Here we go. My inaugural post. This section of the blog is indeed titled "rants," but there is enough negativity coming through our screens everyday. I decided to have my first post be a positive one. Top 5 things I LOVE about life in Mexico. It won't be the usual stuff like great tacos, lots of history, or fabulous beaches. It is the positives you might not know unless you spend some time here.
#5 Altitude Makes You Lose Weight
This is specific to life in Mexico City and not all of Mexico. As it turns out living in altitude makes you lose weight. Well that is a bonus! I am eating all sorts of delicious foods and the weight is just falling off of me. I remember when I used to come visit family, I would always return a couple lbs. lighter. I attributed that to some fun Mexican "bichos" or bugs. But my system has adjusted to life in Mexico and I am still losing weight. 15 lbs in fact. My husband lost weight too. There are some other contributing factors. More walking is one, and I have a theory about fresher foods and less preservatives that I believe helps as well. But even with that, it turns out living in altitude alone does make you lose weight. Your body has to work harder just to be and the altitude suppresses your appetite a bit. There are studies supporting this you can look up. I have also confirmed this experience with other people who move back and forth from the US to Mexico. Head to the US, gain a few, return to Mexico, drop them again. I think the tourism ministry should seize on this market. "You gotta come up to get down" or "Come to MX, lose the XL" or some catchy slogan should do the trick!
(Image from greatruns.com)
#4 Fresh Juice Everywhere
This wasn't such a big deal to me back when I was a DINK (google it if you don't know). Back then I was more worried about quality cocktails and great wine, but now, fresh juice matters. The kids actually have options besides water or milk. If juice is not your thing, then there's always agua fresca "fresh water" which is water infused with all sorts of things. There is pineapple, cucumber and lime, hibiscus flower, strawberry, watermelon and a hundred other types. Almost all restaurants and street corners have it so it's a very accessible, all natural option with no funny ingredients or food coloring. Juice or infused water the way nature intended it. So refreshing. I found the best juice I literally EVER have tasted at Ojo de Agua, one of my other favorite local haunts. It is mango, maracuya, and coco and tastes amazing, but they have probably 50 more to choose from.
(Image from Facebook)
#3 Let's Talk Meds
I know this is sort of an odd topic but Mexican access to medication has made me question what the US is really up to and why. Read on and I promise you will be clutching your pearls in disbelief too. We have three medications I pick up monthly for the family. With one insurance in the US I had a $10 co-pay, so $30 a month. We changed insurance and later had a $15 co-pay, so $45 a month. Keep in mind these were with a prescription after seeing a doctor, so after 6 months I would have to call to renew the perscription and we had to be on top of the yearly appointment or they would cut off our prescription entirely until we made it in...that can't be healthy for anyone. If we were traveling, I had to make sure that we had enough, but remember you can only get the next month after 25 days had passed, so everything had to be scheduled just right. Getting a special exemption from the insurance was always a hassle. It was a big stress inducing balancing act. I know, I know, the purpose of the "rules" is to control addiction issues, but none of our medicines are addictive. They are for cardiovascular health.
So I was very concerned moving to Mexico that I would have to rush to find a doctor without time to properly research the best. I needed a new prescription before my last one ran out, right? Sure, yeah, find a great English speaking doc who comes highly recommended and get a new patient appointment within 30 days while dealing with drama of moving, shipping the dog, and getting the kids started in school. Luckily a response to my stressed out text to a family member a week after arriving in Mexico set my mind at ease. The response "I don't think you need a prescription for those" was like manna from heaven.
