Live Like a Local

Puerto Morelos, Mexico

May in Mexico – A Month of Festivities

Posted by | Live Like a Local, Mexico, Quality of Life, Traveling Tips | No Comments

One of the most important aspects of the overall immersion travel experience is cultural and language immersion. And one of my favorite parts about Mexico and immersing myself in the culture here is that Mexicans love their fiestas. You can talk to any individual across the nation and you will hear the same thing: give Mexicans a reason to crack open a beer, uncork a bottle of tequila, throw some grub on the grill and take a day or two off work and there’s a universal cheer raised from the throats of all Mexicans around the world.

Initially I thought of it as somewhat of a joke when I first arrived and one of my friends (she is Mexican, from Chiapas) told me that Mexicans love fiestas so much that they will literally make days up just to have an excuse to eat, drink and be merry. Day of the Cleaning Lady, Day of the Lawnmower Dude, Day of the Window Washer…there is always a reason to have a party, and one need look no further than eyeshot for an idea of what could potentially be celebrated.

Friends on Isla Mujere

Me with some friends on Isla Mujeres, enjoying our own fiesta. Just because.

After having lived in Mexico for a year and a half now, I can firmly say that while I initially had my doubts about the validity of my friend’s statement, I now know for a fact that one of the best parts about living in Mexico is the fact that the people love to kick back and party. The end result = one of the most laid-back, relaxed places you will ever settle down as an expat / digital nomad.

The month of May is the perfect example of what I mean by that. It actually starts towards the end of April, if you want to be specific, with Dia de los Niños, or Day of the Children, which happens on April 30th. Then there’s Dia del Trabajo, or Labor Day on May 1st. That rolls right into Dia de la Santa Cruz, or Day of the Holy Cross on May 3rd. Right after that you have Cinco de Mayo on the 5th, then Mother’s Day on the 10th and Teacher’s Day on May 15th. And that’s without the local festivals that take place during the month, on top of the national festivals. For example, May 2 to May 20 is the Mexico City Festival (Festival de Mexico en el Centro Historico), which takes place in the historical district, or the May Festival (Actividades de Mayo) in Oaxaca from May 3rd to the 13th. There’s also the rest of the month to consider.

Those are just a handful of examples of things that are going on throughout the month of May all the way through the entirety of Mexico. And that’s just one month out of the year. While they may be a hard-working people, Mexicans also have a love of life that is lived out through their passion for enjoying social fiestas with friends, family and neighbors across the country. The passion that Colombians have for salsa is the passion that Mexicans have for their tequila and parties…and living here up close and personal as an expat / digital nomad is the only way to truly experience the real Mexico that exists behind the wall of misinformed.

It’s also one of those reasons I mentioned a few posts back when I talked about how my three month stay evolved into a year and a half with no permanent plans for leaving; there’s just too much going for Mexico for me to want to leave just yet. I’ve still got plenty of ground to cover in this country, and while I may jet out from time to time on business to other places for Live Like a Local immersion guides and Expat Guidebook work…I’m seeing a lifelong love affair developing with

Riviera Maya - Tulum

Riviera Maya – Tulum

Mexico. And besides, who can say no to afternoon siestas in a cabaña on the beach with ceviche,  grilled arrachera, cervezas, tequila, mota, chicas, fiestas, the spectacularviews and the never-ending festive attitude of the Latin people?

I sure can’t :) How many of you are along for the ride?

 

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LOTRO

My Secret Life as an Expat Gamer – Entertainment, Pure and Simple

Posted by | Gaming, Live Like a Local, Quality of Life, Traveling Tips | No Comments

This post is part of an ongoing series that is being written through April. It covers gaming or, more specifically, MMORPGs and how they have benefited me personally over the years in terms of business relationships as well as entertainment value while on the road living the nomadic existence. Stay tuned for later installments of “My Secret Life as an Expat Gamer”, as well as “The Secrets of My Success”, which is an upcoming series starting in May covering early retirement and how to get yourself out of debt and into living a life of absolute freedom as an expat in countries around the world.

