Get Out There & Live...Sustainably
2013 in photo review and lessons we learned in Mexico

2013 in photo review and lessons we learned in Mexico

It’s our 7th Annual Eco-friendly Year in Review Video!

And here is my favorite quote on two different pinalicious images.

Anais Nin Quote
Kenda Swartz
Anais Nin Quote
Kenda Swartz Pepper 2013

We’re a little late with our year-end review, but as some say, “better late and thorough than early and incomplete.” I just made that up.

This video, about ten minutes long and housing some 1000 photos, is best viewed from a distance of about 5 feet and preferably on a big screen with the volume turned up. Side effects may include dizziness, excitability, and an involuntary need to look away. Not intended for those prone to seizures.


Naturally, I have to show some footage of Stella!

Lessons Learned in Mexico

There are many things we learned while living in Mexico.  In my last Sayulita blog post, I wrote  about the things we learned while there, specifically.  In my very last Mexico post, I promised to write about our lessons learned in Mexico.  It’s a work in progress that I will likely update, but here ya go…

  • Mexico is a stunningly gorgeous country with beautiful, friendly people.
  • Noise is a part of life here. One must get accustomed to it or one will lose one’s mind.  There are fireworks almost every week. It is the loudest place I’ve ever lived – everywhere we’ve been in Mexico except the Monarch sanctuaries.
  • Mexico is perhaps the most lively place I’ve ever lived and definitely the most celebratory (see noise above).
  • The spider life is well and thriving in every place we visited.
  • CELL phones, WTH?  We had a burner, and even after 8 months I really had little idea how to use it and how the minutes worked.  One must go to the store to purchase minutes and they randomly expire.
  • Mexican men will carry the purses of their female partners, but they will NOT get their dog’s privates surgically removed.  This is a sweeping generalization.
  • When driving on the roads, don’t let the policia estatal intimidate you into paying tons of cash for some fake permit.
  • If you’re vegan, always carry snacks or be prepared to eat a lot of papas (found at any market), which isn’t a terrible thing.  Papas are potato chips.  Most markets have fruit and nuts too.  But sometimes a gal just wants something salty, like papas.
  • Google maps does not know how to get to places in Mexico, and it ALWAYS takes twice as long as they think.
  • We learned not to trust the Policia Estatal.  They are the ones who extorted $460 from us (see above).
  • Seeing Federales on the highways is intimidating.  One (I) can feel guilty for no good reason when passing them.  But it’s always a good thing when you see them.  They, like the army, are risking their lives to protect the road, civilians and tourists.
  • This is not California.  If you try to cross a busy street and assume other drivers will automatically stop, you may get hit by a car.
  • Mexicans like to party.  For example, in the town of Amatlan (population approximately 1000), there is a celebration for everything and everyone. Dia de Padre, Dia de Madre, Dia de los Ninos, Day of Grandmothers, Grandfathers and coming soon, Dia de los Animales, just to name a few.
  • Unlike in some other parts of the world, death is very much celebrated in Mexico.  Despite the mourning that comes with the death of a loved one, the true event is a big celebration.
  • There are blue and white Morpho Butterflies in various parts of Mexico we visited.  Lazily floating, they resemble tissue paper in the air.
  • In the towns with no or few gringos, there are no or few street vendors selling things with the word “Mexico” on them.
  • Topes (speed bumps) slow down a drive.  A lot.  Our last few days of driving in Mexico, we encountered about 3, 576, 489 topes.  No exaggeration except for maybe the 3, 576,000 part.
  • Every town has the following street names:  Hildago, Aldama, Juarez, Cinco de Maio, and 20 de Noviembre and 16 de Septiembre.
  • It appears to be perfectly legal to drive backwards on a one-way street, as long as your car is pointed in the legal direction.
  • The street sign uno a uno is like a 4-way stop sign.
  • Every town appears to have the following park name:  Juarez
  • You must not take yourself too seriously in Mexico, because that is the only party no one else will attend.
  • We coined a new term:  Mexifestation which is a Mexican manifestation and happens regularly.  If you’re in Mexico, grounded, need something and then state that need, you will receive that thing, assuming the need is not too preposterous.  For example, if you need fruit and send that request to the universe, a fruit vendor will be knocking on your door that day.  But if you need to win a million dollars in the lottery and spend your money buying a ticket, you are just wasting your money.
  • Comfortable beds rarely exist here, at least not where we lodge.  Mexican beds are hard but Mexican hearts are soft.
  • Always get out of the car and connect with the gas station attendant.  Make sure he sets the meter back to $00 and make sure you receive proper change.  Some rely on the absentmindedness or inability of gringos to figure out what’s going on.  If you don’t pay attention, your chances of paying an extra 100 pesos are very high.  Always use cash. Be sure to tip.
  • Expect to pay a lot of tolls when traveling on the Cuenta roads.  You can take the Libre roads, but you’ll be sharing them with a lot of trucks, going at a slower pace, and dealing with some unfortunate road conditions.  The pay roads are usually quite nice, except in parts of Veracruz.
  • Seeing signs for  (trash) 500 meters is a delight and even more so when there’s a garbage can at 500 meters.  But I still can’t figure out why one driving at 110 kph would stop to throw away their garbage.  I prefer to wait until I get to a gas station and toss it.  It seems much safer that way.  The roads from Laredo, Texas to San Miguel are surprisingly litter-free save for a few small towns in which we saw piles of garbage.  Those same roads have the Basura containers along the side.  So, it really is possibly that people stop to throw away their garbage instead of tossing it out the window much like what seems to happen in many other parts of Mexico.
  • If you really want to learn about a place, ask a taxi driver.  They seem to be most knowledgable about the facts and the special quirks of a town.
  • In restaurants, you have to ask for your check.  Unlike the US, the wait staff at Mexican restaurants will wait hours before delivering your check if you don’t ask for it.  I like this, but if you spend a lot of time in a restaurant, tip the waiter well if you’re holding the table.
  • Learn to drive in the emergency lane if you plan to take your time.
  • Chill and have patience.  Life is slower here.  Turns out, slower is pretty damn awesome.
  • Value the rejuvenative power of naps.  I’m still working on this one.  Scott is an expert.
  • It’s a simpler life.  This is a good thing.  I wrote and found quotes on living simply and chose those that appeal more to my desires than my current existence. It’s a work in progress, and the real true work I’m doing at the moment.


