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It comes to me as no great surprise that we find ourselves in a time when more and more people are moving to Mexico, looking not just for an escape from the current political and social climate north of the border, but for a reinvented, reinspired life where adventure is affordable and enhanced quality of life is your most precious commodity.

As the granddaughter of a former Chief of the US-Mexico Border, it is no small irony that I, along with my husband and two young children, would immigrate to Mexico nearly five years ago.

Departing from San Diego with nothing more than a car and trailer full of stuff that we deemed to be the remaining essentials after gifting, donating and selling the rest, we headed south.

Shortly after our arrival to the beach town of San Pancho, we became permanent residents, having begun the process stateside to facilitate its expediency.

From a very early age, perhaps even encoded in my genetics, I have had a deep love for Mexico–her people, her magic, her fervent sense of community amongst family and friends…the sense of freedom I feel in her rich biodiversity. 

Growing up a half an hour away from the San Diego-Tijuana border, my relationship with my grandfather was by far one of the most significant influences of and contributors to this undeniable connection I have with Mexico.

My “Big Joe” as we called him, adorned in his Stetson cowboy hat and crisp-collared Oxford shirts, modeled such a deep respect and brotherhood for our south of the border neighbors, that I too could not help but fall in love with a land and people so magnificently rich in corazón y alma (heart and soul).

I would marvel with the pride that only a granddaughter can feel at my grandfather’s ability to conduct himself so eloquently in both languages and cultures.

He would turn the ordinary into magic.

His affinity for conversation, his staid charisma, his thoughtful ways and his sharp sense of humor made for a dynamic mixture that quite simply attracted people to him. It felt good to be in his company and I was just lucky enough to be his granddaughter.

I would sit mesmerized on his living room couch, predicting my future in his black Magic Eight Ball, listening to his stories of herding cattle and training horses down at our family’s dairy ranch in Chula Vista.

He would speak of his many adventures, one of them of having left home at the age of 14 to become a cowboy on the last rancho that spanned the US-American border.

Family historians have shared with me that he was known as the “Paul Revere of Chula Vista” on account of his warning the Otay Valley on horseback of impending rain that ended up bursting the Sweetwater Dam.

He died when I was a freshman at university, and while I miss him dearly, I will carry the strength of his legacy, his humility, and his wisdom with me always.

Growing up in a border city gifted me access to a bilingual and bicultural world, allowing me to move easily between both realms to this day. 

If former lives exist, I am certain that I was a salsa-dancing Latina in mine!

My Grandmothers Mary & Elizabeth had their own fair share of shenanigans south of the border and their stories were the material of an I Love Lucy episode! The picture below is of the two of them (in the middle) in Tijuana, in 1982 when I was just 14, an impressionable age for sure.

Why Mexico?

Here in Mexico, there is a palpable beckoning and invitation to slow down and to take it all in, to be in the moment and to not rush from point A to point B on autopilot for the sake of checking off a to-do list.

The stimulus and sensory-rich nature of the Mexican culture—alive with a detectable vibra (energy)—beckons one to be awake to and appreciative of the details around.

Life in Mexico takes you out of whatever slumber you might have previously found yourself in, RESETS your outlook and REMINDS you that true, mindful, engaged living results from paying attention to and participating in LIFE.

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, and to always, always be grateful…for health, life, family, friends and fun!

Mi Querido México, thank you for taking us in, for welcoming us and for graciously adopting us with open arms. These past four and a half years have been one heck of an adventure and we are better people for it….mil gracias. 

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Thanks to creating a radical change in our family’s lives, we no longer live under this paradigm of life in a 21st-century modern society.

I can remember being STUCK in traffic—more often than not—anxiously and impatiently tapping my fingers on the steering wheel, moving along, inch by inch, 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.  

That picture above represents so much of what we were ready to eliminate in our lives—breathing in exhaust fumes, missing out on active, joyful engagement in life because we were on hold in a sea of cars. That was not how we wanted to spend our valuable, once-in-a-lifetime time. I would take pictures from the dashboard of my car to the hundreds of bumpers in front of me and send them to my husband with the message, “One thing I will NOT miss”. And I don’t, not one little bit. 

Since immigrating to Mexico in 2012, we have gone from daily traffic congestion and the frequent witnessing of road rage to driving on jungle roads and 16th-century cobblestone streets. We have traded in mind-numbing, lost hours in the car to engagement in other, far 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.

The magic of horses in San Pancho, Nayarit

The magic of horses in San Pancho, Nayarit

 

When Birthday Parties Look Like This!

When Birthday Parties Look Like This!

This is not to say that life was dreadful for us in the States for certainly it was not. San Diego is a beautiful city, “America’s Finest City” after all, with much to offer 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 area of conscious adjustment and acceptance in our transported, immigrated lives…BUT, life here in Mexico for the past four years has proven itself to be a character-building, expansive, sustainable and life-changing move for our family.

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 of Mexico. The process went rather smoothly 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 liaison 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 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. 

Adventuring in Baja

Adventuring in Baja, 2006

 

Baja Babies La Gringa Beach 2008

Baja Babies! Bahia de Los Angeles~2008

Aside from the 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 program at Escuela del Mundo. Surrounded by tropical trees and open green space, our children were free!

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

While the Spanish immersion component of their new school was a bit of an initial challenge for The Reds, they transitioned and acclimated rather quickly, having been exposed to Spanish in a border city the first eight years of their life. 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, the went to 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 Mexico. Their language skills progressed and improved to where at this point, a year or so into our move, they could flip back and forth between English and Spanish with great ease.

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

La Parroquía, San Miguel de Allende

La Parroquía, San Miguel de Allende

 

Kids in Watering Hole

School field trip to Cañada de la Boca!

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

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 Writer/Relocation Consultant and Photovoltaic Designer. They have gone from being monolingual homeschoolers to bilingual life learners of this world, interacting and learning with not only Mexican Nationals but also with many other adventure-driven families from various parts of this globe.

Liam volunteering at Lindero de la Petaca School in Guanajuato

Liam volunteering at Lindero de la Petaca School in Guanajuato

From San Diego to South of the border, we embrace our re-invented, re-inspired lives in Mexico. 

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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