A couple of years ago, when my husband and I had a vague idea of traveling to Oaxaca one day, we happened to meet a charming couple at a charity luncheon who told us about…
… a friend of theirs who was an expat living in Oaxaca. They offered to ask him if he’d be willing to be a contact for us and answer any questions we might have. Their friend, David, very generously said “yes,” and he and I emailed back and forth over the next year. He was a great resource and always promptly and patiently answered our many questions. He also got us connected to…
…The Oaxaca Lending Library (OLL), which is the social hub for the expat community in Oaxaca. In addition to an extensive collection of books, they offer resources, programs, events, lectures, and other valuable services. English-speaking travelers visiting Oaxaca for any length of time should make OLL one of their first stops. My husband and I enjoyed meeting several members of this welcoming, interesting, and vibrant community, including…
… Marga, a 91-year-old expat who is full of energy and enthusiasm. She has traveled around the world, but loves coming back to her home in Oaxaca.
When we asked David for a recommendation of a guide/driver to hire, he told us about…
… Robert and Jose, who drove us to beautiful villages and spectacular archeological sites and made our experience very personal and special. Not only did we visit some fascinating locations but, after we were finished touring, they invited us into their home.
A big part of the joy of travel is the people we meet along the way. We have been fortunate to add many new friends to our contact lists, and we’ve received – and extended – plenty of, “if you’re ever in…” invitations over the years.
I am so grateful for the connections we make and the friendships we develop as we travel about. I am also very much looking forward to connecting with friends we have yet to meet.
49 thoughts on “GratiTuesday: Making Connections”
It is always an adventure to make a new friend – just like picking up a new book to read. 🙂
Oh, I like that analogy!
An acquaintance always talks about moving to an expat colony in Mexico. The climate and the low cost of living are what attract her. What are the chances that this is her intended destination?
There are many cities in Mexico that have large expat populations. We were told that each one tends to attract a certain types (for instance, Oaxaca’s expat are liberal and progressive for the most part). What I love is how that all seem to support one another.
I totally agree that the best part of travel, is the people we meet along the journey. Marga looks like a ball of energy!
Isn’t she great? She said that I could take her picture as long as she could hide her cane behind her back. She didn’t want to “look old.” As if she ever could!
That’s awesome! A wonderful role model we can aspire to at 91!
I had to laugh at her comment about the cane 🙂 My mom hated her cane and said only old people used them. In her mid-80s she didn’t consider herself old 🙂
It’s too bad that “old” means “frail” to so many. Better to equate “old” with “wise” or “richly experienced.” There was nothing frail about Marga. I’m sure that was true about your mom too.
No, you’re right. Marga doesn’t look remotely frail. Sadly my mom did become very frail. That old adage about use-it-or-lose-it is very true.
My husband’s cousin retired to Mexico although I don’t know the name of the town. Easy, low-cost living was the draw. Eventually his wife developed some health issues and they moved to Ecuador. I don’t know if the health care is better there or it was specific to her issue. However, they loved Mexico and were the greatest ambassadors encouraging people to consider it.
Medical care can be an issue but the expats we meet had a network of doctors they went to who provided good care at a reasonable cost. Many went back to the US now and then if they had an issue that they felt could better be treated up here (and they were able to use their Medicare benefits for).
Thanks so much for all these very helpful posts. We are thinking about where we want to spend the holidays this year, and your posts have put Oaxaca on the list.
Oaxaca is supposed to be beautiful during the holiday season. And, who wouldn’t want to be there for the Radish Festival? If you decide to go, let me know – I can give you a ton of recommendations.
Thanks. I will definitely take you up on your offer. The radish festival is a real draw!
The best local knowledge is offered by … locals. It is so wonderful and enriching to be introduced to all these people and institutions, thanks to virtual or common friends. Networking at its best and, because we all have the interest in a country or the desire to travel or the writing of a blog in common, we can expect (or at least hope) to get along and have fun when meeting in person. 🙂
The expats we met were very helpful and generous with their time and knowledge. They love where they live and wanted to share that love with others. Isn’t it nice to find people all over the world who are kind and willing to give of themselves.
Janis, I learn so much from your posts. It honestly wouldn’t have occurred to me to reach out to an expat before travelling to a new place. I’m much more of a “read all of the guidebooks and websites” kind of person. But now that I see how much better the experience is with the support of local people, I’ll be changing my way of travelling in the future.Thanks for the illumination. Karen
I think that the expat communities are generally knowledgeable and helpful. I’m guessing many are paying it forward after receiving help from others when they were starting out.
How wonderful to make those personal connections and be “in-the-know!” Makes all the difference to have the insider view of a new place. BTW, sounds like we may be meeting again with Donna in mid November while she is visiting your way 🙂
Not only did the expat community help us with general information and suggestions, they would have been invaluable if we had run into any problems or needed medical assistance (which, thank God, we didn’t). Just knowing that made me feel more comfortable.
I agree that meeting new people and experiencing new cultures is the best part of travel.
PS – I seriously LOVE Jose’s shoes. How cool are they?
