Cultural Differences: Personal Space: Week 6: 6/7/2018

Learning about the differences in personal space was so eyeopening! I have heard so many stories about how in Japan and other countries they have “pushers” who literally push as many as they possibly can onto the subway, but didn’t really think that was a real thing. No! It is real! Here is a video showing just how extreme.

When people think of personal space, they usually think about the personal space around an individual. As my husband and I discussed this cultural difference, we realized that this is in regards to all things. Including houses. In the United States, there are yards, fences, and the home lots are big with a house in the middle. In Mexico, each house shares a wall with it’s neighbor. It is like every single house is a town house. There are no yards or fences. For security purposes, however, the houses have metal bars and metal doors so no one can get in, but everything is compact. I could never understand or pinpoint the reason why I always felt claustrophobic. Now I understand that I felt closed in in the city I was living in, even if there was no other person in sight. This goes to show that personal space much greater than the space around your body.


Being in a multicultural marriage has been such an amazing experience. It has had its challenges and will continue to bring more, but we have been enjoying a beautiful life. There have been so many miscommunications that we have had. Some come because the culture of a man and the culture of a women are very different. Our family dynamics are different. Though we both spoke English in the beginning, it wasn’t until I learned Spanish and we then had two bilinguals in the house did things get better when it came to language. The biggest cultural challenge that we have had is what in insulting and unacceptable in one culture and is just fine, even funny, in the other.

One event in particular comes to mind. One night when we were dating, we went on a walk and talked while we ate guavas. We decided to sit on a bench and Jose said in a cute voice, “oh mi gordita”. This translates as “my little fatty”. I thought I misheard and astonished said, “what?” “You are my gordita,” he stated. Oh no he did not! He did not just call me fat on one of our first dates. To me this was highly offensive, especially because I had worked 5 years in an Eating Disorder Treatment Center trying to combat negative body image. Well, while this was a bad thing to say in my culture, in Jose’s culture is was considered a very cute compliment. He was accepting me as I was and doing so in a loving way because he added “ita” at the end. We laugh at this now, but truth be told, this is a part of the cultural miscommunication that I’m still getting used to.


HSBC Bank has set a great example for businesses and people all around the world to get to know the cultural differences between different parts of the world. If we are traveling, teaching, or working internationally it is so important to know the culture and respect it. The are many things that are normal to one, but to someone in a neighboring country it it offensive. Research before you travel or interact so that you are prepared for things you may encounter. If you are still unsure, ask a guide or a friend as you travel. This will save you a lot of embarrassment and awkward moments.

Is this the year?

Happy New Year!! 2018…I hope you bring happy immigration news. If not, I really hope that God grants me with patience. During 2016 and 2017, I moved back to the states during the waiver process for Jose. We were apart for a year and a half. It was tough, but I was able to work with a great company and spend some time with my family. In August of 2017, I moved back to Mexico to be with Jose. The day after I got here, his waiver was approved! We were ecstatic! Finally the long wait for Jose’s residency would be over. We still don’t have his interview yet. The US consulate in Mexico keeps saying it’ll be any day now. It has been 4 months. We call each week, but immigration is not one to get things done quickly. In the mean time, we have been busy with school online through Brigham Young University-Idaho, work, and helping the little branch here in Calvillo. Jose has been called as the Branch President for here and keeps busy trying to help strengthen the members here. I can’t help but think that one of the reasons that we are still here is so that Jose can be an instrument in God’s hands and help these wonderful people.

This coming year we hope to be in the states. The goal for 2018 is to be in Houston, Texas by April so that Jose can begin his summer job. He will be doing summer sales for my brother’s company. I will continue going to school full-time and working very part-time teaching English online. After the summer we will return to Mexico so that both Jose and I can go to school full time and we can live on my salary from part time teaching. Thank you Mexico, for being so inexpensive. We hope and pray that this is the year that the Lord blesses us with a Niño (or Niña), but I know that all happens in God’s time. I’ll be honest, I don’t always like that, but I really need to get used to it. Control freak Ashlee needs to learn how to calm down.

So thank you 2017 for the approval that you brought. 2018, please bring the interview.

Don’t Mess with the Gringa

Living here in Mexico, there is never a dull moment. Even washing the dishes is a new adventure for me. We have no dishwasher so everything is washed by hand. Every. Single. Little. Thing. At first I loved it. I was so excited about the work that I was doing around the house. And then I started having to do dishes about 6 or 7 times a day. I’m no longer on the cloud and understand why so many people don’t like doing dishes.

IMG_4554 I do love, however, that I have my “chalkboard of positivity” in front of the sink. I think when we build our Rancho, I will make sure that there is a window facing outside above the sink rather than a wall. It will make the task a lot more pleasant.

