Deep thoughts, Misc., Things I Love, travel

Post-Mexico Travel: a love list

There’s nothing like getting home after time away, especially after being in a developing country, to help you see the blessings in your own day to day life more clearly.

Some things I love, but normally take for granted:

1- Consistent, basically unlimited hot water.

The hot water “situation” in Mexico can be very fickle. The “boiler”, as they call it at my in-law’s house, has to be turned on and off for someone to use it (= hot water not really available 24/7, as I’m used to), and it holds all of 6 liters. The idea of standing with hot water pouring gloriously over you for 10 minutes doesn’t happen.

The best way to ensure hot water for the entire shower is to turn the hot water on, and get your body/hair all wet. Then turn water off while you lather up the shampoo. Turn water back on to rinse. Then off again while you do conditioner. Repeat. Etc. 🥶 This ensures you don’t run out of hot water! (And of course, uses less clean water overall- which is also limited in supply.)

But you also kinda freeze your tushy off in between, standing there with no water on you at all! To be frank, this sucks every bit of joy out taking a shower for me!! (Solar water heaters are becoming huge in Mexico, and can be great. But if it’s cloudy, as it was many days for us, the water does not really heat up, so use of the propane powered water heater is needed.)

We are SO SPOILED with our hot water situation here at home. OMG. I never even normally think about my hot water- it’s just always there, apparently in endless quantities. So fortunate!! (I realize this isn’t exactly true- and we should all be using less water. It’s not actually unlimited… just being honest though that it really does feel like it most of the time, at my house…we have a very large regular water heater AND additionally, an enormous solar water tank).

2- Looking around my environment and everything making sense. Okay, this sounds weird- let me explain.

In Mexico, like many other countries, they use kilograms. Kilometers. Centimeters. Grams. And, of course, PESOS for money. This is perfectly normal- for them! I, however, am used to the pound, the mile, ounces, dollars, etc. I wish soooo badly that I could say I can mentally flex between these two systems effortlessly, but, I can’t. I just haven’t spent enough time immersed in “the other side”. 🙂

As a result, my brain ends up in constant “thinking mode”. When we get home, it’s such a relief to just look around a store and have everything make sense to me.

It’s not overly difficult to convert from the peso (it’s about 20 pesos= $1 USD right now). So if an item costs 200 pesos, you just have to “move the decimal point one to the left, then divide in half” (this is how we explained it the boys). So 200 pesos= 10 dollars. It’s still not second nature though and my brain doesn’t automatically have a concept of what things cost, like at home.

(Example- most of us can just scan the produce section at a store and instantly have a concept of if the price/lb. (or price/kilo/other unit, if you’re not in the U.S) is a good price. In Mexico (or anywhere else), I can’t! I still always have to THINK about it- make a quick conversion, not only the unit but also the price.) Same with gas prices…. seeing the price per liter, in pesos, means nothing to me at first glance. Or even seeing a speed limit sign for 110 km/hr… how fast is that, really?? I have to think….)

*I think I’m kind of exceptionally bad at this stuff. My brain just isn’t really wired this way. It’s likely much easier for other people? Maybe more “math-minded people”? (NOT ME- I’m totally a “language girl”.) I don’t know. I know I would get used to it, if I lived there for a longer while- it was already getting easier by the end of our 2 weeks. But because we just go for short stints, I always struggle with this, and can be mentally a bit taxing.)

3- Having clean, safe, neighborhoods and parks to walk in.

I don’t mean to speak ill of Mexico, because I honestly do love Mexico! There are so many beautiful things about the country. And I am not trying to speak for the entire country or anything like that. But in the exact places that we were, mostly in Toluca and Mexico City, the streets were not particularly “walker friendly”, at all.

My in-law’s neighborhood does not really have sidewalks designed for walking/ exercise. The streets are sadly in quite poor shape right now. There are stray dogs everywhere– and while most are very friendly, some might not take kindly to someone jogging by their turf. They tend to be a bit territorial of “their zone”. Said dogs also poop wherever they want- usually in the street or sidewalk.

At home, we have beautiful city parks all over the place. And while there ARE some great parks in Mexico, at least near my in-law’s house, there weren’t any parks super close by. The one park we’ve visited in the past (a huge and really nice one, with a running track!) is at least a 15 minute+ drive away. There was literally no green space near the house anywhere for kids to play. And I never saw a single person out walking just for exercise or jogging, in the neighborhoods we were in, at least. 😦

(*I’m not claiming that no one runs or walks in Mexico!! I’m certain people do, in some areas. I’m just saying that where we were, specifically, it was not conducive to this at all, and I missed it a lot. Our neighborhood at home is perfect for walking or running on beautiful, clean roads and sidewalks, and we have 2 different city parks within 1 block of our house.)

