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While Mexico has been home to us for the past six years, we O’Gradys also have our wanderlust sights on other countries, not only for family travel, but also for a potential relocation when our teenage twins are in college…something that seems to be just around the corner with time traveling like the speed of light!

All great plans begin with an idea, and lots and lots of research!

We have decided to partner with some reputable travel brands as part of our own process of discovery and will be sharing some of the information with you all– just in case you too might get an inkling to explore beyond!

If you are a hiking enthusiast, you likely want to hunt down the best trails in the world. If you find yourself out of places to visit, this list will give you an idea of some of the most exotic hiking destinations around the world.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is the world’s up and coming hot travel destination; laced with stunning beaches, incredible luxury accommodation and hiking trails, both casual and more extreme, fit for every type of traveler. One of the most popular hiking spots in the country is Ella Rock in Ella town. It’s about 1000 meters high above the sea level. When hiking here, it’s best that you start early to avoid the crowd.

You can also drop by Adam’s Peak while in Ella town. While here, you can enjoy the sights on top of the town’s mountaintops, overlooking the vast tea plantations below.

Top Exotic Hiking Destinations

Cambodia

Be one with nature as you hike in Cambodia’s Kalai Jungle, starting your trek in a village and then venturing out into the rich, surrounding forest. Here, you can make campsites to rest while listening to the sounds of nature all around you.

For those who are interested in history, you can also incorporate it with hiking. Visit the River of a Thousand Lingas in this exotic destination. Once you’ve overcome the steep trail, you can witness one of the most historical and spiritual places in the area – a flowing river and landmark with ancient religious carvings on the river bed.

Top Exotic Hiking Destinations

Indonesia

In East Java, you can marvel at the grand Ijen Volcano. With its turquoise waters, the crater shines wonderfully as you stand on top of the 9,183 ft. volcano. Hiking here will surely be worth it. However, as a warning, the blue flames emitted from the cracks are poisonous so don’t go near them.

Top Exotic Hiking Destinations

Cuba

Fourth on the list is Cuba. While this country is mainly known for its pristine beaches, it is not lacking in some of the best hiking trails around. There a huge array of things to experience in Cuba. To get you started, go on a short hike in Sierra Escambray. Here, you can opt to go to El Cubano where your hiking trail will lead you to a waterfall or to La Codina where you can walk around in a vast hacienda and enjoy a rustic lunch while enjoying the scenery.

Australia

Last on our list is Australia’s great hiking trails. For long hikes, one can go to Tasmania’s Overland Track. It’s 65 kilometers long and can be toured for over 6 days. You can hike around the Cradle Mountain-Lake in St. Clair National Park – a renowned world heritage site in the area. One can hike independently here, but due to its vastness, you must book yourself in at  the Parks & Wildlife Service or get an operator guide to help you navigate the terrain.   

These are just some of the many exotic and adventurous hiking trails available to you around the world. If you’re out of ideas, why not try one of these top destinations for your next hiking adventure! 

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Six Years in México: A Life in Color

Six years ago today I celebrated my 44th birthday by boarding a plane with my eight-year-old twins on a one-way ticket to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Saying goodbye to my Mom was the most painful and difficult part of our move. Thank God for planes, trains and automobiles and her desire and ability to visit us several times a year!

My husband Frank had left a few days prior by car with our chocolate lab Seamus and our 14-foot aluminum boat filled to the rim with the belongings that had made the final cut. It was quite the sight!

We left with hopes and dreams for a better life for our family.

We left five-lane freeways and a rat-race mania for a slower and more connected way of life. We have found that. We have created that.

Six Years in México: A Life in Color

No Map, No Worries!

Frank will have to tell the story of how he did the entire 1400 mile trip from San Diego to San Pancho, Nayarit without a map…something about just heading south!

He made it safe and sound in 4 days total, car and trailer intact and Seamus slobbering from door to door.

