Welcome to Mexico!
By Victoria Schmidt
Our vecinos, neighbors, are our amigos. We’ve lived in this neighborhood for seven years. We have experienced all aspects of our lives together. The first neighbor we got to know was a mesero, waiter, going to school and supporting his wife and his four children, the youngest of whom helped out at the restaurant. He studied, and became a homeopathic doctor. We also celebrated the birth of their first grandchild. When I had surgery, even though we aren’t catholic, our neighbors had a special mass for me at our local Chapalita.
Our next door neighbor became a widow, while the family across the street had a baby boy who now plays with his friends in the street. Through surgeries, births, graduations, life and death we have all shared our lives with each other. My husband and I are the only gringo family in the neighborhood. Another gringo lived next door but had to move, yet he remained connected to our neighborhood until his death.
Our neighbors have helped us, and we’ve helped them. My husband has not been well, and our neighbors have brought food, and helped us, and some stay at our house to help watch him so I can get rest.
Often when things have felt difficult for me, I concentrate on how lucky we are to live amongst such wonderful company. In my entire life, I have never felt so wanted, secure, included, and cared for in a neighborhood before.
As many of you who read my column regularly know, we live in a simple Mexican neighborhood. We do not live behind thick walls, gates, or have a guard by our property. Our “guards” are our neighbors who always keep a watchful eye on us, as we do with them.
As I write this at the eve of my deadline. Our night-time helpers, a young couple to whom we are padrinos for their upcoming wedding, are having fun taking photos with us. A position of honor for us, as we dearly love these two young ones. We’ve watched him grow up. I helped him with his homework when he was in school. And now, we are helping him prepare for his life as a married man.
This has been such a loving and rewarding place to be.
Yet sometimes life throws us challenges. After nearly seven years of living in a neighborhood we love, we must now move. It is one of the major disadvantages of renting a home. I wish we could create a vacancy right here in this neighborhood so that we will have them all near us.
We don’t know yet where we will end up, but we will always be close to these people and will carry them in our hearts wherever we go.
Some people ask us if we will return to the USA--absolutely not. Soon this may no longer be our neighborhood, but Lakeside and Mexico will always be our home.
Column: Welcome to Mexico
Victoria Schmidt came to Mexico with her husband, in 2007. She is a graduate of Moorhead State University, Minnesota and graduated Cum Laude with a BA degree in Radio, Television and Film. At 23 she was hired at multi-national media corporation, where she worked 10 years as their Director for Operations and Finance. She then ran her own business consulting company. She has won multiple community service awards. Writing has been a passion of Victoria’s since Junior High. She has been active in the writing and publishing business for over 40 years and has been a columnist for the Ojo del Lago since 2008.