Thursday, December 25, 2008

Small thanks for being able to raise my children. "How Lucky we are" ooooooh

December 24th, I wrote

Listening to music inspires me. I want to cry in gratitude that Enrique has given me the gift of spending the last 4-5 years with my children caring for my family and raising them. I wish my son was with me for the past 1 and ½ but I am still grateful that I had a husband that worked and supported me and allowed me to do that during that time.

Thank you god.

Riding the bus rocks! Time for an epiphany.

December 23, 2008

This story is about my struggle. Amand is right! She said to me 2 times “ It seems like working is lifting your spirit” Often I hear something and I file it away somewhere in my brain in the “I’ve got to contemplate that idea.. "area.

Coming from Amanda this is a great and meaningful statement.

I think she is right.

I believe that having alone time or even alone time with other people around gives a person perspective.

You can go inside of yourself and find
or get back to,
the person who you know deep down,
or the person who you want to truly be.
If you go too long without connecting to yourself you can become lost in all the commotion of daily life.

For me riding the bus has always been some of the best alone times I’ve ever had. Because I can not only contemplate, but I can write it down, unlike when you are driving. It is fun to drive alone because you can sing at the top of your lungs and scream and talk to yourself if you fee like it. But… riding the bus you can write.

Taking the bus rocks! You can be alone with your ideas and plan.

Thank you god for giving me this time to be alone. To go back to my creative side and my pure optimism and spirituality.

Babies on Mopeds.. whats the issue here? Looks normal to me.

Now since I don't have as much time on the computer (aside from work) I journal on the bus:

this is from December 21, 2008

Today I look around as I go into work and I know
I’ve merged with the culture
I know because I see the families with babies on mopeds with no helmets and children in the back of trucks, or even families in the back of trucks all sitting on plastic lawn chairs as they drive down the road, hair blowing in the wind and laughing.

And I see insane taxi drivers running or jumping lights and people wearing pants and coats in 80 degree weather… and… none of this seems strange to me.

That’s how I know.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Observations of the Mexican Public School System

Here is a picture of June last year -Note: I've been home schooling her this year. but Now that I am working we are thinking about putting her back into school. (it costs money - like 50 dollars a year, plus uniform and a bunch of misc. expenses)

This information is how I THINK it goes. I am in NO way an expert and if anyone knows differently please correct me.

  • In Mexico there are 12 or 15 years of General education.
    It starts with Kinder which is for age 3-6
  • Primaria (grade school) age 6 -12
  • Next Secondaria (middle school) age 12 -15.
  • Then you go to Preparatoria (high school-college prep) age 15-17or 18

So education starts at age 3 and ends at age 18. But depending on where you live and your economic status determins how far you go. In "El Rancho, many of the young men, don't get very far because they a) need to work to support their family or b) go to the US to support their family.

Most people continue on to college directly after this. There are many vocational schools around and traditional colleges.

Other interesting things are nutrician. Well I guess I can only speak frankly of the nutrician standards at my daughters kinder which is a public school.

There are pretty tight restrictions on what you can and can't send for your child to eat for lunch. You have the option to buy lunch but I find it sort of high for a preschooler's lunch which happens during her school day between 9am and 12 pm, it costs 15 pesos which is more or less $1.50.

If you don't buy a lunch you must send your child to school with a packed lunch. You must send a bottle of water, or juice. But you cannot send soda, or boxed juices. It must be a home made juice. We've been sending tang. However I think this is probably pushing the restrictions.

As far as the food, they recommend a fresh fruit and/or vegetable as well as a hard boiled egg or piece of meat. But you can send a sandwhich, however, you cannot send a white bread sandwich more than 1 - 2 times a week, and especially not peanut butter and Jelly. If you do send peanut butter and jelly it is only permitted once per week. Additionally, you are not allowed to send any crackers, cookies, bread treats, or chips.

What is strange about this is that the school fundraisers are everyday standing outside the classrooms before you leave, selling: Candy, chips, greasy stuff, and fruit.

Last of all the use of school uniforms is a national requirement. All public schools from kinder to college have a uniform and usually it is a white polo type shirt, navy skirt or shorts or slacks and black shoes. The high school and college students wear mini skirts with knee socks which is kinda cute but I know that was mandated by some old pervert.

Monday, December 15, 2008

So I have a job again

Let's see if it lasts longer than a week. It pays way less than the bird pooped on my head job.. and it is currently in a little dungeon-ish room. Supposedly there is a new office opening up very soon, close to the beach.

Here is the job. Customer service type thing, taking requests for tours via phone and email. and setting them up. and confirming etc.

No chargebacks.

Thats the big no no. Don't mess up. Don't be gone. Always be on time. Always be there when your scheduled. But have fun and be happy! Ohh don't get upset if you messed up and it needs to be fixed.

Oh and don't have kids.. they are letting me slide on this one obviously, I have 3 and they know about it. But E is now a stay at home dad. "You expect to support you whole family on that salary?"

