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It was our first big summer storm since our return to the jungle. The lightening came snapping down right on top of our house like an arrow landing its bullseye target, resulting in my jumping about three feet in the air and one of our AC rooftop compressors catching on fire!

Fortunate for me, I share a home with a fireman and knew that our family (and my nerves) were in good hands. The downpour helped to temper the situation as well.

Thanks to the ingenuity, reuse and repurpose mentality of Mexican culture, the compressor’s wires were changed out and the unit spared! Hard to believe, I know…fire and all. 

Jungle storms can be unforgiving, messy and destructive. They are equally exciting, cleansing and replenishing—popping out those dense, lush canopies of green and the multitude of ecosystems that thrive inside of them—reminding you of the absolute power and magnificence of Mother Nature.

The downpours also provide you with an opportunity to identify where exactly you need to apply more silicone in the home, such as around the collection of leaking windows that are at the base of a 20-foot high boveda ceiling! Tall ladder anyone? Those first few falls on our slick marble floors were not so fun and made us delay not in tending to this issue ASAP.

The jungle wasted no time in welcoming us back and reminding us of the fortitude, sense of humor and determination one must possess to both survive and thrive here. Yes, there are prices to pay for living in paradise folks!

The following are some of my suggestions (based on good ol’ experience ) as to how to maximize your living experience in the tropics, whether you are renting or purchasing:

1. Roof Sealant

Make sure the roof of your home is properly sealed and therefore protected from leaks and moisture intrusion. We learned this the hard way when our 2012 rental grew large circular mold spores from the outside in after our first rainy season there. A disgusting and unsafe “inconvenience” to say the least and one that duct tape alone would not remedy. 

We now know to always inquire about roof sealant when house hunting in the tropics.

Check to make sure that the 1) the roof has been sealed and that 2) the current sealant is not watered down, thinning or chipping off in areas. Hire a reputable company to assess its current condition.

There are various types of impermeabilizantes available based on durability and years of warranty. Spending a bit more to ensure a quality result is worth it. We went with a 20-year, eco-friendly one, believing it best to be over protected than under with the amount of rain we receive here in coastal Nayarit. 

2. Air Conditioners

Have all AC’s serviced. The filters should be cleaned of mold/dust/debri and the electrical panels checked for unwanted critters that can wreak havoc. Apparently wires are a delicacy to geckos—ridding your AC’s of them is far easier than having to replace the unit! 

3. Mosquiteros

Screens on all doors and windows are not a luxury but an absolute necessity for jungle living lest you want to share your home with mosquitos, geckos, iguanas and stray animals. 

4. Bathroom Drain Covers

Think: golf ball-sized cockroaches. Trust me, you’ll want to use these. 

5. Ventilation

Jungle, hot, humid….ventilate your home (i.e. closets and other closed spaces) as much as possible.

6. Check Outlets for Proper Polarity

Hire a qualified electrician to do this.



These are just six tips that come to mind and the very type of information I like to provide my clients with in the relocation consulting work I do…information relative to not only healthcare and educational options but also home maintenance tips—things that one learns via experience alone.

No doubt that there are many of my Los O’Gradys in Mexico Readers that can add their own helpful tips to this list. What are some of the things that you have experienced here in Mexico—whether coastal or inland—relative to house hunting and house maintenance that experience alone has taught you?

Please share them in the comments section below and I will gladly add them as a footnote to this article. 

Thank you!

Cheers y Saludos,


Reader Tips:

Arturo: For the summer months it is highly recommended to put your clothes in airtight bags or vacuum sealed bags so that mold doesn’t grow in them specially if you skip town. I highly recommend to do this process with your shoes because if you don’t, the soles will disintegrate completely from the salty air and humidity.

Margaret: Keep all your food in the refrigerator, even if you wouldn’t normally, especially fruit. Clean up your kitchen messes as soon as possible to deter unwanted scavengers and never ever ever let your kids eat in the bed unless you want… ANTS ANTS EVERYWHERE! (And they bite). Even with screens and drain covers, if you leave food out they will find you… 😛




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Mexican Flag with Parroquia


At the now four year mark into our full-time relocation to mainland Mexico, there are many things that stand out to me as being unique to our adopted country—features that definitely distinguish it and set it aside from our former lives in the U.S.A.

1. A Different Place, A Different Pace


Artesian Market, San Miguel de Allende

Mexico, often referred to as the “land of mañana”, embodies much more than the traditional meaning assigned to this popular cliché. There is an almost palpable beckoning and invitation to slow down and take it all in, in large because of the colors, vibrancy, and sensory-rich nature of a “typical” Mexican town—so alive and pulsating with energy from the outdoor markets, music, smells from the fresh, local food; filled with people that embrace, revere and honor their national pride and cultural heritage…that assign importance to their identities and mark and celebrate them with intention and meaning.

