Tag Archives: living in Mexico

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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Inspirational Women Writers in Mexico–Monique Alvarez

So, we’ve reached the half-way point for 2017.  Remember those goals you made back in January? (See Resolutions) Well, do ya?  So how are they going?  If like me, there are still a few things you are working on making manifest, it’s time to revisit the subject.

Therefore, today’s inspiring woman writer in Mexico is Monique Alvarez, author of Success Redefined Travel, Motherhood, & Being the Boss.  Perhaps reading about how she has created the life of her dreams will help you reaffirm those goals you had back in January.

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I’m originally from Colorado and I now live in Guanajuato, Mexico. On May 1st of 2016, my family and I decided to travel Mexico and a friend highly recommended Guanajuato.

I would say my relationship with my family and friends started to change when I moved overseas for the first time about seventeen years ago. Making the decision to travel long-term changes our world view so dramatically it’s often difficult to return to the same relationships and even when we do they are not the same because we have changed so much.

My belief system changed when I was 19 and on my first overseas trip to Myanmar. I’m from a very small town in rural America and I had no world view. I was raised with a few thousand people that for the most part are exactly the same. There’s not much diversity for the fact that they don’t welcome it. I saw how close minded I was and how I had been taught (mostly silently) that people who are different from me are less than or bad. I realized that there was so much more to see and experience. I realized how different and how alike we all are. I also learned that we always fear what we do not understand and that would impact me until this day.  I wouldn’t say I have overcome fear. I have got comfortable feeling fear and acting anyway. Every time I do something new I feel fear. Every single time.

I returned to the U.S. ten years ago after getting malaria in Kenya. I knew Colorado would be a tough transition for many reasons including the change in climate. I decided to move to Tucson, Arizona and a few months later I met my husband on a blind date. We traveled together for a year before having kids and now we are traveling with our two sons. I feel like my husband and I have a much better relationship when we are traveling. Life, in general, is lighter and more carefree. We have more time and more fun and that’s always good for our relationship.

In some ways, our life is very similar to how it was before we moved to Mexico. Toddlers are still toddlers. We still own our businesses. My husband and I started a business together in 2008 and it has evolved into my consulting business. He does a little web design but for the most part, he is fully in his art business. He paints on the iPad and sells limited edition metal art online. I facilitate masterminds for female entrepreneurs and I have recently written a book called Success Redefined Travel, Motherhood, & Being the Boss. We still work and play. I would say the thing that impacts us the most, however, is the change of environment. We are living in a country where I feel much more supported as a mother. It’s very family friendly in Mexico. They love kids. They expect kids to act like kids here. In the U.S. kids are expected to act like adults. Parents have many pressures on them and it feels nearly impossible to do “good enough” there. In Mexico, we take more time to do fun things. Meals are longer. We walk everywhere. We spend less time working. We go with the flow more.

Because of my travels, I have changed entirely. I’m not who I was raised to be. I’m not religious in the traditional sense. After I started traveling I began an inward journey. I sought out to find what spirituality meant to me. I am pretty liberal. I’m inclusive. I believe everyone should be able to love and live as they choose. I don’t believe that anyone on the planet is illegal. I see borders as absurd. I don’t buy into the philosophy of hard work or martyrdom. I believe in living well and deliberately choosing my life. I would like to believe I have become a more compassionate and tolerant human being. I also have to say I have become more protective of my time and energy. I am incredibly particular who I allow in my inner circle and that has been very good for me. I would say the most valuable skill I have learned here (and everywhere I’ve lived) is to ask for help, to ask questions and to receive help.

There have been challenges, though. When I first started traveling I went everywhere by myself. That in and of itself was a huge challenge. I lived a very sheltered life and so this shift to independence had lots of growing pains. Looking back it was the single best thing I did for myself, my husband and my children because I know who I am as a woman. I overcame getting the deadliest strain of malaria while living in Kenya. I had always been healthy and suddenly I was bedridden for almost a year. The contrast in life helped me see how valuable good health really is. Later when my husband and I traveled together we had to overcome our clients backlash about out decision to leave the U.S. for a year. After we returned to the U.S. I had two babies in twelve months and had severe complications after birth that were life threatening. We also almost lost both our boys as babies. As a mother, this is extremely painful and yet it’s also when I found my strength. I fought for my own life and the lives of my children.

