The Mexico We Have Found

Vic Pittman for

“Aren’t you afraid to live down in Mexico ?…Do you really think it is safe?”

(SAN BLAS, Mexico) – My wife Glenda and I live in the coastal town of San Blas in the state of Nayarit, Mexico about 1000 miles from the US border. This is not a Cancun or Cabo, this is the real deal, a Mexican fishing town relatively untouched by tourism.

In this town of about 9,000 people, there are maybe thirty “full-time” Gringos… maybe another two hundred that stay here during the winter, but have homes back in the US or Canada. We are definitely a minority here..this is a record of our experience here so far.

When we first announced our intentions to move “somewhere on the Pacific” in Mexico, our families were skeptical at first, then worried as they realized we were serious. “Havent you heard about all the beheadings?”

“There’s no way I would live down there!”

“You need to reconsider that just is not safe !” were among the comments we heard from well-meaning friends and family.

Nevertheless, we were tired of struggling just to make our house payment, and after seeing a few of my friends pass away, who all had plans to “retire one of these days and relax” , we decided to do something different. Our children are all grown and doing well so we were free to make the move.

The price of acting on impulse is that often you find yourself woefully unprepared. We came down here knowing virtually NO Spanish. It was like being a deaf-mute at first, but everyone was helpful and accommodating.

No one told us “If you are going to come to our country, learn the language, dammit!”….(perhaps they did in Spanish and we just didnt understand them).

The primary concern our friends and families had about our move was crime. Many felt that just because we were white, we would be singled out and victimized. One person suggested “a really nice gated community of mostly Canadians” (white) by Puerto Vallarta that was “safe” and “even had guards!” (I’m guessing the guards are Mexicans, which would seem to defeat the purpose.)

That was not at all what we wanted, though. We wanted to be minorities and see if we could assimilate and become part of the community despite our “gringo-ness’ and the fact that we stand out like the proverbial turds in the punchbowl, me with my height and shaved head (the latter seems to facinate kids to no end and has given me my nickname “Pelon”, which means bald) and Glenda’s mane of blonde hair and her many tattoos which caused one little girl to ask her mother if she were a “bruha”…a witch. ( as in Glenda the Good Witch of El Norte).

One guy who I would not call a friend, but an acqaintance in Oregon told me “Be careful..Mexicans will steal anything they can get their hands on. They are lazy, and if they can get something by stealing it, they will”.

Fortunately for us, the Mexicans here are evidently too lazy to even steal, because there has been every opportunity for someone to steal from us, and no one has. On top of our van, which is parked on the side of the road about 20 feet from our house, are almost always two fully equipped kayaks held on only by bungee cords.

These would bring an easy 3000 pesos each ( $250) in the next town down the road, but as I look out the window, I see they have survived yet another night in the mean streets of Mexico. Our carport is open… no garage door and our bicycles are there for the world to see…and we still have them.

When we ride them to the Mercado (market) we do not lock them up…no one else does either. In Guaymas, on the way down, we took some clothes to a “Lavanderia”.

Unlike American laundromats, here you drop off your clothes and pick them up later clean and folded and the bill is less than it would cost at a coin-op.

This time, I accidentally left a 100 peso bill in my pocket, which would be around a day’s wages for the worker there…. it was promptly returned, upon which we gave her half. My wife feels absolutely safe walking into town in the evening alone and has not encountered disrespectful behavior. She gets whistles (which are not considered rude here, but a compliment) and smiles but has never felt threatened.

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