Wealth by Julia Taylor

First Published on Mexico Connect
July 1, 2006

Wealth

Am I richer or poorer in Mexico? I’m certainly richer in gratitude. The simple fact that everything is not as easy as it was before makes me better at appreciating what I have.

When I first moved to Mexico I was scared, sad, and very, very angry. At a tippy table in a hot torta shop, I wrote the following poem:

Loss of My Birthright

Though I am a U.S. citizen,
I grieve the loss of my American Dream.
The dream
That I believed was my birthright.

The law sent us away from home.
Away from our dreams.
Away from our livelihoods.
…Away from owning a home.
…Away from family joys.
…From starting our own little family.
Tomorrow is no longer ours to aim for
My husband can’t get a visa for 10 years.
We have been cut loose,
Rejected.

Denied.

So I let the days slide by.
I breathe deeply and let time slip through my fingers
…let go of my dreams
…ignore my sorrow
We are at the age where we see that our youth is almost over.
We wanted to build a home and family
Within the embrace of the larger family,
But now we are floating in a time span too long to catch up to those dreams.

My definition of wealth used to agree exclusively with definition number 1 in my Webster’s College Dictionary “Wealth n. 1. A great quantity or store of money, property, or other riches.”  Now I have to agree with short, simple number 6: “happiness.”

When will a state of wealth be effortless for me? There should be some point at which I no longer have to console myself with deliberate mental lists of gratitudes. In Mexico, “wealth” is almost a verb. It must be mentally reaffirmed daily.

Before, when I washed clothes by hand at the cement washboard outside, I just wanted a washing machine.  Now I have a washing machine and I just want hot water piped in. If I had hot water what would I want then?

In my memories I feel the freedom of gliding around in my car, going wherever I want to go whenever I want. Now I don’t own a car. I can’t afford the insurance and gas, and besides, the drivers in my town are participating in a free-for-all. I don’t need a car because there is excellent bus service in Mexico, but it takes extra gumption to get out and about on the bus. Once I get myself out, when I step off of the bus I’m not weighted down by a huge metal possession. It’s just me and my two powerful feet; I’m still free.

Our house has only 3 rooms and an attached bathroom. There are no closets or cupboards and the wiring is tacked onto the walls and included only 4 outlets. My husband added two more. There are extension cords snaking everywhere. One night, half asleep, I almost broke my leg and the TV tripping over one.  But the walls are bright yellow, blue, and green.  It’s cozy. When people come into our house they stand in the doorway and smile. “I like your house,” they say.

Lack and wants can pile up over my head like the column of molecules that make up the atmosphere.  Would I really feel more secure if I were back in the States and had money going regularly into a retirement fund? Experience seems to suggest that I’d be insecure about some other detail.

Perhaps the greatest wealth given me by Mexico has been the gift of writing. In elementary school, as soon as I could read well, I began to write. But life in the U.S. took over, filled my head with class assignments, career goals, housework, television. In the loneliness of culture shock my voice came back.

I wrote an e-book telling others how to survive the transition from the United States to Mexico. I put in the nitty-gritty details, pleasing myself with the humor that crackled in the descriptions. Then I made a website to sell the e-book.  What a joyful feeling to have the experiences of adjusting to a new country and culture have a bigger meaning in my life as well as value to others.  It’s wealth.

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5 comments

  1. Rob Cox Sep 13

    Hi. The cultural articles have been very helpful and I enjoy your writing style. I was wondering how fast internet connections are in your area. I have been a computer geek for years and if I can get a good fast internet connection I could do remote computer repairs and training to support myself as well as using the internet to talk with people.

    By the way, you can get a US telephone number from yahoo for about 2.50/month and pay 1 cent per minute for calls to US/CAN phone numbers. $10 = 1000 minutes. It uses yahoo messenger. Here is the link http://voice.yahoo.jajah.com

    If you use the phone number for people dialing you, of course you need to leave the computer on. The number is not neccessary if all you want to do is call out.

    Calls to non-mobile numbers in Mexico run from about 2 cents a minute in Mexico City or Guadalajara, and up to 6.5 cents in some areas.

    I am studying spanish now and am starting to meet with local hispanic immigrants in my area to learn the language better.
    I hope to be coming to Mexico sometime after the first of the year.

    Adios,

    Rob

  2. Rob Cox Sep 13

    By the way, I forgot to mention your poem. It is sad, but the US government is no longer the servant of the people but their master and we are steadily descending into tyranny and I believe we will also descend to 3rd world status.

    There are those that would disagree, but if they had seen some of the information that I have then they might not.

    I believe that by the middle of 2010 you will be entirely grateful to be living in Mexico – anywhere but the US.

    Live and enjoy your Mexican dream full of relationships and less materialism. Family and friends and a relationship with God are ALL that really matter in this life.

    Adios,

    Rob

  3. Julia Taylor Sep 13

    Rob,
    Thank you for your post(s). Yes, I agree that it is very sad the direction the US is taking. I’m sorry to say, but ever since the Bush administration took power that second time, I’ve felt embarrassed to say I’m American. The Mexican media doesn’t bother to show the protests against what’s going on in the US so most people think all Americans like what our government is doing to us.

    Thanks for the how-to on getting an internet phone. We have Skype, but I’ve never bothered to get a phone number because the old “compu” (as they say in Mexico) is getting a bit slow and fragile. Also, now that I’m a mom, a cordless phone is a necessity and my microphone for the computer uses a cord. Excuses, excuses.

    Cablemas in Cuernavaca offers 1.5 mega bytes per second.

    Good job making connections with Hispanic people and working on your Mexican Spanish. It sounds like your transition to Mexico is going to be a good one.

    Finally, you are totally right. Family, friends and the God that connects us all is all that matters.

    Be well and thanks for the compliment on my writing!

    Kindest Regards,

    Julia C Taylor

  4. Jim Dinwiddie Feb 12

    Ms. Taylor, I certainly appreciate this page which you’ve posted. I look forward to purchasing your book in a few days. I have lived and visited Mexico for the past 38 years. My wife is from Guaymas, Sonora. I have retired now, and we have purchased property in El Fuerte, Sin. The only thing that “was” holding me back was the Social Security issue of receiving the monthly payments. I agree with you 100% concerning the downturn of the U.S., and some of it’s policies. We presently live in Arizona, are full-time RV’rs. We plan on living in the Motorhome while we build. I have sent this address to several of my friends. They will also be contacting you via e-mail. Thank you once again for your wonderful site.

    Jim & Juana Dinwiddie

  5. Julia Taylor Feb 12

    Jim and Juana,

    Thanks to you for taking the time to post your comment and for passing my web site on to others.

    Congratulations on your retirement. I’m sure you will have a lovely experience.

    Enjoy building your home in Mexico!

    Kindest Regards,
    Julia C Taylor

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