What I find amazing about ex-pats in Mexico…

Is the huge amount of human capital that they bring to this country when they choose to live/retire/visit. Millions of years of combined knowledge and experience that very often is channeled into caring, lifesaving, positive change for humans, animals, environment and more. According to some stats I could find over 70% contribute financially to Mexican based charities and over 60% dedicate time.

Human capital is basically the accumulated knowledge and expertise that we gather in our lives both professionally and personally. There is a whole university economics course you can take on the subject and apparently the term is hotly debated amongst ‘those’ people. But what I’m getting at is that for many of us that have moved to Mexico, we are in the latter half of our lives and we hold considerable human capital worth significant economic value. Even those of us that are younger bring value to the table but we are often busy with children, work, paying bills and don’t spend this capital in the way that I am inferring.

The economic and sociological benefits of this huge, relatively recent influx of human capital has enormous implications on Mexican society. Getting past any arguments of ethnocentricity and assuming we are all coming from a good place in our hearts, the ability to change human and animal lives for the better is a powerful force. Considering there is an estimated one million North American expatriates living in Mexico and that each has 40+ years of human capital, we are looking at billions of dollars of potential contributions.

This started because of a question posed on a local Yahoo Group Board about why there appears to be so much charitable support for animals and not orphans. (That’s my simplified version.)But really what’s important here is that whether we choose to invest our human capital in rescuing puppies or babies or lakes or cultural markers it is our privileged but well-earned life experience that we control and can use to better the lives of all around us.

I could only source US Retiree data but presumably this is similar for Canadian and European nationalities.


• Nearly 60% of respondents volunteer their time to a charitable cause in Mexico and over 29% volunteer at least once a week or on a regular basis. Respondents engage in a wide range of volunteer activities, most prominently with education-focused charities, community projects, and the environment.


• 42% of American retirees surveyed are actively involved in at least one or two Mexican charities in their adopted communities, while another 11% are affiliated with more than three


Puerto Vallarta, the Bay of Banderas and Mexico offer thousands of opportunities to share our knowledge and experience with those less fortunate. Whether you are retired with time on your hands or young parents looking to set an example for your children, the opportunity to give back is immense. The Vallarta Tribune publishes a list of organizations each week that encompass everything from kids to pets to the environment and there are many other worthy publications and websites available if you wish to get out there and make a difference.

I, for one, really enjoy the fundraising events that involve eating… and drinking. The International Friendship Club (IFC) Christmas in July event is coming up on July 20th at the River Café. $350 pesos gets you a Christmas dinner with all the fixin’s and all funds raised go to support their cleft palate program and other charities that they support. There is more details on page 20 in this issue. Look forward to seeing you there! Call me maybe we can car pool.

Your Editor,



Source: “U.S. Retirement Trends in Mexico’s Coastal Communities,” International Community Foundation, www.icfdn.org


Dear Editor,

The three articles on school selection are very detailed, and I think for a beginning level child just entering school, the requirements for preparing the child for school are on the parents. For example, when we visited the school for admission for our 5 year old daughter, she ran into the building ahead of us to meet the teacher, and as my wife an I entered the building, my daughter Lynn walked hand in hand with the teacher and introduced us.
The teacher asked what grade Lynn was in, and we explained that she was entering kindergarten , and that this was the first time she had been to a school. The teacher said that she did not have students in the second grade that could speak as well as Lynn.
You see, we had taught Lynn to speak in sentences with adults, read, count to 100, and know her alphabet. You see, both my wife Loretta and I had gone to U.S. public schools from kindergarten through high school, and knew what was required.
The lesson here , is , of what purpose is there of selecting the school, if the student is not prepared for school? Or if the parents are unable to assist in the child’s education at home? So many parents put the cart before the horse when it comes to sending their children to school, and drop the reins when it comes to helping their child with homework in the home.
Frank Norton
Dear Editor

Despite my insane jealousy that you live in paradise and my unbelief that sweating is a bad thing, I can imagine (when I try hard) that summers would be stressful in that it is too hot to do much. It takes more than a few brain cells for me to imagine that, as we flood out in Canada and rain/snow is imminent. I hope you find something to occupy yourselves this summer and keep from maiming small, sweaty people.



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  1. Dear Editor – Madeline,

    Your Editorial “What I find amazing about ex-pats in Mexico” and about the huge amount of human capitol they bring to Mexico, is right on the mark
    However, there is another, just as important side to this story.

    No one should deny our obligations to give back to our culture, in excess of what we have benefited from it, the truth is, not all are able to accomplish this. Whereas charity should begin at home, and provide an inheritance to our family members in our demise – for their future, the heavy tax burden in the U.S. for the welfare state, for some of us, is over 50 percent of our income, even after retirement.

    Many of us in addition to our taxes, donate our time as volunteers in the Public School system as teachers aids, Junior Achievement, or in our company employer Employees Associations – or even writing letters and opinions to the Editors of local and national newspapers.

    In Puerto Vallarta, where jobs are mostly low paying, but provided by government for all who ask, and many single mothers who are responsible for raising their children, or helping to support their mothers, charity from tourists and ex-pats are an important part of their income.

    So, when you visit, or move to PV, remember your purchases contribute to the income of the people who were born and grew up in this most beautiful small city, that once was just a small fishing village, and today are your hosts to their culture and homeland

  2. Madeline,

    This morning I showed your editorial page to a neighbor across the street who had vacationed in Puerto Vallarta last month, since we often discuss PV and also my articles in the local newspapers. What he said , almost floored me!

    Apparently , some years ago, working with the Rotary Club from Calastoga , CA, his son helped build two of the schools in PV. That was why the family vacationed last month there to see those schools. His son is currently a policeman with the San Francisco Police Department, and was formerly in the U.S. military.

    My neighbor, the father, is a army veteran of the Iraq war. How small is this world, and how giving are the American people.

  3. Madeline (a continuation to my comment above) :

    Today I met Steve my neighbor’s son digging up the sidewalk and replacing a copper water pipe. Steve said that it was in 1989 when he worked on the two schools alongside the river in the town of El Pitillal. The many times I have ridden the bus through El Pitillal to the end of the road, and also when my family took the jungle excursion and stopped there to see the Church, however I do not remember seeing the schools.

    Steve said that the owner of the Firestone tire store across the street form the Sheridan Hotel in PV was at that time the head of the PV Rotary Club, and would visit Calastoga to recruit Rotary Club to members to volunteer their services in building the two schools in El Pitillal, the location now of the Vallarta Tribune office.

  4. This world continually amazes me at just how small it is… As I write this from the offices of the Vallarta Tribune it is apparent that this used to be a school. Amazing. Thank you for your comments Frank.

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