As we celebrate our six-year Mexi-versary and my 50th, we pause to reflect over some of the life insights we have been gifted as immigrants to Mexico:

1. Savor The Moment

Here in the land of “mañana”, there is a palpable beckoning and invitation to slow down and take it all in. The colors and sensory-rich nature of a quintessential Mexican town—alive with a mosaic of energy from street vendors, musicians, a multitude of sights and smells—make it nearly impossible to not pause and linger in the magic of the moment.

Six Years in México: A Life in Color

2. Honor Your Heritage

Mexico embraces its rich history, values its cultural roots and honors its young and old alike. Her people celebrate with intention and a reverence for the sacred. 

Six Years in México: A Life in Color3. Celebrate Life

Weddings, Quinceñeras, Blessing of The Horses, Day of The Dead, the list goes on…there are oh so many wonderful reasons to celebrate life in Mexico!

Six Years in México: A Life in Color

4. Be Curious

Here in Mexico, I am allured, intrigued, invited to stop and look, to be in the moment…to celebrate the textures and layers within the day, to pay attention, to notice…to be participatory and present in life. With my senses awake, I am tuned in to the details and the magic of my surroundings. 

Six Years in México: A Life in Color

5. Use Common Sense & Situational Awareness 

There is a certain “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 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!

Six Years in México: A Life in Color

6. Honor Thy Family, Community & Friends

I love the importance placed on the family unit in the Mexican culture, including the extended one, and 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. My twin children have more tíos and tías (uncles and aunts) here than they do in the States!

Six Years in México: A Life in Color

Conversations are sin prisa (without hurry) and you can count on a customary 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

Six Years in México: A Life in Color

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!

6 Years in México: A Life in Color

There is never a shortage of fresh, locally grown produce, meats, cheeses, wines and breads…and many, thankfully organic.

Six Years in México: A Life in Color

8. Be Grateful

This was not meant to be a promo for Coca-Cola, but I love this capture of a cowboy with his horse, taking it all in at the jardín in San Miguel de Allende. 

6 Years in México: A Life in Color

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.

What about you?

What are some of your favorite things about Mexico? I would love to hear about them in the comments section below!

 

Saludos,

~Katie

Would you like to know more about immigrating to Mexico?

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While Mexico has been home to us for the past six years, we O’Gradys also have our wanderlust sights on other countries, not only for family travel, but also for a potential relocation when our teenage twins are in college…something that seems to be just around the corner with time traveling like the speed of light!

All great plans begin with an idea, and lots and lots of research!

We have decided to partner with some reputable travel brands as part of our own process of discovery and will be sharing some of the information with you all– just in case you too might get an inkling to explore beyond!

Hiking can be more than just an activity for getting healthier.  It can also be a spiritual and peaceful journey, making it an extremely holistic experience. 

There’s nothing quite like reaching a summit while enjoying the beauty of nature at the same time.  Indeed, it is one of the best ways to spend time outdoors even if you’re not the outdoorsy type.  Below is a list of the lesser-known hiking locations where you can have a blissful experience.

Sri Lanka

This small island has fairytale-like landscapes with beautiful mountain peaks.  Marvel at the clouds while at the mountaintops of Ella, go to the second highest peak in the island called Adam’s Peak or Sri Padaya and watch the beautiful sunrise, hills, valleys that surround this holy mountain. 

If you’re the type who likes to go on trails with an abundance of flora and fauna, then you’d surely enjoy hiking through the largest virgin forest in the island called Sinharaja or the enchanting trail in Kirigalpoththa where its surrounded by beautiful flower fields and lush lands. Not only does Sri Lanka boast rich nature, culture and wildlife, then it also has some incredible accommodations to explore.

Explore Idyllic Up-and-Coming Hiking Locations

Northern India

Featuring trails with natural beauty and picturesque sceneries, this country isn’t called hiker’s haven for nothing. It’s not just their long trails of snow-capped mountains and glaciers that you can visit here. You can also come across to India’s dream-like trails like the Valley of Flowers in Garhwal, as which its name suggests, features a sea of flowers bursting with vibrant colors during autumn or spring.

If you’re craving a challenge, you can also hike through the Pin Parvati Pass in Himachal Pradesh. This trail features the sight of magnificent lakes and massive glacier crests which will give you a very extraordinary experience.