"Well we own our house outright" I said, leaving out the fortune we owe in the US. "And the livng expenses aren't that much."

Yeah I get to hang around english speaking people. Wow.

Oh and they will help get me legal again.

What else. I get free lunch everyday, and supposedly insurance and benefits.

And is this a good sign?............. In the middle of the dungeon filled with artwork as much as a gallery, there is a large collection of alcholol set up like a bar?

I start tomorrow, I'll let you know how it goes.

The salary. I know you wanted to know, don't even fake it..

$250 pesos per day, so if the exchange rate was 10pesos to the dollar again about 150 dollars a week. They work 6 days a week here. And.. it is only 8 hours a day, unlike other jobs that are 10 hours a day, and 6 hours on Saturday.

More info to come.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

I've got bloggers syndrome... ewwww self indulgent?

I’ve caught bloggers syndrome.

I guess I am "Silent - Challenged" or "Shut-up incapable" What would they call this in the politically correct world?

I read on one of the blogs I follow the title of a blog something like” The most self indulgent post ever.” And I thought (one eyebrow up) self indulgent..? hmmm. Gosh I better think about that. Is blogging self indulgent.?

Well, Yeah ! Blogging is like talking... and talking.. and people are listening, and it makes you feel important because they start paying attention... Jeez this is great for someone that never shuts up like me.

Yeah, I’m one of those. I had to learn how to LET other people talk. I never realized the effect that I used to have when I would walk up to a group of people and then just........ talk right over the top of them... with whatever was on my mind... not waiting my turn. I'm sure they talked behind my back, but I've never cared about that, so I guess that is a moo point (**reference to friends the sitcom)

Yes, I am one of those people that when I’m in a conversation, I actually LIKE it that both of us are talking at the same time. I read about this somewhere. I remember because i found out that it is simply my communication style. Some people want you to wait until one person is done and then speak. Can you imagine?

Well, I have learned pretty well, which people I can speak freely with and which ones I have to put on my polite stance for.

So is blogging being Self Indulgent?

Hell Yea!

I can talk and talk and talk, and who ever is reading it can choose if they want to read, and I didn’t even have to shut up at an appropriate time! Whoooo hoooooo! One down only 547 other idiosyncrasies to solve.

Wow, I love this. The only problem is I’ve truly caught .....air sucking in......Blogger Syndrome… I don’t know the medical term for it but I am sure very shortly there will be one in the Journal of Medicine or Journal of Mental Health Issues.

B.S. also referred to as Blogger Syndrome: Is one of the most prevalent syndromes of this decade, symptoms include talking to yourself, thinking everything you say is important or news worthy, and putting clever twists on just about everything. Throughout the day a person with Blogger Syndrome may not be able to differentiate when they are actually at a keyboard writing a blog, or when they are verbally thinking about a blog while they are washing their hair or doing dishes. People with these symptoms should contact their doctor immediately, before it spreads to more people or monkeys. You will be able to tell if a patient is contagious or not by observing how many times they suggest that their friends do their own blog. Beware this is fast becoming an epidemic.


I guess its not all that serious, jeez they should calm down with the classifying stuff huh?

It’s a good outlet for people like me that …. well........ pitiful, whiney, complainer I am… sniffle don’t have anyone to talk-to in person.

At the moment I’ve got 5 different unfinished posts either in my head or actually on blogger in draft:
  • Gross stuff in Mexico – which I don’t know if I’ll finish that. But there is really some gross stuff here.
  • A walk through my neighborhood with photos
  • How E(my husband) is with my mom. (I don’t want to give this one away)

  • Xmas at the mall- makes me feel at home

    • And this blog about blogs - which I had to write because I was wondering if any other bloggers out there go around all day long blogging (in their head) to a pretend audience?

      Saturday, December 13, 2008

      Opportunity available in Candy Management

      You thought I was joking about the college degree? Look what we came across today in the local classified ads called "Mano a Mano".

      If you can't read it or you dont' read Spanish it says that one of the local Movie Theaters, right by my house in fact at the new mall pictured here. Has an opening for a Supervisor of the Candy Department.

      Here are the requirements (listed least funniest to funniest):
      • Either female or male
      • Can work any schedule
      • Can plan and work as a team
      • a leader
      • Between the ages of 22 to 38 ( Enrique and I are assuming that if you are below 22 or older than 38 that you CANNOT be trusted with large amounts of candy - this could be true... hmmmm?)
      • And finally a college degree. (It says Licenciatura terminada) or at the very minimum a related career history.

      There you go. When I was in the states, I thought working at a movie theater was about the same caliber job or slightly above, working at McDonalds or Burger King. Here you need a college degree to work the candy counter.

      Thursday, December 11, 2008

      Faith is...........

      Faith is, when you have no reason to believe, there is nothing materializing, no proof, everything points to the other direction and YOU STILL BELIEVE.

      That is how things are right now for me. I still believe. People may think I am polly-anna-ish or naive, but time and time again, life presents miracles to me.

