“Time Traveling” in Mexico
One of my favorite things about house sitting in Mexico is the magical experience of going back in time. The Mexico that appears to move more slowly toward its future is the Mexico that I love. Countless expats, after years of living in fast paced North American or European cities, share this fascination with me… and it is these expats who sometimes need house sitters in their absence.
Whether it be a renovated historic home on a central plaza, a villa nestled in the hills of a mountain pueblo, or a luxury condo overlooking the sea, the prospect of tranquility is compelling. Of course, there are big, bustling modern cities in Mexico, with 5-star hotels, SUV’s, abundant night life, and trendy restaurants – but I can find all of that in my home country, so that’s not what lures me south.
As I wind my way down a cobblestone street, taking in the vivid colors and fragrant blossoms that spillover adobe walls, I become a part of Mexico’s largely pedestrian population. Anyone who crosses my path, whether friend or total stranger, will greet me with the appropriate salutation for the time of day – Buenos dias! Buenas tardes! Buenas noches! I truly enjoy participating in this quaint custom. Passing little tiendas and roadside vendors as the aroma of tortillas and sizzling tacos fills the air, I never feel alone. It is also customary to greet a shop keeper before getting to the business of the day. I learned that by watching locals interacting and slowly retrained myself to greet first, then place my order or ask a question. And upon leaving, one is always implored to have a good day, (¡Qué tenga un buen día!) or wished well, (¡Qué le vaya bien!) to which we are expected to reply in a similar manner.
Another enjoyable aspect of Mexico living is that practically anything one might need or want is offered up by vendors who walk, bike, truck or motorcycle the streets, hawking their wares. No need for a car, one can merely step outside the house to buy bottled water, gas cylinders, ice cream, kitchenware, brooms, furniture, snacks, woven baskets, tortillas, fruits and vegetables, fresh fish – it varies widely depending on the area. Handymen also offer up services – scrap metal pick-up, knife sharpening, small home repairs and house painting. A 17 year old neighbor in Merida stopped by our front gate one day, selling homemade flan, traditional Mexican caramel custard – after one taste, we were hooked and she delivered to us every week for six months, always with a brilliant smile on her lovely face.
In afternoons, the streets may be dotted with people of all ages relaxing on folding chairs outside their homes as the sun goes down. They catch up on local news, chatting with neighbors and passersby. Of course, in gated communities there will be more anonymity than in the town barrios, but you will still find that people walking the roads – locals and expats alike, are friendly and willing to say hello or answer questions you may have.
House sitting offers a fantastic opportunity to easily experience different areas of Mexico, slipping into local life for a while. To be sure, Mexico is modernizing quickly these days… and may one day resemble the countries north of the border. But for now, I appreciate the Mexico that offers me a chance to wind back the clock to a gentler, slower time.