Just a side note before I move forward about the mundane duty of dishes. I’m sitting on the porch with my back against the cement house of Jose’s uncle and aunt. We are currently in a small village in the mountains where there is no phone service and no internet. I am writing this so that when I go to Jose’s parents’ tomorrow I can copy, paste, and post. The roads are dirt. Cows are all around. The ranch is on a hill and I am looking out at the village below me. This place reminds me so much of our B-13 family ranch in Pinedale, Arizona. Men ride their horses passed the house with their sombreros. There are empty fields where corn will be planted when planting season comes. Below the house, about a ¼ a mile away is the field of Nopales. The cactus paddles are cut and just sticking out of the ground in straight lines. A cactus garden. Sounds of animals fill my ears. Cows, roosters, different sorts of birds, a horse, dogs barking, and the faint chattering of Spanish from the villagers. It is very tranquil here. I like coming here to get away and be with Jose while he works, but I’m not quite sure I’ve reached the point of wanting to live in the boonies without contact with the outside world just yet.

Back to my dirty dishes.

One particular time, I’m home alone doing dishes while Jose is gone working on someone’s house. I had a huge pile which seemed like it was not getting any smaller as I washed. I had just made a batch of cookies so I could try my hand at selling cookies for pesos. You see, we had several tiendas de abarrotes offer to sell my cookies at the front of their store near the conchas and bolillos. (These are different types of bread, Taneesa)  So I’m cleaning the mountain one spoon at a time when I see it. Eyes are staring at me from the corner of the sink. Disgusting little bubbles of brown. The body was hidden in between wall and the sink, but I knew exactly what it was. We had been finding the little devils around our house since we discovered our stove, a gift, was infested. Ew. The stove is gone, but the cockroaches remain.IMG_4555 We have no idea how the crap they continue to show up. We have searched and sprayed the living day lights out of the kitchen and still, they reappear.

I acted like I didn’t see it. Hopefully it would see I “didn’t notice him” and come out in the open. He didn’t. I continued washing the forks. He still hadn’t moved, but was still staring me down. I began to clean the table and stovetop. He moved! But only slightly. I could see the knobby head his eyes were attached to. There still wasn’t enough room to kill. I had to be patient. I cleaned the floor. He inched forward a little more. I snuggled the rabbit. He moved back into his crack of a cave. Dang it. At this point I was getting tired of waiting so I left the kitchen and went about some other chores around the house. Fine. If he wasn’t ready to die, then I wouldn’t waste my time waiting for him to come into full view.

Time flies and a couple hours later it was time for me to make dinner for Jose. I took out the vegetables and started the lentils on the stove. Just then, I saw a quick movement out of the corner of my eye. A cockroach! This one was on the other side of the room so I knew it was new. I quickly killed him. 10 minutes later another one scurried up the wall near the kitchen door. SLAM! Dead by way of my shoe. I killed 2 more while cooking dinner. Don’t worry, I sanitized every spot where a dead roach had lay. I decided to try the king. The master cucaracha. I went to the sink to find his eyes staring me down. Our eyes met as he came forward from his sanctuary. Slowly. Just then he made a run for it. Running up the wall as fast as he could. How cute. I watched him with a sense of sympathy. Poor guy, thinks he can outrun the deadly shoe. SLAM!!!!

IMG_4561 Nope. Sorry guy, it’s over. Turns out that this Mr. Roach was no Mr. at all, but an expecting Mrs. She had egg sacks on her butt. At least I thought they were egg sacks. Taking the shoe outside and scraping, stomping, and spraying with pesticide brought me so much pleasure. Since then there have been a few, but not as many as before little cucas showing up in our house. After the death of their queen they don’t mess with Mrs. Ashlee Martinez.

Les Presento al Mr. and Mrs. Martinez!!


We’re married!!

Here in Mexico they don’t see religious ceremonies as legal, so we got married civilly first and then took our 3 hour journey to the LDS Temple in Guadalajara, Mexico. There we were sealed for time and through all eternity. I am so grateful that the sealing power is on the earth today. Now we have the opportunity to be together forever! What a wonderful experience it was to be in the temple with my parents and a few of my siblings. Also when we walked into the sealing room, there were some friends of Jose from Aguascalientes. They were in the temple that day randomly so they were able to come and witness the sealing. It was so nice to have someone there from Mexico.

Before the ceremony, I had a few minutes by myself in the bride’s room. I sat there and enjoyed the spirit of the temple. As I sat and pondered I thought of all those who couldn’t attend my wedding, but wanted to. I am so grateful for my loving family. For their love and support for Jose and I in this new adventure. I also thought of those who already passed on from this life. My mom in particular. Without getting too personal with the spiritual experiences I had in that room, I will say this…God allows for your loved ones who have died to join you on your own special occasions. I know that my mom was with me the in temple. I know that she loves Jose and is so happy for us. I also know that she enjoyed the reception later that night!


