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Interesting Article on Long Term Expats in Mexico

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Interesting Article on Long Term Expats in Mexico Empty Interesting Article on Long Term Expats in Mexico

Post by BisbeeGal Sun Jul 17, 2022 3:54 pm

https://mexiconewsdaily.com/mexicolife/still-in-mexico-decades-later/?utm_source=jeeng&utm_medium=webpush

Foreigners who come here to live and end up staying for decades provide a unique perspective on life in Mexico.

By Leigh Thelmadatter
Published on Saturday, July 16, 2022

In 2020, I had the fortune of interviewing Guatemalan-born artist Rina Lazo. Although a major muralist in her own right, she was best known as the last surviving assistant to Diego Rivera. She embraced this legacy, in no small part because the Mexico she discovered in the 1940s was “her Mexico.”

Mexico has received immigrants for a long time, including us English speakers. Like other immigrants, we have “push” and “pull” factors. Dire poverty generally is not one of them, but economics plays a role, as it does for retirees looking to stretch pensions.

But those of us who come at younger ages are a different breed, often dissatisfied with life in our home countries. We don’t quite fit in, and we’re looking for something different.

Peace Kat gave up a promising U.S. art career after meeting the man who would become her husband.
Bob Cox literally joined up with the circus as a young man in the 1960s, making his way to Tlaxcala, where he has lived since the 1970s. Stan de Loeach ran away from home at age 14 to find a family in San Miguel de Allende. Teacher and artist Helen Bickham came to Mexico on vacation in 1963 with her husband and two small children. She then told her husband that he could return without them.

A distant second reason is politics. San Miguel and Ajijic started as havens for bohemians over 80 years ago. In the 1970s, some from antiwar and student protest movements found their way to Mexico despite the fact that the country had its own problems with the 1968 Tlatelolco student massacre and its aftermath.

Richard Clement and Bruce Roy Dudley came in part to avoid the draft. John Falduto’s mother came in 1980 in part because she did not like the political direction of the country, with him following her lead in 1992.

Mexico’s “pull” is the promise of an alternative.

The decision to come to Mexico and the decision to stay are often two different things. Most came here on vacation, for something job-related or to just pass through. Australian Jenny Cooper had to sail through Panama to Europe because the Suez Canal was closed by war, Patsy Du Bois came to study Spanish and Karen Windsor came to study Mayan archaeology.

If I had a peso for every time I heard something like “I was only going to be here for X amount of time, but then I met Y.”

Some are whirlwind romances. German-born Kiki Suarez was on her way around the world in the 1970s, stopped in Chiapas, met her husband and then looked for a way to make life work in San Cristóbal long before its current fame. Bonnie Sims came to Acapulco on vacation at age 19 and got involved with a local fellow. After returning to Canada, she wondered why she left and found her way back to Mexico.

Most met their future spouses in a much less-rushed manner, but that relationship was still central to the decision to stay. Peace Kat in Oaxaca flatly states that her spouse is why she remained, as she had a promising art career in Miami.

Australian Michael Rowe came to Mexico temporarily to figure out his next career move. He stayed and became a Spanish-language filmmaker.

But generally, staying is due to a mix of love for their spouses and for life in Mexico. They describe Mexican culture as “less hectic,” “less materialistic” and more “person-” and/or “family-oriented” than North America and Europe. People cite everything from family interactions to just being able to chat with vendors at local markets.

Mexico experienced a devastating earthquake in 1985 and the long-awaited fall of the Institutional Revolutionary Party’s 71-year dynasty in 2000, but interviewees’ comments on changes in Mexico since the late 1970s relate to improvements in infrastructure and the opening of Mexico’s economy, starting with NAFTA.

Some have stories of losing significant money during Mexico’s peso devaluations in the 1980s and 1990s, and especially 1994, but others, because they had foreign income, were not so affected.

Many, including the most bohemian, appreciate the improved access to products from the rest of the world these days, even if they feel somewhat embarrassed by it. Canadian Karen Windsor admits, “It might be a sin, but I enjoy it.” But she also notes that economic decentralization allows cities like her Guadalajara to develop.

Negative comments about globalization’s effect on the country are more related to how local communities have changed rather than how it’s affected Mexico as a whole. Everyone in San Miguel de Allende complains about waves of newcomers, for example, even if they like that the municipality has changed from a “dusty town” to a cosmopolitan center.

Peace Kat and Eric Eberman both bemoan the loss of local dress, traditions and foods in Oaxaca and Chiapas respectively.

Long-termers tend to have reservations about commenting on more recent political and social issues. Hardly anyone has citizenship, even after decades of living here, and so they are not permitted by law to participate in Mexican politics, including taking part in political action, like civil protests.

One exception is Eberman, who has been an activist for environmental issues in Chiapas, a dangerous occupation for Mexicans and foreigners.

