curtains.  I also picked up a bath mat set there. I cut the elastic off the toilet tank topper and made a second little rug for the stair to the bathtub. Who needs a fuzzy toilet tank anyway?

Once the bathroom was finished, it was time to move the bedroom things and occupy our new residence.  Our king size bed went out the front door and was lifted onto Joey’s roof.  The large armoire is made up of two pieces, so it was brought up piece by piece.  The smaller armoire wasn’t so heavy.

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I got it into my head that we needed bedside tables. I’m well into middle age and have yet to own a pair of bedside tables. It was time. In the past, I had seen some at the weekly tianguis (flea market). But you know how that goes.  Now that I was in the market, there weren’t any to be found.  We went to a place in town and he did have end tables, only they were $3,200 each, not for the pair.  That definitely was out of our budget. We stopped at the roadside tent where an indigenous man, his wife, twin toddlers and four year old have set up shop or camp or business or something. They had end tables but they were too short.  Our bed is quite a bit higher than the typical beds found around here.  We did end up getting some chairs from this place.  More about that in another post.

We happened on a truck full of furniture one day while picking up the tortillas and we stopped.  The guy had the perfect size bedside tables and we liked the style.  While we were negotiating a price, some lady on a motorcycle came and claimed both.  Drat.  We saw the same guy another day (bought a rocking chair but more about that later) and put in our order for a pair of bedside tables just like the ones that were snatched out from under our noses.  They were ready at the beginning of January.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also ordered two water stands from the same guy, one for upstairs and one for downstairs.  My husband and son just rolled their eyes at that, but quality craftsmanship is worth the price and the wait in this case.  It was another 2 weeks for the carpenter to finish them and arrange to meet us for pickup.

Things were certainly shaping up!

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Your stories about Mexico

My purpose in writing Surviving Mexico goes beyond keeping my mom up-to-day on our goings-on in La Yacata.  I am also committed to providing a resource for individuals living in or planning to move to Mexico.  Mexico is an enormous country, full of diverse cultures, languages, geographic landscapes and lifestyles. In comparison, our life in central rural Mexico is rather limited. Therefore, I would love to feature your story in 2018.

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Do you write a blog, vlog, newsletter or host another site on social media that focuses on Mexico?  Drop me a line to be included in the series Blogs about Mexico worth reading.

Inspirational Women Writers in Mexico

Have you written a book, ebook or academic paper about Mexico?  Fill out the contact form below to be featured in the series Inspirational Writers in Mexico.

Modern Day Marias

Do you live in Mexico? I’m planning a series similar to Modern Day Marias, as yet unnamed, and would love to hear your story!

Small Business

Do you make things to sell like crafts, paintings, and carvings, or otherwise have your own small business in Mexico?  Send me a message!

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Do you have an idea that would work as a regular feature like Geneva’s Southern Comfort Food Mexican Style?  I’m interested!

Do you work with a charity or non-profit organization in Mexico that you think should be featured?  I’d love to hear about it!

Have you been already featured and have written something new or qualify under another category listed above?  Let me know!

Do you know someone that I should feature?  Send them my way.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

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Flavors of Mexico

Life is full of the most natural of flavors...open your eyesand take a momentto savor them.

When we first arrived in Mexico, my senses were overwhelmed with the sights, sounds, and tastes of my new home.  I was willing to try just about anything. I even managed to choke down the unpleasant bits in the name of experience.  Everything was incredible. Everything was fascinating.  It was a lot like falling in love.

As I’ve passed the 10-year mark here in Mexico, that initial euphoria has taken a nosedive.  I am no longer willing to gag on my life experiences for the greater good.  That doesn’t mean that Mexico still doesn’t inspire me to heights of great passion.  It does, but it’s not the same as when I first fell in love.

There’s a word in Spanish that I think foodies would understand.  Saborear.  Literally translated, it means to savor.  Saborear goes beyond that brief moment that the food actually touches your tongue.  To saborear something is to hold it in your mouth and experience the flavor and texture of the food, to enjoy the act of eating.  To seek out the individual nuances of the ingredients and ponder them separately and in conjunction with the other flavors.  It’s not a sandwich cramming type of lifestyle.

I’ve learned to saborear my life in Mexico, which means making more deliberate choices, now and in the future. Unfortunately, living here in Mexico is often much like Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Jellybeans of the wizarding world.  Sometimes you think you’ve chosen a nice toffee flavor and it turns out to be nothing more than ear wax. Alas!

Because of this alteration in life choices, my lifestyle over the past year has been undergoing some drastic changes.  (See A room of her own) I’m still in the transition process. I’ve made some headway as you’ll see in my Mid-year Goals update, but there are still some aspects I’m working on.  Meanwhile, I’ll saborear the moment I am in.

How do you saborear your life?

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Herbal Courses from beginner to advanced

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