I would say the biggest challenge I face as a full-time traveler is the amount of criticism I receive. People who never travel or don’t feel the have the means to travel are the first to say my life is not good for my kids or that I am out of touch with “reality”. Truthfully I am out of touch with a reality that blames others for circumstances. In my life and business, I am passionate about empowerment. Most people don’t realize the biggest challenge standing in their way of having an amazing life is that they are unwilling to take ownership of their decisions.  Spanish has also been a challenge for me.  However,  I’m focused on classes this quarter and I am excited to learn this language.

Professionally, the accomplishment I am most proud of is creating reoccurring monthly income for nine years in a row. Most people who start businesses dream of steady cash flow and I have experienced it. Personally, my kids make me incredibly proud. They are complete miracles and bring me tons of joy.

I can’t say I miss anything about living in the U.S. but that took time. In the beginning, I did. I missed some foods and some systems and procedures. Now what I miss is how simply my life was when I first moved overseas. There was no social media and I rarely even used email. I appreciate how technology connects me to my clients around the world and yet it was very nice to live without it.

Stuff, in general, is no longer important to me. When I moved to Tucson after being out of the U.S. for most of my twenties I thought I had missed out on something.  My friends had gone to college (I did not), they were married, they had bought houses and cars and I had a suitcase of dusty clothes. My husband and I bought a house our first year of marriage and the second we did, I knew I didn’t want it. I didn’t realize how travel had given me a taste for experiences and I lost so much of my desire for status symbols in my country.

The defining moment of my life since leaving the U.S. nine months ago was when a client wrote a nasty blog post about my choice to travel. I lost clients over it. I lost friends over it. At first, it was painful and confusing and then I found my fierce, take no prisoners self. I raised the bar in my life and that was the best thing I could have ever asked for.  I have a good life and a good family. I don’t need the whole world to understand it, I simply enjoy it.

I spend my free time downtown and in our favorite plazas eating street tacos and churros. When the boys are napping I sometimes sneak away for yoga, a walk or nap myself. My boys just turned two and three and the move has been good for them. They are loved by so many and are very happy. I believe kids pick up on the energy of their parents, particularly their mother in the early years and so having me happy and light is a good thing for them. My life is meaningful because it’s deliberately simple. I love a good cup of tea or playing Legos with my boys or having a nice dinner with my husband. I wouldn’t change a thing about my life. It has brought me to the beautiful place I am today.

Powerful women inspire me. Women who don’t take no for an answer. Women who reach for more. I love them! I have a practice of focusing on what makes me feel good and not on what makes me feel bad. I’ve found it’s good for my relationships, my bank account, and my health.

Ready to work on those goals again?

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Filed under Book Reviews, Guest Blogger Adventures

A room of her own–Perks

 

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It may not look like much at first…..

Despite the small size, there are definitely some perks to renting in Sunflower Valley.  While it’s really not designed for a family, I think a retired granny would be delighted here. In fact, I can see the whole neighborhood being converted into a retirement community.  Here are some of the pros and cons.

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There is unlimited water.  I can wash and wash to my heart’s content and not have to worry about getting a delivery truck to come and fill up the tinaco (water storage container) or go to the arroyo.  However, there is some issue with the tinaco.  Every week or so, there was an overflow, and it dripped into the house, which apparently has been happening for years because there are signs of roof leakage in every room.  We did get that fixed though (See Waterfall in the kitchen and Fixing the roof)  Additionally, the toilet leaked, so we had to flush with a bucket. The pipes are bad which is causing the walls in the hallway and my office to disintegrate. That we haven’t fixed yet.  Although the water heater was replaced, we don’t shower here either.  It’s just icky.  Plus there were those extra water charges the owner tried to foist on us from the last tenants.  Although that too has been taken care of.

There is unlimited electricity.  We can charge our flashlight, laptops, portable DVD players, phones and Kindles every single day! And at 50 pesos every 2 months, the price is right! However, there are only 5 working plugs in the whole house, so we have to rotate our charges.

There is unlimited internet.  Well, there better be since this was the whole reason for renting this place, to begin with.  I use the internet to teach my online classes.  My son uses the internet to play Minecraft.  My husband uses the internet to check his Facebook account.  However, it’s a bit pricey at $349 per month, and it’s not lightning fast, but it will do for now I suppose.

There is also trash pickup 6 days a week.  We don’t generate too much waste and average one trash bag per week.  The problem is getting the trash out when the truck passes ringing its bell. Typically, it goes by before 7 am, and we aren’t usually there to greet it.  So sometimes the trash bag waits a week or more before hitting the curb.  Other times we just haul it to La Yacata and burn it.