Dancers in Banda

Christmas Celebration in Banda~Rural Community Outside of SMA *Photo Credit: Katie O’Grady


Dia de los muertos

Día de Los Muertos @ La Parroquía in San Miguel de Allende

A culture rich in color and embedded in history not only encourages but coaxes you to slow down and to change your perhaps previously frenzied pace of rushing through life to get from one thing to the next.

Wedding Re-size

Wedding Celebration on The Streets of San Miguel de Allende

I love that here in Mexico I am allured, intrigued, invited to stop and look, to be in the moment. My senses are awake and tuned in, I am aware of the detail and the magic of my surroundings.


Just running a few errands

Mexico has taught me, and reminds me daily, to relish and thrive in the here and now, to celebrate the present moment and the textures and layers within that moment. 

Los Mariachis

Mariachis in The Parroquía on A Break

2. Personal Freedom & Responsibility

There is a certain aspect of “controlled chaos” on the streets of Mexico—families of four piled atop a motorcycle, off-leash dogs dodging in and out of moving cars, traffic police standing in the middle of busy four-way intersections, the clashing symphony of sights, smells, and sounds emerging from the tianguis (outdoor markets), corner cantinas, garbage trucks, city buses and hard-working street vendors.

A Bus Standoff

It’s a bus standoff! *Photo Credit: Katie O’Grady

It seems that in the States personal freedoms are pervasively being taken away—walking your dog off-leash at the beach and having a beer while doing it are completely out of the question (and illegal) in San Diego. Yes, in an ideal world, humans could self-regulate and self-moderate, throw their cigarette butts in designated trash cans, buckle in their kids, and not text while driving. There are indeed certain laws that are sound, make sense, and that I absolutely agree with.

But akin to good parenting and teaching, over-regulation and modification of one’s behavior—which ties into a perceived limitation of freedom and autonomy—inevitably tends to backfire, creating a culture of resistance and sometimes defiance. Throw in there human nature’s capacity to be rebellious, and well…you just might have the perfect cocktail for disorder.


Just Say No

Here in Mexico, the disorder and the coloring outside of the lines just seems to work itself out in a “let the cards fall where they may” kind of way. 

3. Family Time


La Cañada de La Virgen

Different pace, personal freedom…FAMILY TIME—by far the most important and remarkable difference in our Mexico life versus our stateside one. I love the Mexican culture’s emphasis, focus, and importance placed on the family unit…and the extended one at that, including second and third cousins—some related by blood, some not.

A very good friend is often referred to as a primo (cousin) and they are taken into the family as such. Conversations at gatherings and casual run-ins are sin prisa (without hurry)—not vapid or full of fluff, but rich in sincere inquiries as to how each other’s family, businesses, and other social affairs are going…and most often an invitation to get together again soon. The art of conversation is well preserved in the Mexican culture. Greetings and farewells? You can count on the customary hugs and kisses on the cheek between men and women, young and old 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. Recently one of our neighbors saw Frank out in front of our house working on our car, and offered to take him to the auto-part store. He accompanied him in, helped him out where needed with Spanish translation, waited for the transaction to be done, and then gave him a ride back home. Some friends that heard of a recent respiratory illness that went through our home gifted to us bags of medicinal plants and herbs, all labeled with their indicated usages. These are only two examples of the many kind, demonstrative acts of care and community bestowed to us in the three and a half years that we have lived in Mexico.

4. Fresh, affordable, local food

Street Tacos

The Reds enjoying ten peso street tacos on a Friday night!

10 peso street tacos, 20 peso super-sized fresh fruit cups, 5 peso sweetbreads, 25 peso organic coffee, bags full of fresh produce for 100 pesos, 100 peso chicken rotisserie dinners complete with tortillas, rice, salad and grilled peppers….shall I stop?

Fruit Cups

Less than a dollar fifty for one of these delicious fruit cups!


Rotisserie Chicken

Mairead and I picking up our seven dollar family dinner!



La Colemna Panadería, San Miguel de Allende

With the current value of the dollar to the peso about 18 to 1, you can calculate how amazing these prices are! There is never a shortage of readily available, fresh, locally grown produce, meats, cheeses, wines, breads….and many, thankfully, are organic.

Via Organica

Vía Orgánica, Colonia Guadalupe

5. Photo ops

This was not meant to be a pseudo-ad for Coca-Cola, but I just love this shot that I captured at La Parroquía in San Miguel de Allende of a cowboy with his horse, taking a break from the day’s work.


Break Time at The Parroquía

I have personally taken all of the photos on my blog, often with nothing more than my cell phone camera. From the jungle to the desert highlands, I have thousands and thousands of images—many published, many still in the queue waiting for their turn. I am grateful that I live in a country that provides plenty of sensory-stimulating experiences and that I am able to express myself creatively in this blog forum with an audience who appreciates my work.

These are but a few of my favorite things about Mexico….

What about you? What are some of your favorite things about Mexico? I would love to hear about them in the comments section below!







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