After my initial phases of culture shock wore off, I finally began to relax and accept elements about my new life and my new country. Although the process of change didn’t occur overnight or even over the course of a year or two, it is very noticeable now after all these years.
Before moving, I spent three years traveling abroad and was familiar with culture changes like food, language and ethics. But when you travel, these cultural differences are only temporary. Accepting the cultural differences of Mexico, on the other hand, was permanent and something I needed to do.
The first two years were the hardest for several reasons. Upon arriving I was still getting used to the bugs, being a minority, the language and the heat. Those were the big initial four factors for me. Until I had those thing sorted, let’s just say I wasn’t really in the mood for much else.
After that, however, things began to fall into place. I found myself becoming more and more open about general day-to-day life here. Standing in long lines that didn’t seem to move no longer bothered me. If the repair guy didn’t show up as agreed, I would just do it myself.
I learned to accept that mail gets thrown into the yard (even if you have a box), so make sure to look for it and that people don’t come knocking, but instead, yell from the street until you respond. I found that if I took my time food shopping I not only discovered new things, I became interested in learning how to cook local cuisine.
I made a real effort to submerge myself into all the elements of this part of Mexico, and I’m truly glad I did.
My reward for doing this was peace. Don’t get me wrong, there are still a million-and-one things in a day that can make me crazy, but I mean overall my life is so much more peaceful. I no longer live in a high-pressure “succeed” society but instead, enjoy getting up when I feel like it, doing what hits me in a day and shopping for one day at a time. Some days, I feel like I’ve hit retirement at the ripe age of 40-something.
I don’t let the expectations of my past life affect my current existence. I learned to let it go.
Also, from doing without many of the comforts I once knew, I have learned what’s important and what’s not. I see now that being relaxed and enjoying my day is the prize. I don’t know how else to explain it, but the competitive side of me is gone. My focus in life is now completely different.
I have a small business that earns enough every month to make ends meet. And for me, that’s enough. Rather than overwork until I’m 60+, I’m much happier doing light work every day to earn what I need. This new mentality leaves me a lot of time to enjoy my life: reading, long dog walks, afternoon siestas, a spontaneous day spent at the beach, gardening at home or overly long roadside chats with neighbors — because these days, I’m never in a hurry to be anywhere or do anything.
Call it what you want, but that mañana mentality is a really good thing.