Living in Mexico: The Beauty and the Struggles
After working in South Korea for one year, I knew I wanted to get back to the familiarity of ‘the West,’ or more specifically, ‘the Americas.’ I had never been to anywhere south of the border. I had friends who had been to Cancun and Cozumel and all those fun places, but when I thought of Mexico, I envisioned rustic streets lined with little restaurants selling tacos, mariachi bands, and fresh fruit sold from little booths–not white beaches with partying teenagers. I’m not exactly sure what it was that made me think, “I want to try living in Mexico,” but if I had to pinpoint it, I would say that watching Y Tu Mama Tambien did it for me.
For those of you who have or haven’t seen this movie, it gives a very stereotypical view of Mexico. But, I quickly fell in love with what seemed like a laid back culture, beautiful drives, and gorgeous coastlines a few hours in any direction. Or maybe it was the stories my mom, who used to be a Spanish teacher, told me about Dia de los Muertos, Selena, and even Cinco de Mayo.
A lot of my exposure to Mexicans growing up was not much more than seeing the guys working in my dad’s restaurant or landscapers around my neighborhood–which isn’t being ignorant; it’s true.
I knew about the history and rich culture of the Aztecs and the Mayans but thought it would be better to see it all for myself. The remarkable but mysterious pyramids and the appreciation for nature all intrigued me. I loved the ‘Mexican’ language that is not just Spanish, but a unique Spanish only spoken in this part of the world. Mexicans’ sense of pride was something I knew I would grow to love, and I was excited to learn about the people, who despite many wanting to come to the U.S for a better life, still knew where their most important roots came from.
I knew that coming to Mexico would give me the opportunity to learn Spanish, walk around beautiful neighborhoods, and take in the lovely weather. I didn’t know much about Pachuca, Mexico, but boy, was I wrong about everything–in the best way possible. Pachuca is surrounded by gorgeous mountains that you could only envision on a postcard. There are beautiful little houses, mercados selling endless fruit and vegetables, and actual mariachi bands playing music and singing along the streets. I had the amazing opportunity to go to the pueblas, or hometowns of my Mexican co-workers where I ate some barbacoa, sheep that is cooked in a special way unique to Hidalgo, the state where Pachuca is located, and to sit at a meal on a farm with strangers, watching a dazzling sunset fall over the town.
Honestly, after being away from home for an entire year, let alone on the other side of the world, another reason I wanted to live in Mexico was to be closer to home–which has certainly come in handy. In just a few months, I have embraced Mexico and learned so much about this special place. Most importantly, living in Mexico has completely changed my outlook on Mexicans. A lot of my exposure to Mexicans growing up was not much more than seeing the guys working in my dad’s restaurant or landscapers around my neighborhood–which isn’t being ignorant; it’s true. Either way, a lot of our perceptions about Mexico and Mexicans in general is negative as portrayed by the media–that Mexicans come to our country illegally, take all of our welfare, and commit crimes.
Things in Mexico are not as cheap as we might imagine; yes, they are cheap for those with the US dollar, but after living here a while, you start to understand why Mexicans want to, and have done anything and everything they could do, to cross the border.
When you come to Mexico, you will see how much Mexicans thrive. While they might not have a lot of things we have as Americans, they have something that we don’t–which is national pride. You will never meet a Mexican who isn’t proud of where he/she comes from.
At the same time, despite all of Mexico’s beauty, there is also a sad side here. While struggling on the salary I made in Mexico, I remind myself that foreigners teaching abroad get paid nearly twice as much as Mexican teachers. Things in Mexico are not as cheap as we might imagine; yes, they are cheap for those with the US dollar, but after living here a while, you start to understand why Mexicans want to, and have done anything and everything they could do, to cross the border. What a Mexican could make at a minimum wage job in the U.S could easily feed their entire family for a day here. However, average Mexicans struggle to do just that.
Kids beg for money in the streets. Homeless people can be found on every corner. Parents play music on the sidewalk with their kids, hoping to make some pesos. There are also so many skinny, stray dogs roaming the streets trying to find something to eat, though many Mexicans continue to breed dogs in order to make money for their families.
With all of this hardship, I am still so happy I chose to come here–even when mariachi bands serenaded the people of the town at 2 AM on a weeknight.
Living in Mexico: The Beauty and the Struggles