When you get right down to it, playing video games is a form of entertainment. And like all forms of entertainment it’s a type of escapism where you can shed your daily responsibilities for a wide array of activities ranging from shooting pool, watching a movie, hanging out at the beach, surfing, skateboarding, reading a book or any other hobby/activity performed for pleasure’s sake.

Something that I think really sets the pace in the modern era is how when a new book series begins to become popular and gets made into a movie or a TV show, it is usually accompanied by at least one or two video games that can be played alongside the other media. In some cases it’s a stand-alone game that mirrors the source material, and in other cases it’s actually an interactive social media campaign meant to draw players in through a series of extra story lines and media that is otherwise unavailable to the normal viewers. Nothing sells more copies of a product than a social media campaign that gives the participants additional source material.

A perfect example of what I mean by this is the current phenomena that is The Walking Dead. It started out as a comic book/graphic novel, then moved into a television show, which has since spawned merchandising and more important to this conversation, a video game title as well. That means they are maximizing their exposure to far more people than just those who read comics; it’s targeted towards the television market as well as the gamers, which means they have a fairly wide spread of the “nerd” market. Yes. I’m a nerd. Yes. I know what boobhats are. Lawlz, woot, and I know the birthplace of the word/phrase newb/n00b.

Now, when you are traveling on the road there’s usually downtime here and there. I also happen to watch a lot of shows, one of which is The Walking Dead. For me…it’s the TV show that got me into the franchise. I never read the comic, and have no desire to. But I love the show I’ll be playing the video game at some point this summer, just because it’s part of a franchise I enjoy.

Which brings me to the point of this whole post: you don’t have to worry about missing your shows, games or anything else when you are on the road. Too many people think that a life of continual travel means giving up your shows, your games and your normal routines and that’s just not the case. All of this entertainment can be had anywhere in the world, so you can just as easily be camped out on the shores of Lake Michigan as you could be tucked away in the Rhodopes on the border of Greece; entertainment is global.

What are your favorite types of games to play when on the road or in between adventures? Leave a comment below and let me know!

 P.S. Who else played the Diablo III open beta this last weekend? :) I was in Playa for 5 hours on Saturday, but I still managed to level up a Wizard and Demon Hunter through the beta. Looking good so far, but Guild Wars 2 has my eye drawn towards its release date….I’ll be biding my time in SW:TOR until then :) 

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Tulum, Mexico

How my three month stay in Mexico evolved into over a year and a half

Posted by | Live Like a Local, Mexico, Quality of Life, Traveling Tips | 2 Comments

…and counting.

When I first came here I had no plans other than to stay for three months, do some scuba diving, see the local haunts and then continue moving south. Originally I had thought to make my way down country by country through Central America and then down the western coast of South America, coming up the eastern coast and then zig-zagging my way back up through the center of South America. It’s still in the book, but things have certainly changed a bit since then as well.

Puerto MorelosWhen I first started I was still only doing freelancing full time and I hadn’t yet begun to build the Marginal Boundaries community. I was supporting myself purely on my contract writing and freelance work, but then I received a couple of job offers to write travel guides based on all my years of being on the road, and after that a few conversations with friends led me to realize the potential for growing something into a company and networking with other people.

In any case…I’m still here, I have a residency visa for Mexico now, I have long-term plans for a part-time base of operations here in the Riviera Maya and all of my current Live Like a Local guidebook concepts are being headquartered from here, as well as other Marginal Boundaries productions that specifically related to Mexico, both in Chiapas as well as the Riviera Maya.

As far as Cancun goes, it’s a great city for expats. It has an international airport, a cheap cost of living, modern amenities and a healthy, bustling tourist industry. I live in Centro, in a middle class area where it’s most pioneer families who came here 40 years ago when the city was being built, as well as their kids (who are my age) and their families. And while the affordability of living in Cancun is a major benefit (I pay at most $800 a month for total costs, and that’s only if I’m splurging on things with my girlfriend), it’s the Latin culture that has kept me here for so long and has me making so many plans here in Mexico.

