This is an article by guest blogger Thomas Shultz, an American who recently made his travel dream come true by moving to another country.
By Thomas Shultz.
(Travel) – I have been here in the town of Tapijulapa for almost two months, driving 2400 miles from Spartanburg, South Carolina to this area in the Tacocalpa region of Mexico. I dreamed about doing for years, and finally, a life-threatening experience motivated me to follow my dreams. What stands out in my mind are the personal experiences I have had with the people here in Mexico.
A friendly Mexican border patrol and police
The first thing I will mention is the kind and professional police and border control people; the agents were tolerant of me. My Spanish is abysmal, and the agents’ English was not perfect. The first thing I did was to pull into the wrong lane, which required me to do a circuit of the large building so I could pull around to where they could deal with me and my car.
The car looked strange, what with all my worldly belongings piled up inside, and the frame of my motor scooter strapped down to the trunk lid. And, of course, since I planned to stay a while, I had to go inside and get the 180-day pass. Plus I had to pay $260 for a permit for the car (you get $200 of that back next renewal). The fact that everyone was smiling at me meant the world to me, being so nervous, and having come so far already.
Along the way I found police checkpoints periodically; I was pulled over a couple of times for being a gringo with a crazy looking car. But invariably, the policemen reached out their hand and smiled, especially when they heard my attempt at Spanish:
“Buenos tardy, Senior, yo soy de Estados Unidos.” They immediately understood that I was an upright and good fellow, not someone to be concerned about.
Incidentally, I had heard from almost everybody when mentioned Mexico, “Be careful! Isn’t it dangerous?” I´m sure there are dangerous places in Mexico and the US State Department constantly provides a list of places to avoid.
I’ll tell you, from my couple of months here, I feel certain that I am just as safe, if not safer than I was in my little South Carolina town.
It has been easy to make new friends
I have actually established at least five friendships and a good rapport with a number of people here. The owner of the hotel, Paulo (who speaks some English) is a real friend and so his brother, Eric. I could call either one of them up, and say, “Hey, I am in Teapa (20 miles away), and have a flat tire on my scooter. Come and help me.” I have no doubt that they would come, or send someone to help me. Their father is a pharmacist, and he has advised me on my medicines, a big deal for someone like me who takes a number of pills every day. Also, he has checked my blood pressure a few times. He is so friendly, never accepting any money, which is a good segue into my next favorite thing about this great country.
Medicines and health services are accessible
As I said, I must take numerous medications and I need a monthly blood test. So I looked up a doctor’s office in Tacotalpa. Paulo kindly called them for me. He discovered that this was actually a little hospital with numerous doctors, no appointment needed.
Although no one there who spoke a word of English, they patiently listened to my sorry, limited Lengua Española and figured out what I needed. They were happy to oblige me, and spent a long time with me, drawing blood. After an hour or so, they gave me the result. This came with advice about my dosage (it needed changing). Everyone was so nice to me. There was no impatience or irritation. Then when I was ready to go, I said, “Oh, but I must pay!” They said, “No, we don’t take money here.” I was so overwhelmed, I hugged the doctor, and shook everybody’s hands. They had even given me free medicine!
I would urge everyone who feels an urge to do so to come to Mexico. There are no worries about your safety if you are half-way intelligent enough to take common-sense precautions.
Now, I must warn that driving can be a challenge, for someone from the States. But there are bad places to drive in every country, right?
All pictures and content by Thomas Schultz, edited by LP.
About the writer:
Thomas Shultz is an American living in Mexico. Whether temporarily or forever, he is a traveler and someone who has dared to make this dream come true. He did what many savvy travelers, expats, or migrants do: learned about the new country before crossing the border, took some language classes, and came in with a curiosity and an open mind to experiencing different cultures. (LP)
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