Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Making Our Mark

One of the biggest "American Dreams" is to buy/own a home. Well guess what? That dream didn't stop at the border when I moved.

Recently, hubby and I have been talking about the possibility of buying a home within the next couple of years. Here in Mexico, if you have a job that offers seguro, you can earn points towards purchasing a house. Plus, a little bit of money is taken out of each check and put into an account for you. One of hubby's previous jobs offered this benefit, so he came to the realization that he's already got a head start on this new venture for us. Now we just have to figure out what we need to do to make it more of a reality. He didn't have quite enough points saved up yet, so the first step is to find a position with a company that offers the seguro.

I'm so excited about this new goal in our life. I've always wanted to live in a home where I was paying MYSELF rent rather than someone else. I've always wanted the place I could call my (our) own. I look forward to having our own place and doing whatever we want to it.

This week has been a week of setting goals: daily, weekly, monthly, and even "within the year". I hope we are able to achieve most of them. I want my little family to be in a better place this time next year. It will take babysteps, but babysteps are better than no steps at all.

I am so thankful to have Sisters who understand my situation and how things work in Mexico. It's amazing how information weaves its way through friendships and relationships. My Sisters most likely heard a lot about what they know about living in Mexico from other friends and relationships and word just keeps getting around like that. I don't really like to depend on others for things, and I don't really look at it as being that way. I look at these friendships and networking avenues as a way to propel my family and I into our happy place. And I am more than happy to share the knowledge I have learned with other Sisters who need it too! With the help and support of our loved ones, we will be there sooner than we ever dreamed.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Life South of the Border

A very good friend of mine posted on FB yesterday that she was missing mexico. The first comment was someone asking "Why??" But I already knew the answer to her question. If you've ever stayed in Mexico for an extended period of time, you know the answer too. Life is slower paced here. Things are a little more carefree here. Sure, it's crowded and hot.. especially in the summertime, but when you really embrace all that Mexico has to offer, you really treat yourself to an experience that those who never venture out of the US get to know. The US has scared the crap out of its citizens. Americans think that Mexico is a horrible place to come to. I did too. The first time I came here, I tried to find a place in my car to hide my money because I was terrified that I was going to be pulled over by the police and they'd take it all. SERIOUSLY?! I've never told anyone that until now. But now I look back and laugh. My head was so full of all of the horror stories that I had heard through the years.

But what happened after coming here? I instantly fell in love with Mexico (and my fiance, but that's another post, another time!). It felt like my own little world and I never wanted to leave. After being here a while, I started to explore and I actually met TONS of chicks who spoke English and were going through the same things I was. Over the years, I have gotten to know so many amazing American women who are now living in various parts of Mexico. Every day on Facebook, I read their stories of how they're enjoying Mexico and I'm laughing at the #gringosnmexico posts that friends are constantly posting. No one outside of this bubble we're in gets it. I welcome everyone to come into the bubble and see what it's like first hand. You really don't know what you're missing out on. I just want to thank all of my south of the border sisters for being a part of my life and constantly reminding me that where we are is an amazing place full of amazing, hard-working people who love to throw fiestas, even on weeknights. A place where the beaches aren't crazy packed and you feel like the whole place is yours alone. A place where you can slow down and not be so uptight. We all need a little more of this stuff in our lives and I am making it a priority to embrace more of this stuff myself.

Yesterday, I found out that a man I know of who has a terminal medical condition has decided that he wants to come to Mexico to die. He loves it here. He gets it. I love that he's made this decision!!!

It's been almost 2 years (to the date) of my last post. But I'm back. And I'm staying back. I've missed you all!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Hola, Guera!

It never fails. I seriously go to the corner mercado at least once a day. AT LEAST. I really am the most forgetful person on the planet. But that's a whole 'nother story. I feel like I get looked at funny every once in a while on my little walk there. What's a WHITE girl doing here? But I'm always greeted by the friendly store clerks who are all used to me by now. The old man security guard at the door in the afternoons and nights greets me with a "Hola Guera" or a "Buenas Tardes Guera" reminding me each and every time that I am, in fact, a white girl. Heh. Silly old man. It makes me wonder how he greets the one or two black guys I randomly see there. o.O... hopefully he just says "Hola". :)

I often walk there at night to get stuff to make dinner. During my walk home from the mercado one night, I started to think about life and how I never in a million years thought I'd be walking down a street, by myself, as a white girl, in Mexico. Most people would probably shake their heads and wave their pointer finger at me while saying "don't do it!". But the fact is, this has become my life. This is OK for me to do. I feel safe. I feel MUCH more safe than I would walking down the street at night in any ghetto in the United States. This is my home and I LOVE it!

