A friend of mine is moving back to Canada after having lived in Mexico for a year and a half. Although he’d prefer to stay here, his life is complicated and necessitates returning to Canada for a while.
When he first came here, the intent was to remain here. He had a sizeable collection of DVDs and CDs, as well as computer and game equipment driven down here for him. However he is flying back now and the cost of shipping all this is prohibitive, so he is liquidating all of his treasures. Of course he is not receiving anywhere even remotely close to the value in terms of money.
I think back to my own collections and how I was in the same position a few years ago. In another lifetime I had an enormous collection of lighthouses that once filled an entire room. I had bookshelves with hundreds of cookbooks. And I had a small collection of sewing machines including a vintage treadmill. Unlike my friend, I had few CDs or DVDs as I never got custody of those when the marriage ended. The loss of these was solely because my children had given me some of these as gifts over the years. It wasn’t the actual music or movies.
Over time I have dealt with the heartbreaking memories. I sometimes recall with fondness where I acquired some of these items on my travels. Many were gifts from family or friends who have left this world, and those are the ones that tug at the heartstrings the most.
Right now my friend is most concerned with the dollar aspect. He needs to raise enough money to fly back and find an apartment where he can settle down for a while. His employment options are also limited. There will be time for the memories later on.
My situation was similar. I needed to raise enough money to support myself while I was back at university finishing my degree. I also needed money to enable two knee replacement surgeries and a lengthy recovery after each. My financial situation was precarious and life was stressful.
I first came to Mexico five years ago with one suitcase. My possessions have now increased to fill three suitcases. My biggest collection consists of a shelf of books. Everything is portable and can be moved easily, with the exception of a used crock pot that I have recently acquired.
However our lives are filled with more important collections that are not measured by things or possessions. Relationships with people and life experiences form other collections in our lives. Although intangible, these are the real treasures in life, providing us with precious memories that live in our hearts forever. I am so very grateful for all the people who have shared and been a part of my life. I love you all.
The following was written but not posted back in April. I miss you Guadalajara. If only you had a beach………….
It’s that time again. It’s been almost eighteen months but it has snuck up on me again. I’ve been setting up appointments in Winnipeg and preparing for my book launch. And now it’s time to pack. And I hate packing!!!!
A smaller bag of books and teaching materials is ready to go. That was easily done as soon as Easter break started. But it’s the two suitcases that are the headache. One stays here in Mexico, and one travels with me to Canada. And I doubt that any of my clothes I wear here are at all appropriate for the weather in Winnipeg. Tempting to just leave everything here and take a backpack with my laptop and a few things on the plane. But that’s just wishful dreaming……..
This last week in Guadalajara is going by all too quickly. I have made a point of going back to some of my favorite places, although there is still a long list of places I haven’t even been to yet.
My first priority was Parque Mirador. I have spent countless hours here gazing out at the canyon, taking photos and journalling. Peaceful, tranquil and my haven from the real world.
I spent a day in Zapopan near the Basilica. The vendors were out in full force displaying their religious items, jewelry, books and more. Although I have been here several times before, I finally decided to check out the art museum. Small, quaint and air-conditioned, it featured a tunnel leading to the rooftop where I found this!
I went back to Tonola and walked for hours. The displays by the artesans are awesome and this is one time I wish I had my own home here and could decorate it myself. I think I’d put this cute little guy out in my garden.
I also went back for one last visit to Lake Chapala and Ajijic. Although the water is rapidly disappearing from the lake, I still enjoy the walk along the malecon as well as strolling through the tianguis.
There are so many beautiful churches here in Guadalajara. The architecture, art and statues are amazing. How wonderful that these ancient buildings have been preserved!
I will miss Calle Independencia with its shops, artesans and restaurants. Day and night, this pedestrian pathway is alive with people and music.
Guadalajara has some incredible museums. They may not have elevators and restaurants, but the ambiance and the displays are amazing.
I have spent hours in the Jardin Hidalgo right here in Tlaquepaque. The fountains and flowers are lovely, and this has been a favorite spot for people-watching.
