Mexican life

The arrival

vista
The view that changed my life.

I’M FOND OF noting milestones.

I just missed an anniversary, but only by three days. My arrival here on the mountaintop on September 10, 2000. I was not entirely new to Mexico, but I was quite green.

I’d lived seven months at a lower altitude, 40 minutes away in the state capital. Four of those seven months had been dedicated to attending a language school because when I got off the plane in Guadalajara I didn’t speak Spanish.

I was a language ignoramus.

My decision to move from the state capital up here was made while sitting at a coffee shop and looking in the direction shown in the photo. I looked at that view and told myself, I’m gonna move here. And I did. Lickety-split.

My first challenge was to find a furnished place to rent. While my town now is chockablock with real-estate agencies and lots of furnished rentals, there was not even one real-estate agency in 2000. I knew no one here, and I had no idea where to start. I was alone, and my Spanish was dicey.

Someone online pointed me to an old Gringo named Gray who’d moved here after the Second World War.  He had married an indigenous woman, and they had multiplied.

Gray had some furnished rentals that catered mostly to the sparse Gringo crowd. I moved into a two-story house on a main drag with furniture that aspired to the junk heap.

The first thing I did was buy a new mattress and sheets. The second thing was to buy an equipal love seat and matching chair. The store here neglected to inform me that the set would be made in and shipped from Guadalajara.

I got it about four months later.

I lived in that rental for two-and-a-half years. My child bride was there the final year while we constructed the Hacienda.

It wasn’t a bad place if one didn’t cringe at the hordes of mice during the rainy season or the two times I found dead rats in the toilet. They had come up from below, and I flushed them back to where they came from.

And there was the matter of the house abutting a open sewer/creek that provided a notable fragrance during the dry months. And the lights went out a lot.

It was an interesting home along the lines of the Chinese curse, May you live in interesting times.

We were elated when we moved into the Hacienda in May of 2003. It’s been a great 17 years here at altitude. The changes are considerable. Plenty of rentals available now. With rats or without. Ten times the number of Gringos. Some people regard that positively. I’m not one of those people.

But I’m glad I sat at that coffee house that long-ago afternoon, gazing up the street. It was a decisive moment.

The photo’s from yesterday. It hasn’t changed much.

13 thoughts on “The arrival

  1. Old Chinese curses. Are they worse than young ones?

    Change is good we hear. And sometimes it’s not just good, it’s great. That’s with mice/rats or not.

    Kudos for your choices and your changes, señor

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    1. Ricardo: Yes, young Chinese curses have far less weight and punching power than do the old ones. You really want to dodge the old ones.

      And I happily accept and embrace kudos. Gracias.

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  2. Understand your feelings about looking up that street. I kept driving by an interesting intersection off the highway for four years and wondering what is back in there. I am back in there now and have been for 11 years … no Gringos.

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  3. We arrived in this same, picturesque town in late September, 2004.

    We moved into a two-bedroom cabin located even higher in elevation. The advantage was that it was furnished. The disadvantage was that the thin, wooden, uninsulated walls could not protect us against freezing winter temperatures.

    After six months, we moved into the spacious house down by the railroad tracks, not far from Hacienda Zapata. We housesat for a little over four months until the owner returned from the U.S. Then we looked for a more permanent home. After visiting some funky rentals in Pátzcuaro, an acquaintance showed us two unfurnished homes out in a somewhat distant ranching community. We immediately bonded with the largest of the three, a two-bedroom, single-story house of many windows situated on a large lot. Although unfurnished, it had several attractive features, too many to list here. We moved in in late July 2006 and have been here since.

    Last year we celebrated our 10th Anniversary of our move, and we threw a big, extravagant party for friends and neighbors. It was a lot of work, but we consider it a great success. I doubt if we will do it again any time.

    Saludos,
    Don Cuevas

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    1. Señor Cuevas: I well remember that first place you lived. I’m amazed you stayed there more than a week. Not only cold, but tiny and cramped.

      But all’s well that ends well, and it did.

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    1. Ray: I lived in Puerto Rico, working at the English-language newspaper, on two occasions in the mid-1970s, totaling about 16 months. Retiring there would not have interested me. It’s hot, it’s expensive, and the entire island is about to sink into a sea of red ink due to inept governing.

      Mexico abuts the U.S., but is absolutely different, cheap, and — where I am — the climate is nice and cool. A wonderful choice.

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  4. Well, congratulations on wining the randomness lottery. As you know, I did feel the same about Zacatecas, but never pulled the lever. But it’s not too bad. I love DF, though a nice place will be expensive, assuming I can ever get back there.

    Meanwhile I’m feeling OK about not having bought anything quite yet.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Redding, CA
    Where all the charming views are purely natural.

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