It happens all the time. Yesterday I was washing my hands in a restaurant ladies' room here at Lake Chapala. When a woman came out of the stall, she said to me, "Where are you from?"
When I explained that I was born and raised in Iowa, then lived seven years in California, and that I've been living here in Ajijic over 19 years, she opened her eyes, wide, and asked my least favorite question.
"Do you like it here?"
I know folks who visit to check out the area for retirement are anxious to discover how the rest of us live, if we have adjusted and how we feel about our decision. I suppose they have real concerns about liking to live here. I didn’t have any concerns, I knew right away that I wanted to live here. In fact, when I went back home after my first visit, and started preparing to move, I was homesick…for Mexico.
We don’t have to live here.
Still, they surely realize that none of us were transferred here for our jobs, we weren't born here, we aren’t living here out of habit or because our ancestors founded the town. Most of us don't have extended family here that needs us to care for them; we came by choice and we remain by choice.
Mexico isn’t for everyone
As a matter of fact, Mexico is not for everyone and not everyone likes it well enough to stay for three, five, or ten years. There are some foreigners who move back North of the border every year.
I know what the tourists mean by that question, but I still sometimes have to bite back a variety of snippy and sarcastic responses to the question, "Oh you've been here 19 years, …do you like it?
Thankfully I’m usually well rested and my days go exceptionally well. I’m almost always in a good mood, so I can answer, “Yep, I like it here. This is now my home.”
If you think you might ever be tempted to ask someone if they like living here, please print this page and carry it in your pocket or purse. Then instead of asking the question, you can read the responses the long-time residents would like to give in exchange to the question, “Do you like it here?”
The Silly and Snitty Answers
- Actually, I hate it here, but because I believe I am a bad person, I’m punishing myself. When I’ve punished enough, I'll go somewhere nice.
- No, I don't like it, but I'm saving my money and when I have $100 US I'll buy a bus ticket to Texas.
- Oh, didn't you know? They don't let us go back. Once you cross the border you are here to stay, like it or not.
- I'm being held hostage.
- I'm doing a special project. I'm recording silly questions. Thanks for your contribution; now I've met my quota, I can leave.
Thankfully most of you aren’t the type to ask those questions, right?
The Real Answer -- How do I really feel?
Just in case you are still wondering...I love living here in Mexico, and I'm staying right where I am. This is my home and I really do feel at home. I can’t imagine a scenario in which I would be willing to leave – unless something terrible happened and one of my kids needed me to be with them.
As a matter of fact, you couldn't get me out of here with a crowbar.
Dust on My Heart – I’m here to stay!
In one of her books, Neill James, the travel writer who came to Ajijic in the 1940s to recover from an accident and died here 50 years later said, "Once the dust of Mexico settles on your heart, you can never go home again."
That dust has been on my heart since 1990 and I'm here to stay!