Tag Archives: living in Mexico

Surviving Drought in La Yacata

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This is what La Yacata looks like most of the year.

Mexico is prone to droughts. Many areas are desert, but that doesn’t mean they are uninhabited. (See Also Chihuahuan Desert, Sonoran Desert, Indigenous Desert People)

Mexico experienced severe droughts in 2012 and 2014, not so very long ago, and it’s likely to happen again.

Lake Chapala, one of the primary sources of freshwater for Mexico City, is drying up. Rivers have been known to just disappear as well.

As a result, Mexicans overall are very water conscious. We, in La Yacata, hold water as sacred as it takes such effort to get it to our house. (see Water Woes) After I read some articles about how to conserve water, I realized how much I have changed as regards to water consumption from when I lived in the U.S. Most of the suggestions in these lists were second nature to me now. (See also Emergency Preparedness100 Ways to Conserve Water, Drought Tips)

So here’s how we conserve water in the kitchen:

We don’t have a dishwasher since we have no electricity. That means everything is washed by hand in a very precise manner. I soap up a sponge and then use it on the pile of dirty dishes, stacking them to the side of the sink. Once I have a pile, usually of the same type of dish, I move them back into the sink and rinse, sometimes with the tap, or if water is really low, with a scoop from a bucket of water. Then I put them on the drying rack to dry. I only do as much as can be stacked. The rest can wait. Anything crusted on gets another pass with the sponge and might be left to soak. Pots and pans are also sprinkled with water and left to soak, sometimes until the next load is done which might not be until the next day. Any food particles are caught in the mesh strainer and thrown out to the chickens for a bit of a treat.

We also have the one-glass rule. We only use one glass for the three of us to drink water from. It sits under the tap of the garafon (water cooler) to catch any drips. It may sound unhygienic and we don’t hold to that rule when anyone is sick, but it sure does save on dishes.

When we boil something that needs the water dumped out, we often use that water on our plants once it’s cool. Waste not, want not!

Conservating water in the laundry room:

We have a hand pump which brings the water from the aljibe (dry well) to the second floor. Our wash water is reused with most of it heading back down to the back yard for the fruit trees. Water left in the bucket is used to water the indoor plants or as mop water then used on the plants. (See After Ecstasy, the laundry)

Conserving water in the bathroom:

We have a shower instead of a tub. Our showers are short, less than 10 minutes typically. Days that the hot water heater is out of commission, they are even shorter. Brrr! We make sure there are no leaks from the shower head, faucet or toilet, ever. A drip left all day could be the difference between having water tomorrow and not. We always turn the water off when brushing our teeth–who leaves it on anyway? We have a fingernail brush to scrub our hands before we turn the water back on to rinse. We use our towels, one per family member, for a week unless they are super dirty. That keeps the laundry amount down and isn’t the idea that you use a towel AFTER you’re already clean to dry off?

One suggestion on the water conservation list that we do because it’s customary here in Mexico is to throw the toilet paper into the wastepaper can rather than into the toilet. The reason that’s done here is to prevent clogged pipes. Most of the water pipes (our house included) are embedded in the cement floor. There isn’t any floor space underneath. So in the event of a super clog, a plumber could not get under the house and open the pipes. Another suggestion on several conservations lists is flush less often. Our house rule is “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.” That’s probably more than you really want to know about our hygiene habits, though!

Other conservation habits:

We don’t have toy water guns or a pool. We collect rain water in barricas (barrels). When we change the animals’ water, we use the old water on the fruit trees. We monitor the amount of drinking water our animals have. For the horses, we don’t leave a bucket of water in the stall because it’s likely to get spilled and spilled water is wasted water. We don’t wash our vehicles. Yes, that means sometimes they are pretty dirty, but it will eventually rain. We don’t have a lawn. Anything that grows in our backyard is already pretty much drought resistant, other than the fruit trees. We have cactus, feverfew, klip dagga, aloe and a few other native plants that grow whether or not we water them. We don’t irrigate our crops which means we don’t plant until the rainy season starts. In the event of drought, we won’t have too many crops, but that’s the risk we take.

