Friday, October 20, 2017

The Problem With Ex-Pats

As you all know, I'm a Mexophile.  It's in my blood and I will do just about anything to defend this great place that all of you live or rv in or certainly would love too.  But, there always seems to be some issues that people can't seem to overcome.

1)  Mexico is not the U.S. or Canada
2)  We have country specific issues
3)  We have a much newer and stronger electric grid than other American countries
4)  Poverty levels in numbers are the same in Mexico as in the U.S. (not per capita)
5)  We are not a country of immigrants
6)  We respect, for the most part, our large number of Native Americans and their languages
7)  We lack rv parks (It's really not a Mexican thing and it's a niche market that is slowly dying)
8)  We're not a bilingual country,  unlike the U.S. and Canada, so learning the language is a must
9)  We're a society that isn't big on suing people, aesthetics, or maintenance
10) Most U.S./Canadian immigrants come here because Mexico is cheap  (forget the fresh produce thing)

I am listing these things because I belong to a Facebook group called Ex-pats in Mexico.  It's truly a picture perfect example of ex-pats in the country.  They piss and moan about everything and never take the good parts of Mexico into account.  They have little knowledge of tax laws, employment and benefits and the how and why Mexicans live the way they do.  It's understandable.  How can you read, investigate or watch anything in Mexico if you don't understand the language, work here, study here or have family here.  I'm convinced it is the make it or break it for those who would really like to embrace the Mexican culture.

OTOH, few ex-pats in Mexico really look for or desire the true Mexican experience.  They want to live in an American compound, hang out in an rv park where they will rarely find a Mexican, they want to buy American/Canadian products (I truly believe that cheddar cheese is a religious sacrificial offering), they require English speaking handymen, housekeepers, storekeepers, and every other service that exists to speak English.  Sorry folks, it's not going to happen.  It's not the culture.  

I bring this up because I am leaving that group.  No matter what factual information, charts, webpages (which they can't read anyway) that I provide, they base their experience on a very small slice of Mexico.  For example, rvers that spend the winter in some small beach town (I can't stand the word village), where the services are limited, people live in palapas and collect crabs on the beach selling them to people in the rv park.  Few of these same people have ever visited Appalachia or the states of Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, well you get the idea.  That's not to say that all Mexicans who live in rural or small beach communities fit into that category. 

Now that I've said this, please do not take this as a wide brush that paints all ex-pats with the same color.  In fact, we recently met someone in SMA who has fallen in love with Mexico and is here for many, many reasons.  Many of you who read this are also Mexophiles and love the country as much as I do  (like my long lost friends Sandy and Dennis). 

As a side note, I have found a secret friend.  His name is Danny.  He is a preschooler and has autism.  He is a truly wonderful person and brightens my day.  He sees me and says in English, "happy".   That makes me happy.   


  1. Great post Chris...this is indeed a wonderful country and I for one feel blessed to have been allowed to be here for many years and there is not a day goes by without some inter action with a local that makes me smile and brings joy to my heart...les

  2. I admire your loyalty to the rich offering that is Mexico. Isn't it interesting that those who most think they have issues to overcome here are the ones who've never really had anything to overcome? (And still don't.) Huh.

    I agree with Les. Not a day goes by... Sometimes I'll be walking down a street happily going about my business and suddenly stop to breathe it all in, taste the air, and say out loud to whatever my eye lands on, "I love you!" I was walking through the jardin one day on my way home from errands and it was filled with people shooting off firecrackers, musicians, people attending a Mexican wedding at La Parroquia, everyday people going about their business as I was, vendors, children playing, etc. Everyone peaceably getting along, many looking me in the eye, smiling, and saying "Hola, buenas tardes..." as they passed me, and I smiled and smiled at how happy everyone looked, having a good time, and thought: me too. Bless them every one. I have not simply found happiness, I have found JOY.

    I truly believe Mexico offers joy for the taking.

    Danny? Oh be still my heart. Danny sounds as if he embodies the spirit of both humanity and Mexico, and shares it via his Light and one word. Bless you and him both. What a gift he is to the world, and you two to each other.

