¿Quieres vivir en México?

IMG_1293In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Take It From Me.” What’s the best piece of advice you’ve given someone else that you’ve failed to follow yourself?

I’ve had several friends who have moved to Mexico after I did, and to them all, I offered this sage advice: “If you want to live in Mexico, don’t expect it to be the same as living in the states and don’t expect it to change just because you want it to. We all move here for the charm and the fact that it is laid back and less concerned with running everyone’s lives, but you also need to realize that the reason this is so is often a matter of disorganization and inefficiency. Mexico is a wonderful place, but if you are expecting practicality, reason and expediency, move to Germany instead. If someone had given me this advice before I fell in love with Mexico and let my husband talk me into buying a house here—would I have offered more resistance? Probably not. Herein, I offer than well-known advice: Do as I say, not as I do.

If you’ve been reading my blog for at least a year, you probably already know that I’ve been living in Mexico since 2001 and in that time I thought I’d encountered every illogical thing that could possibly happen, but silly me. When will I learn? A case in point. Three days ago, my doorbell rang. I called out to ask who it was and a male voice replied, “Correos de Mexico.“ The postman? In all my years here, I’d never seen one, at least on my street, let alone my house. Sure, I’d seen them buzzing around on motorcycles with their hot pink and chartreuse logos on their jackets, but it was only in the past 2 years that they’d started delivering mail to my house, and in that time, the only evidence of them I’d ever seen was a bill or two thrown over the top of my garage door—usually with tire tracks on them.

In April, I’d received a Christmas card that had been mailed from Australia on December 25; and on June 10, I’d received two more from the U.S.—six months after their posting dates! So, as you may imagine, I don’t have much confidence in the postal service in Mexico. Anyway, back to the matter at hand. I threw a jacket over my nightgown and cracked my front gate door. “Identification?” the postman asked. I got my driver’s license, presented it, gave him two signatures and received in return—a speeding ticket for an infraction on April 15 of this year.

It seems that the government has decided that its a good idea to install cameras in certain vital and much-trafficked places such as the road to the airport and that I’d been caught on camera going 101 kph in an 80 kph zone. This is roughly equivalent to going 63 mph in a 50 mph zone. The resulting fine was 351 pesos, which would be halved if I paid before June 5, but increased to 500 pesos if I didn’t. I could pay at any of a number of given banks, Oxxo convenience stores or 7-11’s. So, I quickly jumped in my car and sped (oops) to my closest Oxxo, only to be told I couldn’t pay there because I hadn’t paid before June 5. But I hadn’t even received the ticket in the mail until June 23, I protested! Where was I to go now?  He didn’t know. Perhaps Guadalajara? It had no further information on the bill.

I drove home in frustration and consulted the local online bulletin board. It seems a number of people had received similar tickets in the mail, all were late and they didn’t know where to pay them. Some said the municipal building in Chapala. Others said Guadalajara. The dread Guad!!! The only times I’d driven there lately, I’d gotten hopelessly lost. I mean three to six hours lost. All the improvements and all of the signs added in the past few years seem to have only added to the confusion. ( It can’t be me, can it?)

Then today, the doorbell rang again. Once more, I threw a coat on over my nightgown. (It was nearly 10 a.m., but I was snoozing late, due to the fact that I hadn’t gone to bed until 3:30 a.m.) Who was it? Correos de Mexico. This time I grabbed my i.d. before I answered the door. Sure enough, another speeding ticket!!!! It was for May 6, 2015 and unlike the other one, it had been marked as mailed on June 15—but hadn’t been delivered until today, June 26. Its due date? June 24—two days ago. Then to thicken the plot, I realized I wasn’t even in Mexico on June 15!! My house sitter had been using my car and I believe this was the day she was going to pick up her boyfriend at the airport. Of course, I railed on to the postman who looked at me blankly. Still not his problem, I gathered. He drove away. I stormed into the house, dressed in 5 minutes and took off to Chapala to try to resolve the matter.

Due to the heavy Friday traffic of Guadalajarans trying to get an early start on weekend revelries lakeside, it took me about half an hour to drive the 10 miles or so to Chapala. I then stood in line at the municipal building, having a chat with a Mexican gentleman who held documents in his hand similar to mine. Were they traffic tickets? I asked in my unique form of Spanish. Yes, they were, he answered in perfect English. Aha! A sympathetic soul, plus one who understood English!!!