Of all our off-grid accommodations, I’ve always felt that our water system has been our weakest aspect.  La Yacata has no natural running water, like a stream or underground spring.  There is no connection to the main town water line either.  (See Water Woes)  Therefore, we have to pay for a water truck to make deliveries or go and get it ourselves from nearby towns that do have natural water supplies. Those nearby communities also have areas where we sometimes go to wash our clothes, thereby saving our own precious water. We also are able to fill our tinacos (water storage containers) and garafones (water cooler bottles)and bring them back to our house.

This past winter, we decided to upgrade.  First, we removed the portable water storage container from the back porch.  We gave this to my father-in-law to add to his overall water storage capacity.  He has quite a number of goats that need water daily.  This required an up and over approach.  My husband, his brother B and my son lifted it up to the roof, then lowered it into the back of the truck.

Now that there was a bit more space, we purchased 2 new 1100 liter tinacos (water storage containers).  My husband made bases for them with bits of brick.  He connected them to the copper pipes that lead to our downstairs bathroom.  Then, he connected a pipe from the roof to catch falling rainwater in the rainy season.

This added 2200 liters to our overall water storage capacity bringing our total to about 8000 liters with the first tinaco (water storage container) and aljibe (dry well).  A full order of water is 10,000 liters.  So now we can order a full truck and share with my father-in-law or with B to complete the order.

As you can see, we do just fine in La Yacata in regards to water conservation and would be able to survive longer in the event of a drought because of that, even with water hard to come by. Amazingly enough, drought allows for some interesting phenomenon here in Mexico. In 2015, drought caused the water level to drop 82 feet in the Nezahualcoyotl reservoir, revealing the ruins of a 16th-century colonial church, Temple of Santiago. Who knows what other things might be found?

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Surviving global Climate change in La Yacata

What-If-Its-A-Hoax
I’m not going to debate the fact that the earth is undergoing a global climate change.  The evidence is unrefutable. I’m not interested in laying the blame at anyone’s door. It’s really too late for that.

So provided global climate change is a given, what does this mean for the residents of this planet?

Believe it or not, many scientists predict an ice age. Our weather here in Mexico in March 2016 seems to support that theory.


Other scientists suggest changes that are just as catastrophic and that will continue beyond this century.

Rising temperatures

Changes in precipitation affecting the growing seasons. (See Also Extreme March Weather Pattern Yields Snow in Mexico, Historic Flooding in South and Record Northeast Heat)

Megadroughts

–Hurricanes and other storms increasing in intensity. (See Also Ice melt, sea level rise and superstorms: the threat of irreparable harm)

— Rise in sea level causing coastal flooding. (See Also No planet for optimists: coastal flooding may come sooner and bigger than we think)

According to some, global warming will have benefits for countries like Greenland, so you might want to pack your bags and head out.

However, I’d like to present La Yacata as an alternative to Greenland in the event of global climate change. After all, if those experts that predict an ice age are correct, Greenland is definitely not the place to be.

What do scientists suggest are the best characteristics of a good place to live in the event of global climate change?

Not on the coast. As the seal level rises, coastal areas will be underwater. I expect that holds true for some islands too. Fortunately, La Yacata is smack dab in the middle of Mexico, far, far away from the coastline.

Not in the forest. Drought from the change in precipitation will cause much of the forest to dry out. Dry areas with dry trees have a good chance of wildfire. Wildfire is not good for any crops you might have planted, animals you might have or houses you might have built. La Yacata is definitely not in a forested area.

Not in the mountains or the valleys. Superstorms and rapidly melting snows will cause mudslides. Drought will cause landslides. Being in the mountains during one of these events might result in your being found in the valley the next morning. Being at the base of the mountain during one of these events might result in your being buried the next morning. Technically, La Yacata is in the valley but situated far enough away from those rocky cliffs that the danger is minimal.