  3. From a tourist's perspective, there are two Mexicos. One, the one that most ex-pats gravitate to are the Mazatlan - Puerto Vallarta - Cancun - Playa del Carman beach areas and the Americanized interior cities like SMA. Of these, SMA is the "best" but in the beach areas, at least the parts of them that gringos frequent, US cash is readily quoted and accepted, menus are in English and Spanish is heard less than English.

    We tend to avoid all these areas. Our favorite places are the small pueblos of the Colonial interior where we can sit at a table in the main square and have locals stop by for a short chat to practice their English on us. We do not worry about being the only English speakers in town or that our Spanish is bad because people find a way to communicate regardless.

    Our best night in Mexico was boondocking beside a restaurant in the middle of the Yucatan jungle near the village of Escarcega. We were drawn over to the restaurant by music and discovered a celebration going on for a Maya Elder! No one spoke English and in fact, Spanish could not be heard either. The language of the night was Mayan and we got along just fine! We ate, we drank, we sang, we danced and we were entertained by a young man twirling a flaming Baton! It is the night I will remember longest of all of our memorable nights in Mexico!

  4. Hi Barb. Your comments hit this blog post on the head. The things you saw in the jardin are the things a lot (not all) of ex-pats complain about in SMA. You can find their complaintive musings on the Civil List. Why do they have to . . . ? I'm not a noise person but that's what we do here. We're noisy, very noisy. Better that than nosey! In fact right now, someone is burning leaves outside, I here a baby screaming, my neighbor's worker is sweeping and listening to very load and annoying music. But, that's life in Mexico. That should be my new blog title, "That's Life In Mexico". SLDS to both you and Les.

  5. Great post. One of our most favorite stops was Guadalcázar, San Luis Potosi that you and Juan recommended. Certainly weren't any tourists there. Or English. Or wifi. Or cell service. Only restaurant when we were there was a bodega with 2 tables. They cooked whatever we wanted. No English. We loved it. We also liked Patzcurao because it has minimal tourist stuff. Gotta get the house (and other motorhome) sold so we can come back.

  6. Recently moved into a coto in gringos....loving it.....Marilyn

  7. I think this post is pretty spot-on, save for the bit about the electrical grid. I have experienced more power failures in my relatively short time in Mexico than I have in my entire life in the USA. And the Mexicans where I lived in CDMX (location of most of the power failures experienced) say it's normal and that I shouldn't expect it to work like it does in the USA.

    Otherwise, yeah. Why do people have such unrealistic expectations of Mexico? And if they don't like it, why don't they leave?

    I love Mexico, and I spent a lot of energy learning Spanish so I could actually understand the place. Sure there are things I like that I can't get there. But that's true here too. In Boston you can't find nopal for love or money. So when in Mexico, I just eat different stuff.

    Frankly, the one thing I wish for Mexico is less corruption and better public schools. That would let Mexico get ahead in a way that it currently can't, but needs to. But it's also what keeps it cheap for Gringos, so it's a mixed curse.


    Kim G
    Redding, CA
    Where over-regulation is a big problem.

  8. I know Im late to this but, wow SPOT ON! I did my first big trip when I was 23 yrs old (2007), a buddy of mine and I drove the entire gulf coast to Palenque, through Guatemala and back up the Pacific coast chasing surf, adventure and anything in between. I later went on to spend another 5 months bumming around in a van in 2010 and married my now wife in 2012, who is from Monterrey, a city I love!

    Everywhere I went, I would inevitably stumble across the angry expat. "Mexico is blah blah blah", "Watch out, they'll rape you and kill you!", "Mexicans are thieves!". I could never understand how these people lived in a country that they hated so much?!?!?

    I absolutely love Mexico with all of my heart and the culture there is amazing, vibrant and so warm and welcoming. I have never 'met a stranger' in Mexico after a few bits of conversation and I have been invited to more quinceañeras, weddings and carne asadas than I can remember. I was holed up in Florencia de Benito Juarez in the mountains of Zacatecas for 2.5 weeks with a busted transmission, sleeping in the spare room of a stateside friends' family while they worked to find parts and repair it... Never asked a dollar of me. I fondly remember waiting for my buddy's brother to finish work and we would grab some beers and concrete and go mix/pour concrete for the foundation of the home he was building for his family, poco a poco. Back breaking work but I loved every minute of it.

    I just found this blog today, keep it going. Safe travels!