“How To Trip & Fall Gracefully”

Moving to another country is something you can only prepare for so much. You might think you’re ready, think you’ve got a handle on speaking Spanish or the cultural differences you’ll encounter, but it’s been my experience that everyone gets blindsided (more than once!) by unexpected, surprising things.

Giant papier mache puppets make their way around the city of San Miguel de Allende, powered by handlers hidden inside their voluminous clothes. Why? Quien sabe?! Whatever the reason, they’re great photo ops!

Each of the 27 women who contributed to my book shared their own anecdotes and lessons about moving to Mexico. From the initial idea to the planning, to the follow-through and their subsequent lives, each has a different perspective. Yet all resonate as truth.

Here’s an excerpt from artist Linda Laino’s chapter, “How To Trip & Fall Gracefully: Cultivating Patience South of the Border.”

Photo of Linda Laino by Ginger Bandoni.

“Everyone talks about the same things that drew them to Mexico, and in particular, San Miguel de Allende: the people, the climate, the culture, the food, the beauty—not to mention a lifestyle mas económico. I, of course, second everything on that list and more. But those of us who’ve lived here a little while understand that in the end it isn’t about the things on that list, but what happens around all of those things. In other words: the experience, the exchange, the connection. And this Mexico has in abundance.”

“Ever since I moved to Mexico, my friends and family have asked, “When are you coming ‘home?’” Being far from loved ones is one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make. But my relationship to time is becoming very Mexican, very fluid. As someone who has struggled to ignore the clock, México has taught me to not project too much into the future and instead, simply to enjoy what’s in front of me. A planned day of busy-busy can easily change into a day of lazy-lazy and I flow with it. ¿Quién sabe? has become my mantra. Who knows what will happen, and indeed, anything at all can.”

“To immerse yourself in another culture, in the end, is to immerse further into yourself. After all, we only discover our truest nature bit by bit when we’re in the presence of “other.” Famed mythologist Joseph Campbell refers frequently to the function of ritual being something that “pitches you out,” not something that “wraps you back in where you’ve been all the time.” To travel, experience and live in another country is to perform a kind of ritual. It’s an ongoing process to beat a path to ourselves by embracing foreignness.”

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Want to read more? You’ll have to get yourself a copy of “Why We Left: An Anthology of American Women Expats.” (Note: Not just for women, and not just for Americans!)

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