Change of allegiance

I DID AN INTERNET search for myself. At the top of the list was an interview I did in 2007 with a website named Expat Interviews. I was the interviewee, not the interviewer.

The website appears defunct now, but the interview is still online.

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I would provide a link, but since the interview has my real name, that would blow my cover. You’ll just have to take my word.

I was surprised to read that, almost eight years after I moved over the Rio Bravo, I said, given the opportunity, I would return to the United States, not stay here. I recall that I felt that way for a good spell after moving to Mexico — culture shock — but I did not think that attitude still prevailed after eight years.

My child bride would gladly move to the United States, then and now.

What kept me from moving back over the border was finances. It was true then, and it’s true now. Our income is a paltry $540 a month from the Hearst Corp., my former employer, and Social Security. That’s it. We also have investments that I accumulated during the roaring 1990s, but if you start spending savings, you’ll eventually have none.

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We do dip into savings on occasion. The cars, my wife’s pastry kitchen and the renovated upstairs terraza. Of course, the construction of the Hacienda itself.

The Downtown Casita was purchased in 2010 with an inheritance.

Interestingly, this is not the first time I have returned to Expat Interviews to read what I said. I see that I returned in November of 2013 and left a comment which said I had changed my tune and wouldn’t return to the United States given the chance. No way, José.

I would not be happy in the United States today, and not just due to finances.

It’s a sad, troubled, downward spiraling nation.

Plus, I have become accustomed to Mexico’s wacky ways.

Down the Magic Dirt Road

MAGIC DIRT: the idea that geographical location will automatically transform the behavior of an individual or group of people.

This concept comes to us from Theodore Beale who writes under the name of  Vox Day. I’m reading a book of his that’s titled SJWs Always Double Down: Anticipating the Thought Police.

SJW stands for Social Justice Warrior, those ham-fisted, left-wing fanatics who enforce Political Correctness in the timorous world of white people.

But SJWs are not the focus today. Magic Dirt is. I happened upon this phrase and concept of Beale’s this week and, coincidentally, as if by magic, I had been thinking about something very similar lately.

Beale was born in Boston and now, apparently, lives in northern Italy upon his Magic Dirt. I was born in Atlanta and now, totally, live in the high mountains of Middle Mexico upon my Magic Dirt. We apparently both noticed the phenomenon, but he’s the one who stuck a name on it, not me.

Both Beale and I moved from American dirt to Latino dirt. I think that’s important. I believe that one who moves from American dirt to, say, Canadian or Australian dirt would likely not notice a great difference in dirt quality, its odor, consistency and color.

But does one change markedly on moving to another nation? I think it depends. I have, but I’m not sure to what extent, but it’s noticeable to me.

Let’s focus on moving to Mexico. There are no adjoining nations on earth that are so different, so if you really want a change, just fly over the Rio Bravo. I have long described Mexican life as akin to living in Alice’s Wonderland.

Cats with big smiles and no bodies that live in trees.

I’m sure the degree of change, the effect of the Magic Dirt, depends on how you live here and how often you go back where you came from. It also depends on if you know the language. It depends on the people you hang out with. If you marry into a Mexican family, that’s about as tight as a foreigner can get.

You’ve slipped through a barely open door. If you’re not in the Mexican family, you’re an eternal outsider, an intruder. You do get the smiles.

A Mexican’s face is a mask, and so is his smile.

— Octavio Paz.

If one heads back over the northern border regularly. If you are married to another foreigner. If you do not speak Spanish. These and other elements will affect the effect of the Magic Dirt upon your mind, heart and soul.

How do you know the Magic Dirt is below your fingernails?

One good indication is that the wackiness — often sheer lunacy — of Mexican life ceases to annoy you, or at least to a far lesser degree.

If you wake up due to the 6 a.m. explosions on the nearby plaza but go directly and easily back to sleep, that’s Magic Dirt. If people explain an issue by citing something totally illogical, and you nod or shrug, that’s Magic Dirt.

Walking daily over Magic Dirt can be unsettling, or it can start to feel normal. It depends on the individual, one supposes. And time.

The 23 percenter

I HAVE NOW spent 23 percent of my life in Mexico.

new-imageWere I a young buck, this would not be so many years, but I am an old moose with mossy horns. The years are plenty.

I stumbled thorough most of life with no intention of leaving the land of my birth. Georgia rednecks don’t move to Mexico. It was only within a year of moving that I started to think about it.

And then, within a one-month span, I dumped almost everything, got on a plane and came on down. For the first nine years, while my decrepit mother was still alive, I averaged one trip back a year, usually about a week.

I returned only once following her death in 2009, a few months after, and I’ve never been above the border since. I don’t miss it, and as time passes, I miss it even less.

From what I read on Gringo internet forums and websites, most everyone who “moves” to Mexico, be it for retirement or, much less often, to work, the draw of the Old Country is powerful. People can’t let go, and return often.

It appears compulsive, but it’s likely grandchildren.

Don’t tell my wife, please, but I have no intention of ever crossing the Rio Bravo again. I say don’t tell my wife because she really likes it up there, and dreams of another visit.

I have no tight family ties there — wish I did — so here I am, alone with a pack of Mexican relatives, including a number who’ve been illegal aliens above the border.

I speak Spanish almost exclusively. I live in a big Hacienda on what’s just above the U.S. poverty-income level, an interesting phenomenon since I’ve never felt richer in my life.

new-imageCan’t help but wonder what percentage of my life will have passed as a Mexican when it comes to a halt. No matter.

Pass the tacos, por favor.