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There is an abarrotes (convenience store) right across the street.  We can get detergent, toilet paper, ham, cheese, eggs, beans, tortillas, bread, water garafones (jugs) and junk food.  Unfortunately, my son goes overboard on the junk food.  Every chance he gets, he heads over for a bag of chips and a Zumba (non-carbonated grape juice) or cookies and milk.  He has made the connection between the food he eats and his zit outbreaks, so I’m hoping he reduces his junk food intake eventually.  

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The produce truck comes every Sunday afternoon.  Since there isn’t a fruteria (produce store) close, this is a fabulous plus.  He even stops right in front of the house!  However, the guy who drives it has lots in La Yacata, so my cover is blown! It didn’t take too long for other Yacata property owners to find me in Sunflower Valley either.

The bolillo (bread) guy comes every morning around 9 am.  We aren’t often there in the mornings with our current schedule, but it’s a really nice treat when we are.  I can’t think of a downside for this.  Freshly made bollillo is yummy!

The tamale lady comes every Saturday evening.  She sells rojos, verdes y dulcles (red, green and sweet) tamales for 9 pesos each.  However, she usually knocks when I’m in class, so my son handles the transaction.  Only she doesn’t seem to understand volume, so she’s practically shouting at the front door, which disturbs me in my classes.  

The saddest ice cream truck ever also makes the rounds most evenings.  It’s a rusty red van that plays the song Memory from Cats over and over again.  Not exactly a song that brings ice cream to mind, but it’s memorable that’s for sure.

Now that the little house is nearly furnished, there are all sorts of perks inside too.  Both my son and I have a bed for napping when we have to head there right after school.  Having a kitchen lets us whip up something quick as well.  I also like to have a cup of tea during my classes.  And if my classes run long and my teenage son is famished, he can fry himself up some eggs and ham.  We have chairs to sit on and hope to get a couch to lounge on soon.  It’s quite comfortable really.

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The house backs up to a soccer field.  If I stand on a chair, I’m actually ground level to the field.  Best seats in the house.  However, there are days the games are the same time I am teaching online, so there’s a bit of background noise when the two overlap.

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Guard’s room.  There’s a ding-dong sensor when someone passes through the front gate.

There’s a security guard at the front gate who monitors everybody’s coming and going. Despite this, in recent months, there have been 4 break-ins during the day.  I suspect that the thieves live in Sunflower Valley as well, so the items have just moved from one house to another.  The targeted houses have been all 2 stories and obviously better off financially than my run-down little dump.  Plus, the store is open all day, and the shopkeeper keeps an eye on things on our street.  Furthermore, our neighbor has a friendly pitt bull that is outside during the day.  He’d give the warning should any strangers come and try to pick our lock.

Yet another perk is the proximity to La Yacata.  It really is less than 2 miles.  When my classes run late, it only takes 5 minutes to get home via the highway.  Of course, I don’t like driving the highway at night, but it’s the shortest way.  It’s also within biking distance for my son.  Nowadays he prefers heading over there Saturday afternoons rather than staying in La Yacata.

Besides the tamale lady and the occasional soccer game, the area is quiet and peaceful.  In December, we even had Las Posadas right outside our door.  We didn’t stay long, but shared some ponche (punch) and received an aguinaldo (goodie bag) for our 40 pesos contribution.

So, as you can see, there are some decided advantages to our little out in Sunflower Valley even if there aren’t any sunflowers here.  I’m not sure how long we’ll keep renting, but for now, it’s all good.

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The Bougainvillea has begun to bloom–perhaps a sign of better things to come?

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This post was proofread by Grammarly.

 

 

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A room of her own–furnishings

We set up with just a desk for my son, a desk for me, a card table and 4 chairs. Little by little, I brought stuff from La Yacata in order to make it more functional. I had a wooden TV table that now supports my printer and the internet box, the main reason for renting this place, after all.

Before

Before

There were a few shelves that originally were in my son’s Spidey room. A little yellow paint and they work nicely in the kitchen. I scrubbed the hideous green paint off the wooden insert in the kitchen and my son stained it.  What an improvement! I had a two burner electric hot plate that works for our occasional cooking. I bought a tea kettle and 4 dishes, and 4 enamel tin cups. I was going for utility rather than luxury. I brought a few pans from the other house, a container of sugar and tea and the kitchen was set up.

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The washer, of course, was the central kitchen item. Even after owning it for several months now, I still caress its lid when I go by. I’m very pleased with my purchase.

