Living in another country –  immersed in another culture –   was one of the best experiences of my life.

I often thought I would have majored in International Business and made a life out of it, if I hadknow it’s effect on me.  I went to Mexico in my 30’s.  We lived there for 3 years.  I would have liked to stay longer, but my job was done.

Peach colored flowerWikipedia mentions this about “expatriates” which I find interesting:

In its broadest sense, an expatriate is any person living in a different country from where he is a citizen. In common usage, the term is often used in the context of professionals sent abroad by their companies, as opposed to locally hired staff (who can also be foreigners). The differentiation found in common usage usually comes down to socio-economic factors, so skilled professionals working in another country are described as expatriates, whereas a manual labourer who has moved to another country to earn more money might be labelled an ‘immigrant’.

Quite a difference to live in another country sponsored  by a corporation – not just of your own accord.  When we were asked to go to Mexico, we considered that it was one of the safest adventures that we could undertake.  If we didn’t like it – or if anything went wrong – the company would certainly bring us back to the US.

Aside from the wonderful cultural learnings, we also had some of the most satisfying friendships that we’ve ever had.  Twelve couples in a similar situation.  In a foreign place.  Away from other friends and family.  Learning new customs and language.  It created quite a bond between us.

Admittedly, it was a little unusual that I was the working half of our twosome.  In every other case, the wives were staying at home and starting families.  Planning lunch dates and sipping margaretas.  But on weekends, we found true compadres amongst this group.

We’ve long since dispersed throughout the world to other lives, but the memories and connection remains strong.

One weekend while living in Mexico, we headed off to Santa Clara del Cobre.  Saint Clare of the Copper.  It’s located in Michoacan and we chose it as our destination in late September, at the end of the rainy season.

The hills were a lush green and almost tropical in nature, with cascading Bougainvillea everywhere.  The perfect time to visit.

And, as one might expect, 2000_1111_112824AAcopper for sale everywhere.  Anything you can imagine being made of copper was crafted here.  We came home with a car full of copper pans, which hang in our kitchen still (admittedly, we enjoy looking at them more than cooking with them).

But the most vivid memory of the town was in our approach to it.  We were driving down an ancient cobble stone road.  Rough and uneven.  Slow going, even as the only car on the road.  But as we got closer to the town, we noticed an old man sitting by the side of the road in a hard backed chair.  Getting closer still, the thick rope of chain across the road becomes visible.

As we pulled up to the chain, the old man got up to greet us…   and to collect his one peso toll for letting us through.

It’s hard for me to admit, but Charlie was right.  Charlie was my boss-who-lived-in-another -country while I was living in Mexico City.  He had done the whole expat thing (in Florence, no less), and had recommended that I keep a journal while we lived in Mexico City.

But I didn’t take his advice.  We were too busy having a thoroughly amazing, educating and enjoyable experience.  Now I wish I had.  Mexico City Zocalo at Christmas

We moved to Mexico City in 1994, just after NAFTA was signed.  There was quite a rush of Americans, Canadians, Australians and others into the county to take advantage of this great opportunity.  We were 2 of 250,000 Americans living in Mexico City.

By some statistics, Mexico City is the largest city in the world.   The cultural differences were intriguing.  Nothing was easy.  We learned things every day and we made a lot of good friends in the process.

Over time, I will use this space to write about some of our adventures in Mexico.  And to make that long overdue journal that Charlie suggested…