When I'm walking home from there on these night trips, I don't get the gawkers breaking their necks in disbelief. As humans, we all look the same in the dark. :)

...Most of the neighborhood is probably getting used to seeing me by now anyway. Haha.

Monday, August 8, 2011


"Humility is no substitute for a good personality". ~ Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life, 1978

Have you ever walked into a restaurant or a store and as soon as you walk in, you say hello and everyone within an earshot says hello back? In the United States, this is highly uncommon. At most, you may receive a random greeting in the form of a smile, or a welcome from a store or restaurant employee.

In Mexico, it is actually considered rude to enter an establishment without greeting those inside. The type of greeting you give depends on the time of day. Good Morning [Buenos Dias], Good Afternoon [Buenas Tardes], and Good Evening [Buenas Noches] are proper salutations. Not only can these be used when saying hello, but they are also a way to say good-bye.

There's something nice about being greeted not only by store or restaurant employees, but also by other customers. It's as though people aren't too busy to take time out to say hello. It might not seem like much, but I really appreciate being greeted with such kindness. When I'm in the U.S., I find myself walking into stores wanting to greet everyone but if I did, I'd probably only receive confused looks in return.

Being humble is an awesome quality to have. Having a nice personality is great too! Most people in Mexico seem to have both. When you come to visit, please be sure to give saludos a todos!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

la bufadora ~ ensenada, mexico

neither of us had been to ensenada, but we both had been wanting to go & decided that this would be the day. we got a late start. after a few stops, we hopped on the toll-road (cuota) & we were on our way. the drive down was beautiful and definitely worth every peso to take the toll-road. no pot-holes, very few cars, and a view of the ocean pretty much the entire drive down. i got excited. THIS is the mexico i've been wanting to see! we got to ensenada probably a little after 2. somehow we almost got lost but asked a guy for directions & realized we still had a ways to go. close to an hour later, we made it. we were at la bufadora. we have both been a little skeptical about this place. a blowhole, really??? how exciting can it be? after walking down a whole street of stores where workers were telling us to 'hurry, let's make a deal while my boss is gone' & dozens of people offering us an alcohol-free mini shot of pina colada, we found the blowhole and about 5286273 other people. not really... it was actually nice that it wasn't so crowded. maybe being there on a friday made the difference?! who knows. anyway, we stayed at la bufadora for a while. watching the water shoot up super high and hoping that it would shoot far enough to get the dorks standing in front of it (we were on the side) soaking wet. it did a couple times, much to our enjoyment! being there reminded me a lot of the states. there were gringos aplenty & a lot of english was heard. we decided to head back to the car and maybe find a place to eat and a hotel to sleep in for the night. well... little did we know it at the time... but our fun day out would soon take a scary little turn.

when we got back to the car, alex went to a mini mercado to get us some drinks while i put the baby in the car. then he got back and got in the drivers side and i handed him the keys. he said 'where's the car key??'. my heart dropped to the bottom of my stomach. i had used the alarm fob thingy to unlock the car, so i didn't notice the key was missing. out of all of the keys on the keychain to fall off, the car key was the one. go figure. here we are, in a place we don't know, very little money, and no car key. we don't have a spare car key. even if we did, it probably would have been at home, in a locked house, in the junk drawer. many different thoughts flooded my mind. do we sleep in the car? do we take a taxi? do we call someone back home for help? did someone find the key & will they try to steal the car? i suddenly felt extremely overwhelmed. the only thing we could do was re-trace our steps and that's what we did. we got all the way back to the blowhole & still no key had been found. the only thing left to do was start telling everyone and their mama that we had lost a key and ask if anyone had seen it.

luckily we came across a man who was in one of the shops. we told him and a couple others that we lost a key. he asked if it was a ford & said he found a key on the ground. YES! YES! WE HAVE A FORD! i didn't scream that out loud, but i sure as heck wanted to. of course i started to question this man's credibility. he looked like he had had at least 10 beers too many & smelled like it too. he said that his friend had it, so we walked with him to find his friend. alex offered to give him some $$ for his help and of course he asked for more. but seriously... without his help, it could have been an even bigger disaster. so his friend pulls out the key and it looks like ours, but one can never be too cautious. so the beer guy walked to the car with us so we could try it. IT WORKED! i said a couple more prayers, took out some change for the man, buckled the baby into her car seat & we were outta there. completely wiped out but ever so thankful to be in our car, driving, relieved. after stopping for dinner at costco, we decided to just go home instead of staying at a hotel. the drive home was uneventful. my two loves slept most of the way. i just enjoyed the ocean breeze & took the time to count my blessings. even though this trip had a few snags, i still chalk it up to us being some explorer-noobs (this is for my gaming hubby, haha). this just taught us a lesson.

now that i've had a taste of travelling and seeing other things that mexico as to offer, i want more!