Before

Before

The English teacher across the street said she was getting rid of her daughter’s twin bed. In exchange for a bus ticket to DF, it was mine. I had to wait about a month though since she wanted to replace the bed with a double bed and didn’t have the money to buy both the base and the mattress at the same time. Eventually, the day arrived and we went to take possession. After a bit of Tetris, the bed left her itty bitty house, crossed the street and entered my itty bitty house. It’s lovely, really.  Now I can nap if I so desire.

Classroom

Classroom

Nap area

Nap area

I also wanted to get a twin bed for my son’s room. We had enough boards at the house for my husband to make the base. After weeks of prodding, he finally did. A few more weeks of prodding, it was delivered.

So now I was in the mind to buy a mattress and maybe some living room furniture. I started my search at the new Fabricas de Francia. Ok, I admit, that probably wasn’t the best place to find a good deal. I had already discovered washers there were 30,000 pesos. But I was window shopping right? Well, after checking the price tags on a few pieces, it was time to hightail it down the escalator. I also vetoed Famsa after the looooong delay in receiving my washer. Coppel had some mattress for under $2,000 pesos and free delivery, but I still didn’t want to pay that much. The sofas and stuff weren’t really nice either.

Before

Before

So I decided to wait for the Maraton–which is an annual furniture sale in the convention center just outside of town. There were all sort of, umm, interesting models. Not really my cup of tea, but hey, maybe somebody else wants a crib that matches their dining room set. Mattresses were anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000 pesos. The genuine leather living room sets were very nice, but SOOOO out of my budget. Fortunately, they had a scratch and dent tent outside. There was a nice blue loveseat, but just a little too expensive for me.

Before

Before

Then, I found them. Two little brown vinyl chairs. Perfect. They were good quality and I could afford both of them. I paid cash, which caused some eyebrow-raising, and they wrapped them up to go. I spent the afternoon moving them about my itty bitty living room, delighted with my purchase.

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The mother of two of my students had sold me a bronzey mirror for my son’s room awhile back. (See Ladykiller’s room remodel) She said she had a second one that she also wanted to sell, but at the time I didn’t really need it. Now, though, I said I would like to buy it. She surprised me my last class before Christmas vacation by telling me she was giving me the mirror. Score!

Curtains were another issue. The two front windows had those slatted Venetian blinds, but it was still possible to peak in. After pricing vinyl window paper, I decided to just use the plastic contact paper I had bought to forar (cover) my son’s books at the beginning of the school year. It added a bit of privacy to both front windows and the back door. The two remaining windows were larger than typical, so I had to make some curtains. I bought a set of sheets for that purpose, kept the bottom fitted sheet to use as a sheet and cut up the top flat sheet. It was cheaper than buying fabric.

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I ordered some bedding from Zulily which actually arrived before the beds. I ordered matching bedding so that it all could be washed together in the washer. Practical huh?

After an exhaustive search, I finally found a twin size mattress for just over $1000 pesos at La Bodega. A little bribery in the form of “I’ll buy you a bag of cement if you will take me to pick up the mattress with the truck” to my husband and the mattress was mine.  Well, my son’s.

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I had in mind a little table to set between my two living room chairs. I found an unvarnished one that would do in el mercado (market) however they wanted $250 pesos for it. Too much, in my opinion. But wait, my son is still taking carpentry classes as his school and his current project was a small coffee table. There we have it!

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I also wanted a tree stand. Draping our coats on the chairs and dropping our helmets on the floor got old real fast. And as the house is itty bitty, well, there’s no room for that sort of disorder. It didn’t take much effort and only 250 pesos to get that necessity. A carpenter shop on Pipila had just what I wanted.

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But I wasn’t finished yet. In August I joined the school teacher tanda. A tanda is a Mexican money saving scheme. One person is in charge and receives the money. Each participant is given a payout number. Since we get paid bi-weekly at the school, our tanda was also bi-weekly with a contribution amount of $500 pesos each time. I choose the last number because in my mind I didn’t see the sense in continuing to make payments when I wouldn’t be receiving anything more. Sort of like paying for the cake when it’s already been eaten. The thing is, you have to be sure of the people involved. I’ve heard tell that sometimes the organizer refuses to pay. Or participants don’t give their contribution so others end up short. So it’s a risky business, to say the least.

Anyway, my number came up at the end of February. I received 3,500 pesos after 4 months of waiting. I don’t know that I’ll participate in any more tandas. Seems like I could save the money myself just as well. My plan was to get a loveseat for the living room, or maybe a small kitchen table and chairs. But the universe had other plans.

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This post was proofread by Grammarly.
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