Not in the desert. Changes in precipitation will make desert regions dryer. Although by the same token, some areas that previously had low rainfall might just get a lot more. La Yacata isn’t at the top of the scale in this category because it tends to be very hot and very dry most of the year, but a dramatic climate change might just remedy that.

Not in urban sprawl. In urban areas, there are just too many people and too few resources. Quite a bit of usable dirt is under cement. Rooftop gardens are good, but not as prevalent as they could be. With global climate shifts changing the agricultural season, having access to cultivated organic food could be the difference between life and death. La Yacata is definitely not urban and there are plenty of nooks and crannies where container gardens can be grown. (See Container Gardening)

Not in an area prone to hurricanes, blizzards or tornados. With the increasing intensity of storms, areas that already have a history of hurricanes, blizzards, or tornados can expect to experience even more. Being so far inland, La Yacata is not likely to suffer much from the effects of a hurricane. It’s southern central area also precludes the likelihood of a blizzard, but in the event of one, the Flores family is prepared! Mexico, in general, does have tornados, an average of 10 per year, however, Guanajuato is not in the top states where a tornado is likely to form. If you are interested–the top four states where a tornado is likely to occur are Mexico State, Veracruz, Tlaxcala, and Chiapas. The most we ever get in La Yacata is remolinos (air swirls) that my husband swears will dissipate if you whistle loud enough. As long as he can pucker up, I expect we are safe enough here.

Not in a society dependent on Mono-crop Agriculture or Fossil Fuels. While that statement seems to include pretty much of the known world, it’s important to remember that there are still pockets of societies that live in harmony with nature. Those societies will be the go-to guys in the event of catastrophic climate change. Third world countries will probably fair better than quite a number of first world civilizations just because the average person still remembers how to do things for him or herself. (See Also How Climate change affects world society and The impacts on society due to climate change)

By the same token, La Yacata meets several of the qualifications of places you should consider in the event of global climate change.

Experts suggest a place that is:

Self-sufficient. Survival is more likely in a self-sufficient agriculturally based community where livestock feed is grown, topsoil maintained, and crop diversity is encouraged. So the Amish might be a good community to join. Or La Yacata. (See Let’s talk about food)

High elevation. Living at a higher elevation would reduce both the effects of drought and flooding. La Yacata is 1848 m (6063 ft) above sea level. Not as high as Los Amoles, but less chance of snow.

Off-grid. Flooding, superstorms, hurricanes, tornados, blizzards and other weather phenomenon will affect public services, especially electricity. I remember when Hurrican Isabel hit the area where we were living in Virginia. We were without electricity for nearly a month. In La Yacata, we have no public utilities, so in the event of a power outage, we’d be just fine. (See There is still no Electricity)

Diverse and Resilient environment. Being in an environment that can withstand the elements will be essential in the event of global climate change. I can honestly say that La Yacata does just that. Every year, someone lights a fire in La Yacata and the mesquite and cactus have been able to recover each time. In fact, quite a bit of the vegetation comes back stronger. (See Also Humans survived the last ice age by sheltering in a Garden of Eden)

Ample water supply. With changes in precipitation, water sources might dry up. La Yacata is not the best place to be for this category. We have a hole that poses as a pozo (well) but no way to access the water. (See Water Woes) On the other hand, the communities just up the road from us have their own water source from underground springs. We do collect rainwater and are very conscious of our water use, though, so just maybe it will be ok.

Ample food sources. Crop failure will be rampant. Most agricultural these days is limited rather than diverse. Mexico has such a wide range of corn that grows in such diverse areas that odds are, some certainly will survive climate change. Unfortunately, Monsanto has been trying to take over down here and it’s hard to say how long Mexico has before their maize heritage is destroyed as well. Here in La Yacata, we are able to grow our own organic foodstuff AND have a plethora of foraged foods available. (See Let’s Talk about Food in La Yacata)

So, as you can see, La Yacata definitely meets some of the requirements for a place to be in the event of global climate change.  Even the movie The Day After Tomorrow recommends heading to Mexico!

