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As the granddaughter of a former Chief of the US-Mexico Border, it is no small irony nor coincidence that I, along with my husband and two young children, would choose to immigrate to Mexico four years ago. Departing from San Diego with nothing but a car and trailer full of stuff that we deemed to be the remaining essentials after gifting, donating and selling, we headed south.

Shortly after our arrival to the coast of Nayarit, we became permanent residents (having begun the process stateside) and are now considering applying for dual-citizenship.

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

Of the many influences I had 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 factors in this unquestionable connection I have with Mexico.

My “Big Joe”, as we referred to him, grand in vision in his stetson cowboy hat and crisp-collared Oxford shirts, demonstrated via his speech and in his way of conducting himself in cross-border relations such a deep respect and admiration for our south of the border brothers and sisters, that I too could not help but fall in love with a land so magnificently rich in corazón y alma (heart and soul).

We would frequently drive down to Rosarito Beach on weekends to enjoy a family meal at El Nido and 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. Sitting in front of the open fire wood stove where our quail and lobster tails would cook, he could 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 of traits that simply attracted people to him. It felt good to be in his company and I just happened to be lucky enough to be his granddaughter. 

I used to sit mesmerized on his living room couch, listening to 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.

I imagined him to be some sort of a bicultural John Wayne.

Family historians have shared with me that they used to call him 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, one month after the passing of my cherished Grandmary, and although they had lived years and homes apart, their bond and love was undeniable and one that literally lasted a lifetime.

He was the consummate gentleman and could cure the common cold with a shot of tequila and a slice of lime.

While I miss him dearly, I will always carry the strength and memory of his legacy, his humility and his wisdom within me. 

My proximity to the San Diego-Tijuana Border also granted me access to a bilingual/bicultural upbringing that allowed me to move easily between both worlds. Speaking in both Spanish and English at school, work and play was my norm and to this day I happily intermingle between both my anglo and Mexican friends.

If former lives exist, I am sure I was a salsa-dancing Latina in mine! I spent many a weekend in my late teens and early 20’s crossing the border with friends to explore and adventure our way around Tijuana proper and points of interest further south—Rosarito, Puerto Nuevo, Ensenada, La Bufadora…good times for sure.

My Grandmothers Mary & Elizabeth (Grandmary & Baba) had their own fair share of fun shenanigans south of the border and their stories were never short of being hilariously entertaining! This picture below is of the two of them (in the middle) in Tijuana, in 1982 when I was 14. 

My Grandmothers Mary & Elizabeth in Tijuana, Mexico 1982

Although my Grandfather passed before I began my teaching career, I know that he would have been so proud that his Granddaughter had chosen to go into a line of work that would not only share the beauty of the Spanish language with her students but also the love of a culture so near and dear to his (and my) heart.

While working on my Masters in Cross-Cultural Education & Curriculum Development, I shared the following reflection in a class exercise—its application and truth is just as valid today (if not more so) as when it was when I wrote it in 1995.

A Mexico Influx~It’s More Than Just a Trump Thing

It comes to me as no great surprise that we find ourselves in a time when more and more people are seriously considering moving to Mexico, looking not just for an escape, but for a reinvented, reinspired life—where adventure is affordable and time and freedom are your most precious commodities. 

Here, there is a palpable beckoning and invitation to slow down and to take it all in, to be in the moment and not rush from point A to point B on autopilot for the sake of expediency and checking off a to-do list. The stimulus and sensory-rich nature of the Mexican culture—alive with a detectable vibra (energy)—beckons you to be awake to and appreciative of the details around you.

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

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. 

Mi Querido México, thank you for taking us in, for welcoming us and for graciously adopting us O’Gradys with open arms and hearts. These past four years have been one heck of an adventure and we are better people for it. 

Dear Mexico, WE LOVE YOU!

..and THANK YOU Grandpa!!!!







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One of the hot topic questions we receive from our Los O’Gradys in Mexico readers is about health care south of the border. Whether it is for travel or a move, people are understandably wanting to learn about the type, quality and cost of medical care in Mexico as well as the various insurance options.

Our experience for the past four years has been that minor things such as pediatrician visits, dental cleanings and vision checks for example, have been very affordable—$30.00 to $50.00 USD on average per appointment, depending on the specialty and treatment provided. 

But what about the unexpected, more costly events or emergencies—an accident, a catastrophic illness, an act of terrorism, or in my case, partial paralysis when two of my spinal discs herniated. When we immigrated to Mexico in 2012, I was 44, in great health and never in a million years did I think that destiny would leave me temporarily wheelchair bound in 2015.

An Unexpected Turn in Events

An Unexpected Turn in Events!

Out-of-pocket costs and upfront cash requirements can be very difficult and taxing on one’s bank account if something unforeseen and significant happens. Were I not to have had partial coverage through my husband’s retirement package, who would have been our preferred insurance carrier prior to leaving the States and beginning our expat lives? 

After researching various options, we found GeoBlue International & Travel Medical Insurance to offer incomparable coverage. Their international health plans are written on U.S. paper and are true global contracts with no border restrictions or coverage limitations. Once underwritten, the client has a six-month pre-existing safety net clause. Their renewal rates are the same as their new business rates which is not the norm in the insurance industry. 

For the outbound U.S. Citizen, GeoBlue has the clear advantage. 

Did you know? 

*U.S. domestic insurance has little or no ability to assist you while abroad. It is of utmost importance to read your certificate of coverage before a move.

*If a U.S. Citizen or legal resident is on an ACA Compliant plan it will terminate as soon the service area is exited—i.e. moving out of the country.  

*A simple evacuation can cost as much as $60,000 just to get a plane and crew to where you are at.  

GeoBlue International & Travel Medical Insurance provides coverage for Emergency Medical Evacuation including for injuries due to a terrorist event, which tragically is a reality of the world we live in right now. They maintain global networks in over 190 countries and have vetted providers that meet certain standards. GeoBlue makes arrangements for direct payment in whatever currency is needed and their concierge-level help is there to assist you throughout the whole process. 

Had I been covered with GeoBlue prior to my spinal surgery, I would have received full and complete coverage for my treatment, surgery and follow up care. If I had chosen to return to the United States for treatment and if I had elected the U.S. Coverage option, I could have gone to the U.S. for care. 

If you are planning to travel long term or live abroad, this may be the most important decision of your departure. Being properly prepared means being properly insured.

If you are interested in finding out more about GeoBlue International & Travel Medical Insurance, please contact Timothy Jennings at individualhealth.com. He is an authorized agent for GeoBlue, a stand-up gentleman of his word and will not lead you astray. Rest assured that you will receive an honest, solid quote for coverage and have all of your questions answered. Timothy is easy to talk to and makes an often complicated, layered issue easy to understand in a very straight-forward way.

With best wishes always for health & lots and lots of adventure,

~Katie O’Grady



* Los O’Gradys in Mexico is proud to partner with GeoBlue, an International & Travel Medical Insurance Company of incomparable quality and sound reputation. We ONLY accept partnerships with entities that we feel 100% comfortable associating our name with, thus one of the reasons this platform in not filled with random advertisements. 

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