Explore Idyllic Up-and-Coming Hiking Locations

Vietnam

Rich in culture and history, this country also features some beautiful hiking trails that are less known and explored.  To start off, you can go for a multi-day hike on the spectacular Ba Be National Park which features stunning waterfalls and majestic caves. 

If you just want a casual hike away from the busy city, then you can go to Mai Chau and experience a peaceful walk through its spectacular landscape of rice paddies and tiny villages.  Whatever fitness level you’re at, you can always find a hiking path in Vietnam that you can truly enjoy.

Explore Idyllic Up-and-Coming Hiking Locations

Morocco

You can go on a hike on the Moroccan trails that feature the majestic views on Mount Toubkal, the highest peak of North Africa. One of these trails is the Paradise Valley, a small section of the Moroccan Atlas Mountains; it has small natural pools and breathtaking cascades of waterfalls. 

You can also get in touch with nature in one of the greatest parks of Morocco, the Tazekka National Park which is located on the highest mountain of the Middle Atlas Range.  The most stunning feature of this park is the stunning Friouato Caves. There are a number of different tours that run throughout Morocco that can take you on a journey to suit your preferences, be it to the city, the desert, the ocean or the mountains.

Explore Idyllic Up-and-Coming Hiking Locations

Thailand

We’re capping off the list with the land of smiles, a small country that is rich in unique landscapes and spectacular trekking trails. Thailand has vast amounts to explore, with its delicious cuisine, obscure nightlife and fascinating culture. Whilst there, you can hike through the city of Ban Ruam Mit.  This unexplored city offers more than just elephant rides as it is here that you can also experience the mountainous community as you hike alongside the astounding Kok river. 

Explore Idyllic Up-and-Coming Hiking Locations

Wherever the trail takes you, always be mindful of yourself and mother nature.  Best of all, take in the benefits of hiking for the mind, body, and soul.  This list reminds you that, sometimes, it’s good to “take a hike.”

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*When traveling (and at home), please protect yourself and your loved ones with a portable carbon monoxide detector.*

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“Sometimes we encounter things that profoundly change our outlook on life and when it happens, it doesn’t matter that former joys have lost their allure or that our foundations have been shaken. All we know is that the walls we’ve built around ourselves have crumbled into dust. All we know is that our unsatisfied yearnings no longer throb inside us and something restorative is taking place deep inside our souls… ~Will Kautz

From Wheelchair to Walking

It is nothing short of a modern miracle and a testament to the strength of the human body that I underwent and survived two major surgeries in less than six months. The skills of each of the specialists, together with my undeniable grit and gumption, saw me through one of the more difficult years of my life and returned to me the gift of function without debilitating pain or partial paralysis.

To say that I am grateful is an understatement. 

I had a history of back challenges with a fracture at 17 years of age that together with the demands of competitive sports and a twin pregnancy with a 60-pound weight gain…collectively rendered me in need of some serious TLC and repair at the age of 45. 

I had done all the “right things”—chiropractic care, deep tissue massages, physical therapy, acupuncture, rest, ice, heat, a prayer that the pain would go away…and sometimes it would. Most of the time, I just dealt with it, brushed it off as part of my reality and hoped for a better, more pain-free tomorrow and always the ability to continue my active lifestyle. 

No guts, no glory

The whole “no guts, no glory” mentality has carried me through life and in my physical prowess I have found the stronger, never-give-up, courageous parts of myself.

This time, however, I was knocked down for the count. 

Practicing yoga in our home in San Miguel, I felt a searing pain down the left side of my body, never imagining that I had just herniated two of my discs. Collapsing to the floor and calling out for my husband in agonizing pain, I knew that there was no amount of strong will nor determination that was going to get me back up on my feet.

Unable to move nor stand unassisted, my husband and a wheelchair were my only forms of movement and transportation prior to my surgery.

I hoped and prayed with all my might that the doctors would successfully repair my spine so that I would not be sentenced for the rest of my earthly years to a chair. I refused to accept that reality.