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Why I choose Mexico every single day

This life I live here in rural Mexico is not always easy.  It is not always pretty.  It is not always butterflies and rainbows.  Quite of a number of you think I’ve completely lost my mind especially when reading about the latest challenge life in Mexico has thrown my way.  That’s all right.  You are entitled to your opinion.

Perhaps what you can’t understand, or perhaps you can, is the satisfaction I get at the end of the day.  I’ve managed to handle whatever obstacle in my path and survived to tell about it.  I don’t blindly do the same routine day after day.  My mind is alert.  My soul alive.  My senses are taut with expectations.

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That doesn’t mean I don’t despair.  Sometimes I want to just give up and go…..well, where would I go?  This is my home.  I have firmly planted my feet in the soil and to uproot now would surely be the end.

So why don’t I?  Love.  I love my life in Mexico.  I love it from the moment of waking up until the moment I lay my head down at night.  I love the relentless sun and endless blue skies.  I love the flight of the hawk overhead searching for its next meal.  I love the bleakness of the dry season.  I love the awe-inspiring vista in the rainy season.  This is where I am meant to be at this moment in time.  This is who I am.

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It’s in this choosing to love my life, rather than focus on the negative aspects, that makes the difference I think.  Maybe you think that makes me naive.  Perhaps it does.  It’s not that I don’t see the dark underside.  Rather it’s that I realize that without it, there is no light.  The rainy season is followed by the dry.  Life is interspersed with death.  

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So every day, knowing full well that it might be my last, I choose Mexico again and again.  After all……

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Inspirational Women Writers in Mexico–Judy King

Part of Surviving Mexico is finding your passion. I even have a section specifically devoted to it under Resources for Creating a Life Well-Lived in Mexico.  Without that crucial component, you won’t make it.  Honest to God!  It isn’t an easy process.  It may take years.  You may end up on side roads you never thought you’d travel.  That some of those side roads are found in Mexico our featured author, Judy King, can attest to.

I was born and raised in Iowa – part of the 5th generation of two lines of ancestors: great-great-grandparents with the surnames Thomsen and Chrestensen who emigrated from Denmark in the 1840s. I moved to Ajijic (isn’t that a fun word, with all those letters to dot?) in Jalisco, about 45 minutes from Guadalajara, from southern California in October of 1990. I’m here now because this is la Tierra de mi Corazon – the land of my heart.

I came to Mexico the year my youngest of three children entered college. All three of them were in universities in Iowa and Missouri, I was in California. It didn’t seem to make much difference if I was 1800 miles West of them or 1800 miles South of them. As a fairly recent resident of that town in California, I had just a few close friends – who were preparing to move to the east coast.

My children went through a series of changes, as college students and young adults are meant to do, and came out the other end extremely independent, and well prepared to live in the world on their own. NOT having the ability to move back to live with mom really does make a difference. Plus they really enjoyed spending holidays in Jalisco.

By the way, I’m an only child. My mother died in 1972 when I was 29, my father remarried, to a much younger woman, so I didn’t have the obligation to remain in California to care for him…I really was on my own. I came alone. I was divorced, the man I’d met and become engaged to in California had died of cancer, and with the kids in college, I sure was at loose ends.

I’ve changed so much and learned so much in these 26 years that It’s hard to know where to start and how to explain. I was a “bit” of a control freak, I learned those skills along with some other frantic traits at my mother’s knee

I’ve learned to slow down, to not push and shove and force my way through things, that stuff happens on its own schedule, that MY logic is not the logic of this country, that MY country’s way of doing things is not the only way and certainly not the best way. I’ve learned to live one day at a time, a habit that drives some of my newer in Mexico friends wild. Where are we going to lunch tomorrow? I don’t know. I’m answering these questions today. When we get to tomorrow, I’ll let you know. Why would we need to know today?

