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Inspirational Writers in Mexico–Beverly Wood

Beverly Wood co-authored The Move to Mexico Bible that I reviewed a few weeks ago. Here’s a little more information about her life.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI was born in Toronto but spent two decades on the west coast of Canada (Vancouver and then Vancouver Island) before moving to Mexico in 2012. We work from home (we are writers, editors, producers) so we could live anywhere in the word that had internet. We briefly considered Europe as I have due Canadian/Irish citizenship but it rains in the winter like it does in BC. We were done with Canadian winters – even though the west coast is much kinder than Ontario.

We explored destinations like Costa Rica and Galveston, TX (where we spent a number of winters). CR did not have the culture, the vibrancy or the food of Mexico and while the weather was spectacular, we found the environment lacking in something. Galveston was comfortable – we had previously lived in Dallas for a year on assignment – but that was in the Ann Richards time period. We witnessed a shift in the US over the years we spent wintering in Galveston and as Canadians, weren’t happy with the direction. So we started checking out more locations in Mexico. It was all research.

To be honest, it’s our environment that has changed – our lives are pretty much the same as they were! We still work at home, so get up, make coffee, go to the office. I do have a housekeeper once a week and gardener once a week,  which was a luxury I didn’t have up north. More sun instead of winter rain, and a longer gardening season, We really don’t eat processed food as much as we did, I suppose.

I actually have a stronger appreciation for Canada, as I watch the news from Mexico (being writers and editors, we are news junkies). And I realize how incredible the health care system is in Canada. I appreciate my home country more than I ever did before. But I do think some of that is the global situation and gaining perspective from distance.

I have been trying to learn the language for six years off and on and finally my latest instructor says I would be considered ‘intermediate’ now, were I to head for a Spanish classroom (I do one on one Skype lessons with a local teacher – much easier to make that happen than a physical class for me).

Emergency medical care in Spanish (my husband has had both a gallbladder attack and an emergency appendectomy) is a gong show for me. I can’t communicate on any medical level, and I am sure they run every test in the book (private hospitals) because we are gringos and have insurance – never mind that we have to pay on our credit card and wait three months for reimbursement, My heart jumps into my throat every time anything happens that might result in a hospital visit, If anything will drive me out of Mexico it will be my own inability to manage the language well enough to deal with medical issues. And the medical system itself. Again, I was raised in Canada where one’s health care is almost taken for granted.beverly3 How does anyone persevere? I stick my head in the sand and pretend we aren’t hitting an age where things start to break. And when it happens, you deal with it. I think it’s probably true that the anxiety worrying about anything is more painful than the event. When anything happens, so far we have dealt with it. We’ll see how it goes in the future. I am very grateful that we have a country we feel is worth going home to, should we decide to leave. We don’t plan to live in Mexico for the rest of our lives  – maybe another five to 10 years. But who knows? Maybe we will. We love the way Mexico deals with death spiritually (the Day of the Dead).

The things that have always been important remain important – friends & family, being honest, not doing harm, trying to do good. We were never very material people and the typical middle-class aspirations have never been important to us. This is an interesting exercise. I hadn’t realized before articulating this but we’ve always been kind of nomads so having things wasn’t really practical. We have a 5 x 10 storage locker in Canada. We moved the important stuff to Mexico, even a couple of pieces of furniture. One is an antique Chinese cabinet that was the first item I ever shipped and imported into Canada on my own and we like it, but if it disappears tomorrow we don’t really care. I’ve gone off a bit here, sorry – but I really don’t have answers for some things. When we came to Mexico – we’d already figured out who we were. I know it can be a complete change for some – but we started freelancing 30 years ago so haven’t participated much in the rat race, lucky for us.

A defining moment for me was looking around at a social gathering in the first town we landed in, where every guest (big catered party) was gringo and speaking English. Incredible home, worth $1 million+. Half a block away, I had noticed a small house with the door open – the floor was dirt and the roof was a blue tarpaulin. I looked around and thought, “This isn’t what we came here for, I could be in any gated community in Arizona”.beverly1We have two dogs, we have a pond, a pool, a large garden. Lots of chores. Paying bills, grocery shopping in the markets – it all takes time.

