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My Two Worlds, Mexico & The USA (A Cross Border Life)

My Two Worlds, Mexico & The USA (A Cross Border Life)


I was glancing down at our flight itinerary on our car ride to Tijuana from San Diego, and even without looking up (no, I was not driving), I just knew that we had crossed into Mexico.

Call it a sixth sense or a cellular recognition of the sounds and smells of mi Querido México, but something just joyfully registers in my brain when I know that I am back again on Mexican soil—when I am, home again.

Once at the Tijuana International Airport, the friendly and hard-working maletero (porter) greeted us curbside and put all eight (we had purchased snow clothes for the Colorado portion of this trip) of our suitcases onto his dolly, accompanied us to immigration and then to the Volaris check in. He chatted our children up (intrigued that these blue-eyed redheads are bilingual) and assisted us in getting all of our luggage handed off to the ticket agent. We tipped him generously (I believe in taking care of people that take care of me and my family), exchanged adióses and made our way through security and to our gate. 

My Two Worlds, Mexico & The USA (A Cross Border Life)

Once settled and waiting for our flight back to Leon, Guanajuato, I felt this profound sense of relief, comfort and familiarity upon being back in Mexico–to a land, people, culture and language that have been home to us for over three years now.

Growing up a half an hour away from the Tijuana/San Diego border and crossing it back and forth more times than I can count has also left my heart feeling equally—if not more so—at home in Mexico than in the US, especially now at this time in my family’s life with our permanent residency status and our long-term plans to continue to raise our children here.  

With this recent three-week trip to the States (spent in both California and Colorado), I am again reminded, and wonderfully so, of all the things that I love about both countries—my adopted one of Mexico and my birth one of the States.

Things That Stand Out to Me as Being Undeniably Mexican

  • Random, unorganized (often chaotic) flow of traffic–especially on the roundabouts/glorietas
  • The undesignated third lane on a highway
  • Family of four piled atop one motorbike
  • Burros and their door-to-door deliveries 
  • Gas, water and trash trucks with their loud jingles (especially in the mornings!)
  • Mobile fruit & vegetable vendors cruising the neighborhoods
  • Entire carcasses of cows and pigs being delivered to the local butcher
  • Early morning lines at the tamale stands with the flocks of pigeons waiting for their fallen portions
  • Fireworks for any occasion at all (like it is a Wednesday)
  • Mariachi bands, the barking dogs, the crowing roosters, the torrential summer downpours
  • The smells from panaderías, taquerías, tortillerías, sidewalk cleaning products
  • Colorful, fresh produce
  • Cordial comments of “a su servicio” from grocery store clerks and doctors alike
  • Pausing to chat, take in the moment, enjoy conversation and people watching
  • Lots of homeless, street dogs
  • Very few homeless, street humans
  • A 3D Life
My Two Worlds, Mexico & The USA (A Cross Border Life)

It is Fun to Reflect upon My Cross Border Life

These reflections are but just a small sampling of my experiences in and of Mexico that represent to me the kaleidoscope of color, texture and joy of life here!

Some people might find this cacophony of stimulus too much, too overwhelming or so foreign that it is unsettling and not within their comfort zone. I, on the other hand, find myself exhaling and smiling, like I’m putting on a comfortable pair of jeans. 

What are your interesting, positive or funny cross-comparison experiences of Mexico & The US?

Feel free to share in the comments section below. 

P.S. I realize I have not included a list of “things that stand out to me as being undeniably characteristic of the USA” and perhaps I will circle back to do so in more detail at a later date. For now, I will share these two reflections from a recent stateside trip to my hometown in Southern California:

  • Lots of homeless, street humans
  • Very few homeless, street dogs

Do I have more? Indeed, but I need to take some time to process through how I want to share them.




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About the author: Together with my Retired Firefighter Husband and our now 19-year-old twins who were just 8 when we immigrated to Mexico in 2012, we have created a joyful life of design and freedom South of The Border. Welcome to Los O’Gradys in Mexico! Saludos, Katie 🇲🇽 ☘️

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Pat March 6, 2016, 6:14 pm

    I feel the same way when I land in Mexico. I am home. I was a Rotary exchange student in Chichuahua, Chih. as a high school student. I loved the people, the country and customs. I’ve only been back a few times, but as I tell my Mexican friends: En mi corozon, soy Mexicana (in my heart, I am Mexican) I also have a “Mexican” sister in Leon. It would be funny if you knew each other.

    • Katie O'Grady March 6, 2016, 6:26 pm

      Hi Pat!
      What a wonderful experience that must have been for you.
      I was an exchange student my junior year of college in Salamanca, Spain, but never in Mexico.
      But here I am now, the ultimate exchange student!
      Leon is a beautiful city as well!
      And as to the “En mi corazón, soy Mexicana”…. yes, I totally get it.
      Katie 🙂

  • Joni April 2, 2023, 6:56 pm

    We moved to Mexico 14 years ago from Seattle. I love all the colors of Mexico, delicious fresh food, all the sunshine, but most of all the friendliness of the people. I love that people here take the time to show you they care. I rarely feel the Mexican people being stressed out.
    I have found my limit for being in the US now is 4 days. Seems everyone is stressed out, in debt, upset about the division of the country, mass shootings and no time for family and friends because they spend so much time working.
    I’m ALWAYS so happy to land back in Mexico…home

    • Katie O'Grady April 3, 2023, 4:32 pm

      Thank you, Joni, for contributing to this conversation!
      What you share very much resonates with me!
      Katie 🙂

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