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View of Parroquía

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

Market

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.

Indian

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.

No

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

IMG_1602

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!

 

Panaderia

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.

Coca-Cola

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!

Cheers,

~Katie

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It has been a whirlwind past couple of months for us—wrapping up our twins’ 6th grade school year in San Miguel de Allende, packing up a house for our move back to the coast, a five-day trip to the States for my father’s celebration of life, and then back home to Mexico for an 11-hour car ride from Central to Coastal Mexico with three kids, two dogs, two tired parents and a boat full of our stuff hooked to the trailer behind our car. 

San Miguel de Allende

5 a.m. Departure from San Miguel de Allende

 

are we there yet?

Loaded up and ready to go! “Are we there yet?”

 

Beach Bound

Beach Bound and only 450 miles to go!

 

jungle air

Windows down and soaking up the jungle air

We arrived to our little slice of paradise north of Puerto Vallarta, exhausted but so happy to be back at the beach. We wasted no time getting our suits on and into the water right down in front of our new home. Standing on our beach in the state of Nayarit, we can look across the bay to Puerto Vallarta in the state of Jalisco! Talk about a view!

Sierra Madre Mountains

An amazing view of the Sierra Madre Mountains

 

Growing up in Mexico!

Growing up in Mexico!

 

Luna Love

Even Luna Love wants to get in on the water action! #nomorecitydog

 

water pup

Our Water Pup Seamus SO happy to be back in the water!

We were fortunate to have one of our daughter’s dear friends from San Miguel de Allende travel with us and we girls took full advantage of a day of fun in the city, getting their hair done and dining out at an amazing seafood restaurant with this view!

Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta Fun!

In the few weeks that we have been back to the coast, we have been spending our days unpacking all of the many bags, boxes and suitcases, taking care of dental/medical appointments and leaving time and space to just chill and take in this amazing beauty all around us. 

play relaxation dogs

An afternoon of play and relaxation with my pups

My recovery from spinal surgery continues to go incredibly well….how could it not with this as my private little physical therapy playground? 

beach gym

Beach Gym!

Many of our Los O’Gradys in Mexico followers have asked which we prefer—Central Mexico or Coastal Mexico. Honestly, we love them both! They each have their own special attributes, their beauty and characteristics unique to themselves. We are ocean people true and true and for as much as we love magical San Miguel de Allende and other parts of Central Mexico that we had the fortune of exploring (and plan to return to!), living and being based coastal is a decision we are happy about. Mexico, in all of her varied and dynamic beauty, is home to us. 

We began this grand Mexico adventure back in 2012 along this same coastline…coming back now in 2016 feels like reuniting with a long-lost dear friend. We will settle in and stay in this area—Frank with his solar expeditions, our children with their paths, and me with my writing.

From retired firefighter and teacher to photovoltaic designer and writer and now 12-year-old twins, we continue to embrace our re-invented, re-inspired lives in Mexico—grateful for this Mexican-American Dream that we are fortunate enough and brave enough to create for our family. 

my kids

~Katie

 

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