Jose was one seriously cool dude. 😀
Ah yes the people we meet and friends we make along the way during travels, have become for us, our “tribe”. Many of them we relate to and they relate so well to us because we understand each other really well. Friends from years back are still friends of course but they always seem in awe of our nomadic ways and different lifestyle. It’s definitely harder for them to really relate to us with the same understanding. We have one friend we met inNicaragua and than again met up in Mumbai, then Chicago, Pierrot Rico and then VietNam and Sri Lanka!!
Hard to believe that Marga is 91, she looks fantastic and has a great spirit that clearly radiates from her.
Expats in Nicaragua when we moved there were a great resource for us initially as well.
Wow, your friend really got around – like the two of you! I can understand how your tribe of fellow travelers can relate to your lifestyle better than those who prefer to stay close to home. I loved Marga… she was so interested and involved. I was first attracted to the beautiful colors she was wearing, then, once we started talking, I was intrigued by her amazing spirit.
Libraries – especially in this digital age, though some don’t get it – are more than books (what’s so bad about that anyway?)…they are cultural and social hubs within the community.
Your post highlights this so naturally…
The OLL was started many years age by an expat who wanted to create a meeting place for her friends. She is long gone, but her vision continues – and grows – because it has become a valued part of that community. I’m a big fan of libraries so I felt right at home 😀.
Sometimes I wonder how it is that we meet the people who we meet, right when we need to meet them? So glad that you had such positive experiences and made some new friends along the way. It’s definitely one of the upsides of traveling.
You are right. People come into our lives every day but sometimes they just click with us. They are what we need, or we are what they need – our both. Connections are what make life, and life experiences, so special.
I would not want to live in a world where there is no longer a possibility of making a new friend!
Nor would I. As we get older, it can be harder to meet new friends, but it is also the time we may need them the most.
One of the advantages of going to a location and staying there for a while are the people you meet who become a part of your life while there. It seems to me that Oaxaca has indelibly left its mark on you and you’ll be back there again!
The are advantages to different types of travel. Slew travel provides more depth, and Oaxaca was a good place to do that. We will definitely be back.
That’s so cool! Glad you had fun 😉
Janis, what a wonderful story. The people make the journey. Keith
They do indeed, Keith. We’ve been lucky to meet a lot of interesting people along the way.
I bet you have. Thanks for sharing some of them with us. I remember our family trip to Ireland and interacting with all kinds of interesting people.
Hi Janis! I loved all your photos of your trip so far–and the slide shows make them nice to view. Your posts are bringing back so many great memories. We were only in Oaxaca for a week so we didn’t get a chance to check out their lending library but good to know they have such a lively expat group there. The one in San Miguel de Allende is amazing and it’s so nice to meet with other adventurous souls who love to share their experiences of life in Mexico. I can’t wait to visit again! ~Kathy
Although we are ready to go back to Oaxaca, we’d also love to visit San Miguel de Allende too. I have heard that the expat community there is strong also. I hope we have time to share stories about our Mexican adventures in November!
I never though about tapping into the expat community on travels. Wonderful idea!
This is the first time we had the opportunity to do that (since we were there for an extended period of time), but I’m sure we’ll keep that in mind for future travels. Expat communities share a unique perspective.
How wonderful to have a connection before making a trip! I’d never thought to find an “advance team” like that. Great idea.
The original connection sort of fell in our laps and it just grew from there. We were so lucky to have a group of knowledgeable, helpful people eager to assist. The next time we travel to an area with a strong expat community, we will definitely take advantage of their expertise.
What a great story. Connections are definitely a blessing. And how awesome to build those relationships in advance of your travels. I have found the blogging community to be a great source of connections and have met fellow bloggers as we’ve sailed the world. Looking forward to meeting you in person some day.
And then there are The Captain’s friends. He went to a small international college in Switzerland in the 70s. While he hasn’t seen most of his former classmates since leaving college, whenever we sail into a new region, we look one or two up and lo and behold, instant BFFs. This happened in Hawaii, Sydney, Singapore, and Thailand. And we already have invitations for South Africa and Brazil.
BTW – Love that picture of Marga – not only her energy but the beautiful colors of her clothing and the surrounds.
It really is the connections that make travel so amazing. We’ve met with bloggers too (not on this trip) which is a special treat since it almost feels like meeting up with dear friends.
Marga was great… I noticed her wonderful clothing first, then her smile, then her spirit. I was happy that we found a wall that matched her so well!
I love your blog. My wife and I travel and she loves to stay in a place for a long while, and I like to move around. So we alternate the style of travel we do. I am really starting to like the idea of staying in one place for a while more and more. I am glad to have found your site and look forward to learning from another couple on the road. We are about to do the Camino (my second, her first). I invite you to follow along and comment with your wisdom. Peace be with you….
I think all types of travel have their place… it just depends on the time you have, the interest you have in a single location, and, of course, the personalities, likes and dislikes of each traveler. I have become more interested in hiking the Camino after reading several bloggers tell about their adventures. I will happily follow along as you write about your journeys.
I agree with everything you said. Yes, please do follow along and feel free to comment and ask questions as they arise!!
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