When I finally got my life settled, I waltzed into my corner pharmacy and asked if they had what I needed. They did, and they asked how many boxes I wanted! No prescription, I could buy more then a 30 day supply, and to really knock your socks off, all three prescriptions were $13 total. That is less then my co-pay for one of the medicines back home. Wait, wait it gets better. If you sign up for the loyalty program, some are eligible for deeper cuts. After 3 boxes you get one free! I can't even imagine the cost of our prescriptions at home without insurance. How is this fair? There are people suffering all across America deciding between meals or meds or skipping doses to make it stretch longer. What is going on in the US? Where is all that profit going? Why is the system so painless here and so complicated and down right unfair in the US? I want answers! I remember hearing when I was a kid growing up in California that people would go across the boarder to Mexico and fill their prescriptions. I thought, "How crazy. How dangerous. Who would do that?" Man was I naive. I get it now. Yes you need to be careful and can't just go anywhere, but there are very reputable pharmacies. Rest assured I go to the best.
Just to triple down on why the pharmacist had to pick my jaw up off her counter was this...they can deliver to your house. Yep, they just throw what I need on the back of a bike and send it down the street to my doorstep. Let's summarize. No prescription, over 30 day supply, dirt cheap, loyalty program for filthy cheap, and home delivery. I mean, I just, wow, I can't even...hence meds made my top 5 list. And please, someone fix the medication debacle back home.
#2 The $3 meal
Yes, you can eat a filling meal with a soda in Mexico for $3, maybe even less, if you find the right stand. When I think back to my time working in San Francisco, I recall that you couldn't find a filling meal for under $12 (that was in 2010!) It would have helped my budget tremendously to have $3 meal choices. Currently, my favorite $3 meal is a flauta joint within walking distance. It is a sort of street side hole in the wall that I was afraid to eat at the first few weeks. But I walked by frequently, and started to notice it was a popular business crowd lunch spot with a wait. People in ties and skirts were hunched over in little plastic chairs eating with their fingers. In their fingers was a large crispy golden tortilla dripping with cream, cheese, and a beautiful green sauce. Tried it. Sold! $1 per flauta, two is enough because they are big, plus a $1 soda and done! It also comes with a free cup of broth and a tower of various salsas to boot. There are many more $3 meals to be had in Mexico, I just used my favorite as an example. I can feed my family of 4 for the price of my lunch in San Francisco.
(Image from Foursquare)
#1 People Genuinely Like Kids
I don't was to generalize, but most Mexicans really like children. Strangers will actually look them in the eye, greet them and engage them in conversation like the tiny human beings they are. Maybe a bit more unsettling, but it is not uncommon for people to reach out and touch them on the top of the head. They sort of tussle their hair even if we are just walking by someone. I was taken off guard at first, but now I find it sort of endearing. Like they are complementing how cute they are without saying a word. Maybe it is because they look like gringos, but it happens so often and in different parts of Mexico, that I don't think it is just my kids.
American parents, brace yourselves. Mexico has restaurants with play spaces/nannies. Even the fancy ones. Like, society accepts that children might join their family out for a nice meal and they accommodate everyone! I have seen separate tables in the corner with arts and crafts, rooms with games and activities, rooms with tvs and toys, and glass enclosed climbing spaces in more casual restaurants. Usually you just tip the nanny whatever you think your sanity is worth. The best one I ever saw was at a casual beach style fish place called Pacifica that had a full room sand pit! The kids could have stayed there all day. And someone else had the job of making sure no sand ended up in the other kid's eye. Another margarita please.
(Image from Foursquare)
O, Man. That was a long blog post for my first ever. Are blog posts supposed to be that long? If you are reading this...thanks for hanging on until the end and I hope you learned something new.
In Love & Tacos
Rants of a Diplomat's Wife
Hola, I am an American married to a Mexican Diplomat. I am on my 3rd post as a trailing spouse. The first two posts I joined were in the US, and in July 2018 we moved to Mexico City. Maybe it was the fact that I was pumping out my diplo-babies, or maybe I didn't think anyone would be interested in diplomatic life at my US posts, but I didn't blog then. Now I am in Mexico, and perhaps you might find it interesting to know what life is like here. This is where I share my adventures and thoughts at my current post.