My husband and I are often asked why we have chosen to live full time in Mexico. Since we have been living in and exploring not only Mexico, but many other wonderful countries in Latin America over the last twenty years, it is not a question to answer easily. My primary answer is that I feel most at home in Mexico, both in my heart and my soul.
I don't completely understand where this feeling comes from since my family heritage is English to the core. My husband is of Mexican descent. He was born to parents who immigrated to the United States as children and who became naturalized citizens of the country they loved. His upbringing in Southern California was typically American and the family joke was that I am more Hispanic than he is!
We have lived in four different locations in Mexico including Merida, Oaxaca City, San Miguel de Allende, and Puerto Vallarta. All four are wonderful and unique in their own right. We have decided recently, however, to settle down in Puerto Vallarta where our nomadic journey began twenty years ago. Here are some reasons why I choose to live in Mexico, this large, diverse, and beautiful country.
The Mexican people are so welcoming that they make me feel immediately at home.
Without a doubt the people of Mexico are the very essence of this amazing country. I love their passion for life, their kindness, and their friendliness. They make me feel welcome to their country and life and without them, my love affair with Mexico would not be the same.
Different generations and still enjoying each others company in Mexico.
The Huichol people struggle to maintain their culture and traditions, but enjoy visiting the beach from their home in the Sierra Madre mountains.
FAMILIES AND CHILDREN
Three generations of the Don Pedro family enjoying the summer in PV!
The hope of the future is in the next generation and these children in Merida are preparing for the challenge.
Mexicans place a high value on hierarchy and structure in family matters. Especially outside of cities, families are typically large and Mexicans are very conscious of their responsibilities to immediate family members and extended family such as cousins and even close friends. Parents are treated with a high degree of respect as is the family in general. Typically, generations of families live in the same neighborhood or in the same house which reflects the dedication to supporting family members and displaying loyalty no matter what.
In my opinion, this face could sell anything including a horseback ride!
Teaching English to the enthusiast primary students in Merida was great fun.
Meeting local senoritas at an outdoor evening concert in San Miguel de Allende.
Oaxaca City definitely knows how to celebrate and their fiestas are outstanding!
Mexico is a country of celebrations and fiestas. They run the gamut from patriotic holidays to religious holidays. Some have jokingly said they do not know how any work gets done in Mexico with the Mexican calendar so full of holidays and celebrations. But believe me when I say that the Mexican people have mastered how to balance work and celebrations and they do it superbly! Some of the most special Mexican celebrations include the following:
The Day of the Dead is celebrated on November 2nd and is a day set aside to remember and honor those who have died. Carnival is also celebrated in many communities throughout Mexico to mark the period before Lent.
There is nothing like a parade in Mexico!
Checking out the amazing geography of Mexico with a friend!
Mexico is a land of extremes, with high mountains and deep canyons in the center of the country, sweeping deserts in the north, and dense rain forests in the south and east.
Popocatépetl is an active volcano, located in the states of Puebla, Mexico, and Morelos in Central Mexico and lies in the eastern half of the Trans-Mexican volcanic belt. "El Popo" has been recently "showing off"!
Mountains cover much of Mexico. Between the Sierra Madre Oriental mountain range in the east and the Sierra Madre Occidental in the west lie small mountain ranges on the Central Plateau.
There is no shortage of water in the sub-tropical areas of Mexico which includes the magnificent Cascadas de Agua Azul (Blue Water Waterfalls) near the archaeological ruins of Palenque in the state of Chiapas.
The Altiplano (Spanish for "high plain") region of Mexico is both stark and lovely as seen in El Charco del Ingenio nature preserve above the town of San Miguel de Allende.
The rain forests and coastal wetlands of eastern Mexico are home to thousands of tropical plant species and elusive animals like jaguars and the RESPLENDENT QUETZAL and were a wonder when visiting San Cristobal de las Casas in the state of Chiapas.
The northern region and the high central desert region of Mexico are full of plant and animal species that have found ways to survive the harsh environment.
The lovely colonial city of Xico is located in the central part of the state of Veracruz. It produces coffee, tropical fruit, wine, handicrafts, and other products and is a delightful place to visit.
Colonial cities were built in Mexico after the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. Many of them were built on routes which enabled the transport of silver and other commodities to the capital of the country, Mexico City, in the central highlands of the country.
When the Spanish arrived in the New World they not only brought their language and religion. They also carried with them the Spanish architectural design layout for creating towns which would eventually became cities in the colonial world. This design footprint was a straight grid system where streets were perpendicular to each other and which radiated out of the town center which was known as the plaza (public square) or zocalo. The plaza was also anchored by the Spanish Catholic Church. This pattern was repeated throughout Mexico and most of the other countries in Latin America where the Spanish established their presence.
The canary yellow church in the colonial city of San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas is certainly an eye-opener.
Mother and daughter visiting the charming town of Villa de Etla outside of Oaxaca City in the state of Oaxaca.
We have lived in three colonial cities in three different geographical areas. They were all different and unique and we loved our experiences in each of them. Our first experience living in a colonial city was in Merida, the capital of Yucatan, after returning from living in Argentina. We were ready to get back to our "dear Mexico" and Merida, commonly known as the "White City," turned out to be one of our favorite living experiences.
The parades of Carnival in Merida are stunning as are the lovely ladies of this friendly city.
Merida is known as the "White City" because of its white clothing which is in response to the hot tropical climate of the Yucatan. At least that is my unofficial theory!