Isla MujeresThe best way to describe what I’m talking about is to think about the concept of time here. Worldwide, Mexico is known as the “land of tomorrow” because people here are notoriously relaxed when it comes to work. And Mexicans love their festivals with a passion that cannot be described. If there is a reason for beer, tequila, dancing and festivities, that’s sufficient. There is always something going on somewhere. And with that in mind…the general vibe is one of relaxation and a “live life as it comes at you” sort of approach. Not a lot of major plans are made, and the regular people just go about their daily lives with a very nonchalant approach. As a good friend here once told me, “It was Mexico yesterday. It will be Mexico tomorrow. There’s no reason to stress about anything.” After which a joint was lit and beers were cracked open.

It’s a simple fact that time disappears here in Mexico. And throughout most of Latin America. It was the same in Colombia, as well as in Bulgaria, Italy, Greece, Serbia and Turkey and every other country I’ve been in. But when people ask me one of the major reasons I choose to stay in Mexico and why that initial three months turned into a current year and a half with no clear plans to make a permanent departure, I have to answer that it’s the way time here just stops and how beneficial that is for my sanity.

When someone tells you that they’ll be there in 30 minutes, they might mean up to an hour and a half. Social gathering that starts at 9 actually means people start showing up at 10:30 or 11. It means when a restaurant says they will be open at four in the afternoon and I show up, my friend is kicked back on one of the booths enjoying a nap at 4:30 because he was tired and wanted a nap. Didn’t matter that his sign said he’d be open at 4; he was sleeping and he’d get to it when he gets to it.

Ruins of TulumIt’s something that helps you appreciate life. Learning how to slow down gives you the opportunity to enjoy the little things in life, rather than those little things racing by in forgotten moments due to your hectic, 40+ hour a week grind at a job where you never see the light of day and can only leave when your boss allows you to. And forget multiple festivities throughout the week; you get a handful of national holidays per year and that’s it.

But it’s also the people who have kept me here in Mexico longer than I had originally planned. And the country itself. I have become intoxicated with Mexico. This is a vast country of relatively undeveloped potential, with hundreds of natural parks, ecosystems, ancient races of indigenous people stretching back over the millenia far beyond the Mayans that most people are familiar with, such as the Olmec.

In short, Mexico has a lot to offer in terms of explorability, and when you combine that with affordable medical care, a cheap cost of living, modern infrastructure and a government that is very friendly to foreigners…what’s not to like?

Isla BlancaFor those of you who have been living here longer than I have, I completely understand, because what was supposed to only be three months has since turned into a year and a half and as of present I have zero plans to leave Mexico permanently anytime soon. I may skip out for a few months here and there to travel and do research in other South American countries while I write more Live Like a Local guides, but I’m also planning more adventures here in this amazing country because there’s just so much to see!

What are some of your favorite places, foods or experiences here in Mexico?

 

Don’t forget to sign up for our free newsletter for several-times-a-week, your-eyes-only travel and entrepreneur tips, plus receive a complimentary copy of our 85-page starter book on location independence and living abroad, 30 Ways in 30 Days.

With over 1,500 copies sold, our flagship 568-page eBook is what started it all. Learn how to travel the world like I do: without a budget, with no plans, funded completely by your website and online ventures.

The Expat GuidebookGet Your Copy Today!

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Guild Wars 2

My Secret Life as an Expat Gamer – A Hobby That Travels Well

Posted by | Gaming, Live Like a Local, Quality of Life, Traveling Tips | 2 Comments

This post is part of an ongoing series that is being written through April. It covers gaming or, more specifically, MMORPGs and how they have benefited me personally over the years in terms of business relationships as well as entertainment value while on the road living the nomadic existence. Stay tuned for later installments of “My Secret Life as an Expat Gamer”, as well as “The Secrets of My Success”, which is an upcoming series starting in May covering early retirement and how to get yourself out of debt and into living a life of absolute freedom as an expat in countries around the world.