It goes without saying that I will miss my students, despite the long commutes to Zapopan and Miravalle. We have had some fabulous discussions in Conversation Club and Saturdays just won’t be the same. And I’ll be able to sleep in on Monday and Wednesday mornings! I have really enjoyed my students this year, and I wish them all the best of luck in their studies.
Adios Guadalajara! Hasta luego!
Traveling and living in another country are amazing experiences I have had. I have immersed myself in in a foreign culture, have acquired a new language and have adjusted to a different climate. But the biggest challenge has been returning to my hometown for visits.
After eight months in Culiacan, I returned to Winnipeg intent on finding employment and remaining in Canada. While it was great to see my children and my friends, it definitely was not one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. I had grown accustomed to a far different way of life in Mexico and I was quickly overwhelmed by the stressful lifestyle in Winnipeg. I lasted five weeks and breathed a sigh of relief when I boarded that flight back to Mexico.
The following two years were a split of six months in Guadalajara and six months in Winnipeg as I had two knee replacements done a year apart in Canada. I really had to psyche myself up for those lengthy Canadian stays. Anxiety and panic attacks were my constant companions along with grueling physiotherapy following the two surgeries.
When I returned to Guadalajara, it was for eighteen months this time. I planned a brief visit to Winnipeg to launch my second book in May of this year. However the two weeks dragged out to five weeks and it really was no vacation. I had a myriad of appointments and endless issues to contend with. Those weeks were exhausting and stressful.
I returned to Mexico in June and moved directly to Mazatlan. I welcomed the challenges of a new city to explore. Of course I did have to deal with Immigration and that comes in second only to divorce in terms of stress and aggravation.
Reverse culture shock is common when you have lived in another country and return to your hometown. The biggest obstacle for me is the concept of time. Here in Mexico, the pace is much slower. I like to call it the “land of manana.” There’s always another bus, another train and another day. There is no rush and multi-tasking is not a necessity. Everything gets done in its own time.
When I returned to Winnipeg, multi-tasking was an absolute necessity. Appointments combined with shopping in the same morning or afternoon left me feeling like I was in a marathon. I missed my little corner tiendas and the neighborhood tienguis. I missed the leisurely stroll to a coffee shop or a bar instead of the hassle of driving in traffic.
I missed the sound of the beautiful Spanish language. Although English is the predominant language in Winnipeg, I heard far more conversations in a variety of foreign languages when shopping in the malls.
I missed the smiling Mexican faces greeting me with a Buen Dia although they were complete strangers to me. Bus drivers would wish me a good day when I said gracias as I alighted from the bus.
While it was nice to return to some of my favorite restaurants, I missed the street food in Mexico. Wherever I was, a taco stand or a churro stand were never far away. And many of the foods I had become accustomed to in Mexico just were not available in Winnipeg.
I missed the loudspeakers blaring in the streets advertising tamales or fruit or mattresses. I missed the jingle of the Zeta gas truck and the bells of the ice cream vendors. I missed people trying to sell me pencils or tools through my window. I missed people offering me pots and pans in exchange for jewelry.
I could go on and on. But until you have actually done what I have, I don’t think it’s possible to fully understand the struggle in returning to your home town after a lengthy stay in another country. My world no longer begins and ends in Winnipeg. I have grown and learned so much in the past five years in Mexico. And isn’t that what life is all about?
I had just about completed another blog post when I received an email from my son last night. I decided to put that one on hold and write this one instead.
My son is a man of few words and very seldom do I receive an email from him. He asserts that he is fine, everything is fine, nothing is new so there is no point in sending emails. He doesn’t quite get that his mother treasures these rare messages of sparse wording. Or maybe he does.
The message last night was that the arcade in the Columbia Mall in Grand Forks, North Dakota had closed. A flood of memories overwhelmed me. Flashbacks of weekend trips to Grand Forks over the years filled my head. My son was never into shopping in the mall when he was younger. The highlight was always the time spent in that arcade. And last night I was really moved that he had taken the time to send me that short message about the arcade.