I am in my tenth year here in Mexico. No two years have beared much resemblance to each other. I’ve lived in different cities and different homes with different people. I’ve worked in different schools and taught different subjects.
My friends up north are always asking me how I do this. How do you decide where to go? How do you find somewhere to live? How do you find teaching jobs? They also ask a myriad of other questions but I’ll focus on these three in these posts.
It was a Tuesday evening when my phone rang in Winnipeg. The caller was the director of English at a private school in Mexico. He wanted to know if I was available to teach in Mexico. The start date was the following Monday.
By some miracle and with the help of good friends, my apartment was packed up and the contents moved to a storage unit. My son made the travel arrangements for me. And less than a week later I found myself in Culiacán. The school arranged my accommodation.
Dave’s ESL Cafe was a popular website at that time for teachers and employers alike. I had posted a resume there and that was how the school in Culiacán had found me.
The school year ended and I found myself back in Winnipeg. I had totally forgotten about the resume on Dave’s ESL Cafe. Until my phone rang and it was a director of English at a private school in Irapuato. I thanked him for calling and explained that teaching in Mexico had been a one year plan. He offered to pay my flight down there. I accepted.
I wasn’t impressed with Irapuato or the school. The actual job in no way resembled the job description that had been outlined in the original contract. I decided that I would tough it out until Christmas.
I was out for coffee with my supervisor on October 1st when my phone rang. The caller was not in my contacts so I disregarded it and turned the ringer off. When I got home a few hours later I saw that the same number had called me four more times. I thought that maybe someone was urgently tried to call the person who previously had my number. And I called the number back to let them know they had a wrong number.
To my surprise the voice that answered asked, “Karen, is that you?” Going through an ugly divorce at the time, I was immediately suspicious. However the caller identified himself as the owner of a school in Tlaquepaque, a suburb of Guadalajara. He had seen my resume on Dave’s ESL Cafe ( once again I had neglected to remove it) and offered me a job. It was around five in the afternoon on a Saturday. He needed me in Guadalajara Monday morning.
The next few hours were hectic as I hurriedly packed up my belongings. The following morning I was on a bus headed for Guadalajara. Once again the school arranged my accommodation.
I also found myself teaching business English that year. A friend from Norway needed a substitute while she went home for a visit. Her boss was impressed with me and offered me a job. So that winter I taught for him as well as at the other school.
Shortly before I headed back to Winnipeg for knee surgery the following spring, I was in a bar where I met a man who owned another school in Tlaquepaque. I accepted his job offer when I returned to Mexico after my surgery. He also managed properties and found me accommodation.
But I only taught there a couple of months. Parents were using his school as cheap babysitting for their kids, and it was far too frustrating trying to teach kids who hadn’t the slightest interest in learning English. But I did continue to stay in the accommodation he had offered me when I taught at his school.
Meanwhile, another friend had taught at yet another school but left to teach English on-line. The owner of the school called me with a job offer and I accepted.
I then received a call from the man whom I’d taught business English for, so once again I found myself with two jobs.
In the spring I was visiting with my family in Culiacán before going back to Winnipeg for a vacation. I got a call from the owner of a school in Mazatlan. Apparently we had a mutual friend on Facebook who told her I was an English teacher.
After my Winnipeg visit I found myself in Mazatlan where once again the school had found me accommodation. I only taught there a few months. I had met the owner of another school at Starbucks one day and had accepted his job offer. I also moved in with another friend at that time.
Unfortunately that school folded. And I decided that I was going to semi-retire and teach private students only. I also moved again and was delighted to find private students right in my condominium complex.
My last year in Mazatlan I completely retired. I moved again. Once you’re in a place long enough, you meet people and it’s quite easy to find affordable accommodation.
That’s all for this post. Stay tuned for Part 2 where I’ll talk about life in San Luis Potosí and Aguascalientes.