Perhaps one of the most appealing aspects of gaming, at least for me, is that it travels well. At least, MMORPGs travel well since they can be played on a laptop. Console games are another story, and while I pick up most of them when they port over to the PC (I haven’t had a console since I sold my XBox 360 on the way out of the States in late 2007; they don’t travel well IMO and you can always pick a used one up when you touch down on local ground and use it for the six months or a year or so you’ll be there), I do miss out on a couple of titles here and there.

However, the point is that gaming is something that lends itself well to traveling around the world. No matter where you are traveling there are always moments when you have downtime in between adventures. Although my primary passion is traveling and I certainly take it in at every opportunity, it’s not the only thing I do when I’m on location. Taking a look at Cancun, where I’ve been based the last year and a half while exploring other South American destinations, I live here like a local. Which means I keep a local-based schedule, and if I want to explore local haunts and adventures with my friends here it’s usually done on the weekend when they have time off work. While my schedule is flexible and I can work anytime that I want, not all my friends are digital entrepreneurs.

So, during the weekdays when I’m working on the newsletters, blogs, social media campaigns, backlinking and SEO and marketing and management I like to manage my schedule as mentioned in one of the earlier posts: I game in the early mornings, work in the late mornings and early afternoons, then enjoy my social/outdoor stuff in the afternoons and evenings. However, that changes up when it gets really hot here in Cancun around late May and into early June, because it gets to the point where between 11 in the morning and about three in the afternoon you just don’t want to be outside, even on the beach, because you will fry like a lobster. Instead, most people hit the beach between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. before it gets hot enough to boil eggs, so my schedule changes up a bit for beach and ruin-exploring.

In Bogota it was the opposite, because it was raining most afternoon so you just can’t really go out and do anything for a few hours per day, which means you are stuck in the house for a few hours per day. You can either use that time to work on projects or you can use it to get in a few hours of your favorite hobby, whether that’s reading a book, watching your TV shows, cooking, catching a movie, hanging out with friends or delving into your favorite virtual world via an MMORPG. Then Sofia you have the traditional winter cycle, which means for several months out of the year it’s just too damn cold to really go out and do anything unless you are a ski junkie, which means there’s a lot of indoor activities going on, one of which was always gaming.

Another reason games travel well is because they don’t take up additional space like books, magazines, consoles or otherwise. Most people travel with a laptop or a pad of some kind, and with that and your backpack(s) you are good to go. Books are more weight, more space and more stuff you have to pack and arrange. It’s always nice to have one tattered copy of something to go along for the ride, but multiple books are as aforementioned. With a laptop or pad you’ve got work and play combined into one device, perfect for any setting.

I will say this: while I’ve taken my gaming on the road with me I certainly play less than I used to before I started traveling full-time back in January of 2008. Most of that has to do with the fact that there are just so many other things to do when you are in another country. There’s parks to explore, mountains to hike, forests to uncover, ruins to discover, adventures to be had, new cultures to be experienced, new friendships to be made…the life of a digital nomad is certainly not one of being socially shy, at least not in my opinion. Part of what makes this lifestyle so bountiful for those who live it are the connections that we make along the way.

Don’t forget to sign up for our free newsletter for several-times-a-week, your-eyes-only travel and entrepreneur tips, plus receive a complimentary copy of our 85-page starter book on location independence and living abroad, 30 Ways in 30 Days.

With over 1,500 copies sold, our flagship 568-page eBook is what started it all. Learn how to travel the world like I do: without a budget, with no plans, funded completely by your website and online ventures.

The Expat GuidebookGet Your Copy Today!

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Game Shot

My Secret Life as an Expat Gamer – Lifestyle Preparation

Posted by | Gaming, Live Like a Local, Quality of Life, Traveling Tips | No Comments

This post is part of an ongoing series that is being written through April. It covers gaming or, more specifically, MMORPGs and how they have benefited me personally over the years in terms of business relationships as well as entertainment value while on the road living the nomadic lifestyle. Stay tuned for later installments of “My Secret Life as an Expat Gamer”, as well as “The Secrets of My Success”, which is an upcoming series starting in May covering early retirement and how to get yourself out of debt and into living a life of absolute freedom as an expat in countries around the world.