We are both writers and consultants. We write books and also do ghostwriting of memoirs for select clients.  I am currently working on two ghost jobs for clients – one is a Canadian story – a successful businessman who has run airlines and pubs and the other is a tragic (true) love story that happened in Mexico. move to mexico bible

I was a real estate agent in Toronto and know Mexico well. We have bought and sold several homes in different areas and I have working relationships in assorted cities and have been consulting on possible moves to Mexico for clients. I conduct a series of interviews that helps them determine the area they would like to explore and I will find potential rentals or potential purchases for them to check out when they arrive. I can arrange any facet of their arrival and pre-planning and my co-author of The Move to Mexico BibleSonia Diaz – can assist with visas and other legal requirements/options once they arrive.

I can be contacted at:

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Inspirational Writer in Mexico–Don Karp

 

the bumpy road

Don Karp has written The Bumpy Road, A Memoir of Culture Clash Including Woodstock, Mental Hospitals, and Living in Mexico.

Where are you from? 

Hometown is Syracuse, NY. I spent 12 years living in W. Mass before moving to Tepoztlan, Morelos, Mexico. It’s in the central volcanic region, an hour south of Mexico City.

What brought you to Mexico?

The culture—fiestas, food, music, celebrations. And the temperate climate.

How has your life changed?

I live more cheaply and made some sacrifices. My life is enriched with more vital food, beautiful nature, and people more open and accepting.

How has your belief system changed?

I’ve become less judgmental and more open. Because of this, I have had a greater number of opportunities unfold.

How have you changed?

I am more solitary and happy with that. I am healthier and happier.

What challenges have you overcome?

The first ones involved getting it together to move here. I’ve learned to speak Spanish, and survive on a very low retirement income.

What challenges are you still facing?

Building an email audience for my publications.

What keeps you going?

My motivation comes from a desire for leaving a legacy—a body of published work that helps many people, based on a varied life experience. Perseverance is a part of my nature.

What accomplishment makes you the proudest?

Self-publishing my memoir.

What things do you miss about your life before?

Mostly I miss the ability to organize projects with people. In Mexico, the culture is largely not accountable enough to do this. I find that working on projects is how I develop intimacy with people.

What have you found is no longer important to you?

Hot showers.

What do you consider the defining moment in your life in Mexico?

Self-publishing my memoir.

How do you spend your free time?

Mostly hiking the wonderful mountain trails,

Do you have a business or offer a service?  

My site lists the memoir, contains my blog, information about workshops and speaking engagements. The memoir is available from Amazon; the blog, Letters from Mexico is here,  If you are interested in personal coaching, here is my US phone number: (413)366-1023. You can email me here.

How has Mexico been an inspiration to you?

In many ways. The friendliness of the people with their emphasis on community and family has made me feel more at home. The extreme suffering economically and politically, but yet retaining a general joyful attitude about life is very inspirational to me.

What is your current writing goal?  

I am revising and updating my memoir, and have three more memoirs planned, each for a different audience with a different theme. My blog, Letters From Mexico, is to become one of the books. My hope is to build an audience to fund professional preparation and to help with the title, cover art, and editing.

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Inspirational Women Writers in Mexico–Carmen Amato

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Carmen Amato (also known as me) writes romantic thrillers and the Detective Emilia Cruz mystery series. Emilia is the first female police detective in Acapulco. She can take the heat. Can you?
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“Danger and betrayal never more than a few pages away.” — Kirkus Reviews
Carmen Amato_best

I’m originally from New York, went to college in Virginia and Paris, and my husband’s job took me to Mexico 17 years ago. While we live in the US now, the years we spent in Mexico were life changing, mostly because what I saw and experienced there inspired my writing. I’m now a full-time mystery and thriller author, best known for the Detective Emilia Cruz police procedural series set in Acapulco.

My notions of Mexico City were rather naïve before we got there. I didn’t realize what a huge city it is, or what big gulfs there are between social classes. An early lesson came from a mother whose children rode the same school bus as mine. Her chauffeur drove her to my house because we were the first stop and their house was the last. The mother wanted her kids to have the experience of riding the bus, but not too much. So they got off at our house and were chauffeured the rest of the way home.

Later, the woman took pains to put our Mexican housekeeper in her place, lectured me for being too lenient with the hired help, then asked me to help her maid get a visa. I declined and never saw her again but unfortunately met many more women like her. Great for fictional character development, not so great for Mexico’s social stratification.

