How to Expat

What an absolutely marvelous day today was! I got up and did all the usual pleasing things: Watched the sunrise. Drank a cup of strong black Mexican coffee. Ate a couple of hardboiled eggs with some homemade hot sauce. Then had a little yogurt with granola. Checked the news on the internet.

I was running low on some key supplies so about 9:30 I walked the three blocks over to the Mercado and bought tomatoes, onions, avocados, a kilo of fresh unpasteurized farmer’s cheese, and some baby white potatoes.

Got home changed into my running shorts and caught the combi for the 20 minute ride out into the country where I had a strong 50 minute run. On the combi ride back into town I got to tease a couple of little kids which is always fun. I mean you’re crammed into a van with upwards of 20 people so it only makes sense to interact with the children that are sitting closest to you. And parents here in Mexico enjoy it when people take an interest in their little bundles of joy. (Unlike the US.)

So the real purpose of this post was to scribble down a couple of observations. First, every morning before I get up I am thankful for my little life in this obscure corner of Michoacán. And when I hit the street to run some errands or buy some food I am reminded of just how much I like these people. And I try to make my appreciation known to each and everyone I meet. Like I smile and talk to everyone that stops me on the street. And people reciprocate.

For example. I had lunch at Beto’s Carnita’s – I had a kidney taco, a snout taco, and a taco made from the crunchy ear – and I was patted on the shoulder half a dozen times during the course of my lunch. People wished me a good meal, asked me how I was, or patted me on the shoulder to just say hello.

What is not to love about that? I confess that on several times over the course of these past three years that I’ve literally had to blink away the tears for the overwhelming kindnesses that these gentle people have demonstrated to me. For instance, on my old street, the shoe/sandal repairman, Arturo refuses to take my money. And he has done repairs for me a half dozen times.

Or like on my way home from the Mercado this afternoon a very shriveled up ancient old woman the color of tobacco was standing on the corner and when she saw me her eyes lit up and she broke into an enormous toothy smile that swallowed up half her face and she, ‘Hello guero. Good to see you. Have a nice day,’ then patted me on the arm. I of course stopped and spent a minute to exchange complimentary greetings with her like I always do.

Another example. Another dear old woman – must be early 80’s – who I hadn’t seen since I moved houses came up to me a few days ago and wrapped her arms around me, gave me a big hug, kissed my cheek and almost wouldn’t let me go, asking me over and over, ‘where have you been?’

I adore these people. Like the 90 year old man I saw yesterday on his way into the cathedral. He lives up in my old neighborhood and has an amusing smile like some ancient leprechaun. He shook my hand and asked me how I was and I of course warmly reciprocated.

So my other observation is you get what you give. Give love and receive love. If you want to expat to some foreign place my advice to you is stay the hell away from other members of your tribe (because all expats do when they gather together is to complain to one another and talk about what things cost) and find a local place with local people. And then earnestly try to repay every kindness with a kindness. And you, like me, will be truly blessed.

PS – And inexplicably, every day here is truly magically new and different (although it really isn’t). It’s just my perception playing delightful tricks with my mind.

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