Nobody Knows the Spanish I Speak is a zany memoir by Mark Saunders (Fuze Publishing, LLC, McLean, VA, ISBN 978-0-9841412-8-9), who, with his wife Arlene Krasner, moved to San Miguel de Allende (SMA) shortly after falling in love with the place. The book’s tag line is “Drop out. Sell everything. Move to Mexico. Sounded like a good plan.” Not!
Saunders’ writing is tongue-in-cheek witty, with a sprinkle of irreverent, brash, and self-deprecating thrown in for good measure. Overall, it is an entertaining and fast read. The book could be a primer for Baby Boomers on the eve of retirement who believe that relocating to Mexico is the answer to a less-than-adequate retirement income. Saunders’ sardonic underlying message is a “don’t do what we did” warning to greenhorns who think they can move to Mexico on a wing and a prayer (or maybe in a 10-year old high-performance Audi Quattro) without adequate preparation (or an expert, specialized mechanic in tow).
Saunders’ memoir focuses on the couple’s experience moving from Portland, Oregon, to SMA, with their standard poodle and cat. (He’s originally from Sacramento, California, and she grew up in New York City.) Wooed by blue skies and balmy days, bolstered by a vigorous ex-pat community, their story will resonate with anyone considering living anywhere in Mexico as an alternative to the northern part of North America. Anecdotes and vignettes of mishaps, miscommunication, and missives fill the pages.
And, Saunders is unabashed while dissecting the realities of living in Mexico for uninitiated American and Canadian expats: constant dust, barking dogs, lack of central heat and air, long queues to pay bills (which must be done in person) and at banks, past due utility bills and interrupted utility services, cars in need of repair, bodies in need of repair, the meaning of “manana,” and the ubiquitous language barrier.
Most importantly, Saunders raises important questions underlying the humorous pokes at himself, at “gringolandia” [a place where a lot of expats live in Mexico], and his situation.
Subtextual Questions — Self-examination BEFORE you move:
- What are your primary reasons for the move?
- What is your experience living in another culture?
- How adaptable are you?
- How dedicated will you be to learn or improve your Spanish? How much patience do you have?
- Do you need the same conveniences and lifestyle (food, entertainment, shopping, etc.) in Mexico as you had living in the U.S.?
- Do you expect to live among English speakers?
- How well can you negotiate through problems?
- What special health care issues do you have that may require medical attention?
The book is sprinkled with Saunders’ own drawings and cartoons depicting daily gringo/a challenges and misadventures. The ending is pure redemption and I won’t give it away! And remember, a sense of humor will take you a long way.
Here are my 9 Tips for Living in Mexico.
If you are an expat living in Mexico, will you share your advice with us for making the transition smoothly? If you are a Mexican who wants to add your suggestions about ways to make the landing softer, please do so!
Happy New Year 2011 from Oaxaca: Prospero Ano Nuevo
This is a perfect, balmy day, clear with a light breeze, cool in the shadows, warm in the sun. I am sitting in my room with the turquoise Judi Slot Online door open to the patio where the pomegranate trees are in blossom, an intense coral. The fruit is ripening and in various stages of development. The mature fruit is pure red/orange. The immature fruit is avocado green with a blush of peach.
Magda is shaking out a rug, readying it for sale. Josefina is in the kitchen preparing for the evening meal of homemade tamales. They will be soft custard masa stuffed with bits of chicken and mole amarillo, tucked neatly into translucent tender mint green corn husks, and then steamed. This is the traditional new year fiesta meal in Teotitlan del Valle.
A cock crows. In the distance I hear the band — a drum roll, a horn announcing something special. Zapotec, the indigenous tonal language spoken here, is exchanged between the women like a song. Now, Rosalina brushes a broom across the patio. They prepare for the new year. It is also my birthday todayand with modest celebration, I will walk up the hill to get a shiatsu massage from my friend Annie, then raise a glass of mescal tonight in quiet tribute to a new year to come and the blessings of years past.
Happy new year to you all! May your life be filled with the blessings of contentment, good health, intimate connection, and peace. Each slot terbaru of us deserves nothing less.
Now, some photos to share:
Ixcel Guadalupe Chavez Santiago
Las Hijas de Ester y Rucio
Tapetes (rugs) de Galeria Fe y Lola
Spinning Wheel for Bobbins
Three Little Pigs
Plow Bulls in Agave Field
Posted in Cultural Commentary, Oaxaca Mexico art and culture, Travel & Tourism
Tagged blogsherpa, culture, Mexico, Oaxaca, photography, postaweek2011, Teotitlan del Valle