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We use to live under this paradigm of life in a 21st century modern society but no longer do thanks to creating a radical change in our family’s lives. I remember being STUCK in traffic—more often than not—and just sitting there at the steering wheel, anxiously and impatiently tapping my fingers, moving along, inch by inch, so over and so fed up with that being the “norm”, knowing in my heart that it didn’t have to be and feeling so READY for a change.  

The picture above represents so much of what we were ready to change (and say goodbye to) in our lives. Breathing in the exhaust fumes of other vehicles, missing out on active, joyful engagement in life because we were on hold in in a sea of cars was not how we wanted to spend our valuable, once-in-a-lifetime time. I would take pictures from the front end of my car of the hundreds of bumpers in front of me and text them to my husband Frank at work with the message, “One thing I will NOT miss”. And I don’t, not one little bit. What’s to miss about it?

Since moving to Mexico in 2012 we have lived in San Pancho, Nayarit, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato and now, back at to our beloved coastline in the state of Nayarit. 

We have gone from daily traffic congestion and the frequent witnessing of road rage to driving on dirt jungle roads and 16th century cobblestone streets. We have traded in mind-numbing, lost hours in the car to engagement in other, more meaningful activities of our choice. 

If one of my jobs as a Mother is to support and nurture the emotional well-being and development of my children, then moving to Mexico has been one great step in supporting that endeavor.

M on horseback SP 2012

Our daughter learning how to horseback ride in San Pancho, Mexico

 

Wardmens

It’s a kid’s world! Nayarit, Mexico

This is not to say that life was dreadful for us in the States…certainly it was not. San Diego is a beautiful city with much to offer, see, live and experience. Yes, we had some rough patches, but that is just life and part of its various dimensions anywhere.

Without a doubt we miss our family and friends and that continues to be the biggest adjustment and area of conscious acceptance in our transported, immigrated lives…BUT, life here in Mexico for the past four years has proven itself to be rich, colorful, textured, varied, vibrant, stimulating, empowering, character-building, soul-enhancing, sustainable, life-changing.

We immigrated to mainland Mexico when our twins were eight years old, during the middle of their third grade year, and within three months of our arrival we became permanent residents. The process went rather quickly for us because we did our homework prior to our move and had all of our required paperwork in order. Patience, good luck and having the right legal liason were in our favor as well. 

Our twins, a.k.a. “The Reds”, were seasoned Mexico travelers prior to our move, having spent the first eight years of their lives adventuring back and forth between San Diego and our place in Bahia de Los Angeles, Baja California. Frank’s firefighter schedule and my school teacher’s allowed us blocks of time off together as a family and we took full advantage of them to head South!

Mairead and Liam fondly referred to their Baja home as their “other home” and Mexico forever became ingrained in their hearts as a place of fun, discovery and family connection. This, together with the fact that I have always spoken to them in Spanish in addition to English, allowed Mexico as our country of choice for relocation to not feel so foreign to them…in fact, they were very excited and embraced the idea of a move South for their association with Mexico was nothing but good.

Adventuring in Baja

Adventuring in Baja, 2006

 

Baja Babies La Gringa Beach 2008

Baja Babies! Bahia de Los Angeles~2008

Aside from the understandable and inevitable emotion of parting ways with loved ones, our move and the preparations leading up to our departure from San Diego were relatively seamless in the sense that it was meant to be and something we collectively were all on the same page about and ready for

saying goodbye to mom at SD airport 2012

Saying our goodbyes to my Mom at San Diego airport~2012

We arrived to San Pancho on a Friday, and that following Monday our formerly homeschooled twins began their first ever five-day-a-week school at Escuela del Mundo, a Montessori-based program immersed in banana, coconut and mango trees and open green space to run and play in—to be free! No asphalt, prison-like school grounds around there!

1st day of a 5-day a week school in the Mexican Jungle Coastal town of San Pancho, after homeschooling for 5 years in San Diego, California

1st day at Escuela del Mundo

It was a big adjustment on many accounts, least of which being greeted by both a chicken pox and lice outbreak during their first week of attendance! Thankfully, we weathered through and avoided both of those little introductory treats.

While the Spanish immersion component of the program was a bit of an initial challenge for The Reds, they transitioned and acclimated rather quickly, having been exposed to Spanish and a bilingual/border city for their first eight years of life in San Diego. Even without those language advantages, we all know how sponge-like children’s brains are, and if given the opportunity, they can assimilate and adapt with great ease. I do believe they were the only Mairead and Liam their classmates had ever met, but their new friends and teachers graciously and warmly accepted them and made great efforts at learning and pronouncing their unique, Celtic names.

Liam 1st Day of School 12-4-12

Liam making new friends at Escuela del Mundo~2012

After Escuela del Mundo in San Pancho, we placed them at Costa Verde International in Sayulita, Nayarit—a neighboring village just 10 minutes down the main jungle road, famous for its bohemian, surfing culture. Moving to another school was indeed another change and adjustment for our children, but one that they embraced wholeheartedly with the amazing, trusting, positive attitudes that they approach most things in life with.

Located a few blocks from the beach, Costa Verde is a bilingual, multi-cultural school that focuses on environmental sustainability and the advancement of ecological responsibility in Mexico…and surfing! In fact, it was part of their PE program!

Mairead and Liam continued to explore, discover and develop their own sense of community and connection within the larger context of their family’s move and immigration to another country. Their language skills progressed and improved so that at this point, a year or so into our move, they could flip back and forth between English and Spanish with great ease…impressive and beautiful to listen to for sure.

