Six years ago today I celebrated my 44th birthday by boarding a plane with my eight-year-old twins on a one-way ticket to Mexico.
My husband Frank had left a few days prior by car with our slobbering chocolate lab Seamus and a 14-foot aluminum boat filled to the rim with the belongings that had made the final cut.
Frank will have to tell the story of how he did the entire 1400 mile trip without a map…something about just heading south!
We left with hopes and dreams of a better life for our family.
As we celebrate our six-year Mexi-versary and my 50th, we pause to reflect over some of the lessons we have learned in our adopted country of Mexico:
1. Savor The Moment
In the land of “mañana” (tomorrow), there is a palpable beckoning an invitation to slow down and take it all in. The vibrant colors and sensory-rich nature of a quintessential Mexican town—alive with energy from the vendors, music, sights, and smells—make it nearly impossible to not linger in the magic of the moment.
2. Be Proud
Mexico sets the example of a culture that embraces its history and honors its national pride, of a people that value their identities and honor their roots. I love how Mexico celebrates who she is with intention and meaning.
3. Celebrate, Whenever You Can
4. Be Curious, Have Fun
In Mexico, I am allured, intrigued, invited to stop and look, to be in the moment. With my senses awake, I am tuned in to the details and the magic of my surroundings.
Mexico has taught me to celebrate the textures and layers, to pay attention, to notice…to be participatory and present in life.
5. Live in Freedom & Responsibility
There is a certain aspect of “organized chaos” on the streets of Mexico—families of four piled atop a motorcycle, off-leash dogs dodging in and out of traffic, police officers standing in the middle of busy four-way intersections—a cacophony of sights, smells, and sounds emerging from the outdoor markets, corner cantinas, garbage trucks, city buses, and street vendors. Some would call this Darwinism, perhaps even a lawless and haphazard way to live…I just call it cultural immersion!
6. Honor Thy Family, Community & Friends
I love the importance placed on the family unit, including the extended one of second and third cousins—not always necessarily blood-related.
A very good friend is often referred to as a primo (cousin) or hermano/a (brother/sister) and they are taken into the family as such. Conversations at gatherings and casual run-ins are meaningful and sin prisa (without hurry). The art of conversation is well preserved in the Mexican culture. Greetings and farewells? You can count on a customary hug and single kiss on the cheek between young and old, male and female alike.
There is a strong sense of community and connectedness amongst the Mexican people. They are united, loyal, hard-working, welcoming and generous of their time and help.
7. Live Sustainably
10-peso street tacos, 20-peso super-sized fresh fruit cups, 100-peso chicken rotisserie dinners complete with tortillas, rice, salad, and grilled peppers…With the current value of the peso to the dollar about 19 to 1, you can calculate the amazing value!
There is never a shortage of fresh, locally grown produce, meats, cheeses, wines, and bread …and many, thankfully organic.
8. Pay Attention, Be Grateful
This was not meant to be a promo for Coca-Cola, but I love this capture of a cowboy with a horse, taking it all in at the jardín in San Miguel de Allende.
From the jungle to the desert highlands and back again to the coast, I have thousands of pictures of our immigrated lives that capture, as they say, a story within a single image.
I am grateful that I live in a country that provides plenty of sensory-stimulating experiences and that I get to share some of them with an audience who appreciates my work. Muchas Gracias.
I am a 4th generation San Diegan of Irish and Dutch descent, born and raised a half an hour away from the Mexican border. My Grandfather was the Chief of Border Patrol & Immigration in the 1940’s and a hero in my and many other’s eyes.
Having lived and studied in Spain and getting my B.A. in Spanish, I then went on to receive my Masters in Cross-Cultural Education and Curriculum Development. I taught K-12 Spanish for San Diego City Schools as a Master Teacher, receiving Teacher of The Year prior to my early retirement in 2012.
I have always had a deep love and respect for the Hispanic culture, music, food, people, and vibra and know that if former lives exist, I was a salsa-dancing Latina in mine!
I am a lucky Mama to 14-year-old twins (we moved here when they were 8), girlfriend to my retired firefighter hubby Frank (turned solar designer & installer extraordinaire), living and adventuring full time in mainland Mexico since November of 2012.
This website is my creative commitment of putting to print–to record in a memorable and tangible form–these days of our lives.
Thank you for following along with the adventures of Los O’Gradys in Mexico, and thank you, Mexico, for allowing us to call you home…
The Mazatlan Post