Last updateFri, 01 May 2015 7pm


A Midwesterner moves to Mexico – May 1, 2015

My sister and I have started writing daily emails to each other.

“Just a sentence or two every day,” she suggested in a phone call, “to keep us better in touch since you’re so far away.”

We’ve only been doing it for a couple of weeks and it’s been nice. Except that lately, as older siblings are wont to do to their unsuspecting younger sibs, she seems to have changed the rules and has started sending actual well written essays that make me feel a tad bit inferior every time I send out my agreed upon “sentence or two.”

Her latest tome was about Mexico.

She and her husband and another couple travel together to a beach resort in Mexico every year for a week long vacation. They always go at the exact same time of year and they always stay in the same area of the same resort. And, apparently, my sister and her friend always stake out the same two beach chairs to sit in for the week--going out early each morning before breakfast and putting beach towels on the two best chairs to “reserve” them.

“Yes,” my sister admitted, “sad to say, I am one of those people.” She was obviously being proactive to take away the words that were on the tip of my tongue, that she had become our mother.

The chairs they “reserve” (and I use that term sarcastically) are on the edge of the pool area that faces the ocean.  They’re in a spot that allows them to look at the ocean and feel the ocean breeze, while still getting shade from palm trees and having a sparkling pool to jump into if they get hot.

“It is,” she said, “truly my ‘happy place’.” A place that she likes to think has her name on it.

And, apparently, after the second day of their most recent vacation it actually did, as her friend’s husband made real signs with their names and put them on the chairs, alleviating any further need of anyone getting there early with beach towels.

At this juncture, I would like to point that there’s no way I learned all of this in “a sentence or two.” 

I read the lengthy email with some interest, however, since I’ve been in Mexico for nearly nine months and have yet to see an ocean or a beach. I’ve seen parades and cathedrals and ancient cemeteries and famous murals. I’ve strolled through an untold number of markets and delighted in buying fruits and food and plants with no idea of what I was coming home with. I’ve traveled to Mexico City and Tapalpa and Guanajuato and marveled at the distinct beauty of each place. I’ve been enchanted by the streets of Ajijic and I’ve wandered the streets of various neighborhoods in Guadalajara, never failing to find something that captures my fancy.

I’ve been awed by the 12 foot high pencil cactus that grows wild and untended on the side of the street only a block from our house. I’ve discovered the best churros in Guadalajara and enjoyed every one of the distant seconds that I ate along the way. I’ve been thrilled at discovering horse and riders walking down busy streets and along railroad tracks. I’ve been charmed by the friendliness of everyone I’ve met and count “Buenos dias” as one of the best phrases ever invented. 

One of these days I suspect I’ll eventually make it to a beach and see the Mexico that most foreigners know and return to. Undoubtedly I’ll enjoy the ocean breeze and the relaxing whisper of the waves as I sit in a well placed beach chair, imagining that it has my sister’s name on it and (bratty little sister that I am) that I’m using it without her permission.

And, as I sit there, I expect I’ll also be a little bit smug at having something over on my big sister. Who has yet to discover that her beach chair isn’t the only “happy place” in Mexico.