From Wheelchair to Walking~ I Had Spinal Surgery in Mexico

2 herniated discs, left side paralysis and awaiting my MRI

Flat out on a hospital bed in central Mexico like a turtle on its back, I have never felt so helpless and (almost) defeated. The streams of tears flowed without restraint as I lay with eyes closed, not believing the surreal reality I found myself in. There is no dignity in semi-paralysis, peeing in a pan or bed baths. I refused to accept that as my long-term reality. 

The night before my surgery, I laid in my hospital room–alone, in great pain, and without my family. Frank needed to hold down the fort back at home in San Miguel and continue our normal life routine as much as possible for our twins. I am eternally grateful to all of our friends that stepped up and helped us out while I was unavailable. Thank you.

From Wheelchair to Walking~ I Had Spinal Surgery in Mexico

Waiting, Night Before Surgery. Jesus Watching Over Me.

Laying there in the dark and cold and solace of the night, I was in and out of a pain-induced trance of sorts, experiencing some truly powerful revelations about myself and my life…about balance and honoring oneself first–like the airline safety instructions of putting on your own oxygen mask first.

Silver lining, lemonade out of lemons.

My God and I got to spend some one-on-one, quality time together…He and I have always been together since I was a little girl, like the Sclemeel, Schlemazel, Hasenfeffer Incorporated song of the good ol’ Laverne and Shirley Sitcom that I so loved as a kid. Connected at the hip, He and I, always present in my little girl heart.

Making Our Dreams Come True

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight.
Sclemeel, schlemazel, hasenfeffer incorporated.
We’re gonna do it!

Give us any chance, we’ll take it.
Give us any rule, we’ll break it.
We’re gonna make our dreams come true.
Doin’ it our way.

Nothin’s gonna turn us back now,
Straight ahead and on the track now.
We’re gonna make our dreams come true,
Doin’ it our way.

There is nothing we won’t try,
Never heard the word impossible.
This time there’s no stopping us.
We’re gonna do it.

On your mark, get set, and go now,
Got a dream and we just know now,
We’re gonna make our dream come true.
And we’ll do it our way, yes our way.
Make all our dreams come true,
And do it our way, yes our way,
Make all our dreams come true
For me and you.

I knew what lay ahead of me and that I had to put my big girl panties on and confront it with determination and courage. That was my only option. That was the only reality I would entertain…getting to the other side—out of the wheelchair, functioning and enjoying my life again with my family and friends. 

During what ultimately ended up being a six-hour surgery, Dr. Salvador Galvan completely removed my L3 L4 and replaced it with a 12 mm silicone prosthetic spacer. My L4-L5 was so severely damaged that it was just a matter of time before it failed, so it was fortified it with a 10mm spacer. Apparently the trauma to my spine was so severe that I lost over three times the amount of blood that is normally lost during one of these surgeries. No doubt that was part of my recovery challenge.

From Wheelchair to Walking~ I Had Spinal Surgery in Mexico

First Steps. Power of The Polka-Dot-Pajamas!

Surgery Success

My surgery was on a Tuesday morning and come Wednesday night I took my first assisted steps. By Thursday I was able to take my first unassisted ones and be discharged home.

I had a road ahead of me, taking one step at a time. Walking back and forth to the bathroom, taking a shower and being able to stand long enough to brush my hair and teeth were huge accomplishments. Poco a poco, I got there, back to a newer, improved, and “bionic” version of my former self, with my family right by my side cheering me along and literally and figuratively picking me up when I would fall.

My running, kickboxing and horseback riding days are a thing of the past, but I have learned a new “new”. I can walk, dance, trot, stretch, yoga, swim and live a very fulfilling existence with 90% mobility and minimal pain. My limp is gone, cane thrown away and joy and gratitude forever imprinted in my heart. Looking at me, you’d never imagine the scars behind the clothes. We all have them, I just choose to speak about some of mine in the hopes that by bearing my story, I am helping someone else out there. 

Several of my nurses questioned why I didn’t return to the States for my surgeries where the medicine is “more modern”.

