I can’t believe we have been here 5 months. I also can’t believe that I haven’t managed a blog post since June, but….. here we are.
Our first month or two just felt like we were on an extended vacation and month 3 started to feel like groundhogs day. I decided to pick up some piece work to give me more to do while Lisa is contently working on her puzzle or living her best life in the Ocean. We did not start having guests until August so we had plenty of time to settle in. Since then, we have had either friends or family down on a pretty regular basis. First my my 3rd oldest son and his friend, then Lisa’s niece and her family came, then my second youngest and his girlfriend, then my best friend and her children (though they stayed at a resort up the road) but Lisa and I happily hosted their 25th wedding vow renewal at our house, at sunset, under the palapa-it was magical! I have my friends and work colleagues coming in tomorrow for a week, I am sure there will be work done, for tax purposes 😉 next up is my sister in law and her son, then my youngest will arrive the last week of November. Tired yet? My oldest son will make the trip at some point. We are going back to Washington to spend a month next summer so it may be until then that I see him but he calls me frequently so I am not complaining.
So what’s it been like? It has been great! I feel like I know the Cancun airport, Playa del Carmen and all the local cenotes like the back of my hand. It took me FOR EVER to get an RFC (tax ID) number to open a checking account but I finally got that done last month. It was a challenging experience since I have limited Spanish reading skills but the employees at the SAT office were helpful and patient. There was a local man there who could not read sitting next to me while we were filling out forms and he asked me what his paper said, I can’t describe the feeling that left me with. There is very much a class system in place here and dare I say that the original settlers of this land are treated the worst. You could draw parallels from the Mayans to the Native Americans except that here, the Mayans don’t have much protection from exploitations. Work environments, tools, etc. are very archaic and that is the typical job for a Mayan, a laborer. Watching a man at work with a pix axe-going at limestone- in 90 degree weather makes my work ethic look questionable, if not almost embarrassing. When we hired a local contractor to install a pergola for our car, this is exactly what I witnessed as well as several workers, sitting on the supporting beams of the pergola, nailing in sticks of wood by hand in the middle of a thunderstorm. A power tool was used once… Even for workers who are paid legally, the Mexican minimum wage is 172 pesos per day (about 8 usd) and I can tell you that the cost of food and gas down here is only slightly less expensive than in the States because we live in a tourist state but that doesn’t mean they get paid more. One more before I get off my soapbox, in Mexico, it is very common to have a housekeeper and for her to come several times a week (Once is good for us). The pay is more than the minimum wage (usually) but not by much. My neighbors maid offered to clean our house when our housekeeper was away once and we took her up on it. She showed up with her 12 year old daughter as she was her apprentice, she was teaching her how to correctly clean houses, make the beds, etc.. I know not all kids go to high school here (and by here, I mean Mexico, not this privileged little community that I live in), some stop at 6th grade so they can work and help support their families but to see what that looks like left me extremely humbled and full of guilt. It is, after all, only a fluke that I was born in the States and yes, white privilege is real, even here.
Going to the store, out to eat, driving, shopping etc. has all become very normal. When we first moved down, I was hypervigilant about everything, now I am only hypervigilant about some things. We have the water delivery schedule down as well as the Gas guy (Propane home) and it feels….like home!
We went to Oaxaca in July for my birthday, it was truly a unique experience. We were lucky enough to go during Guelaguetza! This is a celebration of traditions and culture from the surrounding communities. Let me tell you, Oaxacans are some amazing and proud people and they now how to party! The food, the historical tours, the food, the mezcal, the food, the cooking class, the food, the ruins of Monte Alban, the food…Yes, it was amazing! We had no idea the parade route would turn right in front of our hotel, Casa de Siete Balcones. The hotel purveyors set up the rooftop for us so we could watch. It was a once in a lifetime experience.
The prices of food and items in Oaxaca were close to half of what they are in Quintana Roo. We are very much looking forward to traveling throughout Mexico and hope to do so next year. As for now, we have set up our home here on a few different home exchange sites and have several upcoming trips. We are exchanging homes over Christmas/New Years with a couple from Manhattan and next spring, we have exchanges set up in Spain, France and Italy! So far this, BBYODO thing is really panning out 🙂