Double-team anniversary!

20th-year-anniversary

IT WAS two decades ago this month that I abandoned the nation of my birth and moved to a startlingly different world. It’s been very interesting and totally positive.

I spent my final night in Houston in the house that I — in a zany moment — gifted my second ex-wife just after our divorce in 1995. I had cleared out of my rental condo the previous day. It was stay with her or in a hotel. She took me in.

Just before I headed out the next morning toward Atlanta in the Ryder rental truck, I posed in my former driveway for the photo below.

I drove to Atlanta, left a few things in my mother’s carport storeroom, and caught a Delta jet to Guadalajara with two suitcases. After three nights there, I rode a bus to Morelia, Michoacán, enrolled in a language school and lived in a small room above a garage.

A few months later, out of curiosity, I boarded a bus for the 40-minute drive to a small, colonial-era city at a higher altitude. I sat there in the plaza and looked around. I liked it. I found a furnished, rental house and moved here, where I’ve been ever since.

Now, after 20 years, I’ve been in a foreign nation for more than a quarter of my life, and not just any quarter, the most recent one, and speaking almost exclusively a foreign tongue, which is odd for a fellow who started life as redneck Cracker from Georgia.

I have returned to the United States very rarely and not at all in the past 11 years. I’m here to stay. I done good. Sometimes one gets stuff right.

img001
Standing outside my ex-wife’s home in Houston on a January morning in 2000. About to head off solo into uncharted seas. Age 55.
now
And 20 years later, sitting in the upstairs terraza recently. I haven’t changed a lick.

But I have another anniversary. It was 15 years ago, also this month, that I started this website. It began under a different name, but it’s been me all along.

15For the first six years, I focused almost exclusively on my new Mexican life and the startling differences from what I was accustomed to up north.

But after those six years, things that were fascinating became routine, and I wearied of writing about them. I retired that blog (The Zapata Tales) and opened this one without knowing exactly where it would lead.

It has led to more about my life in Mexico but also to political issues. I am an unabashed right-winger but of the noble sort. I don’t fly swastikas, and I don’t send Jews and gypsies to concentration camps. Quite the contrary. Live and let live, I say.

If only left-wingers felt the same.

Not long ago, I wrote here that I seem to be running out of steam, website-wise, and it’s true. However, the posts have continued but with a bit less frequency.

Who knows what the future will bring? Another 20 years in Mexico? Highly unlikely unless one counts tomb time. Another 15 years of The Unseen Moon? Equally unlikely.

But today, I’m hoisting an imaginary champagne flute. Cheers, amigos!

Saludos to me.

34 thoughts on “Double-team anniversary!

  1. Been with you, my fellow Jacksonville native, many of those blogging years and had my grammar/punctuation corrected more than once … (did that on purpose). I could not run for office these days since I went to Robert E. Lee Sr. High. Regret we didn’t have a coffee on the Pátzcuaro plaza back in 2016. May you write many more years, and may I be on the right side of the grass to read you for those years. Happy NY, Felipe.

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    1. Steve: I do correct grammar, it’s true. Thirty years of doing it for a living has made it an obsession with me. It’s why the comment section here is so clean and nice. Thanks for understanding. But I’m not a Jacksonville native. I did kinda grow up there, so that counts. I moved there when I was 7 years old, and I left when I was 17. Just a decade, but a formative one. As I believe we’ve discussed in the past, my sister also went to Robert E. Lee High. I checked recently, and it’s not one of those schools that has changed the name due to political correctness, and it also seems majority black to boot now, which makes the lack of a name change even more remarkable. I noticed, however, their colors are blue, not gray. I don’t recall what it was at the get-go.

      May 2020 be a prosperous one for you. And all of us.

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  2. Congratulations, Felipe, on your 20 years of a Mexican lifestyle! Many may be envious of you, some more than others. I’ve enjoyed your writing for about 10 of your 20 now. I remember meeting you on the Plaza Grande eight years back, and you looked the same then as you do in the two above photos. You are timeless. So keep on doing what you’ve been doing, so we can continue to enjoy your daily musings as well as your spitfire politics. You do get a few in an uproar from time to time, and that alone is entertaining! So stay around for 2020 as it’s going to be exciting, and I want you to narrate these historic events along the way!

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  3. Señor Felipe, it is good to hear you are on a path to continue the blog. Your descriptions are superb, and your span of stories enviable. No matter that you do not feel the urge to post every few hours. Hesitation often works wonders in many ways.

