GETTING IT RIGHT: An account of the soul-searching usually involved when a foreigner moves to Mexico.

GETTING IT RIGHT: An account of the soul-searching usually involved when a foreigner moves to Mexico.

By Morris Reichley

street vendor ajijic 01


She showed up at our front door one October evening and after dinner she told us about her new home in Mexico.We should come down soon, it was beautiful. We were thinking Mexico?

We bit. We flew. We were conquered. Nine trips and nine years later we were still in the throes of trying to be retired and still trying to sell the second home and still wondering if we should sort our stuff. Then our theoretical timetable turned into a dominating tyrant with the realization that these people were serious and really wanted to pay all cash for the townhouse and we had better start packing.

We should have been prepared, I was unloading a truck that I had just finished loading in the heat of the day before and which I was going to have to load again in forty-eight hours as soon as I took care of some paperwork.

I was certain that some where we did something wrong. We had paid extra to get passports in a hurry, we acquired FM threes in a week’s time, but now we still had to go to the Mexican consulate to get our list of stuff approved. I leaned my sweaty head against the side of the truck and recalled that someone had said that nothing good came easy. Maybe I read it.

After hitting more than a few bumps in the road to our personal paradise we were sitting on our veranda watching the sun set over Lago De Chapala I still felt that we had not gotten it right. Maybe it was all those unpacked boxes. Our so-called freedom was compromised by – stuff. I know when I looked into my three… that’s right, three tool boxes, I found tools I had used once and never would again. I found tools I forgot I had. I found one tool that I hadn’t the slightest idea what it was for.

The other day we saw an old man slowly, painfully crossing the highway. The traffic had halted to let him cross and cars were stacking up behind the first car that stopped. No one honked. When the old one made it to the opposite curb, the drivers all headed on to their destinations without complaints. Now there’s a tool I almost forgot – patience.

I realized I didn’t have to beat every train to the crossing any more. Anyway, Ajijic is a town where when we pass through we have to drive slowly to miss the bumps so we might as well smell the flowers and see the people. It’s the only way.

A few years ago an engineer in one of my workshops latched on to a beautiful contract job in Germany. He received per diem, travel expenses, extra time, plus a guaranteed ten thousand dollars for a two-week programming job that he could do blindfolded. I got a call from him after the first five days. The only subject he discussed was how he hated German food. This man didn’t get it – he couldn’t cope with even temporary dislocation. That triggered a thought. We were planning to become expatriates in Mexico; therefore we would have to deal with that not on our terms but on Mexico’s terms.

This why I hate to hear expats suggesting that things should change here. Change will happen here without our instigation. I wonder if the space between their ears is so full of where they came from that they can’t see where they are.

One early dawn, just as daylight grayed the sky, a mischievous cloud ripe with rain hovered over the lake and threatened to gloom our day. The sun however took a look over the rim of a mountain and colored the cloud with assorted pinks and reds and oranges. Having met its match, the cloud sullenly, with great reluctance, headed west and let us have our day.

Like the cloud change here will, in its own time, slowly overtake the present. It will happen to Lakeside on its own terms. We don’t need to accelerate it. We are happy with what we see and feel here now.

The magnificent trees that form an arch over the road at La Floresta greeted us the other day when we drove into Ajijic as the setting sun sketched patterns on the road. This was our personal Arc De Triomphe. We were here. We didn’t have to chase the clock. We got get it right, after all.


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