I started in on my story, trying to give the short and efficient version and ending with asking if his, too, were overdue. He didn’t know, he said, they were not his. Many ex-pats smarter than me or wealthier than me or lazier than me (or all three) hire locals to do their “official” business for them: paying taxes, registering cars—and evidently, paying traffic tickets. We chatted on until finally, it was my turn at the cashier’s cage. I tried to explain my problem in Spanish. The cashier tried to explain something to me in Spanish but I didn’t quite understand. It seemed as though she was telling me what I already knew—that I needed to have paid by June 5 and June 24, respectively, to get the 50 percent discount and to be able to pay at any bank or Oxxo or 7-11 store. Yes, but I didn’t even know a ticket had been issued on those dates, I protested—and, and­­–.

We could have gone on in this manner for some time if a gentleman had not popped out of a nearby office and explained to me that they were aware of the problem and that two more tickets would be issued for me to pay and these could be paid at any Oxxo, 7-11 or bank. Could I rip up these tickets? Yes I could. And I wouldn’t be fined even more? No. I wouldn’t.

I am home now, sitting and speculating about the efficiency of having to issue and mail new tickets rather than just letting me pay for the old one and giving me the prompt payment discount instead of the penalty. I am also considering the probability that the new tickets will also arrive after the cutoff date for payment. Another thing to consider is the trip my house sitter took to the airport to pick me up on June 8! Is another ticket having a little tour around Mexico before reaching its intended place of harassment? Will all three arrive at once? Will the postman know me well enough not to demand identification?

This long story is meant to illustrate two things. #1. That societies not based on efficiency, timeliness and logical process should not really institute a traffic fine system such as this. I don’t believe I need to discuss this further. #2. That if you have found it incredibly frustrating just to read about this little go-around, then Mexico is probably not for you. Sure, come to the beach for a week and sip pina coladas and margaritas. Go parasailing. Eat tacos. But, don’t drink the water and don’t actually move here unless you have the patience of a saint, the sense of humor of a late night political commentator and better Spanish than I do!!!

29 thoughts on “¿Quieres vivir en México?

    1. lifelessons Post author

      Tons of people who live here speak no Spanish. Really, no problema!! You’ll see. Obviously there are so many things that outweigh the complications that I’ve never even considered moving back to the states.

      Liked by 2 people

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      1. KC

        I’ve read some of your blog… a few posts. I love your photos. I did have a question(s) that relate to this comment; obviously you love it there, how long did it take to fall in love? and what are some really significant disadvantages (that you did not list in the post)? Your posts make me want to move…then I think about the heat..and the (stereotypical) lawlessness and I become more fearful than curious.

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        1. lifelessons Post author

          I love it here, KC , and have never once considered moving elsewhere. I don’t even want to leave to vacation elsewhere anymore. I find a lack of life, color and vitality anywhere else I go. How long did it take? Even my husband , who to be truthful was dragged kicking and screaming to Mexico, fell in love with Chapala the minute we crested the hill and could see the lake spread out before us. Unfortunately, he died just two months later, before we could move into our house, but I have never once regretted moving here myself. I see no drawbacks. The fact that I live at over 5,000 feet..about the elevation of Denver, and on a lake surrounded by mountains means that it is cooler here than elsewhere and although we are only 45 minutes from Guadalajara, we don’t get its smog. Some say there are too many Americans and Canadians here, but actually I like the opportunities that affords. There are tons of writers, actors, artists and musicians here which makes for many activities and the chance to make friends who share your interests. Traffic has gotten busier due to more visitors, but is does not compare to traffic in the states. Not speaking Spanish is not much of a problem as there is almost always someone around to translate and what good incentive to learn a foreign language? I am security-conscious and keep doors locked and have grills on all the sliding glass doors and the windows so I can keep everything open most of the time as I like the free flow of air. I have no heat or airconditioning and most don’t here. If it gets a bit chilly in the winter, I have fireplaces and small area heaters. Fans do for the summers, or cross-ventilation. Only way you’ll know if it is for you is just to try it out and see what you think..

