A better Mexico

MY CHILD BRIDE spent six months in Spain in the late 1990s doing postgraduate studies.

She often got her panties in a twist due to European attitudes toward Mexico, that it was a backward nation where most roads were still made of dirt.

When I arrived below the border about four years later, most of the roads were not dirt, but the highway system certainly needed some improvement.

That has happened in spades. Many of our highways now are better than what one finds above the Rio Bravo.

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Nice chains

We have lots of great stores from above the border. Sears, Costco, Walmart, Sam’s Club. And chain restaurants. Chili’s, McDonald’s, Dairy Queen, IHOP, Sirloin Steak House.

Plus many more.

Recently, Bed, Bath & Beyond opened in the nearby state capital. It’s indistinguishable from its stores in Houston or Atlanta. I love that place.

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Checks and water

Years ago I wrote hereabouts that there were no public water fountains in Mexico. At least, I had never seen one.

I was quickly corrected by a reader who said he had spotted one way over in The Yucatan.

Just this week, I saw water fountains in two stores. One was Costco and the other was a supermarket here on the mountaintop. I was surprised.

But I would not use one. I have formed habits.

Another surprise occurred last week. Our local Bancomer branch was totally renovated, and new ATMS were included. They accept both cash and check deposits!

While I recall such things in the United States, I’d never seen an ATM here that did anything more than dispense cash.

(By the way, if you’re going to open an account in a Mexican bank, I highly recommend Bancomer.)

I recently read a report that about 80 percent of Americans feel that Mexico is a dangerous place to visit. Most Gringos have never set foot here and base their opinions on hysterical reports from the media and State Department.

Fact is you can visit here quite safely. You can go to Walmart, Costco  or Dairy Queen with confidence, and you won’t be mugged or murdered in the parking lot either.

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Bonus material

While on the Hacienda roof a couple of days ago to photograph the water tank for the post Agua! Agua! Agua! I snapped a few other shots just for fun.


Looking down the circular stairs on the upstairs terraza.


Street out back to the right.


The same street to the left.

And thanks for joining me here today.

29 thoughts on “A better Mexico

  1. Right you are, Felipe. We recently RV’d over 4,000 miles over 2.5 months through the highlands and west coast. Small towns. Rarely a tourist area and we left those as soon as possible. Not once did we ever have a hinky feeling, and the locals were amazingly nice, friendly and helpful. Most of the time there wasn’t another Gringo in town.

    We did have one police encounter. I got lost approaching a town in our 35′ motorhome towing a car. I was looking for the Libre. I ended up in Centro. In the belly of the beast I hear a siren burp and a Transito was next to me. He said: “Amigo, you are lost.” I said: “Siiiiiiiiii.” He smiled and asked where I was headed and I told him. He said “Follow me,” turned on his blue lights, and escorted us to the highway, moving traffic out of our way. He got out, saluted, and wished us a safe trip. That’s it.

    The stores you mentioned look exactly like those NOB, even better. The grocery stores in Mexico like Mega and Soriana are modern, spotless and carry things we can only find in Europe. Bakery and meat dept staffs are masked.

    As a retired restaurateur, I peek into the kitchen, when possible, and observe what they have. I have always been amazed at how clean and organized they are, even in the smallest of villes, like in your fair town. Most have state-of-the-art, point-of-sale systems. Kitchen staff are usually gloved and masked. My favorite observation was the ice cream stand near the bank in your town’s square. The servers don’t touch the money. You put it in a basket and that gets handed to the cashier and returned with change. Very hygienic!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hola, Steve: And how right you are too. Interesting about your run-in with the cop. That was quite a lengthy tour around our fair nation that you took.


      1. I should say 3-4,000 miles. We crossed in Monterrey and worked our way down to SLP, SMA, Guanajuato, Patz, Chapala, Tepic, then slowly up the coast to Nogales.

