Five-Year Anniversary of Coming to Mexico

Yesterday marked the five-year anniversary of my first coming into Mexico, not counting super short border hops in 2007 and 2013. I have spent fully three and a half of those five years in Mexico, a year total in Mazatlán and two and a half years here in Mérida. Five years is all it took to go from being a bright-eyed tourist with no idea what adventures lay ahead to a seasoned resident building a new life. I’ve been thinking of all of the ways in which Mexico has changed me, some comical, some profound. Here are just three that greatly affect my daily life here and have made the adjustment that much easier.

Increased Fluency in Spanish

In November 2014, I was pulling Spanish out of my brain that had been lying dormant for nearly fifteen years. I could barely understand anyone, my Andalusian accent was too strong for Mexicans, and my vocabulary was lacking. Today, I’m fluent and I’ve made major progress in areas that I’ve focused on. I still have so much work to do, but I live my life here in Spanish without much frustration and watching Spanish-language shows can happen even when I’m brain dead.

New Culinary Horizons

This could be its own post, it covers so much. I’ve discovered so many new flavours — pozole, mole, relleno negro, al pastor, achiote, epazote, guava, tajín, chamoy…

But most exciting, I’m no longer afraid of spicy food! I don’t think I’ll ever be someone who eats chiles just to see how hot she can go, but I can actually taste the flavour of the chiles now and appreciate different ones in different dishes. I add dried, roasted chiles de arból to curries and make salsas with both jalapeños and serrano peppers. I still don’t cook with habaneros, but I do add habanero sauce, in moderation, to my food. I don’t particularly enjoy the sensation of eating spicy food, but I appreciate the flavour of the peppers, so the streaming eyes and nose and cough no longer seem pointless. I have days now where I have spicy food at every meal and snack because that’s just what I happen to have ready to consume. So I’m not afraid of anything at restaurants anymore and have a much broader range of options. When I was in Maz, I got tired of the local food quickly and it was only by starting to incorporate a little more spice that I got over that boredom. It’s the same thing here. Anyone who says Yucatecan food is bland isn’t putting salsa on it.

I’ve also discovered new tools, like the tortilla press and the molcajete.

Living in the 21st Century

Canada is so far behind most of the rest of the world in its attitude towards internet access. Here, access to the internet is seen as some important and work is being done to get the whole country connected at affordable prices. There is actual competition here. My landline internet cost goes up a little every year, but the increase in service I get far outweighs a few extra pesos a month. My mobile package hasn’t changed in price, but it keeps giving me more. All of that reliable and affordable connectivity has made it possible for me to grow my business and to look increasingly professional. There’s nothing like a client in London, UK, asking when would be a good time to set up a Skype call and being able to tell him that I can just ring him on my landline phone directly, at no extra cost beyond my monthly bill! I also have access to so many other services that I’d have to live in an unaffordable Canadian city to have connectivity to use them, like Netflix and Uber. For the first time since I got online at 6PM on November 23rd, 1996, the internet is just there when I need it. Even when I lived in large cities in Canada, I was still fighting constantly for reliable service at the speeds I paid for. The energy I’m not expending to fight for this access is certainly being redirected to other areas of my life!

I was so lost after I landed at Haven in 2013, knowing deep down, even if I wasn’t ready to say it out loud, that my RVing days were done. It’s mind-boggling to me that it was only a year and a half later that I came to know Mexico and only about a year and a half after that that I set forth a new path for my future. In the last five years, I managed to spend most of the first half of that time in Mazatlán and Europe and the other half fully here, settling into my new life. People who haven’t followed my whole journey are dismayed by how mundane my life appears to be, how work and income-focused it is, how I prefer quiet domestic pleasures like nights in with my dog over a weekend getaway. Folks, I’m tired and I need time to digest the happenings of the last decade, a quarter of my life so far. But I’m looking ahead in a way that became more and more difficult in Canada. I know I’ll be right here in two years. In five? Who knows, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m still in Mexico, if not Mérida. Because nomad is as nomad does. 🙂

9 thoughts on “Five-Year Anniversary of Coming to Mexico

  1. You are right of course, those of us who have become anchored to our lives, mortgages and wives/husbunnys and children looked forward to your daily musings and your tales of derring do while travelling and dare I say it living your life on your terms. In the late 70’s and 80’s I found wanderlust and it was an exciting time but I was also starting a new career and found a soul mate as well and it became difficult to just take off when the mood hit me.
    So when a free spirit enters your space you cling to the ephemera, it’s like a perfume you get a whiff of, it’s like “(that secret door she leads you to in the Year of the Cat)”. I first visited Mexico in 2008 or so and I have to be honest it stole my heart and I really wanted to buy a hovel in Merida back then but life got in the way as usual but I hope to visit again possibly for a month or so but I doubt if I’ll make it my forever home now. As it is I did move from one side of the earth to another not unlike two of my Aunts, one of which went to Africa and the other to California. Such is life!
    So you can understand our dilemma, we your loyal followers suffer from, those of us who have been living in limbo swanning around on your shoulder watching and waiting for the next instalment! So dear Rae please live well and enjoy your life, it is a precious gift rich and inviting and when you pause and feel like sharing we will be here like your lapdog.. just kidding of course! 🙂

  2. Thank you for the update. I enjoy hearing about your life in Mexico. You have create a lovely family with your puppy and kitty cat. Please check in more often, even if it is about the mundane.

  3. You have adapted and you are content. Those of us who follow you on a regular basis could see this happening for a long time. You have found a place where you are happy and where your income gives you a comfortable lifestyle. And you have a great dog! You are home.

    • Almost home, but not quite there. I cannot wait to own a home here. Not sure how that will happen or when, but the day I find the right house in the right location, I’ll be home. I want that same gut feeling as I had when I found Haven.

  4. I have to admit that I enjoyed your travelling adventures and find your current lifestyle more serene but I am very happy that it suits you.

    I also found your detailed description of your efforts dealing with the immigration challenges very informative.

    I still appreciate the life that Canada has provided for me since I moved here in the early 1960s and cannot afford the financial hit I would take if I left Canada for more than 6 months but I also agree with you that there is a lot that could be done better in Canada.

    My travels since I started following you many years ago are not as intense as your’s but I have managed to cover a few of the countries on my bucket list, Parts of Europe, Thailand, Vietnam, New Zealand, Argentina and Uruguay. The only time that I copied your approach to travelling was when I spent 5 months in Cuba.

    You continue to be an inspiration.

    Wishing you all the best.


    PS I also have a dog now for the last 4 years.

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