What I gave up by choosing Mexico

Things I Gave Up when I Moved to Mexico (that I don’t even miss)

 

☀ Indoor plumbing– Instead, we have an open air outdoor bathroom, with a beautiful mountain view, flush toilet and gravity fed hot/cold shower. Dishes are done in a sink on the porch (same gravity fed, hot/cold set up) and laundry is machine washed and hung outside to dry year round.

 

☀ Central heat– Instead we have a fireplace that I built after our first winter proved that Mexico is not always hot! We have several months of cold nights that bring frost, chilly morning mountain air and rain season to contend with. We have an abundant supply of wood here on the land. No central heat means no heat bills! We wear layers and use our fireplace accordingly.

 

☀ Amazon.com and other internet shopping. We live in a house with no address, on a street with no name outside of a village that doesn’t receive mail delivery. I no longer have endless access to an overwhelming variety of goods. I have learned that the solutions to many of life’s problems can not be purchased. Instant gratification has been traded in for creative problem solving. I have become more thoughtful towards what I purchase and take better care of those things because they can not easily be replaced. More creativity less excess.

 

☀ Convenience foods and fad diets– Instead of running to the store to satisfy cravings, buying packaged prepared foods to save time or buying too much of the odd sale item, I buy what’s locally produced,  seasonal and available. Not as part of a “be-green campaign” but because that’s life. Imports and off season produce don’t exist here. Processed/packaged “American” foods are expensive. Fancy coffee stands haven’t made it to this part of the world. Fresh and local foods are dirt cheap. This was not a tough decision.

 

☀ Closets, cupboard and other out of sight-out of mind crap storage. Everything we own is on display. We have shelves instead of dressers. Nothing is hidden. While this did create some initial distress, rather than buy or build systems to contain our things…. I decided instead, to get rid of many of those things. You only need to store the stuff you have, and why store things you don’t use?

 

☀ Paying rent/standard utility bills– We own this house. We own this land (whatever that means). We don’t pay taxes. Cooking is propane or wood fire. Basic prepay cell phone is cheap. Our only utility bill is the power which sits around $5 usd every two months. Our consumption is very low. We run a refrigerator, occasional lights and an electric water pump once a day. We charge our cellphones. Eventually, we will switch to solar and eliminate this bill as well.

 

☀ High speed internet/WIFI– For the first two years we had no signal whatsoever coming to our house. Cell reception was sketchy. That was challenging, I had to go to the city to use the internet. Then around six months ago, a new tower went up, and now I have (slow) internet on my phone. This is not unlimited, however, and I am allowed a fairly low monthly amount of megabytes unless I want to spend more. Which I don’t. This means no videos, no streaming and I have to be aware of my use. As long as I use the internet as a tool, rather than a mindless distraction, this is not a problem.

 

☀ Products– Mexico is very different when it comes to health and beauty or products for the home. Lots of fragrance, chemicals and artificial. It took me a full year to find unscented toilet paper. Almost three years into the Mexico journey, I have learned to either make it, or live without it.

 

☀ Trash/recycle service– That’s right. We are personally responsible for all of our waste. No truck to haul it away, no center to drop it off at. We have reduced our intake a great deal by using things like reusable cloth shopping bags, cloth diapers, buying certain things in bulk and by becoming conscious about packaging. The non-burnables that do accumulate here get stuffed into plastic bottles and stored. When we have enough of these garbage filled bottles, we will use them with concrete (in place of bricks) to build an animal house. Our family is choosing not to add to the landfill.

 

☀ Laws, rules and arbitrary standards and expectations– We do not need building permits or inspectors. We do not need to worry about homeschool laws or vaccines or CPS. We don’t need to ask permission or explain or register. There are no Jones’s to keep up with. We live the way we want, with the ultimate freedom to make our own decisions. We are accountable for how our choices impact our health, family, land, community. It’s not up to anyone else to decide for us.

 

☀ Fast paced living and running around everyday– We live on land. We homestead. The children run free.  We have zero scheduled activities. We rarely check the time. We eat when we’re hungry and sleep when we’re tired. We garden, do “school”, make things, do diy home improvement projects, cook real food…. We don’t have a TV. We don’t make daily trips out. We live a slow, relaxed lifestyle full of hard work that  pays off. I see where my energy goes and it directly benefits myself, my family and my environment.

 

This list is not all inclusive. There are many small things that add up to create the big picture. Leaving my life behind to move to the middle of nowhere in a developing country- with kids- was a scary, exciring, crazy leap. And it is paying off!!!