I’ve learned that time can be fluid. I’ve learned that when appointments are not kept or people are late, it has NOTHING to do with me. It’s just the way it is. AND that Mexico and the US/Canada have different ways of doing things. One isn’t right and the other wrong, they are just different.

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That means I’ve given up a good deal of judgment. Yes, some folks live in houses that others might consider hovels – they are just houses – and the people who come out of those houses every morning are spic and span, combed and coiffed, looking better than I do.

How my belief system has changed is worthy of a whole book—as “the chicken man on the road” said to me once, “Que lastima (what a shame) that extranjeros (expats) shop (and judge) with their eyes and not their hearts. He was killing chickens every morning, plucking and dressing them, and he didn’t refrigerate them, knowing that most people who bought the chickens would be cooking them for comida (meals) in the afternoon. I know from time spent at Great-Aunt Lulu’s farm and at Aunt Margaret and Aunt Betty’s places that fresh chicken is safe, doesn’t grow bacteria that is harmful to us in 4 or 5 hours, UNLESS it is refrigerated, allowed to warm up and then refrigerated again.

I’ve tried to look with my heart and not just my eyes while living here. I’ve learned that money certainly is not the basis of determining the value of people, or of deciding who has knowledge to share with me, or who is “worthy” of being my friend. Certainly a welcome change from the US, and especially Southern California where the pretense of wealth/upper class/ prestige is everything.

I’m angered, I get really HOT when expats, especially those who are new start in with “WHY DON’T THEY….pave over the cobblestones, make laws so it is quiet at night….and on and on and on….” Northerners Don’t have the right to decide what Mexicans do, with their money, with their lives, with their time, with their customs. It’s ok if it is different.

During these years I also converted to Catholicism. Ajijic’s parish church has had an English Mass every Sunday for over 50 years – fairly unusual in Mexico. I was born and raised Presbyterian – totally middle of the road, religion wise. I was a bit of a rebel and was attracted to the Catholic church in my teen years, but it was easier to give up what I wanted than to go face to face with my mother. SO, I waited until I was around 60. Mostly I did it because I was invited to so many weddings and baptisms and quinces that I really wanted to be fully part of the Mass, AND I had fallen in love with the Virgin of Guadalupe and had accepted her as my mother, as the Mexicans also do. Knowing her love and help in return had helped me heal from the leftover wounds inflicted by some born-again family members, and when I was able to accept that Her son really had nothing to do with what those people were doing and saying, I was ready to come back and be in a church again.

I’ve had my share of challenges too. I met an American man here and married him here. I didn’t realize he was an alcoholic and gambler. When my money was gone, he was gone, too. On to the next woman. Then when the divorce took longer than he wanted, he took her to Texas and married her too – I thought happily about putting him in jail in both countries for bigamy, but decided to sit down and shut up and wait until the 10th anniversary when I could collect my social security from his base, rather than mine. By that time the new wife had died of hepatitis, and he was living at the beach, I was here and never saw him, so it didn’t seem to make much difference. Hanging in was worth it. Now I’m collecting widow’s benefits.

It wasn’t quite that simple emotionally, however. It took a good long time for me to heal. If it hadn’t been for Al-anon, I don’t know if I would have. That’s one of the great benefits of living here at Lake Chapala – there is such a great support system of expats, and more than 100 organizations of all kinds meeting in English.

Any challenges these days are small, and usually self-inflicted if I’m honest. I’m almost 72, I’ve been here 26 years, Growing older has meant growing calmer, softer, easier, less stressed, less affected by what is happening out there. Living alone helps too!

There is a pair of accomplishments that make me the proudest. I’m delighted to be seen with respect by many of the Mexican community leaders. I’m not talking elected community officials, but the hometown guys who know who I am and how I believe and what I know about Mexican customs and traditions. They call me la media Mexicana.

