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.
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!
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.
Why do you blog?
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.)
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.
Where can you be found?