Saturday, September 4, 2010

It's A Squirrely Business

I'm talking about real estate. We have met all kinds of people. Some have brought money in briefcases, some have offered to make six payments, others say they can't do the transaction via certified check. You get the idea, and the list goes on. Now the latest one is; let's see how desperate they are and keep lowering the price. I would love to move on, especially now. I had that taste of San Miguel de Allende last month and it has given me the hitch itch. Hook up and move 'em out! Rawhide! So all this is on the back burner but I have decided not to have spoil the rest of my life.

I have to tell you one thing. I wrote a post the day before yesterday. Wow, it was a good one. Don't ask me what happened but the whole thing disappeared. It's this cheap ass laptop I have. I get my just desserts. Everytime you brush across the pad something wierd happens. Not to mention the constantly changing keyboard which keeps me from using symbols sometimes depending on what application I'm in. I keep vowing to use my little mouse so that it won't happen but that will be someday. I really hate when I lose something I have written.

So where was I. Oh yes, moving on. December 19th is the promised last day of work in this household (I hope you're listening). And then it is time to take off, move on and find a new life. Now that all that is off my chest.

With school back in session we have had a representative from the SEP (Secretaria de Educacion Publica) on the news everyday answering questions. that parents might have The most popular is, "If education is free in Mexico why do I have to pay an "enrollment fee"? Finally, someone with some brains decided to explain to the world how the system works and it only validated what I have said all along. Education is free in Mexico. The question is, how does the system work?

The government provides the land, the buildings, the teachers and a janitor or two depending on the size of the school, and free electricity. That's it. That's as free as you will see. Each school forms a PTA and the association decides how much each child will pay to start the school year. The monies collected are used for maintenance, repairs, and landscaping.

As I have said before, there is no reason that a school doesn't have air conditioning in Mexico. There is no real cost at least in terms of electricity. If you have a good PTA you first have hundreds of parents who work in factories, companies, own their business and can all ask for donations. What respectful company wouldn't want the free promotion and advertising to say that they donated a mini-split air conditioner to a school? The key is getting parents organized. Like everything else in life, you need a plan. In my little town, the kinder, primary, secondary and the high school all look like private schools. We are organized, we have beautiful courtyards. No dusty grass-less place to play here and all the classrooms are air conditioned. We just made it happen, that's all.

I have heard over the years from the comandante del Kino about kids going to school shoe-less, not having food to eat, and of course his famous YouTube video showing him collecting goods for needy people. Noble as it may sound I am a firm believer in the Chinese proverb about the fish. Give a man a fish and you have fed him for today, teach him how to fish and you have fed him for life. Organize, teach, educate. If people want to do some good for Mexico select a family that needs some help. Buy school uniforms for the kids, help the family organize their expenses, set up a bank account. I am convinced that many Mexicans on the lower end of the scale lack the education to plan their lives and thus they live day to day. I have seen it in my extended family here. A bank account is the first place to start. If you have cash in an envelope in the house I can guarantee you the money will be flittered away. No offense to anyone, but I find it, geez, I don't know the word, but you see these people coming across the border with a pickup filled with used junk. Trust me, we have enough used junk. Teach a kid how to sell newspapers after school, set up a bank account, put money away for school, home and his bicycle. Now that is helping someone out.

Sorry but I am preparing for winter and all the things I will read on the internet about what used crap to bring down and how to get it across the border and how much to bribe the border agent (that just throws all our values out the window). Somebody says, "we give out pencils". What am I going to do with a cheap ass Chinese pencil? At least buy them here and help out the local economy a bit. Gosh, shoot me while I'm down.

Go visit a school near the rv park or find one that looks like it needs some help. If you're spending some time in the area, a month or two, talk to the principal and ask what the school's needs are. The task of running a school can be overwhelming and just keeping it running takes time. You don't need to spend any money, worry about crossing the border with used junk, and you could do a lot of people a lot of good with your experience, knowledege and education. My finance workshops have done miracles. We don't teach people about finance and marriage in school. If we did we would see a lot more rich people not to mention single people. Most human beings just don't know where to start so it becomes a lifelong habit. A simple explanation, goal setting and review of expenses helps to organize people's lives. All the people who come to Mexico in the winter have something to offer besides money. Make it happen.

If you do decide take this route and need help once you are here, let us know. We have been in the business a long time and know the ins and outs.

BTW, I'd like to thank all the nuts that continue to send me hate mail and news information I already receive daily and see on TV three times a day. I don't need to be reminded by some armchair politician what is going on where I live. So I have now set up your mails to go directly into the trash heap and removed the "anonymous" posting option from the blog.


  1. Well, WELCOME BACK! This is the kind of Info we all want besides the RV stuff. We want it ALL! Things aren't all roses in the States either. MORE, MORE, MORE!

    rocmoc n AZ/Baja

  2. Right on!!!! You just KNOW it!!!! Cheers Les

  3. Great post Chris! Nice to have you back. Soon you will be house shopping in SMA.

  4. Always wondered about that aspect of the education system in Mexico, tnx. Education is the key to success everywhere. Most of the students in graduate schools in the US are from other countries--- makes you wonder where we are heading.

  5. Hi Chris, this is my first comment to you and it comes attached to a great post! I found your blog several days ago and now I've gone back and read the entire thing.

    If you think you're not adding value to the lives of others I believe you're mistaken. You provide a wealth of information from a "I'm living right here in the middle of it" perspective that's invaluable for folks seeking real world information.

    I've long wanted to learn about living in Mexico; I wondered if it was really feasible. You've not only answered that question (a definite "yes") but you've let me understand that it's also desirable through you're wonderful stories and insightful information.

    So to you I say "Bravo!" and thanks for the time and engergy you put into writing your blog (and the emotianl commitment that requires).

    Best wishes to you and yours as you move forward. I hope that you find the path you're looking for (planing for) and things work out as you hope. I look forward to reading your blog for a long time to come but if you decide to discontinue the blog I hope it's because you're too busy and having too much fun, and not because of negative bombardment (from any sector).

    All the best,

    Les Lampman
    Whidbey Island, WA

  6. intresting views,.........
    real life views
    works 4 me .....
    keep it coming......:)

  7. Bravo! I too have always wondered just what the govt pays and doesn't pay. I think in some states there are funds for the schools from the state or city as well. But, there are the requirements for uniforms and notebooks and such. These are quite detailed, you can't just have any notebook, it has to fit the requirements. For that reason, it is often better to give money to the priest or to another agency or simply take the child - along with the list of requirements from the school - and go shopping. It won't cost much.

    We too used to pick up free pens and low cost coloring books and crayons and such when in the US in the summer and bring them with us. However, we gave them - along with small toys - to kids that came up to the RV asking for money or candy. I don't condone the begging and yet having something for them is satisfying for all. They aren't school supplies though, they are 'fun' supplies.

  8. Well said Chris. This is what I like about your posts. I too was told to take school supplies with me to pass out, and I wondered about the value of doing that. I wish that I had done things different. Now I know.
    Bill and Sharon