      I have PCOS (if you don't know its a problem with your ovaries which causes tons and tons of problems throughout your entire body) But... I have 3 children. My first came on accident when I was 20 born in 1992. My second one born 2002, we tried for over 2 years and then one day I prayed I put my request on a piece of paper put it in a can labled "God Can" put the lid on it and 2-3 months later I was pregnant. (because God Can) And number 3 we tried for 7 months and I visualized my baby boy. And sure enough I got what I ordered.

      There has been ton's of times when exactly what I needed just showed up out of no where.

      When we came here to Mexico I gave up my house. My big (looks little but it wasn't) charming house.... in Portland Oregon. Built in 1937 and very different from most other houses.

      With the wooden swing set that my husband built in the back.

      And the mint and the cilantro in the garden and the daffodils coming back everyyear. and the composter. I liked that composter because when I put tomatillo husks into the composter and used the soil, tomatillo plants popped up.

      And even in one fertile area, tomatoes came back every year, and I didn't even plant them.

      But we gave up that 5 bedroom 3 bath house, (No waiting to go to the bathroom when we were there). To sell it and come to Mexico. I didn't know at the time that we saved ourselves from so much.


      When we moved here in April 2007, was the very beginning of the housing crisis and since I sold it on craigslist we made a pretty good profit. They guy who bought it however, will be awhile till he gets his money back because I think values have dropped since he bought it.

      Also since we left, the whole CRACKDOWN on illegal aliens got underway. So atleast we don't have to be living in fear, while we are down here.

      But now, not able to afford a xmas tree. Just waiting for our Puerto Vallarta house to sell, so we can have money.

      E is having a problem finding a job.

      I'm seriously telling my 6 year old June, that now she's been on the naughty list all year long.

      I told June that last year she was on the naughtly list but I called Santa and I said, "Please Santa, she promises to be good this year" and that she hasn't been good this year. Sooo true... sos ososososososoososo true. She heard me when I was on the phone last year to Santa, so she knows it happened.

      And that last year Santa made me promise I wasn't going to call him EVERY year begging for presents for June. "So what do I do now?", I said to her..."Is it MY fault you are on the naughty list?" I said.

      But the truth is... we don't have money for food right now. I don't know why e is having a hard time finding a job. It's weird down here you have to have a F_CKing college degree to get a job that pays 6000 pesos a month. It's crazy. That is unless you are working in the time share industry... but we just aren't into that.

      We are lucky, however, that the corner store is letting us do a credit, and they sell all types of food.

      But hey, what ever you do DO NOT feel sorry for me/us. What we are going through right now has been deliberate... mostly...

      For the last over 1 year and 1/2... we have only remodeled our house, spent all our money going and doing fun stuff like Pirate ship, 2 or 3 more day cruises, going to the resorts for the day, trips to see his parents, sea life park, zoo, cascades, manzanilla day trips to restaurants with margaritas... I mean the last year and a half has been nice. Sure there has been some surgeries, illnessess and a death that we didnt' expect...which threw our schedule out of whack for awhile, But over all it has been very joyous. And I wouldn't trade it for anything.

      The one whiney drawback is you never know that your wish to spend 24/7 with your significant other is a mixed blessing....

      The 2nd whiney drawback is, it is damn near impossible to vacation with your kids...

      But other than that, my children and I were able to know my father-and-law before he passed. And... They are bilingual. And... I'm bilingual.. mostly... and.. ton's of other great stuff.

      Now all I need is the laws to change in the US regarding immigration and 10 year bans, and maybe 20 year bans, and lifetime bans too. If anyone goes over to can you vote for that for me... ... immigration and lifetime bans or family unity.

      Anyway, I have faith.

      I always say "You are where you should be, doing what you should be doing...'d be somewhere else, doing something else.!"

      Tuesday, December 9, 2008

      I'm trying to loosen up a bit cause I found... Expats all over mexico - I hit the jackpot in the blog department

      Where is everyone? Jeez. I messed up when I moved here. I should have been rich first. Going and buying myself a measely 450k peso house in a Mexican neighborhood, and remodeling it? What were we thinking. I should have bought myself a 200 thousand DOLLAR house (atleast) and moved where the Americans are. Evidently they are everywhere. If only they took monopoly money.

      So I know they are here.... somewhere? (looking over my shoulder). I've heard there is this place called, "Gringo Gulch" (doesn't that sound awful), Then over in the Romantic Zone there are tons of Americans, so I've heard.

      But meanwhile I've done searches for forums... didn't find much except people trying to sell more Real Estate for people to move here. I know if I look on MexConnect there are probably people from around here.. but they all seem like .. well, the retirement crowd, and maybe rich, and charity goingish, and at this point, they might need to stop by here and bring me something, so .. you see... they might look down there noses at me..

