Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Learning to Speak Spanish

We have occasionally run into and/or met expats from the US and Canada who refuse to intermingle with the locals. This makes absolutely no sense to me at all!!! I think some of the reason for this can be attributed to some expats having an unwillingness to Habla Espanol . Honestly, English and Spanish have alot of vocabulary that overlaps. The main difference is sentence structure and appropriate phrases. Yes, you will have to learn new vocabulary. I won't lie to you. But with some consistent, basic effort you are going to be able to learn to speak basic spanish in about 12 months and become fairly fluent within 2 or 3 years.

I highly recommend that even before you move down you begin to pick up some basics. I have heard that Rosetta Stone is a good program. You have probably seen it on T.V. I would also recommend The Learnables. Go to to check out their programs and information. This is the system that I am using with my wife and oldest son. We finished level 1 in about 3 months. On that pace we could finish all four levels in one year. That would put our Spanish proficiency at about an 8th grade level after finishing the program according to their information.

I would also recommend that after you move down that you watch as many movies in English that have Spanish subtitles. Write down some of the common phrases that you see and hear on some of your favorite movies. You would be suprised at how fast you start to pick up the language when you begin to do this. I have met more than one Mexican national who has learned how to speak a fair degree of English just watching American movies like Rocky or regular American T.V. shows. Many of the Mexican nationals who live and work in the tourism industry in Cancun learn to speak English by watching American T.V.

As for daily living, you will want to make bilingual friends as you go along. You will be suprised at how easily that can happen for you. My attorney and co-owner of Yucatan Real Estate Paradise, Francisco Guitterez, is very bilingual. I say "very bilingual" because you meet some people who have some degree of proficiency in English but still have severe limitations. Francisco can carry an ongoing conversation in English and never ask for your help in how to say something. My next door neighbor, landlord's son and son-in-law, the builder that built my home, my son's LOBO Boy Scout leader, ....the list goes on....these guys all speak English even though they are Mexican Nationals.

You will have people that can help you out along the way. Just understand that when you go out you are going to want to converse with the cashiers, waiters, ......whomever. They will know you are a Gringo. Don't worry about it. They will slow down and try to help and talk as simply as they can. Just do your best and you will learn as you go along.

We are here to help those who desire to learn about living, working and retiring in Merida, Mexico. Let us know how we can assist you in your transition. My email is Look forward to hearing from you.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Apostilles for those moving to Mexico

Note to Readers of the Blog: I am reposting this information as I think it warrants doing periodically. The info you are about to read is very important for those making the transition to Mexico. Please read and take to heart. Muchas Gracias Amigos y Amigas!!!!!

What is an apostille and why do I need one as an expat moving to the Yucatan? Good question. I wish we had known about this before we moved down. If you are married and/or have children that will live with you here in the Yucatan and you want to come down and apply for FM2 or FM3 residency visas you are going to need to have your marriage certificate and all of your children's birth certificates apostilled by the Secretary of State in the documents state of Origin.

An apostille, in the most basic terms, is a notarization that is recognized internationally by all foreign governments. It is recognized by international law. Your bank notary does not have the power to issue an apostille. Only the Secretary of State in all 50 US States or appointed government agencies in your country of origin has the power to issue an apostille. Check out the following link:

Let me give you an example of how this applies to our family. My wife and I met and married in the state of New Mexico in the US. We also had our first son in New Mexico. Our second son was born in Texas because that was where we were living when we had him. I have to order an apostilled birth certificate from Vital Records in New Mexico for my oldest son. Then Vital Records ships that birth certificate to the Secretary of State in New Mexico to have the document apostilled. The Secretary of State then ships out the apostilled document, in this case my son's birth certificate. We go through the same steps with my youngest son with both Vital Records and the Secretary of State's office in the state of Texas.

If you come down to the Yucatan and you have a marriage certificate, divorce decree or birth certificates that do not have apostilles and you want to apply for residency visas (FM2 or FM3) then you are going to have to send back for them in the US or Canada and pay the international shipping rates via FedEx, UPS or DHL. Word to the wise. Get this taken care of in advance. No one ever told us this before we came down and we did alot of research on necessary documents before we came down. Aargh!!! We just don't want you pulling out your hair unnecessarily. Hope this helps.