“Because Mexico is my home”, I told them each, This is where my heart is, where my family is, where my life is.”

Mi Querido Mexico, I love you.

I want to express my extreme and eternal gratitude to Dra. Rosario my physical therapist, to Dr. Salvador Galvan my neurosurgeon, to Dr. Paolo my pain specialist and to all of the nurses and operating room staff at Hospital Santiago de Querétero. You will forever be my earth angels.

From Wheelchair to Walking~ I Had Spinal Surgery in Mexico

Me & Dr. Salvador Galvan, Discharge 3 Days after Spinal Surgery

The gift of walking and of health is not to be taken for granted, ever.

May we all pause to give thanks for the many blessings in our lives. They are there.

Peace & Health to you all….

~Katie

For more on healthcare in Mexico:

Surgery in Mexico~A Tale of Survival

Post-Surgery Pain Management in Mexico

Carbon Monoxide: The Silent, Odorless, Tasteless Killer

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Must See Italian Destinations to Explore by Foot

Maybe it’s that the Italian and Mexican flags share the same colors, just in the opposite order…

Maybe it’s that my husband is half Italian…or because when I was in my 20’s I floated down a Venice canal in a gondola and it left me longing for more southern-European adventures in this boot-shaped peninsula .

While Mexico has been home to us for the past six years, we O’Gradys also have our wanderlust sights on many other countries–Italy being just one of them–not only for family travel, but also for a potential relocation when our teenage twins are in college…something that seems to be just around the corner with time traveling like the speed of light!

All great plans begin with an idea, and lots and lots of research!

We have decided to partner with some reputable travel brands as part of our own process of discovery and will be sharing some of the information with you all– just in case you too might get an inkling to explore beyond!

Must See Italian Destinations to Explore by Foot

If you interested in Italy and curious about which areas to visit, here are some of the top must-see tourist destinations:

Florence

Florence or Firenze is one of the most important Renaissance art and architectural centers of Italy. Its Baptistery and Duomo are magnificent and many tourists are coming here to marvel at their large piazzas. This city has multiple excellent museums where you can see some of the famous sculptures and paintings including Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” and Michelangelo’s “David”. You can also see Medici gardens and palaces here.

Must See Italian Destinations to Explore by Foot

Venice

Venice or Venezia is an unusual city which is built on water in the center of a lagoon. It is one of the most romantic and beautiful cities of Italy. Piazza San Marco is the heart of Venice where you can see its magnificent church, the Saint Mark’s Basilica. There are many places, churches, and museums to wander and visit along the canals of Venice as well.

Must See Italian Destinations to Explore by Foot

Sorrento

Popular for its limoncello and lemons, Sorrento has a lot of things to offer for its visitors, and this place makes a great base to explore the region. One of the famous places that can be seen here is the Cathedral of Sorrento, the Duomo. The Cathedral of Sorrento can be easily seen due to its gorgeous clock tower, and it is also located centrally in Corso Italia which is the heart of Sorrento.

Aside from the Duomo, the Old Sorrento is a beautiful place to wander around in its alleyways and narrow streets and is home to some beautiful villas. In this place, you can see multiple quaint trattorias and colorful shops. It is also the home of many historical buildings namely the San Francesco’s complex and Sant’Antonio Basilica.

Must See Italian Destinations to Explore by Foot

Milan

Milan or Milano is one of the wealthiest cities in Europe. It is popular for its stylish galleries, restaurants, and shops. This city also has rich cultural and artistic heritage. You can see the Gothic Duomo here with its magnificent marble façade. One of its top attractions is the “The Last Supper” of Da Vinci and one of the most popular opera houses in the world, the “La Scala” can also be seen here.

Must See Italian Destinations to Explore by Foot

Rome

Rome is the capital of Italy and a famous tourist destination for those who are interested in history, good food, and art. There are many beautiful places that you can explore here and various different tours that run throughout the city. One tourist attraction that must be explored is the Colosseum, this big oval amphitheater is considered as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.