      Which reminds me of some ladies I met at the Krystal, I find myself speaking these words inside my head with a very snobby and suposedly upper clase accent. My gorgeous friend Melony had been hanging out at the Pool when I was not there with her, she would mingle and meet people. There were some ladies there, that as soon as they saw me, sort of stuck up there noses and cringed that I was "The friend, Married to a Mexican". Later I had a chance to talk to them and they even self exclaimed that they were "prissy bitches". It was very fitting but made me actually not mind them, because atleast they can admit it. Anway, back to my non snobby voice in my head.

      Little by little I've been peeking at the blogs people read. And i do searches of related blogs that are similiar to my interests. Not much, I was thinking I can't be the only younger ish person tht is blogging about living in Mexico.

      And... then.. today.... I found one... and then I found another, then pretty soon, I started finding more blogs about people living in Mexico than I could keep up with. I am so excited!

      And get this... I found a lady/woman/girl with THE MOST hilarious blog called It was so hilarious to read her blog. It felt almost like it was me reading my own life, but not me, but a little bit funnier, and a little bit cuter.

      Well, I'm fighting my laptop computer cord, I may disappear at any moment. These damn Compaq Presarios.... they are so awesome.. but with the one little/big glitch. The power supply cords and/or parts inside the computer get all messed up and you cant get power to your pc.....and then all the sudden it just turns off, because it wasn't charging when you thought it was.

      blecho aphoeura oihg; ljlfkj oeijd. ioukj3jk;j luoj lmj 30uda p9u3 kl;j alkc oij f

      Lets just say... doolyho and be done with it. OK?

      That was one of my favorite caputchkas I came across when making a comment on a friends blog.

      • baby was crying, has a cough (scary with the seasonal asthma he got last year)
      • husband cranky I'm not coming to bed so he can get cozy(you know what he wants).
      • junie freaks out after 8:30 at night and is calmly sleeping, thank god. little monster, cutie pie princess. god help me, I really do pray for help.
      • and that damn dog next door is barking. Better keep his mouth shut, why doesn't he shut up when I yell "Shut UP!!!" Cause he speaks spanish...In my head this sounds like Spaaaan ISH.
      • Its only 11:29pm. I just want to read blogs and laugh... and write, and be inspired.
      • I think Heather in Paradise has inspired Heather in Puerto Vallarta. Sounds like I'm talking about my alter ego.
      • That is so funny, one of my good friends in Portland, who doesn't read blogs by the way, her name is Heather.
      • One of these days I'll see if I can get some of the drunk fake improv commercials that we did uploaded to the internet. I laugh so freakin hard when I watch them.
      • Thats the suckiest thing about g3 internet. uploads! I cannot get anything to upload that is over 10mb. I've got THE MOST AWESOME video of Melony spinning upside down at Sr. Frogs and I cannot get it to upload because it is 54mb. and I am sure it is something to do with my G3 internet that uses cellphone technology.
      Ok. better go. Cause baby is crying again. I still have to shower and visualize.... my money, relationship, family, being funny...?.. and pray, I hope I don't forget.
      Love, peace, prayers and kisses..

      ok NO kisses on the mouth, just those mexican european elegant kisses that barely brush your cheek.


      Monday, December 8, 2008

      Things to consider if you are thinking about moving to Mexico.... The good The bad and The ugly - Part 2

      I realized tossing in bed last night that there are so many things that I have learned since I moved here. I know my experiences can't speak for everyone or everywhere in Mexico but they can be a general initial point of view for people who really have no idea where to start. Here are some additional ideas that I wanted to include:

      Touristy or Not Touristy area?