I’ll wrap up here. I’m feeling a little bad because I’m afraid I’m giving off a negative impression of Mexico, and that is not my intention! Like I said, the list of things to love about Mexico is very long. The PEOPLE! The culture. The music. The FOOD. The history. The gorgeous landscapes. It just goes on and on. But it is simply a fact that there are some big differences, too, from what we’re used to. It’s an interesting conversation to have with Ivan, since he has experienced both sides obviously firsthand (growing up in Mexico through college age, and now living in the U.S. for approaching 20 years.) He loves Mexico with his whole heart, but is the first to admit he really wouldn’t want to move back…. We LOVE to visit, though! (And I still think that we could find a cool place in some adorable, quaint little Mexican town for a potential retirement home one day…. ). 🙂

Daily Gratitude:

I am grateful for all of the above.

4 thoughts on “Post-Mexico Travel: a love list”

  1. Interesting observations! I know exactly what you mean about all the conversions; the currency one always gets me. My brother (currently living in Denmark) is SO good at this. He is able to convert kroner to CAD so easily. I am horrific any time we travel.
    I take the public green space infrastructure we have here in Canada for granted, I know, but it is such a wonderful privilege to have easy access to safe spaces to exercise and explore nature. I do find that in most cultures there are trade-offs, though. Other places have a more vibrant community culture, for example, or have more historic architecture. That said, I am very happy living in Canada!
    The one that stands out to me is the hot water situation. I don’t shower every day, but when I do I want it to be SCALDING hot. Several times over the last two decades I’ve lived in places with either small or inconsistent water heaters; moving into our last apartment + current house have been true gifts because they both have unlimited hot water.


  2. It is nice to get away and it’s nice to get back to HOT WATER. I read How To Be A Victorian earlier this year and I can’t stop thinking about just how lucky I am to be living where I live in the time period when I live. I don’t think I would have done well in Victorian England, or, frankly, modern Mexico.


  3. I think one of the best things about travel is how it can make you appreciate things at home that you take for granted. I have never felt so grateful to live in the US as I did when I came back from the Dominican Republic. Granted, I was visiting a friend in the Peace Corp so it was kind of an extreme example since she lived in a camposino w/out electricity. The previous PC volunteer’s project was an aqueduct system that brought running water to the camposino. Her project was helping build stoves in the home so they didn’t have to cook over open fire as the smoke inhalation from that is so bad for people. So there was no hot water which meant ice cold showers. So I showered sparingly. Ha. I think I mentioned the hot water situation in southern Spain and how short your shower had to be. I also did not at all enjoy showering during that trip and we took extra long showers on our last night when we stayed in a hotel!

    This doesn’t come off as anti-Mexico. It’s categorized as an emerging market for a reason! It does seem like it would be great to have a little vacation home there when you retire. I imagine it’s quite cheap and it would be nice to have your own place to stay so you could go for extended periods of time, like WI winters, and soak up time w/ family and better weather.

    Oh and even as a math major/numbers girl, the conversion math is fatiguing for me. It’s hard to always be thinking/analyzing. Also this was not an issue for you since you are fluent, but I find it really fatiguing to be in countries where I don’t speak the language. I usually try to communicate as best as I can, at least that was my approach in France – I learned a little bit of French before my trips so I could order in French, ask basic questions, etc. But not understanding what people around you are saying can be kind of isolating. Sometimes it’s nice as you can just unplug but over time, I was wishing I understood what people were saying!


  4. This did not come off as anti-Mexico at all… in fact, in all the previous vacation recap posts it really came through how much you love your in-law family, the culture and the places you visited. It’s only normal to compare it to the place where you live.

    I definitely hear you on the conversation madness. I have frankly given up converting things (as you know, Europe is on the metric system and I still think it makes much more sense LOL), but I’ve gotten used to just “think” in two different systems … I know that 70F is pleasant and I know that this is 21C and then I can scale up and down from there. I don’t convert dollars and euros anymore (esp. because I realize how cheap groceries and other stuff is in Germany and that will only make me depressed LOL).

    At least the scientific community has been catching on using the metric system a lot more (which definitely makes it easier in my job).

    It makes me sad to hear that where your in-laws live, there’s not much opportunity for walking/outdoor exercise. That is something I definitely take for granted, too.


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