Re-pats

Debi and Tom are heading back NOB, several of our friends and acquaintances have done the same over the years. Others are in the process of moving away. Why does it seem especially poignant when someone repatriates (returns to their home country)? In our fluid society, people move all the time. The average American moves 12 times in their life, according to the U.S. Census Bureau- I’ve used up someone else’s moves because I’ve moved too many times to count (I’ve lived in 5 states and 3 countries)- just in California, I’ve moved over 12 times! Every move had a reason behind it, fire, flood, marriage, divorce, buying a house, selling a house, and because the people I lived with moved.

South of Zero, a blog about moving to Ecuador, wrote Why Are So Many Expats Leaving Ecuador? which pretty much covers the reasons people give. What no one seems to talk about is that sometimes people just like to move on. They stay awhile, enjoy the new experiences and move on. Becoming a re-pat doesn’t mean you failed at being an ex-pat, it just means you are moving on to the next place.

It’s easy to dismiss someone who stays awhile, then moves on to the next big thing (often as defined by International Living) as a serial ex-pat. But is that fair? We all take vacations, serial ex-pats just take longer ones.

However, this post isn’t about them, it’s about those left behind. Whenever someone does something different, I think it causes the rest of us to think about our situations. Are they right? Is it time to move back home? Then there are the people who feel threatened. It’s similar to how some people feel if you tell them you don’t watch TV or eat sugar. For some reasons they see your actions are a judgement on their’s. I don’t know why, but it seems to be a common reaction.

Then there are the people who view re-pats as failures. Who ever said that this phase was forever? And even if we moved here intending for it to be our last home, why can’t we change our minds? People change, their needs change, and we have free will. I’ve blogged about The 5 stages of buying a house in Merida, buying a house is a metaphor, I think, for moving to a new country. That is fodder for another blog post, however.

I admire people who give being an ex-pat a try. It takes a lot of courage to leave what you know and move to a new place. However, sometimes it doesn’t work out. To be honest, if I won the lottery tomorrow, I would seriously think about  moving back to California. I miss my family, as airfare gets more and more expensive, I can’t justify visiting more. Maybe I would stay here and visit there more often, who knows?

If I hadn’t come here already speaking Spanish, or if I was more of an extrovert, would I be as happy as I am? Most of my hobbies are solitary ones. I don’t belong to the Wednesday night supper club or go to the Monday night movies at Hennessy’s, occasionally we go to a party, or visit with friends. I belong to the IWC , the Merida Writers’ Group, and of course the Gorro Girls. That’s enough of a social life for me, Husband is more introverted, he accompanies me to my meetings, sometimes hangs out at MEL waiting for me, the chance chats with other ex-pats are enough for him.

Is Merida my forever home? I haven’t seen any place better. This may not be my forever house, though we love it. It’s too big for two people and I’d like more space to garden. Are we in a rush to sell, no. Last night, we sat in companionable silence on the terraza, enjoying the cool night breeze and we were content.

The graffiti says,"If they don't let us dream, we won't let them sleep.

The graffiti says,”If they don’t let us dream, we won’t let them sleep.

About Theresa Diaz Gray

Born in New York City, I grew up in California, and have lived in 3 countries and 6 states. I'm a first generation Cuban-American who lives in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. I'm committed to living an abundant and creative life and helping others do so too through DIY!

12 comments

  1. This is a very well-written piece. I suspect I am one of those people who enjoys being a vagabond. Now that I own a house here, I am vested in Mexico. It is a great place for a home base while I travel.

  2. It all depends upon whether you see yourself as an expat or an immigrant.

  3. Interesting post. Not counting places that were always meant to be temporary (college, primarily), I’ve only lived in four places, the current one being the longest. I moved into this house 18 years ago, and am very happy with the house and my neighborhood.

    In fact, that’s one of the big obstacles to me actually getting off my duff and moving to Mexico. Not only do I love my house and ‘hood, but the house is now so full of crap that I despair at the idea of ever having to go through it and get rid of it.

