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Expatriate Enculturation into Mexico


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Presentation exploring how expats in Ajijic/Lake Chapala use Facebook groups to assist each other in negotiating new lives and homes in Mexico

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Expatriate Enculturation into Mexico

  1. 1. Expatriate Enculturation into Mexico via a Facebook Group Leanna Wolfe, PhD Southwestern Anthropological Association May 5, 2018 – Fresno, CA
  2. 2. Expatriates in Mexico • 1.9 Million from all over the World • 1.1 Million Americans • 59.4% increase 2010 – 2017
  3. 3. Types of Expatriates in Mexico • Newly Retired • Seek to Live Comfortably on Limited Retirement Resources • Next Pats (working) • Snow Birds • Long Term Residents • Single Women • Often no children / grandchildren • Internationalists
  4. 4. Expatriate Consciousness • Very Different from Conducting Fieldwork in Mexico! • Lived with Subjects • Spoke their Language • Ate their Food • Sought to join their world as much as possible • Expats Forge Distinct Communities • Monolingual in English • Some Do Take Spanish Lessons • Inclusive of New Arrivals • Easy to Make New Friends Amongst Other Expats • Distrust of Mexican Ways (Sanitation, Health Care, Safety) • Seek American Products and Food Chatting with informants in Mani, Yucatan – 1970s
  5. 5. Expatriates in Lake Chapala/Ajijic • 40% of Ajijic Residents are Expatriates • High Season (Winter) 10K Americans and Canadians • 60% live in Ajijic and Chapala • Remainder in outlying regions • Expatriate Destination since 1960s
  6. 6. The Ajijic Expatriate World • 4% of US and Canadian Mexico-Expats live in Ajijic •7 to 1 Female to Male Ratio •Snowbirds come from the US Northeast and Canada
  7. 7. Expats Continue Familiar Cultural Practices
  8. 8. Ajijic Jazz Club
  9. 9. With June, My Key Informant
  10. 10. Adjacent Lakeside Towns • Jocotepec • San Juan Cosala • Chapala
  11. 11. Ajijic’s Lakeside Walk
  12. 12. Ajijic – Picturesque Mexican Village
  13. 13. Beautiful Sunsets…
  14. 14. Jocotepec
  15. 15. Chapala
  16. 16. Lake Chapala Society • Traditional Expat Enculturation • Assistance with Immigration • English Book / Videotape Library • Field Trips • Classes • Cafe
  17. 17. Enculturation via Facebook Groups • Joining enabled access to Expat Consciousness • Readily Became a Participant-Observer • Membership Open to Anyone Living in or Considering Migrating to the Region • Facebook functions as the most familiar Social Media for Boomers • Millennials habit Snap Chat, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest
  18. 18. Mexican Expatriate Facebook Groups •Expats in Mexico – 9,047 Members •The Truth About Moving to Mexico – 6,739 Members •Gringos Ajijic and Lakeside – 6,506 Members •Beg Barter Buy & Sell Chapala – 5,800 Members •Lake Chapala Rentals – 3,135 Members •Everything Lake Chapala and Ajijic Chat Group – 1,900 Members •Living in Mexico Like the Locals – 1,400 Members •Lake Chapala Crime Watch – 1,295 Members •Ajijic Residents – 716 Members •Expats and Locals in San Miguel de Allende – 123 Members
  19. 19. Gringos Ajijic & Lakeside Mission “Gringos Ajijic” is an informational group for and about those interested in the greater Lake Chapala area of Jalisco, Mexico. As administrators of the “Gringos Ajijic,” our mission is to provide a space for local people to network and share thoughts/ ideas / experiences / needs, etc. Ideally, “Gringos Ajijic,” is meant to forge and strengthen our little community.
  20. 20. Gringos Ajijic and Lakeside Group • Very Active Group • 20+ postings a day • Popular Topics Garner upwards of 100 comments • Enculturation Concerns Addressed • Is it Better to Buy or Rent? • Where to Live • Spanish Lessons • Cell Phone Providers and Internet Access • The Challenge of immigrating to a Third World Country • Immigration Strategies • Border Crossing Strategies • Local Celebrations • Staying Healthy / Health Care Providers • Vacations to other parts of Mexico
  21. 21. My First Posting • Garnered 80 “Likes” in the first 24 hours • Established the Group was intensely Active • My own Facebook feed received just 20 “Likes” for the same photo • Members introduced themselves to me • Several asked to meet for Coffee
  22. 22. My Second Posting • Upwards of 100 “Likes” • Complements on my photography • Much discussion on whether what I labelled as a “shore gull” was in fact an egret…
  23. 23. Sample Postings • Looking for women pickleball players…We all love to win, but mostly play for fun and exercise. • Can anyone tell me if there are spay and neuter clinics for cats? Would like to help out a momma and her 7 kitten litter. • Is there anywhere lakeside that sells Birkenstocks? • Can anyone recommend a metal worker (wrought iron) who can put some nice, decorative bars on my sliding doors? • Last Call for Arts and Crafts Day! Who wants to go shopping? •Does anyone know if there is a compounding pharmacy in the area for bio identical hormones?
  24. 24. Postings that Affirm Gringo-ness • We have found a terrific handyman. Speaks very good English, is reliable and efficient. Easy to work with. Very reasonable prices, too. His name is Jose (contact info) • I dropped my cellphone beside the Carreterra. I heard two whistles from behind and looked back and saw a lovely Mexican man holding my phone. I ran back and offered twice to give him a thank you reward. He firmly insisted on not taking any money. I do not know who this man is..but want to share publicly this good news of a very kind gentleman in this community! Comments on a post about a contractor who helped a client find an emergency vet) • The Mexican People are kind, loving and so dear. • This is WHY we Love Mexico • How kind of him to help you like that!
  25. 25. Forging an Expat Identity in Ajijic • Community Service • Operation Feed – Agency Serving Local Families • Helping Fellow Expats •Accessing American Products and Food • Shopping Excursions to Costco in Guadalajara • Meatloaf Tuesdays at a Local Cafe • Familiar Activities • Book Clubs • Dance Parties with American music from the 70s • Jazz Clubs • Dogs – Expat vs. Local Strategies and Concerns
  26. 26. Mexican Street Dogs (MSDs)…
  27. 27. Dogs: Expat vs. Local Values • Spay/Neuter vs. Poisoning/Euthanizing Street Dogs • Facebook Group Used for Locating Lost Dogs • Finding Homes for Street Dogs • Expat Adoptions • Elevated Concern for Uncared for Dogs • International Adoptions • Flights Arranged to send homeless dogs to the US and Canada
  28. 28. June Fosters a Pregnant Dog Puppies Available for Adoption! • Frequent Postings of the challenges of fostering a pregnant mother • Videos and still photos of each step in the puppies’ lives • Pictures of each puppy as it gets adopted • Her Report: “The vet said I did a better job than the Mexicans do”
  29. 29. Conclusions • Expatriates in Ajijic / Lake Chapala generate community via their Facebook Group • Networking for social activities and friendships • The challenges of living in Mexico can be mediated by participating in the Group • Health Care, Immigration and Housing Issues readily addressed • The Group provides an excellent window into the concerns of many expats • Window to how some expats regard Mexicans and Mexican culture • Expats largely retain the values and appetites of their countries of origin • Community Service reflects these values (especially regarding rehoming stray dogs)
  30. 30. Leanna Wolfe, PhD Dr. Leanna Research (323) 717-6167