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Abby: vsvevg

In our InterNations Recommended Blog section we let you take the spotlight! Expat life in general is, of course, a perfect breeding ground for great, user-generated reads, and life in Mexico makes no exception. Take your time and browse the great blogs showcased in this article!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Mexico, etc.

My name is Abby Smith, I am 46 years old. I lived in the Midwest of the U.S. prior to moving to rural Mexico 6 years ago with my undocumented (in the U.S.) Mexican national husband, Felipe Pita Cruz. I am an artist and freelance writer, Felipe is a farmer striving for zero waste. Our goal is self-sustainability.

When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?

Because our existence is low impact and somewhat out of the ordinary many people expressed interest in our methods and ideology. I felt there was an audience for stories of our experiences of living simply, in the middle of nowhere Mexico. Also, it was suggested to me that a blog would be good way to share my art/writing.

Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?

Tell us about the ways your new life in Mexico differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?

In Chicago, where we lived for a decade prior to moving to Felipe’s tiny home town, we were waiters; we were oenophiles, foodies and night clubbing Latin Dancers. Now we are subsistence farmers.      

I believe I added several new stages, to the four stage phenomenon of culture shock, one of which was the “Are you freaking kidding me stage!”

Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Mexico? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?

No, though I made an effort not to project what it would be like because I knew change would be drastic.

We did try to prepare financially but it was just as futile. Still, I don’t think I would change anything. What has been so wonderful about the experience has been the personal growth I have experienced and if I had changed anything, maybe not had as many failures, I might have missed out on some of the learning.

Well, maybe I would have invested in a greenhouse - the bugs are pretty bad down here.

Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?

Ok here’s one, it’s sort of weird but it’s shorter than most, this is an episode that occurred shortly after our arrival in Mexico.

Carupos are minuscule, bright red chiggers. They have the exasperating quality of being visible to the naked eye, but nearly impossible to remove or murder. The preferred method of treatment is to scrap across the minute red dot with a straight pin in hopes of dislodging the insect. This seldom works and turns into a sadomasochistic scratch fest, drawing blood which makes the insect indistinguishable from your self-inflicted wounds, and causes fiercer itching as they burrow deeper. I rate their itch power 45% higher than any chigger I have previously encountered. They are especially fond of panty lines and armpits, although in my case they gravitate toward the nipple.

My first carupo encounter involved my right nipple. I was not aware that such a villain existed, and for several days I was plagued by a hellacious itching for which I could see no cause. I did a thorough breast exam and was convinced it was a symptom of some horrific form of breast cancer. I was in the insane throes of culture shock, of which morbid catastrophizing was a symptom in my case, and because I simply could not face having a fatal disease, I heroically hid the tragedy from Felipe. Though, after four days of excruciating itching especially at night, I revealed my pulverized nipple to him. It did look diseased by this time.

“I think I am dying,”  I said, my face stoic, my voice ragged with hysteria.

“It’s probably a carupo, Abby,” he said, incredibly straight-faced. He then, also to my amazement, located the tiny red dot that was slightly more lurid than the surrounding flesh and deftly scrapped it out of its inflamed residence to my immediate relief and amusement.

Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Mexico?

Please keep in mind that my advice is based on my experience in rural Mexico, which I believe to be quite different than more cosmopolitan and culturally diverse areas.

  • Mexico is a foreign country, regardless of how many Mexicans you have known, its proximity to your country or that you may share a religion with most of the populace, the mores here are very different.
  • Relinquish the desire to be right.
  • Be humble, look humble, act humble, pretentious is frowned upon, in Mexico it can be a dangerous practice.

How is the expat community in Mexico? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?

I did have a difficult time, but this was because where we live is so remote, and we don’t have much money to seek out new experiences. I only made expat friends once I got my internet stick 1 year ago. My small amount of experience with expats has been fantastic.

How would you summarize your expat life in Mexico in a single, catchy sentence?

I am the present witness.

Francois Bertrand

"The last InterNations event was just great: I had some very nice chats with fellow expats (even Canadians like me) in Mexico City. "

Barbara Melington

"With InterNations, we had the chance to find a good bi-lingual school for our children in Mexico. They are gonna grow up as true 'third-culture kids'! "

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