Advertisements

Night time is the right time

Passing through police check points on the way to the road side taco stand. My favorite place to eat locally. A truck full of men who have been picking avocados all day overflows into the tarp covered kitchen. The bare bulbs light up their faces as they drink cans of modelo and eat like starving dogs. I watch them all and realize that besides the woman cooking, I am the only woman there. It is dark. Cumbia blares from the speaker and tinga drips off my fingers from my messy one handed grip on the tostada. It’s good. And I hold my breath so slightly until they all pile into the back of that old pick-up and drive away. Knowing that life slides sideways sometimes and I am in Michoacan.

Sea Turtles and Freebirth

I witnessed a mama sea turtle give birth in the sand. She layed her 80+ eggs into a hole she dug above the water line. They say that these turtles tune into the vibrations of the earth, and return to the exact place that they hatched, to freebirth their own babies. The next generation. She was wild and beautiful and knew exactly what to do.

 

I witnessed, within the same sacred momets, the destructive nature of humans. The ultimate interruption. A perfect reflection of the bigger picture of birth from the human perspective.

 

I held my breath as a crowd gathered. Loud voices overpowered the sound of the surf. Cell phone cameras inched ever closer until the mama turtle was surrounded at closer than arms length. Someone dug the sand away and held the camera inches away from her body as she released her eggs. The crowed follow suit, and soon she had many cameras that close.

 

I felt ill watching this. She was in the throws of labor and had no choice but to carry on, despite the chaos that surrounded her. I have very strong opinons about unassisted childbirth and respecting-allowing the natural process. This is the continuum as it is held within our dna. I saw mothers with cell phone cameras, interrupting this birth space, in the same way that their own births had likely been interrupted. I was powerless to stop the hungry crowd and eventually walked away.

 

I have no pictures of this wild sea turtle birth, just as I have no pictures of my own freebirth. This was a rare and potent moment and held tremendous meaning despite the significant human disruption. It showed me exactly where we are as a collective culture and how out of balance we are at the foundation.

 

It’s time to wake up and shift back into a place of balance and harmony with all of our relations.

 

So walk in beauty. The deepest shift begins with birth. Unassisted. Uninterrupted. Wild and free.

The story

I was asked what my character in a book would do next. If I were not me, but rather reading about me in a plot. Well I couldn’t sleep lastnight and I saw it. It was “me”, with a VW bus (aka combi, in this area) loaded with kids and food and camping gear. Cozy spot built into the back. Pulled up ocean side, with the door open and the sea breeze coming in. Kids laughing. Fruit dripping down chins. Bare toes digging into wet sand and giggling. I saw the unaltered night sky, millions of stars and camp fire smoke. Sleeping bags and head lamps. Wet clothes hanging on a string. Trees. The glow of perfection. Life expanding in exponential beauty. Waterfalls, fields and cenotes. Hot springs and jungles. Ancient pyramids and turquoise waters. Safety. Peace. Freedom. Highways ribboning behind me with music playing and fluffy clouds shaped like dragons and sea creatures. Then a return, to center, to home again, to my sheep and washing machine. To warm baths and gardens and memories that will last lifetimes…. I saw all of this for her, the character that is “me”, and I know that she IS the ME without all the brain fog, fear and limitations. So what am I going to make? Where am I going and what am I pulling in? Why am I imposing these limits on myself, when I never would dream of imposing those same limitations on a fictional character? Who am I, anyway???

I am her. In every way. And I am making it.

Evolution of Self

Evolution of self~ return to center

I met Valentin early one morning as he stood outside my apartment window on a ladder. He was part of a roofing crew and had woken me up with his rapid fire spanish. When I opened the window to get a better look, he said hello but kept working. As the job wrapped up, we decided to go out on a date. Later that month I bleached my hair platinum blonde and updated my wardrobe, ditching my hippy garb in favor of more “Mexican” attire. It was a fun change of pace and nothing I hadn’t done before. A year later our first daughter was born, followed every two years by another, until we had three plus my big kid. I slowly ditched the colored hair and fashion fabric, and began returning to myself over those years….

Until we moved to rural Michoacan.