Aside from the Colosseum, you could also visit the Fori Romani. It is located in the center of Rome. You can see a series of monumental public squares or “foro” here. Another must-see place here in Rome is the Trevi Fountain. It is a baroque statue with 49-meters width and 26-meters height.

Must See Italian Destinations to Explore by Foot

These are just a few of the many must-see places in Italy.

Here’s to exploring the beauty of this country with family, friends and loved ones…enjoying their food, magnificent art, and unforgettable history.

~Viva I’Talia

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https://www.losogradysinmexico.com/a-california-cowgirl-giddies-up-in-the-blessing-of-the-horses-san-miguel-de-allende

As a horse-crazy girl growing up in Southern California, I spent my weekends at the barn and my summers at Rawhide Ranch refining my lassoing and barrel racing techniques.

“Pigtailed Cowgirl” was my go-to Halloween costume, complete with a western hat, boots and the biggest belt buckle my jeans could support.

Barbies and dolls never held my interest. Riding, grooming, cleaning stalls and tack did.

Studies, travel, my career, and various other life ambitions took me away from horses until 2014 when I moved to central Mexico with my family.

A Cowgirl’s Dream

Thanks to my lucky shamrocks I had the opportunity to participate in the ultimate equine experience of my life–The Blessing of The Horses–an annual central Mexico pilgrimage that convenes at The Parroquía of San Miguel de Allende.

While my emergency spinal surgery was a success and I was not sentenced to a wheelchair for the rest of my earthly existence, little did I know that this ride would be my last.

Heading out atop Guerrero (Warrior), a 17-hand black Friesian, into the desert plains of central Guanajuato, 

The Blessing Of The Horses, San Miguel de Allende (A Cowgirl's Dream!)

traversing the trails and sometimes no trails at all, we met up with many other groups of riders from the surrounding communities on our way to El Jardín, the town center of San Miguel de Allende.

The Blessing Of The Horses, San Miguel de Allende (A Cowgirl's Dream!)

Watch Out for The Tree!

I was so mesmerized by the totality of the experience that I did not notice the low-lying tree branch just inches in front of my head. With no time to duck, it ripped my hat right off and brought it tumbling down to the muddy ground below. Fortunately, it landed to the side of the puddle, and even better than that, the spikey branch spared my face.

Upon rounding the corner of the train tracks, I was greeted by the sight of hundreds of riders that had all joined together, some who had made the trek from bordering cities and states, for the procession up Canal Street into the main plaza.

The Blessing Of The Horses, San Miguel de Allende (A Cowgirl's Dream!)

I was one of a very small handful of female riders in a sea of cowboys and my face hurt by the day’s end from all of the ear-to-ear smiling!

I know my Grandpa Joe was smiling down from heaven, seeing his granddaughter out there in Central Mexico, atop this extraordinary, high-stepping gelding into a 16th-century colonial town amidst hundreds of cowboys and spectators, living my life in Spanish, in Mexico!

The Blessing Of The Horses, San Miguel de Allende (A Cowgirl's Dream!)

¡Viva Santo San Martin!

The procession didn’t begin without first a cleansing downpour from the high desert sky, adding another element of surprise and adventure to the ride. Within moments of the first drops, all of the horses did a 180-degree turn to position their hindquarters to the rain and thus shelter their faces as much as possible. Quite a sight amongst so many horses!

The Blessing Of The Horses, San Miguel de Allende (A Cowgirl's Dream!)

One of the more senior cowboys performed the honorary task of charging up and down the cobblestone street, shouting“Viva Jesus Cristo, Viva Santo San Martin!”. The parade officially commenced and in groups of two and three, we made our way up to the Jardín, passing by hundreds of waving, smiling spectators to the base of The Parroquía where a full Catholic mass was given to bless the horses and their riders.

The Blessing Of The Horses, San Miguel de Allende (A Cowgirl's Dream!)El Centro was filled with flower-adorned arches and papel picado strung from the buildings. Riding through this tunnel of color, celebration and tradition was an honor for this 45-year-old California Cowgirl in Mexico!

