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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.

How and where we like to keep informed!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.

6 Responses to “Staying Connected…Even on the Beach”

  1. James Dropp said

    Tony and Cheri,

    I have been an avid reader of your blogs….considering the loan program….great idea!….and as a conservative small business owner , I have had great respect for your business endeavers in Mexico…..however, why would you interject your misguided political opinions into this media…. Obama…..are you kidding me? A liberal socialist has never been the answer for the average folks….in the U.S. Europe or yes , even Mexico…..a capitalist system without a burdensome government has always been the best system for everyone. Please….unfortunately…..remove us from your mail list…………………. JIM AND KAREN DROPP

  2. James,

    First we need to inform you that we can’t remove you from our blog list. We can’t add or drop people, you must do it yourself. Trust us we would if we could.

    One of the things we’ve come to appreciate, living in a country where freedoms aren’t as valued as they are in the US, is that freedom doesn’t exist without dialogue, and dialogue doesn’t exist without a willingness to at least listen to people’s opinions that don’t reflect your own.

    Yes, we’re liberal Democrats. It makes us no less lovers of our country than you, no less patriots, and no less entitled to an opinion. However, we feel strongly that ANY political opinion is worth considering and reflecting on. Many of our dearest friends are conservative Republicans. Indeed Tony’s closest personal friend here in Mexico is another American expat whose political position is diametrically opposed to our own. We hope his candidate doesn’t win, but our lives would be substantially lessened were he not able to share his views with us and ours with him.

    What is sad for us is that your comment reflects an unwillingness to even consider the premise of our gently humorous warning, i.e., that we were offering our own political views, but that the overall intent of our blog entry was to discuss how American expats get their news. Your rigid view of what is politically acceptable obviously kept you from entering into the spirit of our writing or moving beyond your own political prejudices.

    When someone is so convinced of his own righteousness and so convinced of the error of anyone else’s point of view that he must protect himself by avoiding the sights and sounds of any opposing thought, he stops dialogue, and when dialogue stops, so does freedom.

    Our blog is meant for people with a sense of adventure–not only in travel but in life. Judging other people on the basis of religion, color, sex or politics has never been part of that adventure for us. We bid you goodbye.

    Tony & Cheri

  3. Louise said

    “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.”

    Even though you live in “paradise” I can appreciate how you must miss ‘home’. I know that part ( a big part ) of your heart still lives in San Francisco… where gentle people wear flowers in their hair…high on a hill, it calls to you…to be where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars! 🙂

    We wouldn’t have met if you hadn’t decided to take the big step to move to Playa…I thank my lucky stars for that. ;):)

    Our loving thoughts are with you on the Eve of your upcoming Election. Don’t give up the fight! Your heart is in the right place.

    We love you!

    Your Canuck buddies. 🙂

  4. Omega Angell said

    Too bad for Jim & Karen; They are going to miss out on some of the best stories,adventures and insight ever posted on the web.I guess ignorance is bliss.
    I have to commend the two of you for living your life/dream. And just know that I/we live vicariously through every post that you send us: I have laughed at some adventures, checked up on recomendations, cried when a pup or kitten has passed on…looked at the photos, worried about the weather when a hurricane might present itself, …and have just looked forward to just being a part of what is going on there through your tome.
    I’m jealous. But happy for the two of you.
    I wait in anticipation for your next entries, because I watch you both living my/our dream.My wife and I have had a long term plan of moving somewhere in the K.Roo coastal area and doing a similar endevor; I am a Chef with an extensive resort/travel report that has owned many a successful restaurant
    that is tired of the rat race and looking forward to living on “island” time. And with all of our trips to Mexico we find the same laid-back-ness of the islands.And we want to be there.
    Trust me: I know it’s hard work. But, I know hard work: I typically put in 96-104 hours per week. And that seems slow concidering I was an Alaskan king crab fisherman for 14 years. So, I know what I’m in for.
    You two already own the best place in Playa, So what do you think my prospects for opening a B&B or a little gringo breakfast and lunch restaurant could be between Playa & Cancun(but not in Cancun-I hate the Vegas/Disneyland/Girls-gone-wild attitude)or even coastal South???
    We are on Isla Mujeras every January,but are planning an extended stay this year so that we might be able to come and stay at your place …and finally meet a couple of my heros. Don’t blush-I mean it.Y’all are doing exactly what I want for me and my family.We’re no different than the two of you in so many respects…trust us we’ve read alot of your pages.Hell, I’m only 39 & Jill 35 but we read about you and we read about ourselves…someday.
    Keep up the great work and keep us posted.
    We look forward to seeing you in January.

    Chef Omega & Jill Angell

  5. Mary B said

    I KNEW I liked you guys…….. Fox News is an oxymoron….

    We’re coming down in February and we’re gonna stop by to buy you both a drink!

  6. I am glad the majority of your readers see your humor and down to earth attitudes. Those that are that uptight need to get a life

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