Friday, June 17, 2011

dropping the n-word (n is for negativity, LOL)

ok, it's time to change the tone of the blog. i originally wanted this blog to be about exploring my new life in mexico... discovering baja. i'll leave the whole being frustrated with immigration policies and racism thing to another place and another time.

i'm now refocused.

here we go!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Imagine a World...

Today, if you're like the average American, life as you know it probably consists of waking up, taking a nice hot shower, waking your kids up to take them to school, stopping by Starbucks to pick up a $4.00+ cup of coffee, and maybe some breakfast to go with it... then you head to work an 8 hour shift making something between $10 and $20 an hour, or more, depending on your occupation. You'll work an average of 40 hours per week, Monday through Friday and enjoy a nice 2-day weekend. You'll spend time with your family, you'll go grocery shopping for lots of stuff to fit in your nice big refrigerator in your nice and cozy home. Maybe you'll take a trip to Disneyland, go clothes shopping, and you'll even flush your toilet countless times. All without thinking about it twice. Let's face it. There are so many things that you do day-to-day that you take for granted.

Here is my question for you. What if it was all taken away? What would you do if you had to wake up before 4:00am every day to be at work by 8? What if there was no hot water to take a shower? What if there wasn't even RUNNING water? What if you didn't have electricity? What if you can't stop for coffee because you can't afford it? What if your children's clothes don't fit? They're growing so fast and you can't afford to buy anything new? What if you couldn't afford a bed for them to sleep on? What if the only jobs available required you to work 10+ hours a day, for 6 days, at no more than $2 an hour? This would mean working 60+ hours and bringing home a total of no more than $120.00 a week, for a grand total of 240 hours a month, earning $480.00. And I haven't even deducted taxes.

In the first senario you were working 160 hours a month, earning $1600 to $3200 a month. Quite a difference, right? Well, consider all of the bills that one incurs each month. With this new life that you're living, how would your life be if you only had $480 for the entire month? How would you pay rent? Forget about having a car payment. You'd either have to take the bus or walk. What about electricity and food? No cell phones, not even a home phone, no internet, and no eating out. What if your home didn't have gas lines? What if you had to use a propane tank? What if you couldn't even afford that?

Let's lay out your new daily life: you wake up and may or may not be able to take a "shower". If you do, the water may be cold, and it may only consist of you bathing out of a bucket because only the better houses actually have running water. Your toilet can't be flushed, because it's just a hole in the ground. The walls that make up your home are nothing but pieces of wood that you've accumulated over time. You have no carpet. You share the ground you walk on with countless bugs because, afterall, this was their home before you decided to build a make-shift home here. You probably don't have electricity. If you do, you might be stealing it by running an extension cord from someone else's property to yours. If you don't, you might just use candles or a lantern, if you can even afford those. Your clothes and your children's clothes are ill-fitting. You don't have many clothes either, so what you do have needs to be washed, by hand, more frequently. Clothing in your area costs more than anywhere else and is of cheaper quality. Food for the day: how do you cook with no electricity? You may have grown accustomed to not eating very much, but what about your children? They need to eat. Who will watch your children as you go off to work your 10+ hour day? Maybe you have a spouse to do that. But if you have a spouse, they're probably going off to work, too. Maybe you have it all worked out to where you work opposite shifts. But this means that you rarely get to see your spouse, and you rarely get to spend time as a whole family. This is a tough life to imagine, isn't it? What if there was a new and better life somewhere else that you might be able to live? This place is a whole new country: a promise land. A place where you can work less and get paid more. A place with homes that have running (and hot!) water and electricity. A country with less corruption than the country you're from. A country where you could stay home with your children and your spouse can go to work and there is still plenty of money to go around and time spent together. A country in which your children will be able to live an unbelieveably better life. However, this country is tough to get into. The approval process and waiting lists are long. The rejection rate is high. It could take years to happen, if it even happens at all. In the meantime, you're starving, your children are starving. You hear that there are other ways to get into this new and exciting country, but you run the risk of getting caught. Would you risk what little you have to try and get so much more? Many would and many do every single day.

I am humbled every single day. After living in Mexico and seeing the poverty, corruption and suffering that I have seen, I can honestly say that I have asked myself what I would do if I were in their shoes. Would I risk it to go to the United States to try for a better life? Most likely, yes. If times were hard enough, I would do anything to provide for my family and I'm sure that almost anyone would. I don't recommend doing it the 'sneaky' way, and I would never personally cross someone because I refuse to go to prison, but after living amongst people who deal with such a rough life, I can now understand why so many people choose to attempt to live an undocumented life in the US. They have nothing to lose and so much to gain. Even if they have to live a life of constantly looking over their shoulder. To me, this seems like a better option than starving to death or working for the drug cartel.