The Blessing Of The Horses, San Miguel de Allende (A Cowgirl's Dream!)

Blessing of The Horses & Riders

Arriving at The Parroquía, hats were removed and heads bowed down to receive the blessings from the high priest.

The Blessing Of The Horses, San Miguel de Allende (A Cowgirl's Dream!)

There are experiences in one’s life that have the power to change who you are—to impact you in such a profound way that you see the world around you differently, with more depth and perspective. This was one of those times for me.

Thank you, Guerrero, The Gentle Warrior, for being my grand, majestic, safe companion and guide for the day. Thank you Mario and Rodo for your protection and navigation along the ride…an experience and a day I will never ever forget!

If you would like to read about another central Mexico pilgrimage that I had the fortune to participate in, please click on this link:

Feast of Saint Martin, Guanajuato~Mexico

Resources for Planning a Trip to San Miguel de Allende

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Cultural Differences, Mexico vs. The States~ 'No' is Not The Answer

 

There are clearly many cultural differences and nuances between the States and Mexico.

Some of them more subtle than others, some that take their time to settle into, and others that set you back on your heels.

The first time Rosa, our house helper extraordinaire came to our home, I offered her a cup of morning coffee. She readily and happily said yes, even though she didn’t drink one sip of it. I  found it in the corner of the kitchen counter at the end of the day—cold, still full, no sign of lips ever having come near it. 

It was safe to surmise that she didn’t care for it or perhaps more accurately that she never really wanted it in the first place, but saying ‘yes’ to the offer, even with no desire of drinking it, is much more the culturally accepted norm here in Mexico and in great contrast to my experience in the States where the default response is, “oh, no thank you”, so as to not inconvenience the hostess or come across as a PIA. (There are exceptions to this of course.)

Not that a simple acceptance of a cup of coffee would deem one an opportunist, but there indeed seems to be a certain discomfort in the US in receiving a simple offer with a simple, “yes, thank you”…a way of graciously acknowledging the friendly gesture.

Here in Mexico,“sí, muchas gracias” is the norm, for to do or say otherwise might be considered rude and certainly not the cultural norm in a society that revolves around community and friendships

If you are offered a cigarette (as my husband has been on multiple occasions) and are not yourself a smoker, graciously accept it with a big smile, stick it behind your ear, and say that you are saving it for a very special occasion. Saying “oh, no thank you, I don’t smoke” and then going on to state all of the hazards of smoking, might deem you an individual with rudimentary social skills.

How about a party…invited to one and don’t think you can go? Instead of saying ‘no’ with a laundry list of all of the reasons why, just graciously accept the invitation and if you aren’t able to make it, send a last-minute message or even nothing at all. This is not seen as rude or inconsiderate, just a culturally accepted norm. Of course if you are only one of two people invited, a gentle decline is in order, but if you are one of many, not making it regardless of your RSVP status is not considered a social crime. 

Cultural Differences, Mexico vs. The States~ 'No' is Not The Answer

Hosting a party with a starting time of 4:00? Don’t be surprised if your guests start rolling in around 6 or 7 o’clock. It’s cultural.

Invited 25 people to the party? Expect the number to at least double! Make room and more food for all of the cousins, aunts, siblings and best friends that will be joining the celebration! And no, they did not need a formal invite—the more the merrier! This must be where the ‘mi casa es su casa’ comes from.

These are but just a few examples of situations where we have had the opportunity to learn firsthand the importance and cultural significance of saying ‘yes’, of being open to the unexpected, of viewing life through a different lens, of expanding our horizons and improving our craft, sense of humor and flexibility as human beings.

We are transplants, expats, immigrants. We love living in a country where conversations and relationships are like a dance versus a race…where life’s moments are more about the experience versus the bottom line and how fast can you get there…where I can say ‘yes’ to the coffee, show up late to the party, and have it all be okay.

¡Viva México!

Other interesting articles on cultural differences between the U.S. and Mexico:

Cultural differences between the U.S. and Mexico in the Business World

Seven Cultural Aspects to Know Before Doing Business in Mexico

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