Now that we’re married and my family has gone back to the states, real life begins! We are renting a little house in a small town with about 200 people in it. It is just a short distance away from Jose’s family. There we have a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a storage area. It’s small, but we love it. It is the perfect size for us. We are also so blessed because we have a nice piece of land on the side of the house where we can plant a  garden! The front yard has a few flowers and I am looking forward to planting more. The house is mostly blue. I am so in love with this house. My kitchen is yellow and has a window that looks out into the front garden. Right as you walk into the house there is a roofless hallway. Each night we get to see the stars right from our home. Seriously, it is so romantic. We have no internet, and have concrete floors, but we have each other and plenty of projects to keep us busy around the house.


Tomorrow we start to teach English in the same house that we hold our church meetings in. So far we have 5 people who are in the class. I’m so excited to see how things grow. The school, the church, the garden, our family! All of it!

I want to keep a record through this blog for my family, but also I want to share experiences about being a gringa in the small town of Calvillo. Everyone has been so welcoming and loving! They help me with my Spanish and are so kind and patient. Today I made my first grocery list and as soon as mi esposo gets home we are going grocery shopping to stock up the fridge for a week. That part of my life I really want to include on here for readers. I want to share authentic Mexican recipes and the adventure of learning how to be a Mexican woman. Speaking of…here is a photo of my first dish I ever made for Jose…


eggs with the nopales and tortillas. Nopales are cactus leaves that have the slivers shaved off. They are so amazing. Go on…tell me how good my cooking looks. Yummy! Ha! It was so bland. Luckily, Jose’s mom keep salt on hand because, man, we sure needed it!! Hopefully my cooking gets better…

Until next time! Do something today that stretches you!

Adios amigos!


And so it begins…


I never would have thought that an anxious girl from a small town in Utah would make the trek to another country. I’ve always dreamed of it and thought how cool it would be. I never actually thought it would happen. It was always something in my imagination. Until the summer of 2014 when my dreams were made reality. As soon as my friend told me about teaching English in Mexico I knew I had to do it. I went to the information meeting and applied for a spot that night. I was given the last spot to Pachuca, Mexico. Getting off the plane, I felt like I was walking on clouds. This was not real. I was going to wake up any moment now. Then I saw it and knew that this was real life: “WELCOME TO MEXICO”. Immediately, I fell in love with the country. Every morning on our walk to school, my fellow English teachers and I made a new friend. Within 2 weeks of my stay here I knew that I wanted to live in Mexico. I wanted to spend more than just a summer here. I wanted years. I want to share with you how this dream is in the process of becoming my reality.

In July, I was at church when a stranger approached me and asked me where he could find inexpensive housing in the area. I didn’t know since the school I was working for was providing mine. Our conversation was limited due to the language barrier. He had a friend, however, who spoke more English, so he asked me to speak with him. Just then a man just a little taller than me walked through the door. As cheesy as it sounds, the sunlight was shining on him just enough to make it seem like he was glowing. He was so handsome. Jose’ came over and spoke with me. There was an instant connection and we became fast friends. He never found an apartment, but there was a family in our ward who offered him and his friends a place to live in their home.

Jose’ and I started to see each other more often as we had the same group of friends. We both started attending dance classes in the institute. Now…if you have ever attended a Latin dancing course you will know that it is very saucy. The chemistry between Jose’ and I was very strong. Flirting with each other, which I have never been good at, came naturally and our relationship grew into a dating relationship. We were both hesitant to further our relationship, but the spirit kept leading us to one another. One Friday, we had discussed how our relationship wouldn’t work out due to the fact that I was leaving to go back to the United States. What Jose’ didn’t know was that I wanted to move back to Mexico. We both enjoyed each other’s company so much and still wanted to remain friends. Two days later we went to some car races with the family that he was living with. They were fun and it was a great new experience for me. It was basically attending NASCAR races for Mexico. On our way home we got to enjoy a traffic jam due to all of the racing fans. With a sense of adventure, we pulled the car over and decided to go eat “tunas”. Tunas are a fruit that are on the top of some breeds of cactus. In order to harvest cactus you must first pick some sagebrush. This is used to smack all of the needles out of the cactus. After this you use a knife cut the skin off and expose the delicious fruit.

tunasinside cactus pear

(Photo Credit)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

The family and I ate many, many tunas. Someone getting a sliver in their lip was bound to happen. And it did. Jose’ got a splinter in his lip and because I am SUCH a great friend, I got it out for him. Of course that led to our first smooch. Everything changed after that. Jose’ and I started dating exclusively and we met each other’s families. He met my parents over FaceTime and I was able to visit his family’s home while traveling through more of Mexico.

After some time, we both knew that we wanted to get married. The only question was “How”. And that my friends is why I wanted to start this blog. The Lord totally has his hand in this relationship and has been guiding us every step of the way. We have seen so many miracles and I know that there are so many more to come. This is meant to be a record of the steps along the way and then about our lives in Aguascalientes, Mexico. Our journey has already begun and right now we remain a country apart. However, in two short months we will be able to be united in Mexico and will be getting married in the LDS Guadalajara Temple.

Bring it on.