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Welcome to Mexico!
By Victoria Schmidt
The one thing about living in Mexico that unifies all ex-pats is our need for that certain special item that isn’t available in Mexico. Whenever any of us travel back north, we are inundated with requests from other ex-pats for items to be picked up in the USA or Canada to be delivered upon the traveler’s return.
On a recent trip, my husband had to pick up items as diverse as special vitamins, raffle tickets, game pieces, books, spices; tootsie pops (the ones on the stick). Oh, and automobile parts for a Mexican friend of ours for his American made vehicle.
Since I don’t always accompany him, he often brings back clothes for me. I just have my order shipped to our PO box, and my husband brings it home. After all, I can’t ask him to go buy my clothes for me. He simply becomes bewildered at all the sizes, styles and choices. But still the poor man was really worried about having to explain all those bras on the last trip to customs…he decided that he would just look insulted and embarrassed about being a cross-dresser!
We’ve also heard some experiences others have had. Like the couple who were to receive a package to drive back for a friend, and when they arrived to pick up the package found it out was 50 pounds! Other friends brought back a special spot light for the Lakeside Little Theatre in their car. How do you explain a monstrosity, inconveniently shaped like a bomb? But there are also mercy shipments, like defibrillators for Cruz Roja.
Some people make simply outrageous requests, too outrageous to print. But did she really expect us to believe it was a therapeutic massage unit? Other requests: Will you mail: blankets, sauces, grandma’s silver service? Drop off items too large to mail? Or pick up that fur that’s been in storage for 15 years?
Oh, and a lot of requests for candy. Salted Nut Rolls, Nut Goodies, gum, the aforementioned Tootsie Pops, Large bags of M & M’s, salt water taffy. While other people put in requests for canned cranberries; spices, Miracle Whip --a popular item; grits, canned creamed corn, organic foods are also favorites. Of course, we can get some of these items here, but since we have to pay so much for them because of the import taxes, these old home favorites become luxury items.
Hardware items, showerheads, or handicap equipment also is high on the request list. Tools, BBQ’s, specialized kitchen equipment or gadgets are also frequently requested. Oh, and don’t forget the linens--towels and sheets. Oh, they are available here in Mexico, but for some reason, we’ve just got to have those higher thread counts!
These items aren’t really extravagant, they’re everyday little comforts we “need” here. We want our comfort items, the brands we are familiar with—things we’ve been living without, but crave them.
For the traveler, the final part of the trip is the most strenuous. That’s when they play “Red Light, Green Light.” Now, it isn’t that anyone wants to avoid paying his or her fair share; we declare anything over the limit, right? It’s just, who wants to have to undergo a search with so many weird items in tow?
Meanwhile, my husband’s last return trip was a nightmare. He had to obtain another suitcase to carry home everything everyone asked for. Unpacking was an organizational frenzy, dividing everything into piles and matching receipts to purchases. And then there’s the whole matter of delivery and collection!
Next time? He travels in secret!