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Expatme Experiences - A weekend trip to Oaxaca

Continuing with our Expatme Experience series we want to share a little travel report from Patricia, our expat tutor from Mexico DF. She went on a weekend trip to Oaxaca, experiencing inland travelling by plane and also the "soul of México" in the south of the country. Enjoy reading the article and also check out the video at the end of the text for some great pictures from Oaxaca! 

Weekend tripping to Oaxaca

by Patricia López

As I had to attend a conference in Oaxaca it gave me an excuse to extend my stay and combine business with pleasure by staying a couple of days more in the beautiful city of Oaxaca/México. Travelling there by bus or car can be a tedious and lenthy affair, hence I decided to travel by plane as inland flying in México is a cheap and fast alternative.

Like many other industries in Mexico, the airplane industry was a de facto duopoly between Mexicana and Aeromexico for a long time. But since its main competitor Mexicana had to file for bankruptcy and ceased operations in 2010, Aeromexico has been left with the leading position in the market. As the only major market player left (in their eyes) Aeromexico started to behave like they deserved it all, like service was not important anymore and being on time was just something that happened by coincidance. Luckily for us there is alternatives since a couple of years, with low cost carriers like Interjet or VivaAerobus putting the traditional airline(s) under pressure to perform better. Still, travelling by "not-state-owned" airlines gives you a greater chance of arriving on time and being able to rely somehow on prices and a certain service level. I decided to travel with Interjet. Everything went smooth.

My destination this time is definitly worth visiting. The city of Oaxaca. It can be argued that you don’t know the soul of México, if you don’t know the south of Mexico. And a lot of that soul is in Oaxaca. I have been to Oaxaca three times now and there is still a lot of soul left for me to come back to. And I am not sure a lifetime will be enough.

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What have I seen? I have seen indigenous communities living in very high mountains hiding their own god behind the Catholic Churchs’ pulpit, while without knowing, the priest holds the sunday mass. I have seen four different nationalities hanging out at a café in Oaxaca city. I have been told some streets look like present day postwar Nicaragua and I have seen streets worthy of being in Polanco, one of the chicest neighbourhoods in Mexico DF. I have been told there is a tree that is as old as our history. I have seen posters and graffitis keeping up with current social movements. I have been eating grasshoppers! I have eaten the biggest quesadillas that I have ever found in Mexico and I have spent as much time in traffic as in Mexico City. I have heard that some people won’t come back to Oaxaca because there are a lot of protests against government here (Oaxaca has always been a stronghold of protesting against unfairness and politics in general; think about the teachers movement for example), but luckily I know more and more people who come back to the city every year for private and increasingly professional reasons.

Oaxaca has a life of its’ own. It is the state with the biggest number of indigenous population in entire Mexico. It has arguably the most complicated political division in Mexico, with nine sociocultural regions considered by the National Comission of Indigenous Development.  It is feisty and because of its diversity, not even understood by many Mexicans themselves. You should come and experience it for yourself!

Are you hungry? Oaxaca is of course also known for its awesome food and local specialties. Check out the Vice Munchies guide to Oaxaca : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEeU4c2G7sc

 

 

Expatme Survey 2015

We want to hear YOUR opinion!

As it is our tradition we also do our yearly expatme expat survey just in time before the year's end. This time we have teamed up with researchers here in Vienna, Austria and want to find out about human capital importation in Latin America. The survey is directed to human resource professionals in Latin America, so the following link (click on the picture!) is in spanish. Thanks already in advance for your participation!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

The Expatme Team

https://es.surveymonkey.com/s/ZRKD362

Expatme Experiences - Susannah Rigg

The Expatme Experience series continues with a great interview with Susannah Rigg, an "expat role model" one could say, based in beautiful Oaxaca/Mexico.
Susannah, originally from England, is the founder of Mexico Retold, an online blog that aims to show the "other side of Mexico". Susannah is also a freelance writer and supporter of various non-profit organizations in Oaxaca.


 

What's it like to be an expat in Oaxaca?

Interview, Susannah Rigg

Expatme:  Hola Susannah! You have been living in Mexico for quite some time now, what brought you here originally?

Susannah: I travelled around Mexico back in 2005 and I absolutely fell in love with the country. I had always wanted to come here and when I arrived I felt so at home. I spent the next five years yearning to come back and eventually I gave up a doctorate I was studying for, quit my job, packed my life into about 10 boxes and booked a flight.

Expatme: Wow! Just like that? Did you know anyone before you moved here?

Susannah: I had two Mexican friends, one of whom picked me up from the airport, but really I had no plans or real idea about what I would do. It was very liberating and worked out wonderfully.

Expatme: What did your family say about your sudden departure to Mexico?

Susannah: To be honest they were just really supportive and they weren’t surprised since I was essentially obsessed with Mexico for so long. Sometimes, when I am back in the UK people ask me if it is dangerous here, since that is the only news that reaches the UK about Mexico, but most of my close friends and family read my blog so they see the other side of the story.

Me and my partner at the Lucha Libre.jpg

Expatme: The blog you are mentioning is called "Mexico Retold". Why is it important to "re-tell" stories from and about Mexico?

Susannah: The international news media very rarely report good news stories about any country and so the news that comes out of Mexico is very one sided. There are a lot of very complex and difficult problems here, I would never deny that, but there is also a completely different side to Mexico too.  As I say in my blog, there is also the Mexico full of compassionate, expressive people. The Mexico bursting with flavour and temptations for all the senses. The Mexico that gets into your soul and never leaves. That is the story I want to tell.

Expatme: You live in Oaxaca and also sometimes in Mexico City right? Two very different cities. Is there anything in your opinion that both places have in common?