Costa Verde

4th Grade at Costa Verde, Sayulita

After a year and a half of coastal jungle living, we were ready to experience another part of Mexico and set our compasses on something completely different. Sight unseen but with lots of research, we chose San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato in the interior of the country—the birthplace of Miguel Ignacio Allende, one of the leaders of the insurgent army during Mexico’s War of Independence. San Miguel de Allende was the first municipality to be declared independent from Spanish rule, and as such, life here is steeped in history, culture, national pride and one festivity after another

Kids in Watering Hole

School field trip to Cañada de la Boca!

Our children are learning, excelling and expanding their mental and physical capacities in a loving, nurturing and intellectually stimulating environment of freedom and growth. 

IMG_2350

Liam volunteering at Lindero de la Petaca rural school

Since moving to Mexico, our children have been feasting and flourishing in ways never before—running barefoot and free, surfing, horseback riding, pyramid climbing, adventuring upon the 16th-century cobblestone streets, exploring and immersed in history, culture and opportunities colored in texture and dimension and a certain vibrancy and life that escapes words.

Parroquia through Casa Allende

The Parroquía, San Miguel de Allende

They see a life without limits, that anything is possible, that dreams do come true, that carving one’s own way in this diverse world is not just possible, but doable. They have witnessed their parents reinvent themselves from teacher and firefighter to published writer and photovoltaic designer and installer. They have gone from being monolingual homeschoolers to bilingual life learners of this world, interacting and learning with not only Mexican Nationals, but also many other adventure-driven families from various parts of this globe who are also living life out of the box and on their own terms.

From San Diego to south of the border, we are embracing our lives in Mexico and reaping multiple rewards. We are learning about ourselves and the world around us, thriving in the 3D nature of our days that have a certain spirit, soul and ‘vibra’ that so resonates with us.

We thank you Mexico for your warmth, your hospitality, your graciousness and generosity, for welcoming and adopting us and allowing us to feel at home in our new country.

May the adventures continue on….

~Katie

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I recently added a Frequently Asked Questions Section  to our blog here and FAQ #1 of “Do you feel safe?” is for sure a hot topic! With his permission, I share with you all another answer and perspective to this all-important question by our friend Earl Miller who lives in San Pancho to the north of us. 

“I moved to Mexico five years ago against the advice of many people from the area where I lived in the United States. I have had five wonderful years down here and will spend the rest of my life here. I am part owner of a hotel (Roberto’s Bungalows) in a little village called San Pancho about 30 miles north of Puerto Vallarta. We get visitors from all over the world come and stay with us and I can’t believe the stuff I hear sometimes from a small percentage of them when they are booking their time to come stay. Usually 99 percent of them are from the United States and are asking about how safe it is.

I came from a town in the Bay area in California and I loved it and it was a safe and wonderful community. The next town and the cities within about 20 miles were not so safe. Now living in the Bay area if you never read the news or watched TV you would think you lived in the safest place on the planet.

Well here is where the difference is. If you did read the paper or watched TV you would realize that within a few miles people are being killed and the cities are going to hell in a handbasket. They are trying everything that is possible, but they just don’t have the manpower or the funding to keep the cities under control.

Now for the good news…I have lived here for five years and traveled here by car from California and all around the area and never had a problem. The Cartel has yet to make me a drug runner or chopped off my head. When people start up with how dangerous it is down here I just ask for them to Google the crime rate in the town in which they live and the surrounding 30 miles or so.

It is just folks who really just watch the TV and read the news about the stories about the border problems. Remember that the reason for the crime and deaths at the border towns in Mexico is the fact that America has a drug problem. If everyone in the United States didn’t need drugs we wouldn’t have a problem with crime at the border.

Well take the border towns out of your vacation plans and come on down to the Riviera Nayarit coast and enjoy the weather and mostly the grace of the wonderful people of this country. They are pleasant and warm and wanting to help you in every way. Stop the crazy thoughts and get down here and see for yourself. This is paradise and we don’t have the crime that exists in the United States.

Oh I know some of you will read this and be saying oh yeah well I just heard that someone got killed in Mexico. For those of you who are always looking for the bad in everything please do us a favor down here, stay home.

1. If you don’t know the facts about the crime in Mexico, stay home!

2. If you believe everything you read or see on TV, stay home.

3. If you are not a loving adventure seeking person with a love of a beautiful people and beauty, stay home.

4. If you don’t want to explore and get to know the awesome people of this different culture of the world, stay home.

5. If you don’t want to feel the love and make lifetime friendships and surround yourself with the love of the Nationals and can’t step out of your comfort zone, PLEASE STAY HOME!

I really don’t want to sound like I think everyone from the United States and Canada shouldn’t come to Mexico. We welcome you all! The area in which We live was just chosen as the 6th best place in the world to retire and in Men’s Journal Magazine last month the second best kept secret world best beach.

This is just for the few of you that make all of Mexico sound like a dangerous place. I want you all to come and see the world with different eyes and an open heart. The people of Mexico are the most gracious people I have ever encountered. They want you to come and feel the love and share the beauty of their beautiful country.

Come and relax on the beaches, travel the country and see some of the most beautiful sites in the world. They welcome you with open arms.

I welcome you with an open heart and open arms.”

~Earl Miller

Many thanks to our Gentle Giant of a friend, Earl Miller, for allowing us to share this today on Los O’Gradys in Mexico.


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