      • Radio: Radio stations that play American Music are often available in touristy areas (at least here in Puerto Vallarta there are 2 stations that play American Music). In El Rancho it may not be available (it wasn't available in my husband's town). I think a non-touristy big city may have an English Speaking radio station if it is close to the border, or if there is a large settlement of Americans.
      • Earning potential and job market: I think I mentioned in my blog yesterday that if you plan to work as an American in Mexico your chances of gaining employment in a Touristy area are probably much higher than in El Rancho or a non-touristy area. The reason is because 100% fluent English is much more in demand.
      • Doctors: I am not certain but I think the chances of finding an English-speaking doctor are much greater in a touristy area. I have seen a few here in Puerto Vallarta.
      • Also the quality of care may be better in a touristy area because now Mexico has this new thing called "Medical Tourism" which enables people to get a dental, cosmetic, or other surgery done in Mexico and have a vacation for less money than it takes to just have the surgery. This puts a whole new demand on the technology and quality.
        The prices of medical care are about the same here as in Enrique's town and in Morelia. But the quality is better. In fact in one instance the cost of a foot surgery for my mother in law was actually less in Puerto Vallarta than in Morelia Michoacan.
      • Wages: In a touristy area the general expected wages may be higher than more rural areas. Back in 2003, my sister in law made around 37 dollars a week or 370 pesos as a waitress in the Morelia Michoacan Airport. I am not sure how much the same job would pay this year, but I do know that the general wage here in Puerto Vallarta is 4000 to 6000 pesos per month or around 400 to 500 dollars a month. If you were a waitress here you would get 100x more tips than you would in a non-touristy area.
      • Rents and real estate: Rent in a Rural area or non-touristy area will general be very low. From $75 to $200 dollars a month. Depending on many factors. In a touristy area it can be from $200 dollars a month upwards to thousands of dollars per month. However, you cannot assume that the prices of real estate in El Rancho or a rural area are always a good deal. For example, I looked at small houses in a housing project outside of my husband’s town, and it was ranging from 370,000 pesos to 490,000 pesos. You could find the exact same thing available in the Vallarta Metropolitan area. Which do you think will appreciate at a higher rate? I believe that the Vallarta property will appreciate at a higher rate, making the Vallarta property a better investment. Additionally, properties in Touristy areas will move at a much faster speed than properties in rural areas.
      The road system:
      • In Mexico there are Cuotas. Cuotas are toll roads. There are usually always an option to take a road that is free, but the non-cuotas are full of topes, and confusing signs, if you don't know an area and you are on your way through, it is much better to stay on the cuotas. You will certain items available to you by going on the Cuotas - bathrooms that usually have toilet paper, convenience stores, rest areas, and long stretches of road without interruption. The free roads can often lead you to nowhere, or to where the person who put up the sign wants you to go, which coincidentally is way out of the way.
      • Topes are speed bumps, such as Americans have in residential neighborhoods. And the signs for the topes come in all sorts of different forms. Or there are no signs at all. Some times these Topes are very large, and there is no sign. You have to sort of follow what the other traffic is doing if they are slowing down for no apparent reason. There are probably topes.
      • Police Checkpoints. There are military and police checkpoints all throughout Mexico. The best thing is to NOT be flashy. The flashier you are, the more chances you may have to pay a mordida. Also they may be checking for smugglers. You may be asked to step out of your vehicle. There are also agricultural checkpoints. One note: on these check points if they don't say anything when you are driving through and everyone is driving through, you should drive through. Sometimes you feel like you don't know what you are supposed to do. You probably should not stop and ask a question. That will bring more attention to you. Sometimes they will just wave you through as if "For god sakes why are you taking so long." You have to feel these situations out.
      • Clothes do not seem cheaper here in Mexico. You can go to places that the main export is fabrics and clothes and I think in the US you can still find the same clothes for the same price or even cheaper. We went to Moreleon and the prices were ok. But being that I've always been a thrifty shopper I was not impressed. With all the stories of how I thought things were cheaper in Mexico it was a disappointment.
      • Sizes - Finding cute clothes for the full figured woman... this is very difficult and very expensive.
      • The quality of the clothes are not the same unless you go to a department store in the big malls and you end up paying ridiculous prices for something that is imported from the US and you could have gotten it in the US for a fraction of the price.
      Electronics and other merchandise:

      • If it was imported you can count on the fact that you are going to pay a much higher price here in Mexico than you would have paid in the US.
      • If it is made in Mexico you will be able to get a good deal. For Example you can get a 100% agave bottle of tequila for 50 pesos. You can buy Kalua here in Puerto Vallarta for 100 pesos. You can buy many hand made artifacts and items for 20% of the price you might pay in the US.

      Well, that is all for today.
      Stay tuned.

      Sunday, December 7, 2008

      Things to consider if you are thinking about moving to mexico.... The good The bad and The ugly - Part 1

      2300 words on things to think about when Moving to Mexico - from one persons perspective

      I met another lady, via the Internet, who loves a Mexican Man.

      And now, her love cannot be in the US and she must move to Mexico

      This is dedicated to S – and anyone else thinking about moving to Mexico that comes across this.

      Such a common story now days. It saddens me how many people have to uproot their lives and move to another country or even worse, they must be separated from the one they love because they just can't survive in their loved one's country.

      This article is about Mexico and things to consider when deciding to move to Mexico. Written in a random conversational way.

      Why did I move to Mexico? My husband wasn't deported. However, he was in the country illegally. We were not able to adjust his status - we were waiting for some laws to change, and we decided why the heck not move to Mexico now - that was back in 2006, we moved 4/2007.

      Before we moved to Mexico I knew a little bit about it. I drove through Mexico and came to see my husband in his little town down in Central Mexico, back in January 2001. I knew, "How on earth am I going to survive in his town?"

      Something about being in that small town, which many people refer to this type of village or a small town as "El Rancho", is like a 60 year step back in time from what I was used to, and it made me lose my person. Suddenly, within a few days, I was a needy, clingy person, I didn't even feel like me.

      Part of it could have been because of the fact that back then my Spanish was Bad. I mean, I thought it was good. I thought I spoke like 50% Spanish. But in truth I didn't understand what people were talking about. I heard words, but I would always notice them out of context. I always thought they were talking about something else. And I always thought they were talking about me. And I am sure now they were. But they don't tell you so at the time.

