Showing posts with label USA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label USA. Show all posts

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Much Love

We both grew up in safe, clean, flourishing neighborhoods in major American cities. Amy in LaCrosse, Wisconsin and me in Northwest Washington DC. People had pride in their homes and surroundings. Elementary, secondary and high schools were all clean, well staffed and optimum environments for learning. Trash was regularly picked up, crime was low, police vigilant at all hours. Hospitals with ambulances ready 24/7 were close. Trees lined the boulevards, playgrounds were staffed except in winter. At night street lights were on. I had a paper delivery route, mowed lawns and shoveled snow; always feeling safe.  My father held important positions as a crusader for social justice, my mother kept the home with five children.

Perhaps our lives in the USA could be called “white privilege.” I knew of parts of Washington DCghettos, that were very unsafe. Same with Baltimore where I went to art college and lived downtown with prostitutes on corners and muggings at night. Amy too was safe, although she had a Spanish surname and ran into prejudice from within her white enclave. 

As an adult, Amy lived in Minneapolis where she was one of the more famous artists before moving to Taos, New Mexico and starting a gallery. I settled in Santa Fe, New Mexico and eventually established myself as a successful artist. Even during times I was poor, I felt hope and possibility. We both always were creative enough to find jobs until garnering artistic success.

In 2019, Amy and I, married less than two years, moved to Oaxaca, Mexico.  American society and tensions between human demographics were coming to a fever pitch, culminating in the attack on the US Capitol, and exasperated by the Covid pandemic. We had visited Oaxaca for Dia de Muertos, went back home and, almost as a lark, found a house for sale online on a real estate site. It was everything we wanted, designed by a Mexican architect, made of adobe with artistic flourish, plenty of space with gorgeous views . . . the architect´s German wife was an agronomist who lovingly planted the grounds. It is situated in a pueblo bordering Oaxaca. The cost was far less than listings in the Santa Fe. 

We traveled to look at it. The architect had died and the owner moved back to Germany. We made a low offer, stipulating to include the furniture. Immediately we received an affirmative response. 

We have been living in Mexico three years and have permanent resident status. We brought about half our belongings, sold most of the rest and have a storage unit in Santa Fe filled mostly with art. We go back each year for about a month.

There is much to like in Mexico and much not to like. People are generally good, and have strong family bonds. This prevents lost souls from falling between the cracks as so often happens in the USA. Our city of Oaxaca is a cultural Mecca full of art, fine cuisine, traditions and frequent celebrations. It has more than once been listed in travel magazines as the #1 tourist destination in the world. Yet, outside of the city, life begins to resemble third world conditions. Roads are of poor quality, homes are basic without adornment, thievery is a problem, animals often have it bad, poverty is obvious. Most people have only basic eduction.

Amy and I live in a pueblo that is both vibrant and also typical of Mexico lower class. Our home is sublime, especially compared to those around us. The structure is adobe, with plenty of light and more space than we need, tile roofs and property with mature trees and a variety of plants. Also, our gray water goes to a water plant filtrations system. Some flowers bloom year long. Two seasons; wet and dry.

We have a young dog; Mexican breed, named MaliNalli Copali.

As have our neighbors, we have been robbed several times. Outdoor stuff but it is a nuisance. So I put up security cameras front and back. During the last incident we got pictures of the culprit.

We have good friends. An artist down the road builds our frames and he and his family are stalwart friends. Our closest neighbor too is a big help. Then the children who come to our house on Sundays for art lessons and refreshments. Much love.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Bandits on the Road

Trampas, New Mexico, USA. 

 Amy had read of bandits on the roads in Mexico so it was with some trepidation that we decided to begin our journey driving north from Oaxaca to Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA. That was over a month ago. We went, and returned the beginning of October with relatively few incidents. One week of our sojourn transpired in San Francisco. The most troublesome occurrences of our trip happened in the States. 

We drove so that we could load some of our essentials from storage in Santa Fe into our car. I have been wanting a desktop computer. The new iMac is wonderful. We don’t have a formal address in Oaxaca to mail order it, so on the way north we stopped in Mexico City at the Apple store. I deliberated buying it on the spot, or on the return. I did not want to buy it in the States because there are charges for bringing new electronics like computers into Mexico. To make a long story short, I ended up buying it and later discovering in the USA I would have paid 400.00 dollars less. It turned out we breezed through the border both times without hassle. 

