if you happen to study at our school anytime in the future you may have the pleasure of meeting our long- term student Joni Scott! While she has a way of quietly slipping in and out of the school between her classes, it is usually easy to spot her in her different vibrant outfits, stylish hats, and the unique jewelry that she changes up on the daily.
Joni has made Guanajuato a long- term place of residence for her and her cute dog Yoshi.
They make quite the pair! While most people of all ages struggle climbing the steep inclines of the Guanajuato alleyways, Joni at the age of 76 doesn’t seem to have an issue. She claims asthma could have stopped her but she uses an old remedy, Himalayan salt under the tongue and that does the trick!
She is an active participant of yoga, Spanish classes, and activities of all sorts provided by the school! Her young spirit and limitless energy makes her an unusual character for us at Escuela Falcon, which is a hard feat considering the diversity of people we have attend from all over the world. For this reason we decided to ask Joni if she’d like to share with us her experiences living in Mexico as well as her secrets for living an exciting and full life, all the while keeping a young essence.
Q: Joni, what brought you to Guanajuato and how long have you been living here so far?
A: I have been in Guanajuato for 9 months. When the time came that I wanted to retire I couldn’t see a way that would be possible in the United States. About 15 years ago I started looking into Costa Rica, but the more research I did, the less I could imagine myself living there. That’s when I became interested in the colonial cities of Mexico. I finally stumbled upon Guanajuato. It didn’t take long for me to know this was the place I could see myself living in. So I uprooted and came, without knowing anyone or having anything there waiting for me. So far I have loved it. It feels like I am living in a city in Europe. It is very romantic here.
Q: What did you expect to get out of moving here? And do you feel you are getting it?
A: The most important thing is that I can afford to live here as a retiree. With the social security benefits in the states, it is not possible to retire. By moving here I could see it financially possible. This is mostly because I wouldn’t need a car, rent is affordable, food is reasonable and I have money left over to play with. I also found out I was good at finding what I want. I’ve moved 3 times in the 9 months I have been here. First a place too small, second a place too far from downtown, and now my spot is just right. I had a long list of what I desired including lots of light, a great view, an oven, dog friendly, affordable, etc. and I got it all. Visualizing works. Another helpful hint is that it helps when you get your INAPAM, a senior discount on bus tickets and other things throughout Mexico that makes living here as a senior more affordable.
Q: What are you plans for the future? Do you have any other places that you feel like you have to live in or visit in mind? Do you intend on being an Ex- pat forever?
A: I have a lot of desires still. I still want to get married or have a relationship that doesn’t necessarily have to be a marriage. I want a life partner. He has to want to travel, no ifs and or buts! I want a man that can say «let’s go off to Europe next week!” But as for plans, right now I don’t plan anything more than 6 months out. If I do have a long-term plan it would be not moving back to the United States.
Q: What motivates you to learn Spanish?
A: When I came here in 1970, to live in Mexico City, I lived there for a year, and went to Spanish school the first day I got there. I got enough under my belt that I could get by. I still actively take classes but now that I am retired so I am losing my motivation to study! I just want to relax. No deadlines or obligations. Still I take 3 Spanish classes a week. This week I am taking salsa dancing! I want to be able to go to Cancun this next vacation and if somebody asks me to dance I want to be able to say, “Yes! I can do that!”
Q: How difficult did you find it moving to a foreign country alone (with the exception of your dog of course) without knowing the language or way of life?
A: I think coming to the school was critical. Katie, the director, was critical. Getting hooked up with Escuela Falcon was my anchor and from there on I was fine. I don’t fear too much anyway. I wasn’t afraid when I got here but the school helped me out a lot to get adjusted by connecting me to the community. I also don’t think the language barrier held me back. I knew enough to get by with basic things and I never felt it to be overwhelming. I was good enough to argue with a taxi driver if need be! Ha!
Q: Have you always had it in mind that you would move out of the United States/ be an Ex-Pat?
A: No I didn’t have that in my plans when I was younger. I only started considering it when I was in my early sixties and now I am 76, so for about 15 years before retirement I considered it and finally made the move after retirement.
Q: What would you say has most influenced you to have your care- free spirit? Have you been this way your whole life or is there a specific person or experience that have made you this way?
A: I’ve always had tenacity, and I’ve always had a strong connection to my higher-self. I am a person who answers my own questions in my head. I think my higher- self has a sense of humor because it makes me laugh sometimes! I have had many different spiritual roads throughout my life but what I have learned most is that when you have a strong- inner self, and when you are really, really self- confident, you learn to allow people to be who they are.
Q: What do you like about Mexican culture and what do you find difficult?
A: Well what I find difficult here is the poverty, the roof dogs, sometimes the cleanliness. They do a pretty good job in the streets but there are areas that could be cleaner. What I love is that the people here have a zest for life that I don’t see in the states. When you say “buenos días!” you get a response! People are kinder and more generous. I think the kissing on the cheek is a beautiful thing. They have a way, even though we are Gringos, of welcoming us. When I came here in my thirties after I left my husband I kept waiting to get depressed and I never did! The energy wouldn’t allow it. I always refer to that year as one of the better years of my life. It’s easier to be happy here if you allow it.
Now since I don’t have a car I go shopping for food in the markets more frequently. There’s something about that which is vital. I can’t explain it. It keeps you more in present.
Q: What do you miss in the states?
A: In the states? When I came here I didn’t take my Eiffel tower earring stand! Now my earrings are scattered all over the dresser. That’s about it. That seems silly but it tells me I’m not materially attached to anything. I miss people but I don’t miss things.
Q: You say you try your best not to worry about things, but everybody worries. What do you allow yourself worry about?
A: I catch myself really fast when I start to worry. I have developed a sentinel in my brain to stop myself when I start to worry, usually it will be about money. I have learned you can’t look at what you don’t have, but you have to look at what you do have.
The only way to stop yourself from worrying is to think about something else. If you catch yourself fast enough with a worrisome though, you can stop it. You have to shift gears! Whatever you need to do to make that happen, do it! Turn on the TV, listen to music, go study, anything! If you divert yourself as fast as you can, you can avoid getting into lows. You have to learn how to play tricks on your mind. Your mind can be your enemy if you allow it. I believe that you have a higher- self, which is connected to a greater source, whatever it is that may be for you. You must give this source a lot of credence. It is better to go to that greater source than to ask all of the people around you. You may not get the answers immediately but when it comes it is strong. Inspirations come from your higher self! I must add, you need to know your inner demons. When you face your demons, and the things you don’t like about yourself, you can get to a point in your life where you don’t have to change people! You can accept people for who they are. Lack of acceptance in another person is lack of an acceptance in yourself. And when you haven’t accepted who you are, you go around blaming people for the way things are.
Q: What are your secrets for staying and looking so young?! We must know!
A: My secrets, hmmm. Well #1 is to be young inside. Hang out with younger people. Eat very healthy. Vegetarian is good. Or a plant based diet. Be social. Exercise, but do what you like. I like yoga, been doing it for 40 yrs.
Dress young and dress for fun and for yourself, not others.
Be grateful for all that you have.
Smile and be kind, stay away from fighting. Fight to dance.
Do all that you can to lift your spirits!
Think young, be young.
Believe in source or a higher power. It helps give you a perspective of what life is all about.
Always have something to live for.
Have some kind of passion or fire in your belly.
Feel and act prosperous and create abundance.
Know that you attract things and people in your life. Makes life exciting.
Be a conscious creator.
COMMENT: Thank you Joni Scott. I hope others get as much out of this as I have.