Janet: Polish/Mexican Connection
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Mexico, etc.
My husband has been coming to the Mayan Riviera for over twenty years…to Puerto Morelos for at least 16 of those, as he preferred the small village feel to the large touristy flavor of Cancun. I am a second grade teacher from the Seattle area and Matt, who works for the city, is from Minneapolis (where EVERYONE goes to Cancun yearly to escape briefly from the harsh winter weather!). In Seattle we usually go to Hawaii or just to Southern California. Matt is most interested in relocating because of the tropical climate Puerto graciously extends to all.
Being another one of those internet success stories, we married a little over two years ago. At the time, Matt had already been in negotiations for purchasing a home in the small Pescadores section of Puerto but the deal fell through. After we married, we kept checking online for properties and found last April, what was for us, the perfect little casa. He retires in a year, and his 20-year-old dream of living in Mexico for the winter months is about to come true! No more two-week visits! This is Mexican living on a shoestring, with just retirement money to rely on, so our blog is very realistic about costs and expenses.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
After our last two-week stay in February this year, I realized that I had lots of pictures of our escapades, but no commentary with which to document them! We were beginning our travels around the Yucatan as well, and making some wonderful discoveries together. It didn’t seem right not to share! I also appreciated all the information I gained from reading other people’s blogs in preparation for our trips, and thought I might be able to give some insight for someone else sometime. We have a huge undertaking ahead of us, getting the home ready and adapting to our new surroundings, and we would like to take everyone along with us on the journey.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
Several that I have yet to write! They are in my brain but not sorted out…the flea market in Cancun and our trip across the Yucatan—stay tuned for those—I promise lots of pictures to go with the commentary. And all the pictures of the house remodel. I love “before” and “after” pictures.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Mexico differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
OH MY, YES! I have had several melt downs (at one point I was going to WALK home to the US!), wondering what we have gotten ourselves into…I have not been traveling to Mexico for a quarter of a century as Matt has, so it is ALL new to me. I haven’t been anywhere in Mexico yet! I have only visited touristy spots chosen by several cruise ship trips! But that is why this blog is so important, so that I can chronicle how my feelings and attitudes change as my comfort level increases. The difficulties are with ME, not with the Mayan people nor the country nor the town…I have a tremendous respect for their way of life—that is why we want to be more than tourists there. But the language barrier is extremely frustrating for me, as I love to talk and ask questions. And I long to talk to the children!! I just smile for now, and say, “Hola!” Learning the language is at the top of my list. In contrast, Matt is more comfortable in Puerto than in Minnesota. Hmm, maybe that is one of the reasons we have such interesting experiences—he is seasoned, and I am a complete newbie. The climate change has inherent challenges that we are only beginning to address and understand…again, a process…
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Mexico? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
Wow, excellent question. It is a continuously changing dynamic. My personality demands that I know all the scenarios in advance, so I can be in control----what a great way to STRETCH myself in that direction and learn to relax, and trust that things can work out in time. Matt is so good in that way, so confident in his abilities to adjust and deal with whatever comes. We discuss everything thoroughly and then jump in!
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
I still love the story of us renting a taxi and the driver, Pascal, to come with us to one of the Walmarts in Playa del Carmen buy our new washing machine, then stuffing it in the back of the vehicle to get it back to Puerto. AND, because that was so much fun, we went back and got our bed the same way! That time I had my camera ready!
Oh and then there are the gecko stories…the things that Matt could tell you about my adventures with reptiles and mosquitoes…but I have sworn him to silence…
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Mexico?
Visit MANY times, taking your time get to know the different areas in order to best decide where you want to be--once you make the decision it is very difficult to change it…love the people and learn the language…ask questions of everyone—locals, tourists, business owners…SMILE and don’t give up!
How is the expat community in Mexico? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
The people in Puerto are fabulous, as they are also in Cancun, Playa, Merida, Celestun…no problems with finding others to talk with, laugh with, ask questions of…one of the best parts of the experience for me…
How would you summarize your expat life in Mexico in a single, catchy sentence?
Without thinking much, what comes to mind is…Never a dull moment!