As the granddaughter of a former Chief of the US-Mexico Border, it is no small irony nor coincidence that I, along with my retired firefighter hubby and our eight-year-old twins, would immigrate to Mexico to create our lives anew.
We were ready to get out of the rat race and redefine our lives.
Departing from San Diego with nothing but a car and trailer full of stuff that we deemed to be the “essentials” after selling, gifting and tossing the rest, we headed South!
Shortly after our arrival to San Pancho, Nayarit, we received our Permanent Residents cards (having begun the process stateside at our local Mexican Consulate) with the assistance of a highly reputable, local legal liaison.
A Historical Love
From a very early age, perhaps even encoded in my genetics, I have had a deep love and respect for Mexico–her people, her magic, her allure, her fervent sense of community and reverence for history and tradition. I often joke that in a former life, I was a salsa dancing latina!
My proximity to the San Diego-Tijuana Border 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 has always been my norm.
And without a doubt, my relationship with my Grandfather, my father’s Dad, was one of the most significant influences in my ties and connection to Mexico.
My “Big Joe”, as we affectionately referred to him, was a humble, bright, witty gentleman with no time nor concern for nonsense. Always dressed impeccably in his signature crisp-collared Oxford shirt, ironed slacks and shined shoes–no matter the occasion–he was as tough as nails and lived his life to the fullest until the age of 94.
He adored me, and I him.
A Living History Book
Sitting in his living room overlooking Mission Bay, he would speak to me of his many adventures, of his life on our family’s dairy farm in Chula Vista, of the beautiful horses in his care, and how at the age of 14 he left his home to become a cowboy on the last rancho that spanned the US-American border.
Family historians state that he was the “Paul Revere of Chula Vista” by warning the Otay Valley on horseback of impending rain that ultimately ended up bursting the Sweetwater Dam.
I would listen in awe, taking mental notes of these precious conversations, knowing that I was bearing witness to a living history book.
We would drive down to Rosarito Beach on weekends for an early dinner at El Nido and I would marvel with pride and joy at my Grandfather’s ability to conduct himself so eloquently in both languages and cultures. Sitting in front of the open, wood-fired oven where our quail and lobster tails would cook, my Grandpa turned 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 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.
Although my Grandfather passed before I began my teaching career, I know that he would have been so very proud that I had chosen to go into a line of work that shares the beauty of the Spanish language and culture with the youth of today.
My Grandmothers Mary & Elizabeth had their own fair share of South of The Border Shenanigans and their stories were nothing short of hilariously entertaining–like something out of an I Love Lucy Show! This 1982 picture is of the two of them (in the middle) on a day’s outing in Tijuana…I can imagine the laughter!
A Mexico Influx
It comes to me as no great surprise that we find ourselves in a time when more and more people want to immigrate to Mexico, looking not just for an escape from “politics” that defy reason and common decency, but for a reinvented, reinspired life where adventure is affordable and time and freedom are your most precious commodities.
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 in a life of design.
I thank my beloved Grandfather for setting the bar high, for leading by example and showing me a love and respect for Mexico that is forever imprinted in my heart and has forever changed the trajectory of my life.
Mi Querido México, thank you for taking my family in, for welcoming us with open arms. These past seven years have been one heck of an adventure and we are better people for it.
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