      I've found that there are ALL TYPES of American Stereo Types. And let's be real here, there are many prejudice people. Especially in small towns, I think that is true anywhere you go on the globe.

      For example let's see if anyone relates to this. Say you don't really speak Spanish, or whatever language your significant other speaks and you find yourself at a family gathering. And everyone is laughing and throwing around your name or a common name that you know could possibly be referred to as you. And they are laughing and joking with your guy/girl and you want to know, immediately, "What are they talking about? Are they talking about me?" With Mexicans I can pretty confidently say they will tell you no, when they actually ARE talking about you.

      So if you needed anything else to make you more paranoid I'm glad I could help.

      Anyway, being in that atmosphere, that is so foreign, can really freak you out! Even if you are a confident, independent, educated, kind, caring person. I'm here to say, you will find yourself feeling feelings you NEVER expected that you would have experienced.

      El Rancho can be a nice house, in a smaller town, outside a larger city, where they have pigs and cows right next to the house. Or it can be somewhere out in the middle of bum fuk egypt where you have a dirt floor, you pee in a toilet that is not even hooked up to anything - except a hole in the ground, and the door is a curtain.

      There are many factors that can determine what type of house your significant other's family has. Their financial status or the climate. If it is a warm climate their house may not have windows or a real roof and... I'm serious. They might just have what is referred to as protecciones, which are bars on the windows and roofing that would be used in the US to cover a shed or patio.

      Mexican homes don't have heaters: Now I've never been to where it snows and maybe there are homes with heaters at high altitudes. But, in most of the research I've done, and I've done quite a bit, there are no heaters in homes.

      Flooring: Evidently, flooring is not a required thing. Well number 1 thing, I've never seen a house with carpet. Or a hotel. I've never seen any building with wall-to-wall carpet. We have a carpet by the couch in our house, we bought it at Home Depot, but that is a very rare thing. If you have a concrete floor, that is considered that you have flooring. That's all there is to it. My husband and I have had this argument many times. Because in the US, if there is no tile, wood or wood laminate flooring, or carpet, there is no flooring. There is the I wrong? Here, if you have concrete, that's cool, that’s your floor. Maybe when you have more money you can put tile. But it's not a necessity. It's sort of a luxury.. in a way.

      TOILET SEAT.. .... OH YEAH. OK. you probably already know that Mexicans always put the toilet paper in a garbage pail. The sewer systems are not equipped to handle paper and all that. But did you know, a toilet seat, a full toilet seat that loops all the way around your toilet is rare. They are more available now days, with Home Depot abounding around the Country but it is rare. And what IS very common is no toilet seat at all. Not even the cheapy kind.

      Very common in "El Rancho", is that the toilets are broken, and no one ever fixes them, and you must go for a bucket of water to flush the toilet.

      I'm thinking that bathrooms are not a high priority in Mexico. It's sort of like they are thinking....."you go #2 in there so, why do you want to spend money on that?" ...Again, it all depends where you are talking about. In the big cities, it is probably not so bass ackwards.

      Kitchens... yeah, ... you know how Americans and I think probably Canadians... like kitchen cupboards. ... ummm no. not so common here. The kitchens and bathrooms usually have a brick/concrete type of built-in cabinet type thing with no doors.

      Did you know everyone cooks with gas appliances? And that natural gas, everywhere I've gone, is not piped in. It is sold in cylinders and guys drive up and down the roads with their loud speaker running a pre-recorded message. Gas... beep beep. Or Soni gas... soni gas.

      Cable and Sky(satellite TV) and regular TV and English programs: Well good news.. Most popular American programs are in Mexico, probably a few seasons behind. If you don't have Cable or Sky you can still see them. Bad news... dubbed in Spanish. If you have Cable, you can still get most of your favorite channels, and some in pure english.
      Cable is available in most areas, except really far out "El rancho". For instance, my husband’s town, Cable goes to about 2 miles away from his little town. Good news you can get Sky satellite TV, and you can even get it pre-paid.

      Internet: good news, they have Internet cafe's everywhere. And I mean everywhere. Almost everywhere seriously. For anywhere from 5 pesos or 50 cents an hour to 25 pesos per hour, or around 2 dollars. Even this G3 technology, seems to be more widespread in Mexico than in the US. You can get this little device attached to your laptop and have Internet wherever there is cell phone service. Cable broadband Internet is available in the bigger cities. Satellite Internet is available but you're going to have to cough up a lot of money. G3 is way more economical. ummmm dial up. If you have a landline phone service then that is available. But in "El Rancho" many times land line phone service is not available.

      There are alot of options for Internet. In fact my friend in Puebla told me she saw an offer for Cable type TV, Internet, and phone for around $40 dollars a month. That's pretty good. Here in PV, things are a little bit more expensive.

      That brings me to another point.

      Touristy area, vs. Non touristy area.

      Do you want employment? If you want employment are you fluent in Spanish? Written and spoken? How old are you? How much do you weigh? Are you attractive? Is it a job a Mexican can't do?

