This is the story of my experiences living as an ex-pat in Mexico since 2003. It's to culminate in a published book. With your help, I'll be editing, selecting a title, and cover art: a participatory project. Your comments encouraged!

Letters from Mexico

Letters

Dec. 30, 2017

My Daily Life In Mexico: Tepoztlan, Morelos‍‍‍

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‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍‍What’s daily life like living in Mexico? I’ll share experiences of what I do. No two people are alike, so don’t expect I'm trying to portray the average person, or that you’ll be living this way if you move here.‍‍‍ Lifestyle is specific to regions. Mexico is a much larger country than I thought before moving here, with different customs and varying climates in different parts.

My regular daily schedul‍‍‍e


I spend 3-6 hours daily online writing this blog, answering questions on Quora.com, as a listener on 7Cups.com, and reading emails and surfing social media.

I take hikes from an hour to a full day. These are solo. I’ve organized group hikes every two weeks. There are many trails in Tepoztlan, the volcanic region where I live in central Mexico. Unlike trails in the US, none are marked. Often one encounters goat trails— narrow with huge drop offs that take my breath away.

I spend my first hour, five days a week, doing yoga and meditation. This helps me focus, get grounded, and stretch those muscles.

A friend on the trail in Tepoztlan, Mexico. Photo by Don Karp.

Markets

One market has a festival atmosphere. Music, delicious inexpensive home-made meals, craft beer, natural skin care products, and a wide variety of fresh fruits and veggies are a part of the scene. Just the thought of these delicacies makes my mouth water! Tables and chairs make it comfortable for hanging out and schmoozing.

Nearby is La Sombra del Sabino, a combination bookstore and restaurant with a large open grassy back yard. Five or six of us meet there to chat and play "Bananagrams"—a game derived fr‍‍‍om Scrabble. We catch up on each other’s past week activities. Often La Sombra hosts special activities, for example, the annual orchid festival that just ended.

The local market is on Wednesdays and Sundays. I like going on Sundays to mix with the huge influx of tourists. Most of them are on day trips from Cuernavaca and Mexico City. Clothing, crafts, kitchen ware, etc., are sold from booths lining the main streets. I enjoy festive occasions where colors, aromas, and sounds blast me out of my everyday sensibilities.

I’m walking on Calle Revolution, one of the main streets. It’s closed to traffic. I focus so I don’t bump into somebody. Walking is slow. It’s that crowded. As I walk past the fried fish booth, I catch that unmistakable smell, and hear the loud droning voice of the lady hawker inviting us to sample her fish. Printed dresses and blouses hang from one booth shouting for attention with their gaudy bright reds and greens.‍‍‍

Friday is my social day of the week, from 11 AM to 3 PM. A few blocks away from downtown are three organic farmers' markets and a small natural foods store.

Tepoztlan, Mexico: Romero Organic/Natural Foodstore (left). Organic farmer's market at Las Palmas (right).  Photo by Don Karp.

Tepoztlan, Mexico: La Sombra del Sabino. Bananagrams/chat group (top). Photo by Don Karp.

Classes: "The Relevance of Ancient Civilizations"

On Thursdays I take a class: "The Relevance of Ancient Civilizations," from 1-3 PM at La Sombra.

I am exploring a writer’s group in Cuernavaca.

Night‍‍‍‍‍‍s

During the week it’s quiet at night. Nothing happens.

On weekends and fiesta nights Tepoztlan comes alive!

This reminds me of the story of a reporter interviewing an astronaut just returned from Mars. “Is there life on Mars?” he asked. “Mostly on weekends,” was the answer.

At a local club, for five glorious months earlier this year, I enjoyed playing blues harmonica every Friday night with a band, Los Carnivoros. With my long microphone cord I’d be dancing in the place. It w‍‍‍as a blast, and I earned enough in salary and tips to pay my food bill for the week—very unusual in Mexico.

Occasionally I play in a band at a club with authentic German food and beer. It has several outdoor performing spaces. Often I go there to dance and listen to live jazz, blues, reggae, and world beat. I sample the sausage plate, including sauerkraut, German potato salad, and rye with herbal butter. I wash it down with a dark German brew on tap. Although the biergarten's specialty is German food, in addition, they serve humus and pizza. The music is American.

Sacred Fire Circle

New and full moons, solstices and equinoxes, you’ll find me at the Sacred Fire Circle. First, we chat and have hot chocolate and pastries. Then we do ritual offerings to Grandfather Fire.

The Huichol tribe of northern Mexico, noted for its peyote, expanded into white western culture. They found a visiting US citizen willing to undergo their initiation to lead the Fire Community.

Getting close to the fire while giving the offerings warms our bodies and melts our hearts for the intimate sharing to follow. Followi‍‍‍ng the offerings, trained Firekeepers facilitate the conversation in the circle. Topics include whatever arises. It could concern the time of the year, someone’s personal experience, or a current event.

Fiestas

Peppered with the above of are the many fiestas providing special occasions for community building and for sharing ceremony. I’ve discussed fiestas in the previous Letter and more is to follow as they happen.

Stay tuned!

My daily life in Mexico is rich and full with much unscheduled time in between events. Unlike living in the US, stress levels are low for most expats in Mexico.

Can you see yourself living here? Why or why not? Please tell us in the comments.

Tepoztlan, Mexico: Los Carnivoros playing at Jacaranda. Video by Don Karp.

Download: My Daily Life.mp3

(Note: Letters From Mexico now has Facebook and Twitter pages. Starting Jan. 8, the blo‍‍‍g author will be featured in an interview here.)