Just like home

SEVENTEEN YEARS ago when I packed my two bags and flew to Mexico alone to reinvent myself in late middle age, I arrived in a spectacularly strange world.

Many of the things I was accustomed to simply were not available down here, and most of those things were commercial. I am a fan of capitalism and the goodies it offers.

Flash forward from 2000 to 2017 and — oh, my — how things have changed. Just about anything you can buy above the Rio Bravo is now available Down Mejico Way.

There is even a Mexican version of Amazon.com even though I much prefer our homegrown MercadoLibre.

The list of Gringo chain stores in Mexico is too lengthy to repeat here, and it seems to grow longer each year.*

I was particularly delighted when Bed Bath & Beyond, one of my favorite stores when I lived up north, opened recently in the nearby state capital. I shop there often.

There are eight BB&Bs in Mexico. Six are in Mexico City or its environs. A seventh is in Cuernavaca, the not-too-distant Mexico City playground,  and the eighth is in our capital city, the only one relatively remote from Mexico City.

Why were we chosen over the considerably larger burgs of Guadalajara or Monterrey? God knows.

Mexico commercially improves on a daily basis. You can now get most of what is available to the Gringos up north. Plus, we have great tacos, fresh avocados and beautiful babes.

Best of both worlds.

* * * *

* Very incomplete list: Best Buy, Sears, Costco, Walmart, McDonald’s, Burger King, Chili’s, Sirloin Stockade, iHop, Home Depot, Office Depot, Office Max, KFC, DQ, Starbucks.

(Note: We don’t depend entirely on the Gringos for great shopping. For example, the Mexican chain El Palacio de Hierro — The Iron Palace — will knock your high-end socks off, especially the flagship store in Mexico City’s Polanco.)

Down the mountain

I OFTEN refer to the capital city that sits down the mountain, about 40 minutes from here on a smooth four-laner.

We drive there at least once a week, almost exclusively for shopping. My mountaintop’s shopping is restricted mostly to tacos, tires and rebozos.

My first eight months in Mexico were spent in the capital city where I studied Spanish at a language school while living two months over a garage. I then spent another six months just walking around and living in a rented house.

I didn’t much like the town. Before moving there I read online that it was similar to the American Midwest, sorta dull. It was to Mexico what Topeka or Omaha are to America.

One day I took at bus up the mountain to visit the ancient and very different town where I’ve been a long time now. I liked it. I moved here. Been here ever since. Gonna die here.

However, in the past 17 years, the capital city has improved immensely. I would not mind living there now. I might even prefer it, but I’m not going to move.

Recently, an online piece from two years ago was brought to my attention by the inimitable Jennifer Rose. It describes our capital city in an admirable and accurate way.

Take a look. There are also great photos. The author, Stephenie Harris, claims it’s the most beautiful city in Mexico that nobody visits. And she says why she thinks that is the case.

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.

Independence day

man

TODAY IS Mexico’s version of the Fourth of July.

Here on the mountaintop, we start partying on the previous evening, and we continue today. I don’t participate much because I’m not party people.

I did salute the flag yesterday evening on the plaza as a police band played, and the banner was brought down for its usual overnight siesta indoors.

That makes the third time since I became a citizen in 2005 that I’ve saluted the Mexican flag. It’s not that I avoid it. I just rarely find myself at an event where it’s appropriate.

I’ll admit it feels weird. Wish it didn’t but it does.

While downtown yesterday, I took the photo while sitting on a cement bench on the plaza. And, of course, you’ll find other Fabulous Fotos by Felipe right here, amigos.

¡Viva México! Bring on the tacos and cerveza.