For the first year, I minimized my true nature in order to assimilate. I made myself meak as I absorbed the new world  around me. I kept my mouth shut and my ideas hidden, I tried my best to play the game and blend into the rural Mexican scenery. I hand washed, cooked on my fire and learned the local dialect. I never drove myself anywhere and didn’t drink. I even tried to keep my tattoos covered at times. And, despite never failing at anything in my entire life, I failed miserably at trying to master the art of making nixtamal and tortillas.
I asked the locals for help and advice, attempted to make friends in my new language and kept my children tidy. I tried to cultivate my skills as the smiling hostess and accept the double standards for men and women. I listened to the people, who lived here in this valley because they may know better than me, and they told me to do this or not do that, even though it often went against my intuition. I never took into account that their experience was limited. As time passed, I realized that despite my best efforts, none of this was working. My repeated failure was evident in everything I did here. I began to internalize this misalignment and successfully trapped myself in a multi-layered cage. It took two years to see that I had done this to myself.
By the second year, I had begun to see the pitfalls of the deeply ingrained cultural ways that I was trying desperately to mimic. I became radical and a great upheaval followed. I pulled my children out of the rural school and began homeschooling. I quit making tortillas, sold my corn grinding mill and I began cooking non-mexican food in my kitchen. This was met with a tsunami of disapproval that tried to knock me to my knees. Time and time again, I withstood the cultural battering and didn’t crumble in the wake. I started doing yoga again and envisioned my life a little different. But still there was this ever present energy of fighting against the norm, proving myself and feeling angry that the people here didn’t support and couldn’t relate to anything I was about. I was constantly in battle mode and unable to clearly focus on anything that mattered to me. I was shooting myself in the foot with each step forward. It all felt so heavy.

I remember two years ago, my oldest son said something that has stuck with me. He said, “mom, what you are looking for doesn’t exist there anymore. It hasn’t been there for a long time…” I wasn’t ready to accept that truth, in it’s depth and accuracy, until this point in the journey. The ramifications of acknowledging that the dream that I was seeking for years simply doesn’t exist in this time-space are at once overwhelming and liberating. This powerful truth is requiring me to reexamine everything. My whole life. Everything I have been moving towards for years, even before making the leap to move to Mexico. The old ways are gone. There are still echoes and reflections of these hanging around, but time has moved forward. People have moved on and where I stand today has finally inched it’s way into the American 1950’s and become stuck. The reality I am facing, two and a half years later, is that this is not where I am at in my own spiritual-physical-emotional evolution. I have evolved well past the 1950’s and continue to evolve rapidly, no thanks to where my feet are planted. This, is the struggle that has been hiding beneath everything, discreetly demolishing the entire Mexican experience.
My rural Mexican fantasy dream life has exploded. Now the question is, what can be salvaged? I do not believe that this is a total loss, although it has certainly felt like it at times. I am feeling out an alternate route here, and have taken the first steps in returning to what I know. I know I love camping, which is different than just living on land in a rural location. I know I love gardening, which is not the same as subsistence farming. I know I love reading and writing and creating, all of which are viewed as an absurd waste of time in this community, unless they create wealth. I believe in health and wellness and beauty. Not in a superficial way, but in a lasting, deep and natural way. And here I am, in the heart of Mexico, surrounded by the epitome of natural beauty…. And yet for years, it has remained untouchable.
Many of you will read these words and think, “I knew moving to Mexico was a mistake…” But it wasn’t. The mistake I made could have happened anywhere. The mistake was abandoning my sense of self. I lost myself when I tried to become a part of this place. A place I didn’t even understand….
I had to dive deep into the underworld to find my drifting consciousness. A painful solo journey into the abyss. I had no idea that I would find myself, intact, amongst those jagged rocks of misconception. Nor that I was even searching for that. I just felt like an insurmountable obstacle was keeping me from living and loving in my truest way. I knew I had to face it but had no idea what it was. How strange that it was my own dream and my momentous attempt to reach it……….
Here I Am! I am finally ready to shed those old worn out dreams and forge a new trail.  At this time, it’s important for those who choose to walk with me to know that I turn on a dime when least expected. I veer off when I see an alluring fork in the road and I give myself permission to change my mind at any time along the way. In a not so hypothetical sense, I can do whatever I want. I create and follow beauty. I live inspired. And if it doesn’t feel right, I am not obligated to participate. Those who know me, know I have been here before. Cycling through the ages with new energy and information. 
I am not lost…. The path I choose is never straight.  Now the wild waters are calling me.

car seats, rain and bursting the illusion

In searching for my long forgotten freedom, I realized that a car seat was an obvious part of the equation that I had somehow managed to overlook. In my quest to leave the civilized world behind, I had actually caged myself in the rural Mexican 1950’s illusion. I became an isolated housewife, barefoot and pregnant, cooking and washing with no way out. 

