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Moving to Mexico II - Tulum

Updated on October 16, 2018

Coming to terms with being broke in Mexico

In February of 2011, I was a vacationer in Mexico that had refused to go home. It was a common story, as I soon learned and one that has the potential to be an amazing cultural experience. The nature of my work provided me with the ability to leave the States for a while without the fear of losing my job. Unfortunately, I soon found myself unwilling to spend hours in a sweltering internet café pecking out orders to the sound of young Mayan boys killing each other at Call of Duty, the virgin beaches and Caribbean livelihood flourishing just outside. It wasn’t long before I started looking for a job. It must have been an ironic scene for the Mexicans: an American looking for a job in Mexico without his proper paperwork.

What is best for your neighbor is best for you

The locals in Tulum, Mexico follow a different credo, one centered around a commune-style state of mind. Not creepy cult stuff, rather, an idea that what is best for your neighbor is also best for you. People there believe in Karma, or its universal equal; they know that the universe will somehow exact justice for evil. I soon met a young Aztec woman named Citlali with long-standing connections in the area. She introduced me to an American businessman living in Tulum Centro (the actual town of Tulum is approximately two miles from the beach and the waterfront Hotel Zone). This man had several interests in Mexico, mostly large projects centered on eco-tourism further north up the peninsula, but his heart was in his small town gringo bar on the edge of the Tulum strip. After a brief interview that consisted of ice-cold Bitburgers and small talk about our common hometown in Florida, I was hired to consult with the kitchen, possibly moving to manager in the very near future. I accepted and was managing the place within two weeks.

Nobody will come to an Irish party, they said.

I soon realized that good ole’ Saint Patrick’s Day was on top of us and we had done nothing to prepare. While St. Patrick’s Day memories are bound to be skewed by alcohol, they are worth making. I informed the staff of my intentions to decorate and do an Irish theme for the following night and they stared back blankly. This is Mexico, they said. Nobody will come to an Irish party. Needless to say I did it anyway. Green balloons and streamers, my iPod packed with Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphy albums and green bulbs set to strobe in the front to attract attention.

An Irish rescue on St. Patrick's Day

The following night we opened at 9pm to a waiting crowd of would-be revelers, looking for the only St. Paddy’s Day celebration in Tulum. To my extreme gratitude the P.A. system and the iPod cable were high jacked by a gaggle of authentic Irishmen come to Mexico to see their darling sister enter holy matrimony. They were drunk and loud and just what the doctor ordered. We danced, we sang, we drank, and we laughed all the way through it. Without a band, with meager drink specials, the restaurant made more money that night than it had in over two years. My job was cemented in the eyes of my employer and my stay in Mexico was immeasurably rewarding. Thanks be to the Irish.

Patricio (aka Pato, or duck)
Patricio (aka Pato, or duck)
Pato and Poncho
Pato and Poncho
The day I went job hunting.
The day I went job hunting.
Cafe Flor de Michoacan
Cafe Flor de Michoacan
Maria and Canas from Barcelona
Maria and Canas from Barcelona
Playa El Paraiso (Paradise Beach)
Playa El Paraiso (Paradise Beach)
Me and Pato
Me and Pato
The Youngish Man and the Sea
The Youngish Man and the Sea
My Mexican patina
My Mexican patina
La flor de Cabo San Lucas, Paola
La flor de Cabo San Lucas, Paola
Chip, Pato (freshly shaven), Marie, and Angi
Chip, Pato (freshly shaven), Marie, and Angi
Me and a new friend Angi from Germany
Me and a new friend Angi from Germany


Submit a Comment
  • kuttingxedge profile imageAUTHOR

    Steven P Kelly 

    9 years ago from Tampa, FL

    Viva Mezcaleria!! I left a significant part of myself in Mexico.

  • PaulStaley1 profile image


    9 years ago from With the wind---(or against it)

    I lived in Oaxaca, owned an illegal cafe---I love Mexico and it's wonderful vibrant culture. Y no mameys las chicas son incredibles---alli esta mi corazon todavia---pinche madre voy a regresar algun dia prontisimo----Viva Mexico--Viva America Norte---


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