Thursday, December 17, 2009

Guanajuato, Mexico -- Dead Chickens and Toxic Waste Dumps

Moving to Guanajuato can be quite an experience. It can be both rewarding, in an inexplicably bizarre and frightening kind of way, and it can right down hard to find a place to live.

When we first moved to this central highlands, colonial Mexican town, we actually found an apartment via the Internet. That, we would learn, was the exception and not the rule at that time in 2003. But, find it we did and lived in perhaps what was the most noisiest place on the face of the Earth.

How potential expats (or should I say fakepats) go about finding rental property today is almost too hard to comprehend.

First of all, how do they do it when their Spanish proficiency is less than that of a newborn Mexican child?

Secondly, how do they do it when they do not know any of the barrios or neighborhoods in the city and what they are getting into if they sign a lease for an area of town that no local Mexican would walk in broad daylight much less live in?

Thirdly, how do they do it when they do not have any biculturalism to know when and where they are being gouged or more or less snookered at each paragraph of the rental contract?

Fourthly, how do they do it when they have absolutely no Mexican contacts, ones that can act as an agent for them.

My wife and I have lived in Guanajuato now for 7 years and have been looking for a new place to live. Our landlady raised the rent so off we went with Spanish fluency under our belts and 7 years of biculturalism under our belts. Yet, we did not go alone. We know better.

No matter how good you get at fluency in the language or how bi-cultural you think you are, having a contact in the city, an impressive one at that, with you is the way you DO NOT GET SNOOKERED!

And one more thing: This repulses me almost more than anything else. Gringos, especially Americans, think that the American familiarity they exercise in the States is appropriate here. Well, it is not!

You know what I mean. In America when you get introduced to someone, they usually tell you their whole name and the American will immediately refer to the person they have just met using their first names.


For example, I met our new landlord today: SeƱor Jose Romero. I will never, ever, in a thousand years call him "Jose" until the time, should it ever come, when he tells me to use his first name.

Americans come to Mexico, indeed move here, and will address someone they've just met using their first names.

It is rude...rude...rude!

Yesterday, we saw a house that was a "bit rural." It had a chicken house in the front of it full of screeching, crowing chickens. A moat of sorts surrounded the property that looked more like a Toxic Waste Dump than a moat, creek, river, or whatever it was. In it were dead chickens floating in a green goo.

That's what you have to sort through looking for a place to rent in Guanajuato.

And, trust me when I say that you do not want to buy a house right off the bat.

Rent first and watch out for dead chickens in Toxic Waste Dumps!


Visiting or moving to Mexico? Get started on your Spanish lessons without resorting to expensive and time consuming classes.

1. Rocket Spanish

2. Learning Spanish Like Crazy

3. Spanish Verbs

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