From Merida we moved to the colonial city of Oaxaca City which was in total contrast from Merida and we loved it. The proximity to nearby traditional villages and their respective weekly market days were one of the highlights of living in Oaxaca City.
Since poinsettias are native to Mexico it is quite appropriate to have a Christmas tree of them on the plaza in Oaxaca City!
The Church and former monastery of Santo Domingo de Guzmán in Oaxaca City was begun in 1575 and constructed over a period of 200 years. It is one of my personal favorites.
Visiting nearby indigenous towns around Oaxaca City such as Ocotlán was part of the great experience living in the area.
After living in Oaxaca City we started a new living routine. We spent the "high season" winters in San Miguel de Allende. I fell in love with this charming and lovely town with its history, culture, beauty, and friendly people.
This is one of my favorite photographs which we took just by chance from our bedroom window one morning.
After loving and living in San Miguel de Allende during the winter months, we choose to live the "low season" summers in Puerto Vallarta. This was a perfect combination for us and I loved this arrangement for five years.
The crown of the Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe in Puerto Vallarta reminds me of the Spanish heritage of Mexico.
Living a nomadic life was often challenging, but returning to Puerto Vallarta where our journey began has not been exactly tough work!
Exploring the history and culture of Mexico is one of my passions. I love learning about the ancient cultures dating back to Mayan, Aztec and Toltec civilizations. And I simply adore visiting the archaeological ruins in Mexico.
My husband calls our visits to the ancient sites "visiting the Old Folks and their rocks." I like to believe that he has found these experiences, if not always his "cup of mate," somewhat interesting. I am so very appreciative of his patience while I indulged my passion and I thank you mucho! Three of our favorite archaeological sites were Palenque (also my husband's personal favorite), Uxmal, and Tulum.
My husband visiting the "Old Folks and their rocks"at Uxmal, Yucatan.
Without a doubt the location of the archaeological ruins of Tulum on the Caribbean Coast is without compare!
The detail of the carved stone in Uxmal is more than just "Old Rocks"!
BEACHES AND OCEAN
A sparkling end of the day in Puerto Vallarta on the Bay of Banderias.
Since my husband and I were both born and raised in Southern California it is probably only natural that we have always gravitated to the ocean and its beaches. We discovered Puerto Vallarta on one of our driving vacations from So Cal while we were still employed. We were immediately captivated by its charm and beauty. So it was no surprise when my husband suggested we move to Mexico he suggested Puerto Vallarta. It was the base for the beginning of our "nomadic journey" and now is our base for our "nomadic retirement."
The beauty of crashing waves on a "quiet" beach is magic for me.
Happiness is snorkeling with my husband and having the fish pretty much to ourselves.
There's nothing like an early summer storm to make this stand-up body boarder happy!
El Niño has definitely been visiting us this summer in Puerto Vallarta.
Don Pedro is one of the"locals" who likes to hang out with us!
on the coast of Guerrero, Mexico.
ART AND COLORS OF MEXICO
The colors of Mexico include a riot of brilliant reds, blues, greens, yellows, oranges, and purples. There is nothing subtle about the colors found in this vibrant country. An example of this can be found on the street art of Mexico which I find very appealing. So much so that I created a blog posting to share this art form.
There is something very special about walking down a random street and seeing colorfully painted street art, or murals, by artists who are truly gifted. Street art often reflects social, cultural, and political views and because it is inexpensive to create and to view it is accessible to people of all backgrounds, interests, and persuasions.
Embroidered cotton garments, wool shawls and outer garments with Pre-Hispanic designs, colorful woven baskets, and rugs are some of the common items associated with colorful Mexican folk art. Two of Mexico's most famous artists are Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera and their paintings include the vibrant colors and depictions of life in Mexico. Not only is their art colorful, but their personal life and relationship was definitely colorful!
Sunrise and sunset are my favorite times of the day which mark the beginning and the end of the day. In the morning the sun reaches up to paint the sky in pinks, oranges, and purples. At sunset the sun slowly disappears over the horizon taking with it the colors that welcomed the day. Simply magical!
A dreamy sunrise welcomes the day over the jungle in Puerto Vallarta.
The incredibly vibrant and shocking colors of sunset are stunning!
Mexican food dishes vary widely based on income level and social class. The diet of working-class Mexicans includes staples such as corn or wheat tortillas, along with beans, rice, tomatoes, chili peppers and chorizo, a type of pork sausage. Much of our home meals are based on these traditional food elements.
Mexican cuisine is much more than the ubiquitous taco and all of it is DELICIOSA!
Many, but not all, Mexicans love spicy foods full of heat from a vast variety of chilis. (In the USA and Canada, spellings with one "l" are preferred: chile or chili (plural: chiles or chilis.) The diets of middle and upper income Mexicans are becoming more and more similar with the diets of Americans and Europeans and include a great variety of food items prepared in a wide range of culinary styles with regional differences and specialties.
And for total indulgence just feast your eyes on these culinary delights!
A seafood platter to die for! A picture is worth a 1000 words, si?
A stuffed chili which looks too gorgeous to eat!
I hope you have enjoyed my favorite things about why we choose to live in Mexico. This list is in no way complete, but should give you a good idea why we love our life in this warm and wonderful country. New adventures and experiences in Mexico keep us young in spirit, active, and enjoying life. For us, life cannot get much better! Saludos, Laura
I remember hearing many years ago that a picture is worth a thousand words. Those words definitely contributed to and inspired me in the creation of MEXICO AND BEYOND: LAURA'S PHOTO JOURNEY. I hope you have enjoyed this visit to Mexico and I look forward to seeing you again in the near future.