      Did you know that job discrimination is an everyday common thing? Here is an example of an ad. Single girl between the ages of 18-25, no kids, thin, and attractive.
      Or many jobs are 18-30, or even 45 and up. They may say to send a photo. The job application may ask how many bills do you have? What are your parents like? What does your wife do? How many children do you have? They can ask you anything they want to, and if you don't provide the information, well, I guess you don't get the job.

      They do have a tax system in Mexico; they do have a social health plan here. But not everyone qualifies for it. To work as a Mexican citizen you must have a few different numbers your CURP and your RFC.

      There are different types of land you can purchase. There is Ejido land, that means like native lands. And there are normal lands/lots, and normal houses. If you are buying property stay away from ejido, that is a mess. For an American to own property it all depends if it is 25 miles within the ocean. Also I think there are restrictions if it is close to the border of Mexico. Also there are no building codes that say you cannot build all the way up to the property line. Everyone does, and that is why many areas seem like pure concrete everywhere.

      Here is one you probably have heard of... Corruption in the police. We have not had any problems with the police in Puerto Vallarta. But my husband has constantly been pulled over and had to pay a "mordida" or bite aka bribe, to the police so they do not confiscate his drivers license or what ever they want to confiscate. Fortunately, he has never had to pay more than 200 pesos or around $20 dollars. However, my friend had to pay 1500 pesos or around $150 dollars because she was moving and had a small trailer with furniture in it. She was told that if they didn’t have a moving permit that was the price and if they didn’t pay the police would confiscate her stuff and make her wait 2 days to get it back.

      The Mexican government is actively trying to combat this corruption. However, it is still prevalent. You occasionally will see billboards, TV commercials, or radio ads about combating corruption and who to contact.

      There is a division of the Governement that helps with Buyer protections it is called Profeco. When you make a purchase in Mexico you are protected by profecco. Now the problem is they only arbitrate the negotiations but they do have the power to shut down businesses. And of course the farther "El Rancho" you go, the less access you actually have to one of these offices.

      Back to the idea of where to live. There are areas where I’ve heard it is more American than certain areas in the US. San Miguel Allende has been referred to as being more American than certain areas in California. Lake Chapala or Ajicjic. Prounounced A HEEE HEE is a large American retirement community, in Jalisco by a large lake. Cabo San Lucas. And any large and/or touristy city probably has its American Neighborhoods.

      These American or touristy areas are more expensive. That is true. Of course. It is very true. Property in American Neighborhoods are more expensive. Yes.

      But when you are considering where you want to live you need to think about certain things you can or cannot live without. On MexConnect there is a constant thread that continues on and on and it is about what people miss since they have moved to Mexico. The 2 things I see the most are certain grocery products, and chit chat with strangers in English.

      The difference between living in a small town in “El Rancho” Michoacan and living in Puerto Vallarta is so great I cannot even explain it.

      Puerto Vallarta is about modernization and luxury. Tourism is the main supporter of the economy here and it has got to be up to standards. The city caters to Americans and Canadians. You see many businesses that you are accustomed to see in the US.

      But in El Rancho, you might find somewhere that makes a hamburger on certain days of the week, or someone that sells espresso. But you are going to have to travel to the city for Burger King or McDonalds, and even if you travel you may or may not find a Starbucks, unless you are in a touristy area.

      In a touristy area, you can find things such as American literature. In El Rancho, No, it will be very rare to find a book or magazine in English.

      In a touristy area everywhere you go people will speak English. It is required for most hotel and tourism jobs. In El Rancho, you may never know who speaks English, if anyone does.

      In a touristy area, you can find your favorite grocery items. Here is an example of some of mine, such as rice a roni, black olives, canned green beans, curry, butter, cheddar cheese, and albacor tuna.

      In El Rancho, your selection of food is only what the local vendors bring in, and in Enrique’s town, I found none of those items.

      Healthcare/School/Food: You can see a corner doctor for about 3 dollars and in most cities I am sure you can get a full meal with drink and tortillas included for around $4 dollars, and public schools actually do cost money but it varies.

      Here is the thing to keep in mind, when you plan to move to Mexico, if you run out of money in Mexico and you are not working, you cannot get healthcare (you have to pay up front, no billing here), you cannot send your children to school (unless there are programs I’m not aware of), and you cannot get food (unless you connect with some charities) That is one good thing about the US – If you end up broke in the US for what ever crazy reason you can still get all 3 of those things.

      Ok, well. That is all for now. But that should get you thinking. If you have any questions make a comment, and I'll see if I can answer it, or forward you somwhere that can.

      Friday, December 5, 2008

      Being an Illegal Alien in Mexico, my life

      Right now, I am watching the Rachel Ray talk show, with the laptop on a tray, sitting on my bed. The kids are playing play doh on the dining room table, and watching cartoons.