They start off small. Single player games which offer puzzles to solve, challenges to overcome, things which engage our brains. It’s the equivalent of going to the gym for three hours a day; the three hours or so of pure entertainment that you give your brain when it is engaged in a challenge that it enjoys is worth three hours of the gym for your muscles. And there’s nothing wrong with having the best of both worlds and being physically fit as well as a gamer! (I’m a health enthusiast; I’m currently ending my first round and heading into my second round of P90X, and I’m doing the lean version this time. Should finish around July, and then I’ll be off to do something else for balance.)

It builds from there. Puzzles become more complex and require longer time investments. Nature kicks in and our minds naturally begin to discover the quickest way to achieve the end results, naturally evolving to overcome challenges. Shortcuts are taken, risks are introduced. Eventually it builds to the point that the player needs to interact with other people and work together as a team to overcome obstacles. The group dynamic emerges.

All of these things mimic real life. It’s the reason why it’s called virtual reality, that idea-space inside video games. It really is just that; a virtual copy of real life, only with certain twists. The worlds are fantasy-based, or science fiction and historical. They all share the same trait in the fact that they are all still copies of our own reality. They require time investments, energy, dedication, commitment and interaction. These are the same qualities any recruiter is looking for in new, educated recruits: people who are full of energy and dedication, commitment and interaction and they’ve got all the time in the world because it’s their passion.

Gaming teaches people to work together, which is of primary importance. This is especially true when you are abroad as an expat living the lifestyle. It’s far more easier to meld into your current area when you are already accustomed to working well with others in a virtual environment. Working relationships are forged on similar likes and motivations in life, and it mirrors virtual reality where gaming relationships are forged on the same ideals. Everything comes together in the central focus of people working together for a common goal. This is reality, virtual or not.

For children, this means learning teamwork as part of a social unit, not just in the classroom. For adults it’s a sense of accomplishing something together with a group of friends, and it’s the social activity that is important. People interacting together towards similar purposes, like Bingo night, bowling or going to see live performance artists. In both cases the interactions help you in the real world.

The one thing I honestly swear by is the power of friendships forged as a result of gaming. I’ve met friends over the past 15 years who I’ve stayed in contact with since then. For example, some of my regular contacts today on Facebook are still people that I grew up playing EverQuest 1 with back in the late 90s and early 2000s. Others are those I met over the past six to eight years and gamed with throughout EQ2, Vanguard, LOTRO and other games. I’ve met many of them, chatted on Ventrilo with the lot of them, made online friendships with dozens of them over the years, and while some of those are just in passing they are connections nevertheless.

All of these people turn into connections, and the friendships that are forged can lead to exciting new opportunities in places you least expect it. For example, I once met a friend in Bulgaria purely by chance who also happened to play EQ2 on the same server as us, and I also played with some local Sofia players in Vanguard for a brief period of time. Some of my earliest EQ1 friends also happened to live in the same area as me in Colorado and we used to go out on Tuesdays for fries and pizza at this place in Longmont. And all of them I’m still in contact with today. I’m even working with three of them on current projects.

None of those connections would have been possible without gaming being a part of my life. And while one could argue that you could have made those connections out doing “physical” activities like golfing, being in a sports team or something similar…the point is that you can meet people doing all sorts of social activities, not just the ones related to the “real world”.

Don’t forget to sign up for our free newsletter for several-times-a-week, your-eyes-only travel and entrepreneur tips, plus receive a complimentary copy of our 85-page starter book on location independence and living abroad, 30 Ways in 30 Days.

With over 1,500 copies sold, our flagship 568-page eBook is what started it all. Learn how to travel the world like I do: without a budget, with no plans, funded completely by your website and online ventures.

The Expat GuidebookGet Your Copy Today!

Unplug from The System, cure yourself of The Greedy Bastard Syndrome, tap into your universal potential and create your own reality. Build a brand, travel the world and realize your cosmic consciousness.

Beyond Borders - The Social RevolutionGet Your Copy Today!