    But maybe I can keep this place and have a house in Mexico too.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where our pack-rat heritage shows a little too true.

    • Kim,
      I would find it difficult to have two houses, maybe because I have moved so much that I crave roots? However, snowbirds get the best of both worlds. I do find that Merida snowbirds tend to have a fierce social scene, maybe many of them treat their time in Mexico as an extended vacation. You are more likely to be integrated in your Mexican life. I loved the house you posted on your blog btw.

      H Why not have a garage sale? Then use the money to take a vacation! When you see how easy it is, and have the cash maybe you will be more motivated to clean out some.

      regards,
      Theresa

      • A garage sale is a good idea. I’ve also found a friend who wants my home gym, a 4-station workout machine that I’ve owned at least ten years, and used maybe (maybe!) 50 times. And as you can attest, I’m still skinny and distinctly not muscular. And there are a few other things like motorcycles that I should get rid of. Other things are slowly disappearing. I gave a homeless man my old luggage trolley, as I now have suitcases with wheels. Eventually I’ll get through it all.

        Saludos. KG

        • It’s amazing how much stuff we have that we no longer need. Why not convert it into cash and use that cash to have a great experience?

          I finally took another look at Dr Fuhrman’s book, btw, it’s basically a no-fat or low fat (ideally) vegan diet. While I am all about adding vegetables to our diet, I am always concerned about veganism (the B deficiencies can cause permanent damage to the nervous system unless you supplement, which can mean B shots!). I am not sure if it’s true but I have read repeatedly that there are no traditional or ancestral diets that are vegan.

          Fat is essential to brain health especially since the brain contains 25% of all the cholesterol in your body but only composes about 2-3% of your body weight.

          Eggs are a good food, and provide us with an ideal balance of fats and proteins.

          While you would definitely lose weight on his diet, you probably wouldn’t be particularly healthy, unless you are very careful about it. At least adding fish or eggs makes a big difference, in my opinion.

          regards,
          Theresa

          • Hola Theresa!

            I’d never go all-vegan; I love animal protein too much. But I have many vegan or nearly-vegan days at home. I sincerely believe that Americans and first-worlders in general eat too much meat.

            Saludos,

            KG

  4. A lot of people don’t know I’ve been an expat for over 20 years. I grew up in New Jersey and moved to Connecticut when I was 24. Yes, that makes me an expat. And I get such a strange mix of emotions whenever I head back to the Garden State to visit family. We have no idea how much we’ll miss the US when we’re finally in Merida more or less fulltime, and when people end up returning to their home country, it does give one pause.

    • Hi Lee,
      Connecticut and New Jersey, yeah, I can see them as entirely different countries. That is a good preview of what living here and visiting “home” will be like. Actually, when you do go NOB, will you be heading for New Jersey or Connecticut? Where are your real ties?
      It seems to me that we often second guess ourselves when we see someone else doing something different. Right now I have several friends who have either moved back or are in the process, most of which have been here as long as us!
      regards,
      Theresa

  5. Great post! Sometimes I think about these things too. More than 7 years here in Yucatan and occasionally I get a pang of homesickness. I was just in Canada and leaving to return to Yucatan was hard. I long to be able to spend more time, lazy time, with our kids. I like going north and spoiling them a bit, cooking and baking and helping with whatever, but it would be glorious to have them just drop in on their way somewhere or for a meal or anything else.

    We have given some thought to what the future holds. Much depends on our kids, where they live, and if there are grand children being the two biggies. I think I may want to split my time more then and go back for a month or two at a time, and be free to go several times a year. My husband however would like to never move and since we’re a team I guess I’m never moving either.

    • Hi Joanne,
      My husband can’t imagine moving back either. Thank goodness it doesn’t come down to making a choice, or rather like feeling that I have no choice.

      In my dream world, where I have a Star Trek transporter, my grandchildren drop in after school. I spend lazy weekends teaching them to cook and craft, in that dream world my children stop by for coffee and a chat.

      regards,
      Theresa

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