      We went 3 weeks without anyone seeing the house, I believe because of a computer glitch that I found, listing the price of our house 20k higher than it is currently supposed to be. So, today, suddenly, 4 different people came to see the house. Right before the second one came, enrique and I had an argument, and he left. Now he won't answer my text messages.

      I have an interview tomorrow for a receptionist job. In the US I would never take a Receptionist Job, well, because that is an entry level job, and I made it to the top of the ladder of secretarial, as an Executive Assistant, and opporutnity to be program or project coordinator. Anyway, but here as an illegal American in Mexico. I hope I can get the job.

      I will be forced to lie though. I don't like lyng. But I must go into the interview tomorrow, and convince them that I plan to stay in Puerto Vallarta, and do not want to leave. Otherwise, they won't hire me.

      On Wednesday it was June's 6th birthday. We didn't do much. She has been such a terror lately, that I am going to have to find someonline course or something to figure out how to deal with her. It has been very stressful, and at times, Enrique and I have no idea what to do. Anyway, we gave her some art supplies and made some choco choco brownies, with ice cream.

      The weather is nice, cooler than normal, but still around 80.

      I have a cold, I am the last one to get it for some miracle. Usually, my immune system gets hit first. But I've withheld it until now.

      I've been being mean to my honey, I want him to get a job. Stop doing it casually. We have to get back to the US, so we can go back to normal in our relationship. Our relationship is under too much stress, here. Ever since we moved here we have not gotten along as well, as before. One thing we always have at the end of the day is passion. So I guess that is something.

      I'll let you know what happens. Right now I need to rest. I have a sinus infection and feel ear infection coming on.


      Puerto Vallarta Girl

      Monday, December 1, 2008

      Go Harvey Go!

      It's been over a year since I helped release some of these little turtles into the water and I still remember it as a wonderous day.

      I'll tell it again, you may have heard it before, if you know me. But the reason it is coming up again is because I was just now doing a search for "Puerto Vallarta Amigas Americanas" contemplating the possibility that we might stay here if things don't go the way we have planned. The realization came to me from writing my blogs. I need to commit myself to being here, and with doing that, maybe I can move forward in some way.

      So back to this story, I was searching for American friends in Puerto Vallarta, and I ran into this litle guy, here is an artcle about the conservation project on the website Vallarta Adventures, it is in Spanish, I didn't take the time to search for an english version, but there may be one there.

      It was some time in the Fall of 2007, and Enrique and I and the children decided to go for a walk on the beach. We jet over there, a whopping 5 minute drive, and we start to walk. I decided to stop in an area that had a lot of rocks, so I could search for beach glass for my mosaic tile project. I kept jimi with me. Enrique and June wanted to walk on, and I figured he would be gone about 15 mintues.

      About 1 hour and 1/2 later I finally see him coming. But, he stops where a crowd was gathered. I had noticed the crowd gathering just south of me on the beach outside a resort, but I figured it was some type of guest activity at the resort, so I ignored it.

      By now, I was feeling quite bitchy and wondering, "Why the HELL they took so long?" And, why they did not come all the way back. I got angrier and angrier. Then finally I go over there and ask why Enrique and June didn't come back to where we were? Enrique announces that they are listening to this presentation about a conservation project for the turtles.

      By now he could have said they are giving away $100 dollar bills and I still would have turned my nose up, so it didn't phase me.

      I went back to the spot where our stuff was, and then about 10 mintues later all the people start coming down closer to where I am, and they are being told to spread out in a line. It ended up I was exactly where the leader of the group was heading. And Enrique walks over and says, "They are going to release the turtles in the water, do you want to release one?"

      Still I answer, "NO!". Then the leader of the group comes over next to me with a plastic bin, and ask's me if I want to release one. There inside that bin were 100 teeny, tiny, cutie, precious, little, itzy bitzy, baby turtles. They were about 3 1/2 inches long and 2 1/2 inches wide. Awww they were so cute. Suddenly I turn into a 5 year old. I answer, "YES!" with a big excited smile. My attitude is so funny because I was the first person to get a turtle.

      I grab one little guy out and he is scared but he tries to swim in my hand. It was so adorable, and I just held onto him, trying to keep him calm, until it was time. June got one, and Enrique got one too. And about 100 people all were holding the tiny turtles.

      We were told that 4pm was the time to release them, so that the birds didn't eat them. So at the command we were all told to put the turtles down. By then I had named my turtle. I named him after my Grandfather Harvey Kiersey. And I was talking to him and being very silly. At the command, I let my guy go and he was faster than many of the others.

      There they were trying to skoot out to the ocean. Once they were far enough the waves came in and would carry the little turtles out.

      Once they were all out into the water, the sun was setting on the ocean and you could see all these little tiny black dots on the water. It was the little heads of the tiny turtles. I will never forget that day.

      But now, I'm just wondering what kind of sign from god that is for me when I search for American friends i.e. Amigas Americanas en Puerto Vallarta and I get the baby turtles.

      It must mean something?