Leaving Mexico

NO, NOT ME. Gadzooks! I’ll be here till I die.

But sometimes people from above the Rio Bravo move to Mexico, stay a spell, and then pack up and go back, after all the bother of coming here in the first place, and it is a bother. Culture shock too.

What inspires this post today is a recent blog entry from Debi Kuhn who lives with her husband, Tom, in Mérida. They’ve been in that sweltering city for 10 years, but are planning to pack up and return to the United States, an incomprehensible step, to my way of thinking.

Debi is a little vague on the cause of the return, pointing mostly at the difficulty of learning Spanish. And that can truly be a major problem. But it can be solved by moving to San Miguel de Allende where all Mexicans within the city limits are obligated to learn English for your convenience.

And the weather is way nicer than Mérida too.

The first two or three years, I would have returned to the United States had it been financially feasible. It would have required returning to the workforce — a horrible thought — due to the far higher U.S. cost of living. Living in Mexico is cheap. Don’t believe it when people say otherwise.

I moved south alone seven years before I was eligible for Social Security. I lived on a measly corporate pension of $540 a month, and I took up the slack with savings. And I lived just fine. When I got married at age 58, the two of us lived well on the same money for the next four years.

Time has passed, and I’ve grown used to Mexico. Culture shock is long gone. I feel utterly at home. Culture shock would likely hit me if I returned to America where I have not set foot since early 2009.

I like it here very much.

The language thing Debi mentions can be a bear. If you come here as a couple, which means you speak English daily, learning Spanish well enough to have conversations is almost impossible except for the very young.

Virtually everyone I know of who can converse in Spanish has either moved here solo or is married to a Latina.

flagIt takes time to acclimate to this very different world. But go back now? No way, José.

I love hearing burros braying in the distance at dawn, and roosters and dogs. I love sunrises over mountains that I watch every morning above this computer screen where I read the news from America and its ethnic conflicts, race riots, deficit spending and “social democracy.”

In an odd way, I even love the passing trains that gently rattle window panes in the middle of the night. I love the weekday morning exercise walks around the nearby plaza where sits a 16th century church.

I love that I can get a plumber or electrician or bricklayer or any talented workman to come to the Hacienda on a moment’s notice and do whatever needs to be done for a pittance of what it would cost up north.

I love that I can pay cheaply for traffic infractions on the spot without having all the bother of waiting in courthouses, even though that’s only happened once in 15 years. I still favor the system.

I love that our infrastructure improves daily, highways, shopping malls, and first-class, snazzy, inexpensive bus transportation nationwide. I love that you can fly an airliner anywhere — except to the United States — without being strip-searched and otherwise abused and humiliated.

I love that you can easily get a doctor appointment for tomorrow or even today in a modern facility, and when you leave you pay in cash and still have change left for Sears or Walmart or a café latte at Starbucks.

And I love that you can voice unpopular opinions without being fired from your job or socially ostracized or have your children turned over to the state. You may get punched in the nose, but that’s only fair.

I love perfect avocados in the outdoor market and high-quality, name-brand shirts with an invisible flaw that you can buy for eight bucks not far from where you just purchased those perfect avocados.

And I love that you never hear the words racist, sexist or transgender, and that television shows that regularly feature men passionately kissing other men are invariably beamed down from America, and that shows produced in Mexico feature manly men with mustaches, often clutching tequila bottles, sporting sidearms and punching other men, not kissing them.

MariawhoopiAnd women on Mexican television, from actresses to commentators to weather girls, always look like Penelope Cruz or Maria Grazia Cucinotta, not Ellen DeGeneres, Whoopi Goldberg or Rosie O’Donnell.

I love living in a PC-free world, and I love paying just $80 in property taxes on two homes and an apartment in Mexico City. Total.

I love that a beautiful, bright babe not much older than my daughter said yes when I asked her to marry me. I love it that when I pull back the bedroom drapes on summer mornings, I see a sea of golden datura.

And there’s the elegant, artsy Hacienda, which I could never have built or maintained in the United States. I do love that.

* * * *

I hope Debi and her husband, Tom, do not regret returning to the United States, but we will always welcome them back if they decide it was a mistake. For me, I cannot fathom such a move.

I am a jerk

I HAVE BEEN dubbed a jerk. And not for the first time. I have also been called an a-hole.

jerk
Felipe?

A collectivist blogger down on the sweaty Mexican coast took issue with my calling Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a perennial, left-wing, Mexican presidential candidate — who never can quite manage to win and gets very indignant when he does not — a semi-literate demagogue.

Let’s look at the two elements of my accusation. Start with demagogue. My Cambridge Online Dictionary defines the word thusly:

A political leader who wins support by exciting people’s emotions rather than giving them reasons.

López Obrador, better known by his initials AMLO, certainly qualifies. Were he to actually win one day, he would be Mexico’s Hugo Chávez, just without the beret and military training.

I have never listened to AMLO more than a few seconds, but my child bride has. She says he butchers Spanish in the style of a country bumpkin, so there you have the semi-literate.

For pointing this out, I have been labeled a jerk. Again, not for the first time. And a few years back, I referred here to a woman who favors Obama as “a left-winger.” I do not consider left-winger any more an epithet than I consider right-winger an epithet. I openly confess that I am a right-winger, which means conservative.

These are political stances, not cuss words.

That acquaintance, who has red hair and perhaps speaks before sufficient thought at times, fired off an email, calling me an a-hole. I shorten the word because The Unseen Moon is a family website, plus I value decorum.

We live in sad times. Our political life is highly polarized, and those on the extremes are very prone to name-calling. And that — as their mothers might point out — reflects badly on them. Tilting to the conservative side, I naturally believe those on the left are more guilty of name calling than we on the right.

We, of course, are the traditionalists, the conservatives and, for the most part, we dodge potty talk. We tend to offer rational arguments or religious faith  for our beliefs instead of epithets. Of course, we have nothing in our valise like that colossal, all-encompassing, catch-all, mouth rocket so loved by the left: Racist!

Of course, I’ve been called that too, more than once. But who hasn’t?

Yes, we live in troubling, sad — and rude — times.