The ONLY thing on my bucket list was to write and publish a book, to hold it in my hands and see my name on the front. I used to “write books” when I was 4 and 5. When I was 6 all I wanted for Christmas was a BIG pile of paper (that I could do with what I wanted), a BIG box of crayons (in 1950 that meant the box of 48) and a lot of pencils and a pencil sharpener. I just received my 4th printing of Living at Lake Chapala, which continues to sell well on amazon.com, too.

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I hope to write another book this year – The working title is FIESTAS! Celebrations of Families, Fireworks, and Faith. In it, I’ll talk about the civic and religious holidays, the customs of celebrations, and the family events, baptisms, first communion, quinceaneras, weddings, anniversaries, deaths, funerals, etc. What I need is to put myself in the chair and stay there until I compile and edit the articles I’ve already written and rewritten over the years and collate them into book format. Thankfully we have a great German/Mexican printer in Guadalajara who will print as many as we want at very reasonable prices.

I have an immigration book ½ finished but I became so angry with the power and antics of the US government – ICE and Homeland Security that I quit about 18 months ago and put it back on the shelf. The name of that was Coming Home: Real Stories of Mexican Migrants. It was a series of interviews with local guys and women who have been to the states, some back as far as the braceros, who worked there and then returned home to live. The alternate chapters would explore issues at the center of the interview – applying for visas, detention, The wall (the original wall, not the newly planned wall) etc.

Things I miss about my life before Mexico include shopping and time with my kids, but in my head, it’s my kids when they were younger, not now when they all in their mid-to-late 40s! Two of them were here for my last birthday. One will be coming this year.

I sold real estate here at Lake Chapala for 11 years, I managed B&Bs for owners, I designed interior decorator accessories for local production to be shipped to the US, Canada, and Europe, I started, edited and maintained a subscription-based online magazine, Living at Lake Chapala for 12 years, I edited a monthly print magazine, the Lake Chapala Review for 8.5 years, and I was a columnist and reporter for the Guadalajara Reporter for 2 years before I retired January 1, 2016. (NOTE: that adds up to more than 26 years! Some of those jobs overlapped, I was multitasking frequently) Now I have social security from the US.

In my free time, I sew, quilt, play the ukulele, attend church, belong to a quilt guild, to a women’s writers group, to a book club, and sharing breakfast or lunch with groups of friends. The expats here are more prone to earlier activities – I hesitate to say we’re old, exactly, but I’m actually excited about the New Year’s Eve party I’m invited to – it is scheduled from 3 to 6 p.m. PERFECT…then I can come home and put on sweats and spend the evening with my dog – she doesn’t like fireworks. Besides English Mass is at 9 a.m. on New Year’s Day.

I learned a lot of the skills I needed for daily life growing up in the 50s in Iowa and then being an Iowa farmwife in the 60s and 70s. I was well used to phone, water, and electric outages, even running out of gas. I also read the book Don’t sweat the Small Stuff….PS It’s ALL Small Stuff.  This year I want to continue quilting. I’m making TV couch quilts for my great-grandchildren. I have 2 done, 3 to go. I’ve done quilts for my daughter and one son. Need to do one for my older son this year, too, to keep things even. (smile). Then maybe I can do one for me to use for my siestas.

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I have learned to emulate my Mexican neighbors and live in today. That’s so valuable. As soon as I start to think about the past or the future, I’m prone to worry and I’m out of today. I’m inspired by the ability of people here to just keep keeping on, no matter what. Christmas is a perfect example. I grew up with a mother, and I became a mother, who had to have every flat surface decorated, who had to bake dozens of cookies, and dozens of loaves of banana and date bread to give to folks, to decorated every gift, who fussed until every gift (and there were many, too many) was absolutely perfect, and the house was spotless and the food was fit for Julia Child and the table for Martha Stewart….and we were tired to the bone and so so crabby that no one had a good time. My Mexican friends just don’t worry about it until the last few days – and then a gift or two, sometimes with their sisters making tamales, bonfires, some strings of lights, speakers, and chairs in the street on Christmas eve, and everyone has a great time. It’s all about family and not all about appearances and pretenses. WHEW…I wish I’d known this sooner.