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  4. Well, congratulations on both milestones. I think I’ve been reading your blog for about 13 years or so. It’s amazing how time flies.

    And maybe one of these years, I’ll get off my butt and make a more permanent move SOB. Though to be fair, my 2016 attempt, while initially successful, was truncated by events out of my control. But 2020 is looking better.

    Saludos y un gran abrazo,

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we are doing some of the things one might do to prepare a house for sale — repainting rooms, getting rid of junk, etc.

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    1. Kim: Time does fly, and it does so even more as one ages. You’ll be seeing that more in the future. It’s incredible.

      As for your moving to Mexico, that’s akin to the “crying wolf” phenomenon for you, as I see it. Will you ever do so? Lord knows. Does not appear so, but gussying up your Gringo home and getting your mama planted down here are both good signs.

      Abrazos to you too.

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      1. You know I did move to CDMX in 2016. So there were indeed a few real wolves. And though it’s not exactly the same thing, I’m way more acculturated to Mexico than many, perhaps most, gringos who’ve lived there for years and years.

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        1. Kim: You call that a move to Mexico? I call it an extended visit. As for your being more acculturated to Mexico than many of the Gringos who live here, I have no doubt that is true. At least you can speak Spanish. That alone makes a world of difference.

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    1. Ray: There you are! I was on the brink of calling out the posse and sending it into the deep woods of Alabama. Long strange trip indeed. Did you see that another commenter, Creigh, left that same phrase, or was it just a coincidence?

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    1. Sylnuss: When I first moved here, I did lots of things to improve my Spanish. One of the things was to put myself in the company of the locals. Plus I like to sit on my butt and drink coffee while watching the world pass by. I often did just that at a coffee shop on the main plaza here. I got to know the owners quite well. The female side of the owner couple once mentioned a sister in Mexico City who visited from there fairly frequently. I met that sister during one of her visits. I asked her for a date which consisted of driving to a restaurant on the far side of our big lake one afternoon. She said yes, but was so apprehensive that she tried to get one of her nieces at tag along for company. The niece begged off, so she had to go solo with me.

      We hit it off very well even though my Spanish at the time was dicey. I asked her to repeat about every other sentence. (She did not speak English then, and still does not.) That was in early November of 2001. She went back to Mexico City where she worked, came for another visit, and we got to know each other better. She invited me to visit her in Mexico City, the brazen hussy. She took time off from her job as a civil engineer for the federal government, and we drove her car to San Miguel for a visit. We stayed a couple of days. Some weeks later I suggested we get married. She thought it was grand idea. During another visit here, I drove her to an archaeological site near here where there are two abutting pre-Hispanic pyramids. We walked to the middle of where the two pyramids meet, and I got down on my knee and asked for her hand in matrimony. I wanted to do it up right. She accepted.

      On Valentine’s Day of 2002, I was back at her place in Mexico City helping her pack up and move her stuff here. We got married by a judge in April in the interior patio of her sister-in-law’s coffee shop. A good time was had by all. She was 41, had never been married, had never even lived with a boyfriend, had no children, had no dogs, had no debts. There was no other woman in Mexico like that. Plus, she’s a major babe. What luck for me. She did smoke, however, but she quit cold turkey and has never smoked again.

      And there you have it.

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  5. You look the same as 20 years ago. Congratulations on everything. I think I have been following you since 2007. Your writing helped me live vicariously in our town until we finally moved “full time” in 1995. Keep on writing!

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    1. Patzman: Happy to have inspired you. As for my looking the same, in my dreams. But it’s not so bad as some people, due to good genes. My hair is completely white now. In the 2000 photo, it was black & white. Oh, well.

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    1. Señor Cotton: Thanks. As to who will throw in the towel first, it will probably be the one who dies first. But if that’s not going to be the deciding factor, it will be me, not you.

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  6. Happy anniversary. In most cases, the last quarter of your life should be the best time of your life. I read and listen to so many lamenting the loss of their youth, convinced that the best times of their life are behind them. I’m happy you are not one of them.

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    1. Dave: It’s the best time in some aspects but not in others, quite the contrary. It can be the best time due to lack of monetary and other concerns if you planned well and your health is good. But it can be bad if your health is not good. Mine is though. I’m happier now than I’ve ever been. Just wish I were a little less creaky.

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