Staying Connected…Even on the Beach
Posted by Tony & Cheri on October 17, 2008
Warning!!! This entry contains references to our liberal Democratic political leanings…but we still think it has some interesting info for everyone.
Before we moved to Mexico we considered ourselves good citizens. We voted, we were active on causes and issues we cared about, and we kept informed through the print, broadcast and internet news outlets. When we moved south of the border one of our challenges was keeping up that flow of information about what was happening back home.
Amazingly some folks ask “Why care?” Some folks even assumed we surrendered our citizenship and had no rights left to voice opinions about America. That is not so. We are US citizens living and working here with both the Mexico and US governments’ permission. We still pay taxes to the US government on the money we earn here in Mexico, and we still vote! We would never give up our status as Americans. We love our country as much as anyone…and, perhaps because we have seen how the rest of the world sometimes operates, we appreciate it more than some who have never left its shores.
We still have our house, our family and our friends in the US. We visit often and will undoubtedly live there again some day. The United States will never cease to be our “home.” So it was and is important for us to keep the lines of communication open on a daily basis.
In California we regularly watched US network or cable news. Neither is widely available here. We heard stories from some people about smuggled satellite boxes and gigantic rooftop dishes that can pull in US television shows from up north. But that wasn’t our style or plan.
Instead we hooked up local Mexico satellite TV which has some limited US network coverage. Through that system we receive the CBS Morning Show and the CBS Nightly News broadcast (along with Oprah, Dr. Phil and various American soap operas) on an international broadcast channel called the American Network.
We also get FOX News Channel, which we abhor. Setting aside its political leanings, the network is little more than a televised version of the National Enquirer. It seems stories don’t have to be true, just sensational. Any attempts we made to make peace with FOX ended when they reported that our town of Playa Del Carmen, Mexico had been destroyed by a hurricane, which in reality had missed us by a several hundred miles! There is a newspaper here in Playa which is known for its false stories, sensationalized presentation and overt political prejudice…and it’s better than FOX! It saddens us sometimes that the image much of Latin America sees of the US is from FOX News broadcasts.
Local satellite does offer CNN International. It can be fascinating to watch. It hosts regular news broadcasts in English alternating between the US, London, and Hong Kong. It truly allows us to see the US as part of a larger world and we love it. When something big happens back in the States (like a Presidential debate) they broadcast it. Similarly, when there is a breaking story in Asia or Europe we see that too. The world gets smaller every time we watch. In addition we get the British Broadcast News (BBC) but tend to watch CNN because of its American connection.
However we have discovered our favorite news source is not on television but can be watched on our laptops and iPods. (Ain’t it an amazing world?!). We download MSNBC-TV podcasts for news every day, especially for the pleasure of watching Keith Olbermann on Countdown. Unashamedly liberal, his views reflect our own, and more importantly, so does his sense of humor. (BTW, Keith is on our “People Who Can Stay for Free” list.) We couldn’t get through the day without knowing who the “Worst Person… in the World” is. With our iPods we can even take Keith down to the shore of the Caribbean Sea and watch in the sand. Liberal news analysis and thong bikinis…Tony says it is the best way to follow politics.
As far as print media, the local landscape is pretty bare. Spanish language newspapers and magazines are difficult to read. Even if you understand some Spanish, reading the local vernacular instead of a textbook recitation is HARD! And unfortunately for us, English language magazines are difficult to find here in Playa. One of our secret pleasures as hotels owners is finding that guests have left behind their Newsweek, People or GQ magazines when they checked out.
It’s also worth noting that newspapers down here do not always have the same sense of independence and objectivity that US journalism has. We have to laugh when people back home complain about the prejudiced media in the States. Live in a world where you can literally buy the printing of any story you want regardless of the truthfulness of it and you won’t be quite so critical of the reporter or editor back in the US.
We do get the Miami Herald Cancun Edition which is an small English language newspaper with US national wire stories and a comics page (can’t live without Doonesbury and Classic Peanuts). But we miss our Sunday paper with Sports and Entertainment and Advertisement foldout sections. (Cheri almost had to join a twelve step program to help her get over the loss of her weekly Target ad.) Eventually we ended up turning to the internet for solace.
Now on Sundays we read the New York Times, the Washington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle, online. Occasionally we add the New Orleans Times Picayune (we love Nawlin’s) or the San Diego Union Tribune (our son Chris lives in San Diego) and we have it covered.
We also recently installed Sirius Satellite Radio. When we are not listening to Radio Margaritaville (what did you expect?) we can turn on NPR and hear Fresh Air or Car Talk with the Tappet Brothers.
All in all, over the last three and a half years we have gotten ourselves pretty wired in to the news of life back in the States. And just in time, because we now have a President to elect.
To be continued…
Next: Making a choice, and trying to help from 4000 miles away.