        Shortly after the great Transito experience we were in another town and people started blowing their horns and pointing to the rear. We pulled over and a taxi, with a fare, pulled up and handed us our big chrome wheel cover! Turns out that it had come off several miles back and rolled into a field. The Cabbie, with a fare in the back seat, ran after it and then chased us down! Again, wanted nothing.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Carlos, you are safe from this gringa. My retirement isn’t enough for me to legally move to Mexico or anywhere for that matter.


      1. Judy: With a minimum of cleverness, you can work around the financial requirements. For instance, here’s what I did. In order to show three months running on my bank statement with a certain income, which I did not have at the time, I simply recycled the same cash. After depositing the amount, I took it out, waited a month and deposited it again, and so on. They accepted that.


        1. I simply transferred it from a savings account to a chequing account, then transferred it back. Did that for 3 months, everybody’s happy. Where there’s a will there’s a way.


          1. Kris: That is precisely what I did. Great minds work in tandem. The first seven years I lived here, before Social Security kicked in, my only official income was $540 a month from a corporate pension. I made up the difference in savings.


            1. Another tip, for withdrawing large amounts of cash, is to deposit the money in your Visa card, similar to paying your bill, then take it out as a cash advance. Paid for a house that way when I was having the bank transfer funds. Since the money is in the account there’s no interest.


    2. Carlos: That is always a concern when I write these positive things. However, I think there are two things operating in our favor. (1) Most Gringos are namby-pambys, and will pay me no heed. (2) Most people in general don’t have what it takes to leave their native land. It’s just too big a leap for them.


      1. You sound like Bob Barker on the Price is Right – come on down!

        Free prizes galore – 18.68 Pesos per Dollar.


        1. Andrés: As I mentioned in an earlier comment, I sure hope I’m not encouraging the wrong sort of Gringo to come south. Perhaps I should just keep my mouth closed altogether. I know quite a few folks would find that an appealing notion.


          1. Always good to read what circulates through your head, even when it’s that political dreck.


              1. Commentary that I am happy to provide. Thanks must be given to Felipe for giving me the platform.


  2. Thanks for the article, Felipe. I always love catching up on what chain stores are in Mexico now. That will be great for me in a few years. As for those drinking fountains, I’m with you! Don’t chance it!

    Felíz Domingo!


    1. Mike: The stores I listed are just a drop in the bucket from the top of my head. There are far more down here than those.

      As for a happy Sunday, all my Sundays are happy. Same back at you.


  3. But you know, oldtimer, a lot of the toll roads were built more than 10 years prior to your arrival. Or at least started. They certainly do make car travel much easier. Someday we’ll have to drive down through your area and on to the coast. My wife and I drove to Zihuatanejo via Moerlia, Uruapan, Nueva Italia when Ixtapa was brand new. It was a chore. Of course there were far, far less vehicles on the roads those days. It would be interesting to see how things have changed.


    1. Clete: The highways have changed a lot. When I moved here, you could not drive to the Pacific on an autopista. You could not drive all the way to Mexico City on an autopista. You could not drive to Texas on an autopista. You could not drive to San Miguel de Allende on an autopista. Now you can do all those things. There were some sections completed, but those drives were mostly still a pain in the kazoo.


    2. PS: And how did I forget Guadalajara? You couldn’t drive all the way there on an autopista either. Now you can. The last stretch was opened only in the past year.


      1. Really? The last time we drove to Morelia, and that was over 10 years ago, it was autopista all the way if I am not mistaken. I don’t recall the road between Morelia and Patzcuaro.

        Over 20 years ago you could drive from Guadalajara to Manzanillo on a toll road.


        1. Clete: Yes, but I do not live in Morelia. Remember, this is a first-person website. Before the recent opening of a new, small stretch of autopista, we had to slog through downtown Morelia to get to lots of places. No more!


  4. But as I said in my first post. The modernization of the highways began long before you arrived. Don’t hold it against the country that Patzcuaro was way down the list of priority destinations. That is to be expected when you live in the boondocks!!


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