Tag Archives: Mexico City

Blogs about Mexico Worth Reading–My Heart of Mexico

Fabiola Rodriguez has been a long-time cheerleader for Surviving Mexico.  Finally, I can return the favor!  Thanks, Fabi! I’m sure you’ll enjoy My Heart of Mexico as much as I do.

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What was the inspiration for your blog name?

I came up with the name “My Heart of Mexico” through a lot of brainstorming. I wanted a blog name that would convey my love for my country, and I combined it with the idea of my living in the heart of Mexico.

What brought you to Mexico?

I was born in Mexico, but later I spent some time in the US while I was growing up. Eventually, my family and I returned to Mexico.

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

I live in central Mexico, in the Mexico City area, so my blog is focused mainly on my experience living here, but I have written posts about other places in Mexico.

heart of mexico df

Why do you blog?

I started this blog because I want people from other parts of the world to see what living in Mexico is really like. I think the news on Mexico tend to focus primarily on the negative issues, and there’s hardly any mention of the positive aspects of the country. So I write for people from other countries who are curious about Mexico.

What is your favorite blog post?

My favorite blog post is “10 Facts About Mexican Food That Will Surprise You”. I had fun writing it and it was fun to read the comments too. It’s amazing how Mexican food is so popular around the world and yet so few people know the basics about it. Most of what is called Mexican food is really not.

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

I wrote a post called “5 Lies About Mexico You Need to Stop Believing”, which was about several misconceptions I’ve noticed going around in social media. It was appalling to read the comments about Mexico in the wake of the Trump administration, and that’s why I decided to write the post. It was difficult because it meant straying away from my “zero politics” mission statement, but I couldn’t ignore the controversy. I had to say something.

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

The best experiences I’ve had so far are related to health care. My family has lived through several difficult situations, but we’ve all been satisfied with health care in Mexico overall. I think this is definitely one of the biggest perks of living here.

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

A few years ago, my nephew was kidnapped and the entire family had to come together to pay the ransom money. Unfortunately, kidnapping is a very real threat for Mexican families. We were fortunate, my nephew was returned alive and in one piece, but many families are not so lucky. But one thing I learned from that was not to keep quiet. Fear and silence only benefit criminals.

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

I don’t plan on going anywhere!

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

Don’t be afraid. You can have a great life in Mexico! Just do your homework and make arrangements accordingly.

Where do you see your blog going?

I hope I can turn my blog into a book one day. In the meantime, I’ve been experimenting with writing about other topics and on Medium. I love this platform! I feel I can reach a wider audience.

heart of mexico fabi

Where can you be found?

My Heart of Mexico

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Christmas in México–La Virgen de Guadalupe

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The Virgen de Guadalupe (Virgin of Guadalupe), a.k.a. Nuestra Reina de México, La Empresa de las Americas and The Protectress of Unborn Children, is the most revered religious and political image in México and her feast day on December 12 kicks off the Christmas season in grand style.

So who is the Virgin of Guadalupe? According to Catholic sources, on December 9, 1531, a peasant by the name of Juan Diego, saw a vision on the Hill of Tepeyac, outside of Mexico City. The site was formerly a shrine in honor of the goddess Tonantzin, “Our Sacred Mother” but had been burnt to the ground by the Catholic missionaries. The reported vision was in the form of a young dark-skinned girl and spoke Nahuatl, an indigenous language. She instructed Juan Diego to build a shrine in her honor at this site. Juan Diego went and told the Archbishop this story. Juan Diego insisted that this vision was the La Virgen María (the Virgin Mary), but the Archbishop wanted proof, so Juan Diego returned to the site and asked for a miracle. The vision told Juan Diego to gather flowers, and the apparition arranged them on his poncho. When Juan Diego opened his poncho in front of the Archbishop on December 12, the flowers fell to the floor, and the fabric showed an imprint of the image known today as the Virgen de Guadalupe. (LA VIRGEN DE GUADALUPE)

Juan Diego was given sainthood, and the Catholics were given México.The poncho (tilma) is on display in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe behind bulletproof, climate-controlled glass, for any who wish to see but not touch. So basically, La Virgen de Guadalupe is Mary, the mother of Jesus, but not.

la reina de mexico

Even more than the religious influence, the image of La Virgen de Guadalupe has been a unifying political force in México. The first president of México, José Miguel Ramón Adaucto Fernández y Félix changed his name to Guadalupe Victoria (Victory of Guadalupe) in her honor. Father Miguel Hidalgo, in the Mexican War of Independence (1810), and Emiliano Zapata, in the Mexican Revolution (1910), led their armies with Guadalupan flags emblazoned with an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. El Grito de Dolores, (See Mexican Independence Day) ends with the passionate cry of “Death to the Spaniards and long live the Virgin of Guadalupe. José María Morelos adopted the Virgin as the seal of his Congress of Chilpancingo. All because her blessing guarantees success like no other to a true Mexican.