I admire folks who live simply and fully and who also have no desire to tell others about it.  They are attached to neither materials nor their egos. I am not that person yet strive to be so one day.
~ks pepper

I’m learning that living frugally is an art form. I can’t quite figure out which supplies I have to buy to create it.
~ks pepper

To me, living simply is to surrender ego along with unnecessary material possessions and spending waking moments in a quality way.  This is a challenge in the US where ‘wants’ are easily confused with creating the American dream, some ‘needs’ don’t relate to eating, sleeping, or lodging, and many ‘must-haves’ wind up in a garage sale.  And the acquisition of these things requires day after day of endless stress-filled activity.
~ks pepper

A simple life is good with me. I don’t need a whole lot. For me, a T-shirt, a pair of shorts, barefoot on a beach and I’m happy.

Economy, prudence, and a simple life are the sure masters of need, and will often accomplish that which, their opposites, with a fortune at hand, will fail to do.
~ Clara Barton

Frugality is one of the most beautiful and joyful words in the English language, and yet one that we are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying.  The consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things.
~Elise Boulding

To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter… to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring – these are some of the rewards of the simple life.
~John Burroughs

Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone.  The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.
~Lin Yutang

In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness.
~Henry David Thoreau

Rise up

If you’d like to read any of the 30 Mexico posts, click the links below.

Mexico Post #1, Me and My Trimalleolar go to Mexico with my Husband and our Pooch, click this here.
Mexico Post #2, Dos Americanos y Su Perro en Mexico, click this here.
Mexico Post #3, Felix Ano Nuevo 2013, click here.
Mexico Post #4, Ballenas, Ballenas Hermosas, click here.
Mexico Post #5, Una Visita Morelia, click here.
Mexico Post #6, Mariposas Monarcas!, click here.
Mexico Post #7, Los Pueblos de Patzcuaro, Paracho, y Tzintzuntzan, click here.
Mexico Post #8, La pintoresca ciudad de San Miguel de Allende, click here.
Mexico Post #9, Guanajuato, Guanajuato, click here.
Mexico Post #10, Back to Sayulita and Jaime Visits!, click here.
Mexico Post #11, Semana Santa y Semana Pasqua, click here.
Mexico Post #12, Semana de Animales, click here.
Mexico Post #13, Semana de Amigos y Amigas, click here.
Mexico Post #14, Frida y Diego, click here.
Mexico Post #15, Adiós Sayulita, click here.
Mexico Post #16, Living and Grinning in San Miguel de Allende, click here.
Mexico Post #17, Puddle Jumping in San Miguel de Allende, click here.
Mexico Post #18, Guanajuato International Film Festival, click here.
Mexico Post #19, Ciudad de Mexico/Mexico City: Colonia Condesa, Colonia Coyoacán, y La Casa Azul, click here.
Mexico Post #20, Ciudad de Mexico/Mexico City: Chapultapec y Centro Historico, click here.
Mexico Post #21, Ciudad de Mexico/Mexico City: Museo Nacional de Antropologia y Templo Mayor, click here.
Mexico Post #22, Living the Dream in San Miguel de Allende, click here.
Mexico Post #23,  Viva la Independencia! click here.
Mexico Post #24,  Adios San Miguel, click here.
Mexico Post #25,  Valle de Bravo y Teploztlán, click here.
Mexico Post #26,  Ciudad de Oaxaca, click here.
Mexico Post #27,  On the road from Oaxaca to Chiapas: 50 Shades of Green, click here.
Mexico Post #28,  San Cristóbal de las Casas, click here.
Mexico Post #29,  The Almost Halloween Edition:  Dark Mountains,  Foggy Cliffs, Witches, Jungles and Shamans, click here.
Mexico Post #30, Veracruz, Tampico y Estados Unidos, click here.


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