I’d sure like to be kinder and less judgemental more often. (Note: my flares of disgust and anger are aimed at stupid expat behavior, NOT at local customs, traditions or daily life.

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I volunteer for a local orphanage – la Villa Infantil de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe y Sr San José. This children’s home houses between 35 and 40 children. Right now there are a dozen Little ones, age 2 and under and the other 25 are from 3 through 12. Some of these beautiful children are orphans, others have been abandoned in Guadalajara, others have been taken from their families due to abuse, drug use by the adults, etc. The home is run and the children cared for by three wonderful nuns – I have no idea how they manage to maintain their sanity, and they go so much farther and are calm, measured, sweet and loving to all of the calls of “Mami, Mami, Mami” (Nuns here are called Madre – so it’s automatic that they become Mami.) We do a monthly food and cleaning materials drive, we take turns providing and serving lunch for the kids when the older ones get home from school, we provide school uniforms, backpacks, and school supplies each fall. And we just provided clothes and a toy for each child for Christmas. “My” Christmas child was a 2-year-old girl. When she and her siblings arrived at the home they were so dirty and so infested with lice that their heads had to be shaved and it took multiple baths to get them clean. They are thriving now. Another little set of 4 siblings all had cigarette burns. The baby had burns on her temples. The older brother and sister had never been to school, the nine-year-old couldn’t write his own name and was addicted to the drugs his uncle had him selling and delivering and had to be in rehab for a few days to detox. Anyone wanting to help the home and the kids could call Father Basil (our English speaking priest who dedicates a good deal of his week and energy to making sure the children and nuns have what they need to keep the home running like a clock. His US VOIP number is 408-733-6042 and his Mexican Landline is (387) 763-0928

At the beginning of 2014, Our Club Ukulele de Laguna started an academy to teach local children to play the ukulele. There are 40 youngsters enrolled in the program. The adult group furnishes instruments for the kids, pays for the professional college-trained musical teacher to instruct them, and helps with all of their performances. Already some of these kids have moved beyond uke to guitar, violin, cello, and all will have the lifelong benefit in reading and math, and an advantage in life skills from the discipline and group experience of music.

Finally, I’m teaching a series of classes about Mexico for the Lake Chapala Society, a 60+-year-old expat organization here. All of my classes look at Mexico through literature and sometimes movies and music. The first class related to the Maya, Olmec, Aztec and the Conquest. The November 2016 class explored the winter holiday customs and traditions in Mexico. In January 2017 an eight-week class is titled Surviving the Revolution. We’ll look at the family in Mexico at the turn of the century and as the fervor built toward the Revolution which began in 1910. Then we’ll read and discuss the people and their experiences in several books including Rain of Gold by Victor Villasenor, and The Hummingbird’s Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea. We’ll watch the movie, “Like Water for Chocolate” based on the book by Laura Esquivel, and possibly also “The Old Gringo” based on the book by Carlos Fuentes. A shorter book, written during the Revolution and included in the class is “The Underdogs” by Dr. Mariano Azuela.  

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If I had to do it all over again, I would move to Mexico earlier. I would not waste time living the first years in big gringo houses. I love my smaller rental house in the village.  I really haven’t had a defining moment in my life here. But then I chose to come here, I choose to stay here because I love it here, because this is my home, where my heart is. I’ve lived here longer than anywhere else. I don’t experience fear. I live in faith that all will be well. I know that may sound way too simplistic, but if you haven’t tried it, don’t knock it. When tough times hit, if I went to fear that the sky would fall on my head, nothing got better. If I believed, really believed that all would be well, even if I couldn’t imagine HOW, somehow it was.

One woman’s adventure with an inclusive guide on moving to, building, renting or buying your dream house in Lake Chapala. Here you’ll find everything from the average cost of living to language and culture tips that will make your life at Lake Chapala successful.  Find Judy on Twitter and Facebook.

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