This holds true for namesakes as well. There is no end to the men and women (Lupes, Lupillos, Lupitas, Lupillas) that carry the sacred name of La Virgen as their personal Saint and enjoy the festivities on December 12 as their Saint Day.

tepeyac

So how is La Virgen’s de Guadalupe’s feast day celebrated? Beginning on December 3, there is a 9-day novena (See La Novena) which ends on December 12th. If you need special intervention for a personal cause, you can make the pilgrimage to México City to lay your plea at her feet during this time. If you are not able to make the trip, shrines pop up all over México, so you still get a chance no matter where you are, although the surest and most direct route for prayer answering remains at the shrine in the Basilica. Don’t worry about oversleeping, fireworks in her honor begin before the sun shines. On the morning of December 12, home and church shrines are serenaded with Las Mañanitas as you would any other Mexican on his or her Saint day and birthday.(NOVENA A LA VIRGEN DE GUADALUPE)(Mananitas a La Virgen De Guadalupe: La Reina)

virgen church

In Moroleón, the street Tepeyac is closed and a sort of tianguis (See Failing at your own business-Tianguis) street fair is set up. Street vendors sell their things, kiddie rides are available, and at the end of it all, up a long, long flight of stairs, you can attend mass at the templo (church) in Uriangato.

The Virgin of Guadalupe Religious Statue

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Getting Legal–Trip 4

immigration office sma

Well, since trip 3 was a bust (See Getting Legal–Trip 3) I needed to go back when I had enough money. I scrimped and saved, but it wasn’t enough for the trip and the documentation. So, I asked for an advance on my paycheck and we scheduled the trip.

It started out just like the others. We woke up early, although not as early as the last one, fed or moved to pasture the animals, and had our coffee. My husband had made bread the night before so that we could take a loaf with us since we didn’t have any extra cash to eat out. My son filled a water bottle and we were off. We said our prayers, this time including the successful completion of this legalization process along with a safe journey to San Miguel de Allende and back home.

My husband had cleaned the battery cables in the hope that it would give us one last trip before dying and although we had to push start again, it seemed to be running better.

We cruised through Celaya‘s transito (traffic) verification stop and were making good time. Eleven kilometers from San Miguel de Allende the truck began to shake. We were on a bridge and couldn’t pull over. The moment we could, we stopped and jumped out to check it out. Nothing under the hood seemed remiss, so my husband went under the truck. Immediately, he found the problem. La cruceta de la flecha que va pegada el eje (the joint in the back axle that holds everything together) had come loose and fallen off. Most of the pieces were still there, but one of the clips was gone, lost somewhere on the other side of the bridge.

There wasn’t anything to be done but try and piece something together and get to a yonke (junk yard) or auto parts store and see if we had enough to buy the piece with the less than $130 to spare between us. So my husband went under the truck again to attempt this death-defying feat.

Here's the dangerous curve we managed to pull off at.  Looks so innocent free of traffic  doesn't it?

Here’s the dangerous curve we managed to pull off at. Looks so innocent free of traffic doesn’t it?

I mean literally, death-defying. We were clearly off the side of the road, however since it is common for large and heavy vehicles to straddle the solid white or yellow line (See Driving Hazards–slow moving vehicles) we were in mortal danger.

I moved 100 meters or so down the road near the curve and made myself sentinel, waving cars on the line to the right. My son said I looked like I was shooing goats into the corral, but seriously, goats are easier than Mexican drivers to direct. I was sure that any minute we would be splattered to the winds, my husband, my son, me and the truck, by an 18 wheeler or tour bus barreling down the road. Talk about hair-raising!

Only one driver stopped to offer what assistance he could, but my husband thanked him and declined, deciding not to leave my son and me with the truck on the side of the road.

An hour and six near misses later, my husband crawled from out beneath Butch (the truck). He had flattened a nail to replace the missing joint and hoped it would hold. His hands visibly shaking, he started the car and we headed toward San Miguel, eyes peeled for a place to get the replacement piece.

We stopped at Banamex to make the payment of $3815 pesos, then headed to SEGOB (the Mexican Immigration Office) with the receipt. I took a number and waited. My husband came in with me to help me keep my temper with the clerks, but he needed have worried. I was so exhausted from the adrenaline rush I had from directing traffic that I didn’t want any trouble.

I had a nice conversation with a tall, elderly gentleman in line behind me. He was there for fingerprinting and had lived 13 years in México. He seemed to think my life in La Yacata was amazing. Go figure!

Finally, it was my turn. I gave la muchacha (young lady) my receipt, but she needed 3 copies of it, plus the original, so I sent my husband scurrying across the street for those while I signed and signed. I turned the copies in, she stamped them and then, obviously remembering me (or perhaps my anguished outburst) from the last trip, asked where I lived. She said if I would wait a few minutes, she would find out what the probability was that I could leave my fingerprints today as well, thus saving me another trip. So I waited.

