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. This is a participatory project.

Letters

Letters from Mexico

July 29, 2017                    

Myths About Mexico

‍‍‍First, I am piggy-backing off of the last letter, Get Lost! And ‍‍‍I'll describe some of the logistics of living and traveling in Mexico after.

Before you find yourself, you may need to get lost. That's what I was alluding to in the previous blog. Here's a funny image that's related. I don't really subscribe to the idea, but find this portrayal amusing.

After a few vacation visits to Mexico, I was entranced. I retired and moved here.

I'm driving on a road in central Mexico, a volcanic region, about an‍‍‍ hour south of Mexico City. The scenery is mysterious, with mountains shaped like mushrooms, temple pillars, and UFO landing pads.

Suddenly I hit a bumpy section of the road. I need to jam on the brakes to keep from destroying the car. Besides the holes, there are also speed bumps—“dead policemen” as the locals call them.The bumps of life are times to slow down and reflect: “What the F%#! is happening to me?” The bumps could open to another life lesson, just like getting lost. The Bumpy Road is my published memoir on the theme of culture clash inducing life changes. One door closes and another opens. Why do I often bang myself on that closing door?

Mts. of Tepoztlan, Mexico (music from Palestine: Samir Jourbran, Tamass).‍‍‍

Can you dream up any more uncomfortable metaphors that precede changing your life in positive ways? Share them with us in the comments section below.

Living in Mexico

I'm often asked, “What does it cost to live in Mexico? What about crime and disease?” And etc. I hear a lot of how crime-ridden and dangerous‍‍‍ Mexico is, and how tourists get stomach problems. Since I've been living in Mexico for almost fourteen years, I'd like to provide some clarity.

‍‍‍‍‍‍Costs‍‍‍

Very roughly, I'd say it costs about half as much to live in Mexico as it does in the US at the same lifestyle. This depends on the dollar to peso exchange rate and inflation. Since I moved here in 2003, the exchange rate has beco‍‍‍me much more favorable, without that much inflation.

You can save money if you change your lifestyle—I call it becoming “Mexicanized.” For example, do you really need a car? After a couple of years, I decided mine was a liability I really didn't need, and I sold it. Public transportation of various sorts is ubiquitous and inexpensive. Mexico is not a backwater. There's electricity, running water, supermarkets, banks, etc.

Health

Before moving here, I consulted with the US Center for Disease Control (CDC). They recommended a rabies series and a hepatitis shot. After I arrived, I learned that rabies was confined to the Yucatan.

After a year, I went to a clinic to get a hepatitis booster. They told me that they didn't have it, but that I could get a flu shot. I checked hospitals, clinics, and doctors. Out of five places, none had the booster. This made me think that the CDC was wrong about hepatitis, too.

A couple of times during my fourteen years in Mexico I suffered from “Montezuma's revenge.” The first time was from a salad with radish that I got in the Cuernavaca market. The other time was during my 2012 pilgrimage to Palenque. There's an herbal tincture, readily available, that's gentle and effective. I've never gotten sick eating in any restaurants or in the market in Tepoztlan, where I live.

A clinic diagnosed me as having shingles and prescribed a drug. I looked it up and it had numerous side effects. An herbalist gave me a few herbs that cost about half as much and did the work with no side effects.

‍‍‍Crime

I've experienced a few robberies. This was due to my own stupidity: not locking a storage shed, for example. Cuernavaca, the big city half an h‍‍‍our away, has a high crime rate. Tepoztlan, where I live, is in a bubble. Young women walk alone late at night on weekends without problems.

I heard of a murder along a trail in the mountains. The town nearby made a law that it's required to hire a guide when hiking. There are restrictions on camping in the mountains due to the forest fires at the peak of the dry season. I wonder if this is enforced. Many people hear about the cartel violence and are afraid to come to Mexico. Tourists are not targeted. The cartels are at war with each other. The danger is getting in the cross-fire, but only in certain few regions of Mexico, not the whole country. I've never experienced any violence‍‍‍.

Climate

Mexico is a much bigger country than I thought before I came here. There's a wide variety of culture, fiestas, food, clothing, music and dance, and of nature, and climate.

Where I am at, in central Mexico, it's mostly sunny and dry, with temperatures from  70-80°F. During December and January, it's a little cooler at night. You may need to wear a sweater or light jacket. The rainy season begins in June and peaks in July and August, when it pours almost every afternoon or evening. Thunderstorms are common and sometimes there are power outages. I get depressed during the rare occasions when the sun hides for a couple of weeks.

‍‍‍Consult with this site

I advise you to look at this site that compares any two cities or countries in the world for many parameters: crime, cost of living, property prices, health care, traffic, travel, quality of life. They provide structured data (with ‍‍‍many subcategories) and indices, as well as explain how they obtain and manage their data.

Do you want to compare what it costs for a gallon of milk in Cuernavaca with Chicago? You've got it!

Chicago has a similar crime rate to Cuernavaca, with the latter having more corruption. New York and Boston fare better. There are many subcategories, with breakdowns of different types of violent crimes and others.

Please check it out.

I'd like to hear from you (in the comments below, please) about what you want to know from my personal experiences of traveling and living in Mexico. Here are some potential topics: finances, crime, climate, health, travel, learning Spanish (and some funny experiences I had with improper usage), availability of goods and services, immigration, and others. Please tell me which of these and others you want to know more about, and I'll be happy to address them.

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