Wait, what? 7 months already? Where has the time gone. Here are some updates on Ray and I and how life is going in Mexico City.
Work, work, work
In mid-July we were hit with a huge blow – the job opportunity here in Mexico with SolarCity, the one that was originally supposed to be for 2 years came to an end and Ray and his team were told to relocate back to the US. Although SolarCity had given Ray and his team a variety of explanations for the transfer back, we pretty much blamed it on a young company being overzealous and unprepared for their first international expansion. What I think SolarCity failed to see, however, is how much the initial relocation had drastically changed people’s lives, as we and the rest of Ray’s team had dropped everything to move to Mexico and had no home to go back to. At that time in July, I had just been offered a new full time English teaching position at a Montessori school close to our house and was incredibly excited about it. I was devastated at the thought of having to give up a job that could further my career, something that I was looking forward to. Ray did end up transferring back to the US for a few months to aid in the transition but after weeks of feeling like a “fish out of water” back at his old position in roseville (and missing his wife back in Mexico!), we decided that we would take our chances and see what Mexico had to offer us. Having dedicated so much heart, soul and money into this international move, we really wanted to see it through, at least through to the time that we had originally expected to be here (1-2 years). Ray has since parted ways with SolarCity and has been offered numerous positions with other companies (as Ray says, “Solar Energy is the Gold Rush of the 21st century!”) He has been doing a lot of work from home and is loving it!
Unfortunately, in the end, the position didn’t work out at the Montessori school and I decided to end my contract in late October. It was a huge blow after making the decision to stay here based on this position and Ray and I went back to the drawing board. Professionally, it has been quite a year of ups and downs for us and there are days where we ask ourselves, “What the heck are we doing here? Nothing ever goes as planned.” But if Mexico City has taught us anything thus far it is to be flexible, resourceful and thick-skinned. We truly believe that something brought us here to Mexico City and we still want time to “figure that something out.” That something might very well be travel and life experience, or it may be that dream job that’s just waiting around the corner. We are both incredibly optimistic and stand firm behind our choice to stay in Mexico. If I learned anything from living in Spain, I know that in 1 year, 2 years, 5 years in the perspective of your whole life is so small and yet it can have such a huge impact on the person you grow to become. As for today, we are grateful to have a roof over our head, food on the table, a little money in the bank, family and friends that love us, and most importantly, each other.
Don’t be afraid to take an unfamiliar path, sometimes they are the ones that take you the best places
Hours of food prep and cooking
Being a fervent supporter of Trader Joe’s while living in California, I realize now how utterly spoiled I was having fresh, pre-made meals and plethora of local and organic products at my fingertips. All in a one-stop-shop! Don’t get me wrong, Mexico City is up and coming on the organic scene with organic shops and markets opening up left and right. But, I have all about given up on the one-stop-shopping. Grocery shopping and food prep is an all-day affair in my house: I get certain produce, cheeses and nuts from various vendors at the local market (I have to roll my little cart over there with my reusable bags or I end up arriving home with a mountain of plastic bags), tortillas from the tortilleria on calle Coahuila (not Calle Medellin) on Saturdays because they are closed on Sundays, organic meat and speciality products from the tiny shop on the other side of Colonia Condesa (much faster to get there on my bike), a select amount of American products that I can only find at Superama (the dreaded sister store of Walmart which I cringe at buying things from but desperate times call for desperate measures and I just can’t go without my Kashi cereal and San Pellegrino italian sodas). Then off course there is usually a monthly trip to Costco which involves a taxi ride because we don’t have a car.
Then comes the food prep. After that terrible stint with a parasite from eating market vegetables, I started religiously disinfecting all fruits and vegetables by soaking them in a mixture of water and Microdyn drops which, you can imagine, is rather time consuming. However, each week I have become a bit braver in trying new things. I have added kale, collard greens, pomegranate seeds, mango and guayaba to my weekly repertoire. Unable to find quality juice on the shelves I have been experimenting with aguas frescas (a mixture of concentrated fruit, water, and a touch of honey or raw sugar). Aside from produce, I have tried a variety of canned food items here, hoping for a Trader-Joe’s-like quality and have been thoroughly disappointed. So, I have been experimenting with things like homemade black beans, peanut butter, lentil soups with swiss chard and ground turkey, butternut squash soup with a touch of ginger, large batches of lemon hummus with fresh garbanzo beans that I have to “re-hydrate” the night before, baked goods and sweets like banana bread and vegan chocolate balls with dates and cocoa powder. And to add to all of this cooking experimentation, we are yet again, without a dishwasher (I said our last apartment would be the last place we lived without a dishwasher but, alas, here we are). So, you sort of feel like you spend half your life washing dishes in our house but, we’ve worked out a nice system, we put on some music and I wash as Ray dries. We have some great conversations and actually, now that I think about it, spend a lot of quality time together (go figure!)
At the end of the day however, there are so many positives coming out of this:
Eating whole foods
It’s incredibly empowering to be in complete control of what is going into your body – knowing that the majority of the food we consume does not have a nutritional label on it.
Supporting local farmers and agriculture
Although it is much more work to drag my little cart over the Mercado Medellin with my reusable bags than to pop over to Superama across the park, it feels so good to support local agriculture and farmers. To be able to navigate yourself through the maze of stalls and know exactly where you’re going and what you need. Not to mention the culture experience of purchasing products from the local markets is so enriching – the people, the language, the smells, the noises, the colors – you can’t even put it on the same playing field as going to a grocery store.
Aalthough eating out in Mexico is very inexpensive in comparison to the US, we are saving a ton of cash having gourmet meals at home.
Weekends and Social Life
As I reminisce on photos of Halloween parties, dinner parties, salsa nights and CASA de ESPAÑOL events, part of me does feel a bit of homesickness thinking about the huge social circle and life we left behind in Sacramento. And yet, there is no part of me that feels the least bit bored or not mentally stimulated because we are doing so many different things that continue to enrich our lives. Aside from our constant travel schedule, we still enjoy the weekends by discovering all Mexico City has to offer. When we first got here, we made a huge list of “must sees” in el DF and we are using our weekends to check things off of it. So though our salsa dancing outings are non-existent and social get-togethers limited, we are staying enriched in different ways. As time passes we are solely building a mini network of friends and a support group of people we can call on in times of need. However, we do really look forward to our trips home to Sacramento – see you all for the holidays!
Home sweet home
We have really settled into our quaint neighborhood – La Condesa – and neighboring Roma. We have our “go-to” restaurants, most of which are “fondas” or places where they offer a 3-5 course meals for around 75 pesos (or $4 USD) during the lunch hour…I know, it is pretty incredible how cheap food is here. We have added a number of small upgrades to our little apartment and it finally feels warm and inviting. It has sort of become our safe-haven where we can get away from the chaos of the city. We have created, what we call, our “mini home gym” with Ray’s mini pull up and push up bar to get out his energy while working from home. About 3 nights a week we turn our front room into a yoga studio – we dim the lights, light some incense put on some background music and do a “free class” on youtube. We have considered getting gym memberships but the truth is we are walking and running around so much just living our normal lives (I have to walk about mile and half round trip just to get my groceries from one place) that we arrive home pretty exhausted. It’s incredible how much more active you are without a car!
The longer I live in Mexico City, the more the city starts to grow on me and the more I understand why an estimated 1 million Americans have chosen to live here. It is true what many say, that once you get around the city’s rough edges, there is this beauty all around you.