About 10 minutes later, she came back to say that if I came back before 1 p.m. (when the office closed) I would be able to get fingerprinted. As it was only 11 a.m., we headed out to look for the truck part and see if we could get that done in the meantime.

We had to tell our son, who had waited with the truck, that we would not make it back to Moroleón before school started that afternoon. (See Homeschool Variation) He had worn his uniform and done his homework on the trip, and was a bit worried what the maestro (teacher) might say, but my husband said he would take him to school for his assignments when we arrived home.

So we set off in search of the piece. The first auto parts store had the piece, but it was too big for the make and model of our truck. The second two didn’t have the foggiest idea what my husband was asking for. The fourth place had the piece but wouldn’t sell just the clip, so $100 it was for the whole thing. My husband was pleased and ducked under the truck to do the repairs. Ten minutes later, it was fixed. With our remaining $30 pesos, we bought some oranges for lunch and some elotes (ears of corn) for later.

We went back to SEGOB and broke our bread, peeled some oranges and drank some water, grateful for our abundance and fortune this day. At 12:30, I trotted back inside because entrance would be denied at 1 p.m. for anyone that isn’t written in the big appointment book at the front desk. Just shy of 1 p.m. the muchacha (young lady) called my name and had me leave my fingerprints on the application that would now be sent to México City for processing. She told me to check online in about 3 weeks to see when I could come and pick up my document.

I thanked her sincerely and left. We cruised through the SMA verification checkpoint and then through the Celaya verification checkpoint without incident. We arrived home, exhausted but with a feeling of accomplishment that was lacking the last trip.

One down, one more to go.

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Getting Legal–Trip 1

In order to avoid denial due to spelling or format errors, I trotted next door and had this office fill out my forms.

In order to avoid denial due to spelling or format errors, I trotted next door and had this office fill out my forms.

I have been living in México for 7 years and every year I go to San Miguel de Allende to the Mexican Immigration office to apply for permission to live here another year. When I entered México, I had a 6-month tourist visa. Then 6 months later, I had an FM-3. I had that for 3 years then moved up to an FM-2. I applied as a dependent familiar (family dependent) since the requirements were not so stringent. When I met the residency requirements, I started investigating what I would need to become a citizen and in order to give up these yearly trips and expenses as exciting as they may be.

First, the immigration office in San Miguel de Allende sent me to the Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores in my hometown, Moroleón. There I was told that they didn’t do that sort of thing anymore and I would have to go to Morelia. So I went to Morelia and was told that since my legal address was in Guanajuato and Morelia was in Michoacan, I would need to go to León. So I went to León. And in León, I was told that because the name on my passport and Mexican identification was different from my name on my birth certificate, (my passport and ID had my married name) they would have to send my application on to Mexico City for approval. Well, I’m still waiting for that approval.

So thus defeated in my quest to become Mexican citizen last year, this year I went back to San Miguel de Allende to renew my Mexican identification and was told that because I had 4 years with the FM-3 classification I would not be able to get a renewal, unless I left the country and went to a Mexican consulate in the U.S. and started the process over again.

But wait, the law changed last November and I could qualify for permanent residency now. Yippee!! That meant I would no longer need to make the trip to immigration in San Miguel de Allende ever again! But of course, I wouldn’t be able to vote, own a foreign car, become alcalde (mayor) or own property, however, it would make my transition to naturalized citizen that much easier. So I said, sign me up!

Well, of course, it wasn’t that easy. I went the 25th of the month, but my identification didn’t expire until the 2nd of the following month, so my application couldn’t be processed until then. So I would have to come back on the 2nd when my papers could be accepted. Okie Dokie!

In order to not have wasted the trip, we headed next door to the lawyer’s office where we had the necessary paperwork drawn up. I could do it myself, however, I didn’t want my application to be denied on the basis of a spelling error. So the secretary completed my online application, wrote the letter asking for my change of status on the basis of being in the country 4 years and being the wife of a Mexican, took my picture (3 front facing, no earrings, no glasses, no bangs and one side facing, ears exposed), made copies of my Mexican ID, my U.S. passport, my Mexican marriage certificate, and my husband’s ID (IFE). When my husband handed over his ID, I took a quick look at it, and then had to look again. Dios mío! He looked like a serial killer in that picture. I can’t even begin to imagine what the approval committee said when they got a load of him as he looked there. Well, even serial killers have wives I guess.

The secretary gave me all the paperwork and the receipts that I needed to present at Banamex for payment, one for $1000 pesos and a second for $3812 pesos. The immigration office does not accept any sort of cash, all transactions have to be made at the bank. I expect that reduces the number of mordidas (bribes) offered and received. And so, the grand total for my paperwork was $720 pesos, which is about what I earn in a week. Then there were the mordidas in Celaya, (See Driving Hazards) gas, food and hair dye (I wasn’t about to have my application read :entre canas (gray-haired) which in all added another $1000 to that first trip. Cha-Ching!$$$ But I was on my way to permanent residency at long last.

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