Little customs, like tipping the attendant at the Pemex station or kid who wheeled my grocery cart to the car, took some getting used to. Was this a cultural norm or ripping off a clueless gringo? I found myself assessing many probably innocent encounters.

The traffic terrified me at first, too. Being able to get around by myself was essential and I was determined that the city streets would not defeat me. A major victory came on the day I decided to take the kids to the zoo to see the pandas. I initially didn’t realize that you can’t drive into the zoo itself. We finally parked somewhere in Chapultepec Park and walked, which turned out to be the exactly right thing to do. We saw the pandas and headed into the Zona Rosa for lunch. I parked on the street near the fancy San Angel antiques market. A man with a red rag popped out and assured me he’d keep the car safe. We walked a bit, discovered VIPs and its famously undrinkable coffee. When we got back to the car, I found that I’d left it unlocked! But the man was there and nothing bad had happened to either us or the car. I knew then that Mexico was going to be a good experience.

Being Catholic helped and opened doors that might have been otherwise closed. I loved the way Mexico celebrates the rhythm of the church calendar, the glory of the feast day of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the floral vendors in front of the big cemetery on the rim of Chapultepec Park. I was very involved in the English-speaking church, Saint Patrick’s, but also attended the local church in the Lomas de Chapultepec neighborhood.

My Spanish was non-existent when we moved to Mexico but having to fix up our house forced me to learn rapidly. One of the first things I did was to sit down and write out numbers up to 100 so I would understand prices. Not only did I have to negotiate for cleaning and gardening services but painting, custom curtains, plumbing—you name it. The Newcomer’s Club and weekly immersion lessons saved me!

The children’s school was another reason to learn the language. The children attended the American school, which meant half their lessons were in English and half in Spanish. We got a tutor to help the kids and I took lessons, too. The school’s administration and most teachers were Mexican and many preferred to hold parent-teacher sessions in Spanish.

The security situation in Mexico City was a low-simmering and ever-present concern. We had a hard and fast rule for the kids: no talking getting into or out of the car. This is when it is most easy to be distracted. We had some close calls; would-be robbers were scared off by our dogs, our car suffered minor vandalism, and I was followed around a store. But I think being very vigilant helped us avoid any real trouble.

I had several defining moments in Mexico but the one I recall most clearly was when I was driving back from the big mall in the Santa Fe suburb. I’d had a run-in with a snarky salesgirl in Liverpool. She’d taken something I’d tried on, five minutes later didn’t know where it was, and bottom line, I walked out of the store empty-handed. This was a common occurrence, that and being unable to complete a purchase because the person with the key to the cash register wasn’t there, or the cash register didn’t have change. Using a credit card was generally out of the question; every time I did the credit card company would put a hold on the card. I called them weekly to explain that I lived in Mexico—please see the mailing address—but it never mattered.

So I’m driving out of the mall and the afternoon sky darkens to lead. Sheets of water pour down, deafening me as the rainstorm pounds on the roof of the car. I’m already frustrated and angry and now I’m scared, too. I begin to cry in the car while repeating my mantra, “This city will not defeat me.” I pull up at a red light and there’s this Madonna-looking girl standing in the median, with a thin rebozo over her head, carrying a baby.

Now I generally did not give to street beggars–warnings had gone out advising not to give because beggars are an organized syndicate or in league with criminals who will approach the other side of the car to rob you. Yet today, as it’s slashing rain and I’m sobbing, I realize that my life is pretty good after all. I roll down the window and give her 200 pesos.

If I could do my Mexico experience all over again, I’d travel more. I never made it to Guadalajara or Copper Canyon or Baja. I also would buy more Otomi embroideries and painted alebrijas.

But with my books, my life is now inextricably linked to Mexico. I know I’ll visit many more times.

I owe Mexico a debt of gratitude because I doubt my writing career would have come together the way it has without those high/low, sweet/salt years of experience. It took me about five years to distill it all into my first novel, THE HIDDEN LIGHT OF MEXICO CITY, a Cinderella story set against the backdrop of cartel drug smuggling and Mexican presidential elections. Next came the Detective Emilia Cruz series which in 2016 was optioned for television by a major US network. I don’t know if the series will actually come about but if it does, I hope it is as authentic as I have tried to make my books.

Thanks so much for hosting me. Readers are invited to join me at any of the links below:

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Pacific Reaper is a riveting read with twists and turns galore!  

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