Your Ebook Was a Good Investment

When I received the following email regarding my book about how to retire in Mexico, I simply couldn’t resist requesting permission to put it up on my web site.  Here it is, reprinted with permission:

January 14, 2011

Hi Julia,

We bought your e-book in December of 2009 before coming to Querétaro in February of 2010 to study Spanish. We found it to be a very useful, enjoyable and informative source of information. We ran into just about everything you included in your book and then some extras on our first ever international trip. (We are now 60 years old!) When we returned to the USA last March we breathed a sigh of relief and just about fell on our faces to “kiss the soil” of our native country.

Then the shocker! [We returned] to the country where I had said, “I would never drive a car down here! These people are crazy!”

Now on our third FMM we are living in our rented house, driving where ever we want to go, riding the camiones, handling emergencies at the hospital, trying to learn the language and deal with the incredible differences in culture, living arrangements, business practices and day-to-day frustrations (and quite a number of JOYS) that accompany the “Mexican Adventure.” We still appreciate the things that we learned from your e-book and hope that you and your husband are doing well.

By the way, it was an encouragement to us (especially my wife) that you decided to “stick with” your husband rather than take the easy way out and stay in “good ole USA.”

The only thing I really miss is my nightly Pop-Tart with my cup of hot chocolate. We can find them at the local “foreign food store” but they are four to five DOLLARS per box.

Robert and Sherry Marie, a.k.a. Roberto y María

Robert shared some good insights in his reply.  I’ve highlighted in bold the parts that I think all of my readers should consider.


One of our friends explained the driving rules and we have been using it ever since with great success. He said that driving is, “like water flowing down hill.” You just have to fill the “holes” with your vehicle or someone else will.  Along with your great section on “nudging” we have not had any problems.

And I feel that the Mexican drivers around us are just as comfortable with us driving like they do. In fact I worry that if I drove like I was in the “lane restricted” mode of the USA I would confuse everybody and cause accidents. (Lord help me when I have to return north to switch back to USA style: stay in your lane, use your turn signals, if you pass your turn – go on, don’t turn right from the left lane and vice versa, etc.)


Generally as we have looked at the way things work in Mexico, at first it looks crazy. But upon reflection it kind of makes sense. We don’t see a lot of heavy equipment doing the jobs that people can do: forklifts moving pallets of cement blocks, for example. At first look we think, “That’s crazy. Why have five guys hand carrying 1000’s of pounds of cement blocks from a truck to a courtyard of a house? That takes hours compared to the USA method of one guy and fifteen minutes.”

Then the light of realization shines. One guy working or five. What makes more sense?

If you add those little pieces that help people to “shift their thinking” to the Mexican way of “reason” it would help with the culture shock problem. We North Americans have a way of thinking that our way is right and everybody else is wrong. We need to break out of that to appreciate that, people are really the same everywhere. They are reasonable human beings. It is just that their reason may be based on different assumptions.

Robert Pruitt

Many thanks to you Robert!

Nigerian Author Opens Minds

Before trying to live or retire in — or even traveling to Mexico, it is important to take stock of what we believe about Mexico and Mexicans. As Americans we have been exposed to a narrow-minded and unflattering message about Mexico and we can be “innocent victims” of this message.

Chimamanda Adichie, a Nigerian novelist tells how a “single story” can blind us to reality. Watch her speech at She even talks about her own encounter with Mexico and about her false impressions, quickly shattered once she got there.

We must all be as honest as she is.

Make Friends First and Let the Relationship Work Itself Out

I love the way it is so easy to make friends in Mexico. It’s normal there to get to know the people working and living around you.  Once you strike up a good conversation, it’s natural to exchange telephone numbers and email addresses. To those of us who come from more suspicious cultures, this can be a little confusing. We wonder why they want to be friends with us when they don’t even know us … and … and … we don’t really know them. Which can make us nervous.

Imagine. You’ve just struck up a conversation with someone and have been talking for about five minutes about a town that you both happen to love to visit.  Your American self is about ready to say goodbye and never see that person again. Why would you? You might just comment later to your partner what a nice conversation you had, but that’ll be it. Suddenly, the Mexican person says, “Give me your phone number.”  You freak. You wonder if they’re a stalker or something.

They wonder what they said wrong. After all, they just let you know that they though you were a worthwhile acquaintance and would like to keep in touch. They think you are really being a snoot not to give your number.

Once you get used to this way of connecting with people, it’s really fun. In Mexico you just make friends first and let the relationship work itself out. Some people you never hear from again. Others you do.  As you find common ground or mutually beneficial skills, items, acquaintances, etc. then you develop a favor relationship. Once you get used to it, this is a really great way to be.

When you live in Mexico you can shed your suspicion and isolation and really have a great sense of community.  It’s also a great way to help make yourself safe when you live in Mexico.

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