In a different scenario, there are people who live in the United States as undocumented immigrants and have been in the US since they were babies. They don't know any other life than an American life. Occassionally, these immigrants are detained and subsequently deported after failing to provide the proper documentation required to stay in the US. These immigrants are then sent back to the countries that they were born in and are met by a sea of strangers. Faces they've never seen, people they've never known. Family and friends are non-existant. They are forced to live in this new place. Whether they will be able to survive here is unknown. What happens to the families that these deported immigrants leave behind? After living for so long in the US, they are bound to have found and fallen in love with someone and maybe even have started a family. These loving families are torn apart daily because of deportation and our immigration "system" (if you can even call it that). Spouses are torn from their better half. Children separated from their mother or father. In some instances, the spouse who was left in the US leaves the country, kids in tow, to be with the deported loved one. They then attempt to keep their family together in this new world that they are living in. Relying on one another for survival comes to play. Bonds are strengthened. However, at the same time, other bonds are broken or are hanging by a thread. As you know, families extend beyond our spouses and our children. There are grandparents, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, friends, and other loved ones that experience the heartbreak that comes with deportation. Deportation is not fair to anyone involved. Some may say that these immigrants shouldn't start families because they can't afford them, etc. But, how would you feel if someone said YOU shouldn't have a family? Every one deserves to love and be loved. Now that I am a parent myself, I can say that it is the most amazing feeling in the world. I wouldn't deny anyone that same feeling, EVER.

In most cases, undocumented immigrants take on jobs that no one else wants or will do. They're underpaid but are the hardest workers that you will ever meet. They are extremely motivated and humbled by where they've come from. They wish no harm on anyone, but they are greeted with nothing but rejection and hate. They're singled out. They're racially profiled. Sure, there are exceptions and people that take advantage, but that doesn't mean that each and every immigrant needs to be thrown into the same basket as the others. Say your boss gave you and your co-workers each an assigned project. You're not to work together. You must work on your own. So, you work extremely hard on your project and pay attention to each and every single little detail so that it comes out perfect. All the while, your co-workers have been "working" on their respective projects and have not only had a 'ho-hum' attitude about the whole thing, but the lack of effort really shows in their so-called completed project. How would you feel if your boss took one look at all of the projects and because he was dissappointed with what he saw as a whole, he decided that you were all fired. He didn't take into consideration what each person did on their own. He lumped you in with the slack-offs and got rid of you. It isn't fair, is it? It's not fair, at all, to assume that because one person is a bad seed that they all are. Same thing with immigration. Not all immigrants are the same. In fact, no two immigrants are even the same. Each and every immigrant has a history... his or her own story. Each story needs to be heard. Some have lived "perfect" lives. Some have made mistakes and learned from them. These mistakes all play into a person's story. If they're constantly doing bad things and show no end in sight, then yes, maybe deportation is the only answer. But one or two mistakes should be forgiven. Fines paid, time served, but then they should be allowed to stay with their families. People shouldn't be separated from their loved ones their whole lives because of a mistake. Children shouldn't have to suffer for their parent's bad choice(s).

And let's not forget about the families that aren't allowed into the deportee's country. A friend of mine isn't allowed to join her husband to live out life in the country he was deported to. Their kids aren't allowed to go and live with their father. Their family is deemed too large in relation to income, so they keep being denied entry. He is denied entry into the US. This family is being separated by force. Where is the middle ground? How can this even be happening? What makes matters worse is knowing that my friend and her husband have hearts of gold. They are madly in love and are an amazing family. It breaks my heart to know the suffering that they go through. It seems like no one else understands the situation. No one will listen.

My family has a whole host of immigration and life stories. I will do anything to be with my family, even if it means living in another country, but I don't think it should be like this. My husband and our daughter deserve the best. They are both well-to-do human beings. I won't let anyone tell me that they aren't worth a fight. So I'll keep fighting, and I will never leave their side.

Changes need to be made to our immigration system. American citizens and their children deserve to have their loved ones with them in a country that offers so much more. You have your life story and you're still playing the story out. Wouldn't it feel good to help the families dealing with immigration horror-stories? Wouldn't it feel good to make a difference in this world and give children the happiness that they so incredibly deserve? Listen to the stories of immigrants. Stop judging. Put yourself in their shoes. What would you do if you were faced with the same obstacles as them? I believe that if you open your heart you will expand your mind and make a difference in this one life that you've been given. Start now.