Twelve years ago, as I planned my move to Mexico, I knew from experience that certain items we seem to require in a perfect life are either not available in Mexico or priced into the stratosphere due to shipping and import costs.
To be able to the weather this sudden dearth of things I took for granted in the States, I realized I had only two options, cold turkey or the gradual tapering off of my objects of desire.
Since most items I was about to leave behind were foodstuffs, going cold turkey would mean checking into some type of vegan rehab facility where I would subsist on bean sprouts, crusty bread and tofu for several agonizing weeks. But that was definitely out of the question.
So I went for option no. 2: the slow weaning process that would gradually settle me into a culture that would hopefully bring new delights to quell my panicking palate.
One snowy morning, while contemplating my move to Mexico, I was kick-starting the hamster with an excellent cup of very fresh, oily bean, French roast coffee. It struck me at mid-sip; locating a source for great coffee in Mexico could be a long and futile quest.
I thought back to previous trips to Mexico, cruising the aisles of many a tienda only to find instant coffee, most of it with sugar added. A quick search on the net told me Mexico City had boutique coffee roasters, but living in that smoggy quagmire of humanity would be a price too high to pay for decent coffee.
I would simply pack enough coffee to cover several months of severe withdrawal in order to extirpate the demons of caffeine. This approach seemed reasonable enough; coffee doesn’t weigh much and I could vacuum-pack whole beans and grind them as needed.
It was then the wine dilemma dawned on me: it weighs much more than coffee and would take up a lot of space.
When I calculated the weight of a conservative amount of wine required for a reasonable period of declining consumption, it was over 2,000 pounds. I then knew I had a serious conflict between a pragmatic approach to packing and suitable lifestyle support.
I still had not thought about things like fresh horseradish, real peanut butter, gravenstein apple sauce, basmati rice, some type of cheese other than bland white, good pastries, real yogurt and well . . . you get the idea.
During my first couple of years here, when friends would offer to bring me something from the States, I would stoically decline the offer, pleading my need to live the simple life of a peon.
Within two years of my arrival, a gourmet coffee roaster set up shop in town. This came just as I was on my last vacuum-packed bag of dark roast beans. About this same time I started seeing Argentine wines in one of the large supermarkets; my life improved immediately.
Also, I have come to my senses and no longer wish to live the minimalist life of a peon. For years now I have shamelessly used my friends as common mules. Overweight luggage? Extra bag charge? No problem, just get it to Mexico; I will pay whatever the exorbitant cost as long as it packed with Adams 100% peanut butter, some real cheese and fresh horseradish.
I take little for granted these days and feel exceptionally fortunate when I have a sandwich made with smuggled peanut butter, or a cup of good coffee from a local roaster. It always tastes a little better than it ever did north of the border.
As I bask in the contented satisfaction that my life in Mexico is quite complete, I have come to the realization that I could never live in the States again without a far greater sense of loss than was engendered when I came south 11 years ago. With all that being said, I really hope Trader Joes comes to Mexico.
Bodie Kellogg describes himself as a very middle-aged man who lives full-time in Mazatlán with a captured tourist woman and the ghost of a half wild dog. If you wish to give him cold beer, large sacks of money or a piece of your mind, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.