The notorious child restraining device of the industrial world, was all at once a symbol of freedom and mobility. The very thing that I had shunned, had become my way out.
We loaded up in the truck  late in the day, as ominous black thunderheads were gathering. Too late, I thought, to find a deal at the tiangus. As we parked and began to walk, the air was thick and humid; we were all sweating. The sun was gone and the odd light was a sure sign of what was coming. We jumped in a taxi that took us across the city and dropped us off at the giant crap sale. Multi colored tarps overhead creating strange lights and shadows on the piles of made in China nic-nacs, vegetables and assorted used items. We practically ran through the long, crowded walkways, dragging children, looking here and there for a good deal on a used car seat. But as I suspected, we were too late. The people were rolling up their junk, in a hurried attempt to flee before the skies opened up. Thunder rolled as tarps crumpled and snapped. Hand trucks piled ten feet high barely missing my sandaled feet. This was chaos.
We decided to leave. We hopped into a combi that was empty except for a giant speaker behind the back seat. Reggeton and cumbia blared as we made our way through congested city streets. The children were dancing and I was enjoying the craziness of it all. Somehow, that big bass was rattling me out of the depression that had settled around me in the past months. Maybe this is what I need, I thought to myself….. Maybe everything else would be ok if I just came into the city periodically and rode around in the ‘Cumbia Combi’….. Just as the thought began to gel, the door flew open and it was time to jump out with all the kids into the hectic street scene.
We walked quickly back to the truck as thunder cracked overhead. As we drove across town, the drops began to fall. The store I remembered that sold used baby things appeared to be gone, and we were left driving around somewhat aimlessly, towards a street full of crap stores and funeral wreaths. As we rounded a corner on the top of a hill, we were struck by the sound of a bomb. Lightning bolts hit metal poles on both sides of the truck, electrifying the air and making every passenger jolt and scream. The sound was enormous. Valentin clucked his tongue at us and kept driving slowly as the sky unzipped. The windshield wipers barely made a difference, I could not see where we were going at all. The street quickly became a river and we watched two buckets and a wheel barrel slide by. A man was chasing them with no luck. We watched the brown, garbage filled water swirl around us as we inched along. We pulled into the bodega parking lot and waited. The storm raged on, people with inside-out umbrellas dashed by and shopping carts were swept away. We wondered about the drains and moved the truck to a high spot in the parking lot. The rain hammered the roof as we all peered out the cloudy windows in disbelief. 
Eventually the rain slowed down and we all went into the large super store. There were buckets and puddles everywhere. We found the car seat section, picked out a brand new one, and some hot-n-ready chicken nuggets as a “treat” for the kids. They devoured them. As we were waiting to check out, I wandered into the coffee shop in the front, contemplating blowing off my usual health regime in favor of a milky, sugar-laden coffee drink. I decided not to buy one but did notice that they sell fresh whole bean coffee by the kilo! So I bought two varities, Chiapas and Uruapan.  This new found coffee source eliminates the need to run through the disgusting, chaotic “chicken market” as I call it each month. And these days I’m all about making things peaceful and easy.
The drive home was quiet. Kids were tired from the adventure and unusually sedated from the fast food. There were trees and boulders in the road here and there from the heavy rain, but nothing impassable. We made it home before dark. Fish tacos and beer hit the spot and we discussed our plans for the hot springs trip next week. For the first time in months, I felt myself relax a little. The heaviness of the self-imposed, rural, third world mind-trap was beginning to lift. 
The deepest truth is that I did this to myself. I came here to find something real. But in my attempt to become an accepted part of this community, my real self all but disappeared. How could anything around me be real if I, myself, was not real. I also noticed, standing in that aisle full of car seats, how much my relationship with money-abundance has changed. My perception of what I can or can’t afford, self-worth and what really matters to me, versus perceived limitations and cultural standards. I have unconsciously taken in many unwanted beliefs over the last couple of years and it’s time to dump those, once and for all. I have become complacent and that’s not where I want to be. In my persuit of freedom, I actually lost it. And the crazy thing is, no matter who I am, or what I do, or whether or not I change… I will never fit in here. I will not become a seamless part of this place and nor do I want to. This is not why I came here. 
At this time I’m slamming on the brakes and returning to what I know. I can really do whatever I want. The only thing that has been stopping me, is me.

Dispersing the Illusion…

Though this may be irrelevant to everyone reading this, I have decided to go public, with the intention of spreading the energy of my own transformation far and wide. I am deeply supported and setting these intentions under the full moon lunar eclipse, taking root on the complete solar eclipse during the new moon. These are potent times to create and release.

~~~~

I am coming into a time-space where my imprint is moving back to center.

I am moving forward embodying loving self-care, consciously moving through each moment in a slow and intentional way.

I am honoring my deepest soul-agreements to restore the balance. At the cost of convenience and societal acceptance.

I will no longer be putting the needs/wants of others ahead of my own. I will not spread myself thin or stifle myself to make others comfortable.

I will be leaning towards low-tech, potentially disconnecting my radiation device, in favor of listening to the trees.

This and so much more…..

May we all return to the center and walk in beauty.