• Apr

    Why Do You Go to Mexico?


    This is a question I’m asked quite often. And with that question comes the usual litany of fears about violence in Mexico and often, why I would want to give up Canada (which to some, is the center of the universe) for Mexico? What most of my questioners don’t understand is Mexico chose me, not the other way around.

    I went to Mexico for the first time in 2004. At the time my relationship was on the rocks. Both of us knew it and my girlfriend (now ex-girlfriend) said that it was time for a change, to go on holiday that didn’t include either one of our families. She chose Mexico, specifically the Puerto Vallarta area because she knew it well and had been there many times in the past.

    I accepted and we went off to a travel agency to book an all-inclusive tour for one week. A short time later we had our tickets and, passports in hand, flew to Mexico.

    I’d been so busy with my work (magazine writing) that I’d had little time to think, let alone do any research on Mexico. I had no interest in the culture, in Spanish, nor anything else. For me, it felt like just a short time out, then I’d go back to Victoria and get back to work. As far as I was concerned, Victoria was my last stop. When I moved here I thought I would live here, retire here and die here.

    My trip to Mexico changed all of that.

    When we first arrived, I liked what I saw but I didn’t have much time to take it in until the next day, when we had an orientation. The other thing I noticed is many people would come up to us and say: “Hola.” Puzzled, I turned to Carol to ask her what it meant and she said that “Hola” means “Hello.”

    I felt profoundly embarrassed. I didn’t know that, nor any other Spanish. I’d been so caught up with making a living I had little time for anything else. After the first night, I began to settle into the rhythm of the place. Every morning I’d venture out and get hot chocolate for Carol and myself and enjoy the coolness of the morning.

    It felt lovely. We went on a few tours, walked the beach and found a few great restaurants where we could hang out. Being in Mexico was unlike anything else I’d ever experienced before.

    In one week my entire life changed and even now, it’s difficult for me to tell you what took place inside of me. It’s not enough to say I fell in love with the place. Nor is it enough to say that I loved the weather. The most fundamental change I felt, more than anything else, was the heart connection that the people have with the land. For the first time in my life, I felt at home, despite the fact I was in a strange culture and didn’t know the language.

    People were friendly to me, and kind. One incident, which brings up a lot of feeling even now, was when we were staying in an our all-inclusive hotel in Nuevo Vallarta. It was lunchtime and we were in the restaurant. I don’t recall exactly what happened, but we were having an exchange with one of the waiters, a man, at our table. At one point he put his hand on my shoulder. I instantly felt the energy travel straight to my heart and I nearly burst into tears. I had no idea what happened. All I can tell you is that something changed me profoundly inside and I became an entirely different person.

    Later, we were walking in the courtyard of our hotel and I was listening to some Spanish conversation. One word jumped out at me, the first word I could clearly understand. It was “corazon,” which I later found out meant “heart.”

    All too quickly, the week was over. It was hell for me to return to Canada. At that moment I was ready to give up on Canada completely and move to Mexico. On the way back, I said to Carol, “When we get back, I’m going to start learning Spanish.” She thought I was kidding, but within two weeks of our return I was in a Spanish immersion course at Saint Saviours church in Esquimalt.

    A year later, we broke up and I returned to Mexico, to Bucerias, a small town we’d discovered on our trip. I found an apartment, obtained an Internet connection and stayed in Mexico for 3-1/2 months. The next winter I did it again, and again, many times over the years.

    Fast forward to now, some nine years later, I’ve been to Mexico many times and have lived there for a grand total of three years. Mexico occupies a special place in my heart and it always will. It changed my life in so many ways, and for the better.

    To all of you who read this blog, thanks for coming here. If you have any questions, please write to me and I’ll do my best to answer them.

    Until then, hasta luego.

    © Nathan Segal

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