One thing that maybe should not have surprised me was how many of my interviewees had formed connections with Mexican families of prominence at the local or national level. For example, Australia-born director Michael Rowe is married to the current minister of culture, Alejandra Frausto.

Another surprise was that my interviewees were not quite as nostalgic for “their Mexico” as Lazo was. The consensus seems to be not only that “things change,” but the essential for them — Mexico’s people —  are who they have always been.
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Post by mudgirl Sun Jul 17, 2022 4:33 pm

I saw a fascinating documentary several years ago at the annual film festival here in Sayulita on Leonora Carrington, a British surrealist artist who settled in Mexico City. She had an amazing life, was married to the artist Max Ernst at one point, had several relationships with well-known writers and artists, at one point was in a psychiatric hospital. She died in 2011. Get ahold of the documentary if you can, well worth watching. She didn't like publicity on a personal level and it was a bit of a coup for the filmmaker to be allowed to do this. Carrington was still full of piss and vinegar at the age of 86 year old when this film was made.

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Post by BisbeeGal Sun Jul 17, 2022 5:14 pm

Did you see the documentary of Diana Kennedy...filmed in Michoacn when she was 96...driving a beat-up standard shift pickup truck.  

Name of movie is Nothing Fancy.  

She's still alive, 98. She moved to Mexico in 1957. Some cool old pics and video in the film.

https://www.dianakennedymovie.com/videos/


Last edited by BisbeeGal on Sun Jul 17, 2022 5:27 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by mudgirl Sun Jul 17, 2022 5:26 pm

Thanks, I'll write that down and look for it. I love those kind of stories of old folks who still act and do the same things they did when they were young. Carrington chain smokes all through the documentary at the age of 86 and lived to 94. :-)

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Post by kiko Sun Jul 17, 2022 6:17 pm

BisbeeGal wrote:Did you see the documentary of Diana Kennedy...filmed in Michoacn when she was 96...driving a beat-up standard shift pickup truck.  

Name of movie is Nothing Fancy.  

She's still alive, 98.  She moved to Mexico in 1957.  Some cool old pics and video in the film.  

https://www.dianakennedymovie.com/videos/

Thank you. I hope I become like Diana as I continue on with life.
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Post by gringal Mon Jul 18, 2022 10:08 am

kiko wrote:
BisbeeGal wrote:Did you see the documentary of Diana Kennedy...filmed in Michoacn when she was 96...driving a beat-up standard shift pickup truck.  

Name of movie is Nothing Fancy.  

She's still alive, 98.  She moved to Mexico in 1957.  Some cool old pics and video in the film.  

https://www.dianakennedymovie.com/videos/

Thank you.  I hope I become like Diana as I continue on with life.

Good for her...but I have to say that such longevity is largely a matter of good old LUCK!
I tried to picture myself water skiing again on San Francisco Bay...HAH!!!

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Post by mudgirl Mon Jul 18, 2022 11:00 am

It's a combination of luck, lifestyle, and attitude.

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Post by gringal Mon Jul 18, 2022 11:30 am

mudgirl wrote:It's a combination of luck, lifestyle, and attitude.

True enough, but difficult to manage when the old body doesn't work the way it usta', no matter how healthy the lifestyle or the attitude may be. pirat

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Post by BisbeeGal Mon Jul 18, 2022 1:07 pm

If you go here, you can rent the video for $5 USD.  I know there's a warning that it may not be available in MEX, but it worked for us (several months ago).  

https://www.amazon.com/Diana-Kennedy-Nothing-Fancy/dp/B08BG64WDJ/ref=tmm_aiv_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1592582333&sr=8-1
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Post by mudgirl Mon Jul 18, 2022 3:21 pm

gringal wrote:
mudgirl wrote:It's a combination of luck, lifestyle, and attitude.

True enough, but difficult to manage when the old body doesn't work the way it usta', no matter how healthy the lifestyle or the attitude may be. pirat

Well, how the old body works is a combination of luck (good genes, strong immune system and not having had any accidents that lead to having a bad back, for instance) and lifestyle. For instance, a person can stay very agile if that is their lifestyle. I'm almost 73 and can still easily squat on the floor or while working in the garden, and scurry up ladders, because I've been doing it all my life. I once had a yoga instructor who was about the age I am now. She could bend and stretch in ways a lot of people half her age wouldn't be able to.

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Post by mattoleriver Mon Jul 18, 2022 4:06 pm

The good news: both the Leonora Carrington film and the Diana Kenedy film are available to stream for free on Kanopy.

The bad news: Kanopy is a streaming service available to public libraries. You must have a current card from a participating library to stream Kanopy. Even if you can get your mitts on a library card the library may not be a participating member.

Kanopy has some relatively obscure content and may be worth the effort of finding a participating library card.
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