Back in the USA….sing it with me and Chuck Berry!

No, no, no, not me.  But my friend Sher is there right now and my friend Jonnie is headed up to the US next month for a few weeks.  Jonnie, born and raised in Texas, hasn’t been out of Mexico for about four years, so it seemed natural to talk about what things she was gonna indulge in when she gets back to the States.  I haven’t been back since I moved here a little more than three years ago, and I had my own thoughts on the subject. 

So there we were, sitting in a great restaurant in Mazamitla, Jalisco, Mexico, enjoying our meal, and talking about what it might be like to go back “home” after several years away.   Anything in particular that we missed, wanted to do or see or just experience again? 

And, you know what?  Aside from a couple of obvious answers [Jonnie can hardly wait to see her fella, Craig, who has been in Houston for many months, and I am, as you all know, craving several long soaks in a real bathtub], it was hard to come up with other things we miss. 

I’ve mentioned before that those of us who have lived here for a few years have pretty much gotten over what we originally missed by either finding substitutes or occasionally splashing out big bucks to buy what we’re missing.

So my conversation with Jonnie and my thoughts turned pretty quickly into what we would miss about Mexico if/when either of us went back to the US.   Of course, we would both miss the lower prices here in Mexico for everything from food to gasoline to insurance, but there are other things that I personally would miss a lot.  If there are some things from the US that I miss in Mexico, I would certainly miss more things from Mexico if I were in the US.  Or at least I think so.  Here are some of the things I’d miss:

First of all, I would miss all the brown faces.  A couple of years ago I went to an event at which the audience was comprised of about 200 gringos.  I swear all those white faces caused in me a temporary bout of alienation with a tad bit of xenophobia mixed in!  It took me several minutes to readjust, and I only became comfortable when the Mexican performers showed up. 

I will admit that my comfort with being a pasty faced white woman in a predominantly brown faced society didn’t just start here in Mexico.  For several years before I moved here, I worked at Petrified Forest National Park in northeastern Arizona where my coworkers were, for the most part, Navajo and Hispanic.  While my exterior just screamed “biligana,” my interior totally felt at least a quarter Dineh. 

And I’m guessing that hearing all the clerks in a store in the US speak English would discombobulate me a bit as well.  I have a feeling that if/when I go back to the States, I would still be speaking my bad Spanish, my pretty good Spanglish, and acting out a lot of things, just like I do here in Joco.  I wonder what a clerk at Wal*Mart in Bloomington, Indiana, would think of that?  Well, maybe not too much in Bloomington since it’s home to a large university with a lot of foreign students.  But I’ll just bet it would freak ’em out in Seymour and Bedford, Indiana! 

Aside:  Folks that visit here often say that trying to speak Spanish all the time exhausts them.  I’ve no doubt that that is true.  Sometimes it exhausts me, too.  On the other hand, I have an American friend who lives about six months of the year in Berlin and the other six months in Chicago.  I asked him why he goes back to the US so frequently and for so long and he said that he needs to be somewhere that he can understand what people are saying.  And he returns to Germany so that he can be somewhere that he CAN’T understand what people are saying.  Sometimes holding a conversation in your native language can also just wipe you out!  People DO say the damnest things!  And volunteer WAY too much information. 

I also think that seeing cops who DON’T dress like the ones in the pictures below would freak me out.  I mean, jeez, I want the cops to protect me, and how can they do it without scaring the crap out of me and, hopefully, some of the bad guys???    

I’m not sure I could handle the traffic.  Oh, sure, I go to Guadalajara maybe once a month, but I generally keep out of the heavily trafficked areas.  In the US, it would probably be like this:



and I’m more used to this:

I don’t mean to imply that there aren’t lots of good things in the USA.  I’m just saying that on a day to day basis, I find myself much more content in Mexico.  And for any of you who might be saying, “Fine!  You love it so much?  Just STAY there!”, thanks for your wishes, because that’s really what I hope to do. 

Mexico is not for all expats.  That’s proven daily by the number of expats who are moving back to the US or Canada, and the even larger numbers who are moving to countries other than Mexico these days.  But for me, it feels like, you know, home.


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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4 Responses to Back in the USA….sing it with me and Chuck Berry!

  1. Gigi says:

    Having recently missed my usual 6-month winter stint in Mexico, I can name just a few of the many things I’ve missed! The Pacific beaches!!! Colorful fiestas and celebrations, the wonderful produce markets and tiungis (if I could only spell that), sitting in the square people-watching, admiring the work of handcraft artists, and buying little things; the way a somber-lookiing woman you pass on the sidewalk will break into a beautiful smile when you say ‘buenas dias senora’, great breakfasts in the Cocina Economica courtyard, and so may other things! ps I don’t miss the cojetes at all!

    • Barbara says:

      gigi, having moved from the cojete capital of lake chapala [san cristobal zapotitlan], i really DO kinda miss ’em! and i miss the roosters crowing at all hours of the day and night, as well. call me crazy! [oh, wait, i think you and chuck already do.]

      but you’re so right about those smiles! they’re just beautiful, aren’t they? people in the US may be more “friendly,” but i swear there’s nothing that beats that change from, as you say, “somber looking woman” to smiling local!

      ya’ll come back now, ya hear????

  2. Craig says:

    So where’s our man Chuck? Oh, here he is.

    • Barbara says:

      thanks, craig! after i ‘published’ the blog posting, i realized that i neglected to include the chuck berry link.

      then i got distracted [“oooh, look, a few drops of rain”] and forgot to go back and add it. thanks for the link!!!

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