The best part of our travels in Mexico was undoubtedly five days in Mexico City. It has a fabulous wealth of art and culture. We stayed in a wonderful hotel downtown that welcomed us with luxury and safety. Our time was relaxed and more or less untroubled; except for being cheated once by a taxi driver.

When we reached the outskirts of Santa Fe and stopped along a road next to a hiking trail through the hills, the smells of the high desert and intimately familiar terrain brought a flood of feelings into my bones. The wealth of over 40 years of lived life there came back all at once.

Dear friends extended to us hospitality. 

The trip to San Francisco was planned because both Amy and I have both had deep and meaningful visits to the city, but never together. We arrived to beautiful weather and rented a car for a week. The next day clouds blocked the sun and it stayed that way until we left. Furthermore, after visiting a wonderful museum on our first day, we came to our car in the parking lot only to discover a smashed window and glass all over the back seat. This was to temper our trip. 

Our remaining time in Santa Fe was spent with friends and going through the objects we have stored. It is mostly artwork of value, art materials, antiques, furniture, clothes and miscellany. 
I spent over 1000.00 USD buying art supplies impossible to find in Oaxaca. Amy also bought supplies.

Our return trip went smoothly and we crossed the border at Del Rio, Texas into Acuna, Mexico with ease. No encounters with bandits, just busy roads crowded with big trucks pulling trailers. 

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Pages of a Passport

 “Home is where your passport is.” – Anonymous

From the time Amy sent her passport off to Philadelphia to be updated with her new name, we have thought about it like two lost children. What can we do without it? Neither north nor south, east or west can we venture beyond the borders of America. My gypsy soul felt convoluted. We are buying a home in Mexico. I have made the downpayment and thought that by now, we would perhaps be living in Oaxaca.

Before moving with our belongings, we must apply for and receive a permanent visa from the Mexican consulate nearby in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The documents required must be consistent, and Amy took a new surname when we married—she is now Amy Córdova y Boone. Her bank statements which are required reflect her new name, but other documents do not.

Passports can take up to three months to process, so we paid extra to have it within six weeks. After the first month, we anxiously searched the mailbox for delivery. 

Meanwhile we packed half our belongings into boxes, selling and giving away more. After another two weeks, last Friday the priority packet arrived with Amy’s passport.

The first stamp for her will be Mexico. 

From the 2nd page of US passports: 
"The secretary of State of the United States of America hereby requests all of whom it may concern to permit the citizen/national of the United States named herein to pass without delay or hindrance and in case of need to give all lawful aid and protection."

You can’t have a narrow mind and a thick passport. – Anonymous
Of all the books in the world, the best stories are found between the pages of a passport. – Anonymous

Sunday, September 06, 2020

A Mexican Home

It all seems a dream. About six months ago, I saw a Mexican home listed for sale online. It is on the outskirts of Oaxaca, Mexico. The pictures showed a house Amy and I loved. Furthermore, the price is about 1/4th the cost of a similar home in Santa Fe. We both feel the situation in America is getting too weird, and for the same amount of money, we could live much more lavishly somewhere else. 

Now we are in Oaxaca for a week. Our first visit was to see THE HOUSE. It is as described on the website. Three bedrooms, two studios, two bathrooms, chefs kitchen, plenty of nooks, crannies and storage, extensive grounds with exotic plants and drip irrigation . . . we feel it is for us. The house was built by a socially conscious German couple, who hired the same architect that designed for Lila Downs, a world famous Mexican-American singer who has a home in Oaxaca. When the owner's partner died, she returned to Germany and left the house with a caretaker. 

Amy and I both agree that love surrounds this place and is evident in the fabric of its life. The German woman worked passionately to help rural cooperatives get on their feet. An indigenous caretaker is in the house, and is from an agricultural collective a few hours away that grows coffee, vanilla beans and spices. 

The property is perfect for two artists. We need to make big adjustments to leave our home country but in the end it's worth it. The village is called San Pedro Ixtalahuaca—about 1/2 hour drive from Oaxaca. 

Nothing around but a church, school, and a few tiny shops. 

The house and land is ringing our bell. Now to decide.

(Note: Since writing this post, amy and I have bought the home and are preparing to move there.)