Five years ago today, I turned 44 and boarded a plane with my eight-year-old twins on a one-way ticket to Mexico.
We left the States with nothing more but the suitcases we could carry and the contents that fit inside of our 14-foot aluminum boat, trailered by my recently retired firefighter hubby on his 4,000-mile drive South. Frank will have to tell the story of how he did the entire trip with a drooling chocolate lab at his back and without a map!
We left with hopes and dreams for a better future—a better here and now.
We have that.
As we celebrate our five-year Mexi-versary today and my 49th, we reflect over some of the lessons we have learned in our adopted country of Mexico:
1. Savor the Moment
Mexico, often referred to as the “land of mañana” (tomorrow), embodies much more than the conventional meaning associated with this popular cliché. There is a palpable beckoning and invitation to slow down and to take it all in. The vibrant colors and sensory-rich nature of a quintessential Mexican town—alive with energy from the street vendors, music and bouquet of sights and smells—make it nearly impossible to not linger in the magic of the moment.
2. Be Proud
Mexico sets the example of a culture that embraces its history and honors its national pride, of a people that value their identities and honor their roots. I love how Mexico celebrates who she is with intention and meaning.
3. Celebrate, Whenever You Can
4. Be Curious & Have Fun
In Mexico, I am allured, intrigued, invited to stop and look, to be in the moment. With my senses awake, I am tuned in to the details and the magic of my surroundings.
Mexico has taught me to celebrate the textures and layers, to pay attention, to notice…to be participatory and present in life.
5. Live in Freedom & Responsibility
There is a certain aspect of “organized chaos” on the streets of Mexico—families of four piled atop a motorcycle, off-leash dogs dodging in and out of traffic, police officers standing in the middle of busy four-way intersections—a cacophony of sights, smells, and sounds emerging from the outdoor markets, corner cantinas, garbage trucks, city buses and street vendors. Some would call this Darwinism, perhaps even a lawless and haphazard way to live…I just call it cultural immersion!
6. Honor Thy Family, Community & Friends
I love the importance placed on the family unit, including the extended one of second and third cousins—not always necessarily blood-related.
A very good friend is often referred to as a primo (cousin) or hermano/a (brother/sister) and they are taken into the family as such. Conversations at gatherings and casual run-ins are meaningful and sin prisa (without hurry). The art of conversation is well preserved in the Mexican culture. Greetings and farewells? You can count on a customary hug and single kiss on the cheek between young and old, male and female 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.
7. Live Sustainably, Buy Local, Eat Well
10-peso street tacos, 20-peso super-sized fresh fruit cups, 100-peso chicken rotisserie dinners complete with tortillas, rice, salad and grilled peppers…With the current value of the peso to the dollar about 19 to 1, you can calculate the amazing value!
There is never a shortage of fresh, locally grown produce, meats, cheeses, wines and breads…and many, thankfully organic.
8. Pay Attention & Be Grateful
This was not meant to be a promo for Coca-Cola, but I love this capture of a cowboy with horse, taking it all in at the jardín in San Miguel de Allende.
From the jungle to the desert highlands and back again to the coast, I have thousands of pictures of our immigrated lives that capture, as they say, a story within a single image.
I am grateful that I live in a country that provides plenty of sensory-stimulating experiences and that I get to share some of them with an audience who appreciates my work. Muchas Gracias.
And what about you?
What are some of your favorite things about Mexico?
I would love to hear about them in the comments section below!
Would you like to read more about our immigrated lives to Mexico?
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*all photos by Katie O’Grady