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…. ). 🙂
I am grateful for all of the above.