They Come And Go

I remember well the first year I spent in Mexico, and all the gringos and other assorted foreigners I met on my daily grind.  There’s an inevitable question that pops up during the introductory conversation. “So how long have you been here anyway? Forever, I’ll bet.”

No, not forever, I’d reply. A little sheepishly. Just a year. Then about a year later, my tour of duty hit two years. But everyone I met could boast of three, four or sometimes five years service. Occasionally even longer. I felt almost inadequate. Although, thanks to my three month back packing adventure in 2003, few had seen as much of Mexico as I. A small consolation. quantity beats quality in this conversation.

It’s not really a competition, of course. Though no one wants to be a ‘n00b’. These days, with a commendable five and a bit years active duty behind me, the tables are turned in my favour when that inevitable question arises. There’s still, now and again, someone who’s been around a wee bit longer. But it doesn’t matter any more. Five years makes me a veteran.

The thing is, no one stays forever. Except for the very, very occasional hardcore Mexophile. But in DF, that’s pretty rare. The average foreigner is here to teach English, or working for a foreign company, and a year or two is as long as they last. Then they find they can’t take the spicy chili’s anymore, or the crowds, or the smog, or even the people. Or they just feel the need for either change or home. And off they go on adventures new.

I’ve seen the comings and goings of a veritable collection of international guests. From England, France, Canada, the US, Germany and more. Some I keep in touch with, many I don’t. All have a place on my Flickr portfolio, even if they didn’t quite earn a place in my heart.

The latest departure is Sofia, from Brighton, England . Two years she made it. Not bad at all. She’s catching a plane in just a few minutes in fact, at the time of writing. It’s a little reminder that for most of us, no matter how well Mexico treats us, no matter how much fun we have, DF is a temporary stop on the journey of life. It’ll be my turn next, in just five months.

Say Cheese And Blood


11 thoughts on “They Come And Go

  1. Five years? Pooh! At over a decade, I view your little visit with disdain. And you´re heading back! No staying power!

    But, ole Cotton of the previous comment, headed back after just a few months. Says he´ll return, but you never know. You, with your five years, can view his nanoseconds with disdain. Everyone is better than someone.

    You have to have real pelotas to stay in this land.


    • I respect your staying power Señor! Ten years is a mighty long time indeed. Are you taking a special vaiety of Tourist Viagra?!

      But….your visits to DF are fleeting, and infrequent. I laugh at your inability to resist smog, and poke a stick at your terror of the traffic! 🙂

      As for Steve…..tsk!


  2. Obet says:

    A few days back I was thinking in all the foreigners who for different reasons makes Chilangolandia their temporary home. The vast majority of them came here for work, some come to attend to international school’s programs and a very few come to the adventure of knowing and experiencing an “exotic” place like this (crazy people of course), but it is very strange that someone remains after one year. Apparently the smog, the heavy traffic, the permanent and obiquitous repairing works, the floods and the earthquakes are not worthy attractions.

    And it is true, there are very few of the foreigners who choose to live permanently in the city, those who choose Mexico as his permanent residence, they prefer other destinations like Merida, Sn Miguel de Allende or some Mexican beach.

    That’s why it seems to me, that you, Gary, are a very strange specimen worthy of a medal; just the real machos stands to live in the DeFecal. I was born an raised chilango and I love (and hate) this city, but for me it’s the same future, I expect leave the city for a much calm place, not too far of course.

    P.D. You can gather your medal in the office of the good friend Marcelo Ebrard.


    • I’d like a medal, por favour. I’ve earned it. I’ve done a full Tour of Duty and then some.

      I originally come from a big, crowded, polluted and traffic ridden city though. DF might expand on some of those factors, but none were new to me. And I do think, if you’re from a city a certain size, perhaps 2 or 3 million plus, then size ceases to be such an issue. No one travels round every suburb for fun.


  3. Kim G says:

    And I can’t resist keying on Obet’s comment…

    There’ll be medal all right, but first, please fill out these forms in triplicate. Then go to that window over there, get a payment form. Take that to the nearest Banamex, pay the 100 pesos, and have them stamp the form. Be sure to make three photocopies of it AFTER it has been stamped. Then come back to window 7 where the three forms will be stamped again by the medals office to acknowledge Banamex’s receipt of payment.

    Once your three forms have been stamped, you will need to go to see the Registrar of Medals, whose office is located in Santa Fe. There you will need to present the forms. They will keep two, and then return the third to you with the Director’s signature. Note that he only works from 2:00 – 4:00 PM on Thursdays. We advise arriving early as he is quite busy and can only sign a limited number of forms in any given day.

    Once you have the third form stamped, return to this office and hand it in. You will then be mailed an invitation to a Medal Award Ceremony in 4-6 weeks. That letter will indicate the time and place of the Medal Award Ceremony. If you fail to attend the ceremony, you will need to re-initiate the process again from step #1.

    Congratulations! You’ve earned it.


    The Mexican Bureaucracy


    • I just wish that getting FM3 renewals were so easy!!!!

      (Actually, they have gotten much easier. But getting the first one years ago…that was a nightmare.)

      I have been collecting stickers for the Panini World Cup album. On the back inside cover are the instructions for sending off for the final 50 stickers. There are two columns. The left hand column gives full instructions for Italy, Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Holland and Turkey. The entire right hand column is for Mexico. Sigh….


  4. RichMont says:

    Love all the comments! I do not live in DF but perhaps in the provinces Patzcuaro, Michoacan? Anyway, I have not had the pleasure of partaking of the big city chilango culture but maybe some day that will happen someday in the future. Ten years is a few more than my than my eight here as a retiree from the USA. I thought that it would be an easy time and it has been so until now with the recent changes but that is not why I am writing. Just want to congratulate you on your stay and say that you do deserve a medal for being able to tolerate DF. Where do I send the medal 🙂 ?


    • Comments help make the blog worthwhile, and although I don’t get many, I do get ones that are worth reading!

      You’ve got 8 years under you belt? Sigh. Another gringo I must bow down to! 🙂


  5. Pingback: An English Taste Of Christmas | The Mexile

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