Susannah: I am based in Oaxaca but my partner is from Mexico City so I spend a lot of time there too. They are two entirely different cities; one a small colonial city with 300,000 people and the other a huge metropolis of over 20 million. I am not sure if there is much that unites them apart from being in the same country. I love them both passionately!

Expatme: When you first arrived here, what was the most difficult part for you to adjust to and to get used to?

Susannah: I think the thing that I still struggle with is that I will always be regarded as different. Physically I look different, because I am tall and blond and so sometimes I wonder if I will ever be accepted fully. Sometimes, I just wish I was invisible and could go about my day without being noticed. The other day, however, someone told me that when they first spoke to me they were wondering if I was Mexican and that made my day. So if I keep working on my accent, maybe one day I will pass for a Mexican?

Expatme: I think you kind of do pass as a Mexican already... What could have made your adjustment phase easier when startet your Mexican life?

Susannah: I would have loved to have had a great go to resource about visas, healthcare, insurance, taxes etc. All those things have been tricky to work out and manage. I would have loved to have (and would still love to have) resources tailored to me as a British person in Mexico as much of the info understandably is for US citizens.

Expatme: As safety is obviously a big concern for many Mexican expats; have you ever been in a dangerous situation since you live here?

Susannah: I remember being in Mexico City with my boyfriend and we were coming home late on the Metro. We suddenly discovered that there were no more trains and we were stuck at our connecting station. We had no idea what the area outside the station was like. Turns out it was not such a nice neighbourhood and we had to be escorted out of the station by a policeman. Like any big city, there are areas that you just don’t want to be at midnight and I felt a strong relief when I got in a taxi. Generally, I feel really safe in Mexico though. I just take precautions that I would anywhere.

Expatme: What was the strangest, weirdest or most different-to-home thing you have seen here so far?

Susannah: Oh gosh there are so many. Mexico is full of surprises from day to day.  This is probably not the strangest situation but nearly everyday in Mexico I see a clown or many clowns. They are everywhere! I have seen clowns in arguments with they girlfriends, clowns driving cars, clowns crying, you name I have seen a clown doing it.

Expatme: Why is it worth coming to Mexico as an expat?

Susannah: There are so many reasons. The people, the weather, the culture, the beaches, the food, the fresh fruit and veg, the fiestas, the quality of lifestyle that you can have with very little money and the skies…they are just breath taking day and night.

Expatme: What is your number 1 recommendation for a newcomer expat to Mexico?

Susannah: Be open-minded and learn Spanish. Things happen differently here so be open to going with the flow. If you want things to happen how they happen in your own country, it is likely they won’t and you will feel frustrated, but if you just accept that it will be different you might enjoy the differences.


If you are interested in getting in touch with Susannah or read her blog go to: http://mexicoretold.com/

If you want to know more about Susannah's non profit activities check these two websites: http://www.nijanu.org/   and  www.volunteer-oaxaca.com

 

Expatme Experiences - Uber in Mexico

Did you know that Uber is now also available in Mexico? Uber you ask? Whats that and how does it all work? We have tried it out for you and can tell you: It works great!

Read up on our newest article from the Expatme Experience Series on the taxi service that is not at all like regular city taxis in Mexico. Do you also have something to share? Contact us, we are always happy to receive your stories.

 

#UberLove or #UberNo?

by Astrid Sandvall

It was a Thursday night in the neighborhood of Polanco in Mexico City and I needed a way home- so I opened my app, selected my pickup location, chose my desired car type and sent “Request”.  In two minutes, I had a private driver coming to take me to my destination. In my phone screen, I could even see the license plate and my drivers’ picture and name (Raul). 

After just four minutes- in which I barely had time to go outside of the coffeehouse where I was waiting- Raul arrived in a sleeky black private car service.  As I got into the car, he went to the trunk to get us bottles of water. Someone seemed more worried about my hydration than I was (That won’t happen in any other means of transportation in Mexico City, thats for sure) Now, bottle in hand, we started our ride in the Uber style.  

For those not familiar, Uber “is not a taxi but a private car service” as Raul, the driver, emphasized (I think as a slight, quiet defense against all the protests against Uber organized by the taxi drivers in Mexico City). For me, it is an app to use if you don’t want to be standing in the street looking for a taxi that may take one minute or one hour to come. It is also very convenient for those that dont have or dont want to be carrying cash around.

And despite the protests and whether it is too convenient to hate or too hip to ignore, there is already some #UberLove in Mexico City.  The private cars available through the app are soaring and its’ popularity too.  For those familiar with one app or two, Uber becomes easy to use (It takes just a few keystrokes to sign up- Name, cellphone and credit card details, a few clicks to download the Uber app and you are in). For those traveling long distances- Teotihuacan, Toluca or Puebla for example, there are fixed rates. For music lovers, you can even choose, the app lets’ you chose the  music that is playing during your ride. 

For the security seekers, through the app, there is a trace between you, the route that you take and the person that drives you. Far more security that your usual taxi drive and a trace that many of us want in this unpredictable city; which as Raul well explained, it is safer both for the driver and the client.

“So, for that, we pay 20% of each ride to Uber but I think it is worth it” said Raul as he opened the door for me and as I got down the car, I received the 172 pesos Uber bill right into my inbox and I thought that for all its’ perks, UberX is still keeping a competitive price since I usually pay more to a taxi for the same ride and without the same service. So just as Raul, I thought, it is worth it for me too.  

 

 

 

Find out more about Uber and its prices and availabilities here: https://www.uber.com/cities/mexico-city

We also found a little video that shows Uber in Mexico in a very nice way. Video credits go to Naoki Tomita! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdL0s2-Ex1Q