Posted by: lianadevine | 28 August 2008

O is for “Opportunity”

Five months ago we arrived in Oaxaca, capital of the state of the same name.  We decided after a few weeks to stay awhile and take advantage of the opportunities presented here.  We had been given contact information by our friends and former residents Dawn and Noe, there is a Canadian Consulate here, as well as a Mexican Immigration office.  Much in the city satisfied the subjective criteria we’d been looking for in a new home town, so we began the tramite of converting our tourist visas to immigrant visas.

Through Dawn’s former neighbour Andrea, I was hired at the local Berlitz Language Centre as an English teacher.  My new employer facilitated the paperwork for my visa, as well as translating and certifying the necessary documents.

We're Oaxaquenos!

We're Oaxaquenos!

Once we had FM3 visas, I was able to apply to various Mexican government agencies like Social Services, and the Mexican equivalent of Revenue Canada.  Yep, paying taxes here now…  We are still jumping through hoops to get our Mexican Healthcare lined up and renewing our vehicle insurance with a local carrier, but all seems to be going well, just plodding along on Mexican time.

Our official address is the Oaxaca Trailer Park, and here we have stayed, through many passing travellers, watching the progress of the new building and becoming friends with the caretaker Eucario.  I often take him baked treats, when I have leftovers from  entertaining or class desserts.  Or if Calvin, now a proficient bus-husband, makes a big batch of say, frijoles, or chili, or more recently, sausage, he’ll pack up a meal to take over to Eucario.

Internet in the trees

Internet in the trees

We signed up for cable, and enjoy internet and 60+ TV channels from the street to a tree to our bus.  We even bought our first cellphone!

Spike has taken over the park and really enjoys the grass here which is lush, long and green with the summer rains.  He goes with me to the laundry area and stalks birds or munches grass while I hang out the clothes.

We’ve met many wonderful fellow travellers from near and far, as they pass through the park.  Calvin especially enjoys this contact with the outside world; I get my fix interacting with staff and students at Berlitz.

Berlitz Bus party

Berlitz Bus party

We recently blended our two spheres when we hosted a Berlitz staff party in our yard and invited the neighbouring family from Germany.  Dinner was barely over when Nina started coaching Tilman in math in German; Brits John and Theresa stayed to the bitter end, bus dancing with Inmaculada and Adriana.

We’ve attended a variety of cultural events, something Oaxaca proudly provides in abundance.  THE place to go is the Guelaguetza Auditorium, an amphitheatre cut into a hillside that offers a commanding view of the city in addition to excellent acoustics and the most amazing fireworks directly overhead, so close that stains from fallen ash identify the spectators on their way home.  Many of these cultural experiences seem to drop into our laps, to our great surprise and delight.  We’ve written about a few of them to our families, and I am starting a new blog page about “Life in Oaxaca” where I’ll post them for all to peruse.

So, while we are no longer as mobile as we once were – this time by choice – we are open to the opportunities around us, and enjoying all Oaxaca has to offer.



  1. Hola, Leanne and Calvin and Spike.

    I’m impressed with your decision to become Oaxaqueños. I think maybe it reminds me of two or three times in the past when I had a chance to relocate to México but chose not to. One time was years and years ago, when I had a job offer from the Tec in Monterrey. Another time was also many years ago, when I had a chance for a job in Querétaro. A third time was more recently (in the early 2000s), when a Oaxacan student tried to convince me to go there. For the first two chances to go to México, I could have headed south, but other things got in the way. When the Oaxacan student did his promo work, however, I was committed to staying in Phoenix, and this is where I’ll remain. Even so, the thought (dream?) of relocating to México has never completely faded away. That being the case, I greatly admire (and, perhaps, envy) you for not only thinking about becoming immigrants but also actually making that come to pass.

    As I read through the “O is for ‘Opportunity'” post, I was struck with how important networking had been for you. The most immediate connection was the one you had with Dawn and Noé and then Andrea, but there are also other connections dating back to your first trips to México. Did you think, when you made your first trek southward, that you would end up calling México home?

    It sounds like you’re definitely becoming acclimated and settled in. Cable, Internet, 60+ TV channels, and a cell phone: Wow! It also sounds as if Spike is definitely comfortable there.

    I’m glad you have international contacts, both through Berlitz and through whoever shows up at the trailer park. I’m especially glad that among your international contacts there have been some Canadians.

    The Guelaguetza sounds incredible! How I wish I could be there to enjoy some of the events with you!

    When I was reading through a website giving an overview of Oaxaca, I was impressed by the amazing cultural diversity to be found there. Four or five years ago, I was involved in a big project at the college where I formally worked. It focused on colonial and pre-colonial México and featured several major indigenous groups, among them the Zapotecs and Mixtecs. I still have, somewhere, all the files for the project and will now have to try to locate them in order to understand Oaxaca better.

    Have you learned much about making mole? I understand that Oaxacan mole can be particularly complex.

    I greatly look forward to reading more posts about this latest chapter in the book of your lives!

    ¡Ojalá que Uds. tengan éxito total in sus aventuras futuras!

    con abrazos fuertes,

    Dennis in Phoenix

  2. Hope you will be posting some more adventures.

    • Hi Claude,
      Thanks for checking in on us from time to time. While we’ve been living in Oaxaca, our life hasn’t been too adventurous – it’s been, like, day-to-day life. We have a few interesting tales to tell, and I promise you I WILL post them soon. In the New Year, we plan to travel again, and I’m sure the road ahead will provide more adventure. Please stand by…

  3. Hi Leanne, nice to hear from you. Well I bought a bus a Wonderlodge by Blue Bird a very beautiful put together bus. I’m looking forward to traveling to Mexico next year. I’m learning Spanish to help and to be immerse in a different culture. I enjoyed reading your travels and looked forward to a different way of enjoying life. Nice to see that you and your husband are having an enjoyable life. Claude

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