Tapachula, Mexico Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Tapachula, Mexico

Tapachula, Mexico 04/28/06

Background:

1. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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2. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

Tapachula has an international Airport, but with limited flights and only from Mexico City. Say 12-24 hours from Europe and 12 hours from the U.S., due to the layovers.

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3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

US government employee.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Houses with small yards. Mostly old, but some in newer gated communities that are in better shape.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Good. They have Sam's club that just opened and has many familiar products.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Electrical appliances are expensive here.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

They have Pollo Campero fried chicken and Burger King.

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Daily Life:

1. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Not expensive (US$200 month) but it is hard to find someone to stay and good work ethic (compared to experience in Guatemala and Suriname).

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2. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

ATMs in town and at Sam's. Credit cards in many places.

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3. What English-language religious services are available locally?

No.

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4. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

No newspapers, Satellite TV has CNN FOX, but no network channels.

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5. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Near fluent.

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6. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Impossible. No wheelchair access, bad sidewalks, no elevators.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Right.

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2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Taxis safe, affordable. Buses OK

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3. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Any kind of car is OK, but there are a lot of speed bumps, so not too low-slung. Something older and not too nice looking is probably safer. We have a '93 Ford Escort Wagon, but you might not need to go to that extreme. Local mechanics are adept at keeping anything running.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

US$40 dollars a month for DSL.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Nope. Telcel is the only one.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Internet phone (we use Skype). Direct dial prices are high; 20 cents per minute is the cheapest we were able to arrange with Telmex.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Vets who will keep your pet caged up while you are gone, but we haven't had to resort to that yet. Friends keep him.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

No.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Anything comfortable. Extremely hot weather.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Good.

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2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Not too bad, there are a lot of the Mara Salvatrucha (M-18) gang members around, but mostly seem to kill each other and leave the locals alone.

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Dengue, Malaria, tropical diseases, who knows exactly what. It is classified as an unhealthy post.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Hot hot hot. Torrential rains from April to October.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There is one Catholic school that is bilingual, though my daughter is the only one that can actually speak English. They read it well, though, and use English texts for some subjects (Science, Reading).

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

None.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Limited hours, limited quality, but cheap, and nice people.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Maybe 10.

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2. Morale among expats:

Don't know any.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

???? Well some bars with music, discos, strip clubs for single males.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

OK for families with small children. Especially if the kids already speak Spanish. Good coffee, but not much to do. One mall with a theater. The beach is not too bad, but with no infrastructure and dirty.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

No.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

No, though the rich locals frown on the indigenous people.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Uhmmm. Uhmmmm.good question. Fishing, running,....

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Coffee.

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9. Can you save money?

Yep.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Sure.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Bicycle (dangerous).

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3. But don't forget your:

Surfboard.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

60 Minutes had a session on Tapachula showing the Central American undocumented immigrants taking the train north. The train tracks were washed out by Hurricane Stan.

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7. Do you have any other comments?

Not for the faint-hearted.

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