Move to Mexico: Americans Find Paradise in a Mexican Fishing Village

Four American expatriates move to a small Mexican fishing village. On a limited budget, they learn to fish and grow a garden like the locals

| January/February 1972

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    This hut is built of dried palapa, the leaf of the coconut palm.
    Photo by Mark Lediard

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Have you ever had the chance to live your Utopian vision? Not just daydream it ... or blueprint it ... or curse its evasiveness ... but live it? For a couple of years, our commune of four-plus had that chance. It took us a while to realize it, but — during those years — we were truly in the pastures of Paradise.

We were, praise God, outside the U.S.A. and temporarily out of range of the bombardment of this culture: the news, the phones, the blues, the vibrations. That automatically gave our Utopia a head start.

There's a 100-mile stretch of virgin seashore on Mexico's west coast between Acapulco and its commercial cousin up the beach, Zihuatanejo. There, in tiny fishing villages, men still farm and fish in the eighteenth century way with homemade tools just like the ones already on display in the Indian lore section of Mexico City's fancy Anthropology Museum.

We were on that Pacific coast, 30 miles north of Acapulco ... where there are still lagoons. Sleepy, tropical lagoons like you see in old Esther Williams movies. There, the sun shines all the time and the air blows in fresh and pure off the sea. It's a picture postcard world where the sounds are all natural and the land urges you to live close to it.

Wild Plants Influence Organic Gardening

We were slow to get the idea. We didn't even begin to catch on until our Mexican neighbors took us by the hand and showed us what was growing in our "weedpatch". The immense weed was watermelon and the little one was verdolaga, a nourishing and tasty wild green. The revelation penetrated our concrete, city-reared minds and — somewhat in the manner of Og and Charley discovering fire — we said, "Hey! Let's plant a garden."

The peninsula where we'd settled was pure beach sand so — since we'd heard that plants need soil — we carted in tons of rich, jungle-y dirt from the banks of a nearby lagoon (we hired a homemade oxcart for $2.00 a day). The soil was rich in clay and drained well when mixed with two or three parts of sand and we fertilized it with sun-dried cow manure that we collected from the miles of surrounding fields.

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