Today I got a postcard…for free!

Now for those of you living in the US or Canada, getting a postcard in the mail might not be a big deal.  But, trust me, to get one in Mexico, delivered to your house for free, is a rare thing indeed.  Home mail delivery in my neck of the Mexican central highlands comes only to the truly blessed. 

Sure, you SEE guys zipping around on motorbikes painted in the Mexican Postal Service’s signature colors of white, green, and pink, but like the electrical meter readers hereabouts, you never see them actually DO anything other than pass you by.   The mailmen I see are always just seemingly riding down the main drags in the pueblos enjoying the world’s second greatest climate. 

By the way, this “world’s second greatest climate” thing is attributed to National Geographic and is one of those catch-phrases that local real estate agents and braggarts like to cite when trying to sell you a house or explaining to you why you too should move to Lake Chapala.  (They’re often the same person.)  But I’ll be damned if I can find the original article anywhere.  I’m starting to think that like that whole “Richard Gere and the gerbil” thing, it’s just a great urban pueblo legend.

But I digress.  We were speaking of receiving postcards at your home address in Mexico.  And, up until Novenber 3, 2010, I would have sworn that it just couldn’t happen here at Lake Chapala.  And, yet, only ONE MONTH after it was mailed from Petrified Forest National Park, a semi-obscene postcard arrived in my mailbox.  Well, the postcard itself wasn’t semi-obscene — it was, after all, a picture of something at Petrified Forest.  But the messages from Jerry and Dom contained thereon were just loaded with sexual innuendo, which is not an easy thing to do in a writing space that small.  (Wait a minute!  I just looked at the postcard again.  Maybe it IS semi-obscene!)

Since most of us expats can’t get our mail via the Mexican Post Office, we use mail-forwarding services.  I, for example, use MailBoxes, Etc. (MBE) which has an office inside a hotel in the next largest pueblo east of me, San Juan Cosala.  I don’t rent one of their postal boxes since I don’t get a lot of mail, but it’s still expensive to receive mail there.  For a normal-sized envelope or a postcard, I pay $30MX (about $2.50US at today’s exchange rate).  For an 8-1/2×11 manila envelope, I pay $60MX.  A couple of years ago, my son sent me a small book and a calendar in a large manila envelope.  He probably paid, with an employee discount for the calendar, about $15US for the gifts.  Presumably because the great weight of the envelope made for an emcumbrance on the mode of transport (whatever that may be), it cost me about $16US to receive the envelope.  Since then, I have begged my friends in the US not to send me any gifts….I just can’t afford it!  If I’m gonna pay $16US for something, it’s gonna be for a fifth of Early Times. 

If you’re wondering why I don’t just rent a mailbox at the Jocotepec Post Office, you’ve obviously never tried to convince an American business (e.g. bank, credit card company) to mail your monthly statement to Mexico.  The phone conversations go something like this:

Big American Company:  Thank for you calling blah-blah company.  This is Hildy.  How may I assist you?

Me:  I’d like to change my mailing address please.

BAC:  Certainly.  May I have your account information?

Me:  Yes, it’s blah blah blah. 

BAC:  And to what address would you now like to have your statements mailed? 

Me:  I live in Mexico.  This is my new address…..

BAC (interrupting):  So you now live in New Mexico?

Me:  No, I live in the country of Mexico. 

BAC (long pause):  What is your zip code?

Me:  I don’t have a zip code.  I no longer live in the United States.   

BAC (condescendingly):  Ms. Hopkins, everyone has a zip code. 

Me:  In the US, yes, they do.  But here we don’t have zip codes, although we do have some kind of code in the address. 

BAC (irritated):  Fine, fine.  Why don’t you just give me that code which is NOT a zip code. 

Me:  Okay, it’s 45801. 

BAC:  So you’re in Lima, Ohio?  I thought you said you lived in New Mexico.

And so it goes.  And that’s why I have an MBE address in Laredo, Texas, and why it was such a thrill to get a postcard at my house in MEXICO!  It’s really the small things that make my day.


About Barbara

in april of 2008, i moved from the united states to mexico. during my working days, i held lots and lots of jobs....almost all chosen because they were fun or interesting instead of how much they paid. when i started thinking about retirement (in my 40s), i realized that i would never be able to retire to a country where english was the native language. and although i had traveled to every state in the US -- and lived in lots of them -- i had never been outside the country with the exception of canada and mexico. and since you now know that i could never afford to retire in canada (even to the french-speaking area), mexico won by default.
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8 Responses to Today I got a postcard…for free!

  1. Kathi says:

    What kind of warped mind would construe this breathtaking pic of a rare double rainbow as being obscene?

  2. Sheila says:

    Why don’t you have your BAC contact my Canadian bank? Everyone in my bank knows we moved to Mexico and are quite happy to send our bank statements here. Even send our Visa cards by mail. We’ve had several offers to deliver the statements in person and to carry our luggage too! Mind you it took two years to get a mailbox at the local Ajjic post office.

    • Barbara says:

      sheila, i would have my BAC contact your bank, but, for heaven’s sake, that bank is in CANADA! just another one of them foreign countries. i can hear my BAC’s employees discussing it now. “i gotta call Canada. what language they speak up there? Canadian? hey, do any of yoru guys speak Canadian?”

  3. Jonnie says:

    The Mexican post office colors are not just white, pink and green they are white, Pepto-Bismol Pink and lime green! Must have come straight from a Mexican fiesta to come up with those colors.

    • Barbara says:

      jojo, maybe you’re right….maybe they did come up with the colors after a night of tequila!

      for those of you who don’t know, the mexican national colors are white, red, and green. you’d think that the post office might have the same colors. but nooooooooo. it’s like the PO washed the mexican flag in clorox and then decided to use those colors that remained as their own!

  4. maria says:


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