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          1. KC

            Wow!!! I’m going to have to check it out, research. I am 57 and still working and if I remain in the US I’ll probably never be able to
            afford retirement. I know you write; is writing your income? And, what about ‘healthcare’ (not that we have it in the US either)?

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            1. lifelessons Post author

              I moved here at the age of 54. My husband was 70 which prompted my early retirement and then of course he died and I found myself with no shows booked, my equipment all sold and my house emptied in the states, so I relaxed and just stayed in Mexico. I invested the money from the sale of my house in the states and have lived on that for 19 years. I write and I’m an artist but I don’t actively market either. Too much of that for the 14 years we did shows. I was burned out. Some make money online. Don’t know what you do so unsure what employment possibilities you’d be looking for. I had a private insurance policy here for six years until I turned 60, had two surgeries here which I just pd. for as medical prices are much much cheaper here, and after 60 would go back to the states once a year for a physical and to get my meds. There is also a policy you can get here that flies you back to the states if necessary for medical treatment. There is a lot of info available online as well. I highly recommend the Lake Chapala area re/ climate plus I just like the people. We have a clinic, a heart center, several medical groups, a number of good dentists one new hospital and another opening soon in town.

              Liked by 1 person

            2. KC

              Thank you for all that info. I sure would appreciate the climate/elevation! I am a respiratory therapist; I work in a very small hospital in NH. Your ‘home town’ sounds heavenly.

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  1. Scott

    I liked your experience much more than you did. The language gives others the advantage.

    Your problems sound vaguely familiar. For nearly five years Barb and I lived 30 miles north of Sanoyta, Mexico. We traveled there often for breakfast, being very careful not to get crossways with the law, because the language barrier, for me, is a brick wall.

    A few years ago we visited our daughter in Detroit. While we were there I took my son-in-law across the border to Windsor for lunch. It was a Chinese all-I-could-eat place. So when we finished I calculated the rate exchange would make the total about $11. But the clerk kept my $20. When I complained he explained the exchange rate to me in Chinese.

    I still don’t know what the two meals should have cost.

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    1. lifelessons Post author

      There has just been one period since I’ve been here that the Canadian dollar has been worth more than the U.S. dollar. Perhaps that’s the time when you crossed over for Chinese. At any rate, it was never two to one so he probably took advantage, but then you got a story to tell, as did I! Thanks for commenting…and for reading…Judy

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  2. dorannrule

    Your love for the place is self evident, even in these cautionary tales of wisdom. And yes, I was completely befuddled by your story of tickets and new tickets and postpeople who never show up but do. But here’s to magaritas! We just had Mexican food for dinner tonight at Muchachos Allegres in Lexington, Virginia, USA. Yum!

    Liked by 1 person

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  3. Tamara

    Actually, I don’t think it’s that much different from the U.S. I hear stories from my boyfriend all the time about how he’s gotten denied, yet once again, for something with the V.A….and it’s always some made-up excuse that makes no sense at all. It’s pointless to fight it.

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  4. iseeiseesaidme

    Quite the story… no one likes speeding tickets though… and, just to make a slight correction, when I went to the airport to collect house guest # 2 – Pablo was driving as I was not quite comfortable enough for the journey… although he is a very good driver, and I felt safe with him at the wheel, he does speed. Sorry to hear about the tickets. Hope you don’t get any more of them…

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  5. LRose

    As I’ve mentioned to you before, my folks spent a lot of time in Mex., and your story and caution about life there absolutely resonates with me. I can hear both my parents telling their crazy stories. And neither spoke the language either. My father believed it to be a big part of the charm of the country.

    Liked by 1 person

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    1. lifelessons Post author

      I published pictures of houses I saw in Peru. I think i’ve also talked about Villa Salvador outside of Lima…a very inspiring story. Where in Peru did you live?

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      1. slmret

        I don’t think they’ve stopped delivering, though I don’t think their funding has yet been resolved — but when I tried to call on Thursday (second day), I got a recording saying that they were having staffing issues due to coviid-19. So no mail Wednesday or Thursday, then 3 pieces on Friday, and I think 4 today. Usually they’ve been able to cover sick leave with another carrier or a double shift for a day, so they must have been hit hard with the virus. Yes — I do get lots of blogs, but next week is when my bills come in, and I was concerned that my address might have been changed by somebody not auhorized to do so!

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