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Expats Create a Sense of ‘Home’ in Puebla

Art Open House at Galeria Bayro and INNI Innovo InstituteBeing an “expat”—or at least living outside your native culture and functioning in another language—isn’t always easy. Feeling frustrated, lonely, and homesick from time to time is inevitable, especially in a city like Puebla, where the locals have a reputation for being exceedingly kind to strangers yet glacially slow to add anyone new to their social circles. Thus, it can be helpful to connect with other foreign residents to form friendships, share resources, support one another, and build community.

Outdoor symphony concert—the first of its kind at the BUAP—to celebrate the Botanical Garden's 25th anniversary.It took me a while to figure out how to do that, because unlike Mexico City, Puebla doesn’t have a Newcomers Club or a U.S. Embassy or any other organization that coordinates events for Americans, Canadians, or folks from elsewhere in the world who speak English and aren’t affiliated with a specific employer, church, or school. (I say “English” because not everyone’s Spanish is perfect or even passable, especially when they first arrive in Mexico.) So, with the help of a few others, I started an “expat” group in September 2009, about six months before launching this website. Through word of mouth, our initial group of five has grown to some 160 people from a dozen different countries.
Fireworks over the pond at the BUAP Botanical Garden

Although “home” is wherever my husband and cat happen to be, having a supportive social network is important, too.

It seems like it took forever, but as a result of the friends and connections I’ve made through the group, this week I finally felt like I was home in Puebla — an insider instead of an outsider. By “insider,” I simply mean my social calendar was filled with events, from a Thanksgiving potluck to a SoHo-worthy art open house and a gala anniversary party to a gourmet dinner at the most contemporary restaurant in town. All four private affairs were hosted by foreign residents and Poblanos (including the dinner, which was organized by All About Puebla). Could it be that we’ve achieved some sort of critical mass, in terms of people, energy, and diversity? A girl can dream, can’t she? In any case, what a privilege it was to be in the presence of such stimulating company, having conversations in English and Spanish!

All About Puebla holiday dinner at Intro RestaurantAll About Puebla holiday dinner at Intro RestaurantThank you, everyone, for your efforts, your invitations, and your contributions to the group. If anyone out there would like to join us in the future, drop me a line and I’ll add you to our emailing list. Happy holidays!

—Rebecca Smith Hurd

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9 Responses to “Expats Create a Sense of ‘Home’ in Puebla”

  1. Hello. Dear Rebecca. I just want to thank you for all the wonderful reports you have been doing for a city you and I love so much.

    Yes, it is pretty lonely, especially here in the northern hemisphere. Once again I did not get a chance to visit Puebla this year. I really hope that 2013 is a better year for all of us, providing once again that the Mayan Calendar is wrong!

    I have been reading your website on a regular basis, but I really envy you. You are a full-time Poblana, and I am not. It is lonely, especially when the Mrs. and my non-bioligical daughter are living in the City of Atlixco because of La Migra issues.

    I hope you get to eat those Cemitas Poblanas in the Supermercado Benito Juarez. And the restaurant is called Lolita. They are delicious. Lolita has been in the same mercado for over 50 years, just like Tommy’s hamburgers have been at the Corner of Beverly and Rampart for 53 years, and they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

    Anyways, I got to split. I know quite well you got a website to run, and a whole state to discover and tell us about it! I also want to wish you and your staff and loved ones, including the cat, a Merry Christmas and happy holidays from all over our planet.

    Sincerely, Giovanni Magana

  2. Rebecca says:

    Hola, Giovanni:

    Thanks for your comments and holiday wishes and foodie tips — we’ll have to check ’em out. We, too, hope that you get a chance to visit Puebla and your loved ones in 2013, and we wish you all the best in the coming year!


  3. Kathleen Butt says:

    Hi Rebecca,

    I just wanted to thank you on behalf of myself and my family for creating this expat group and your website. It has been almost 2 years since we moved to Puebla, and your website continues to be such a valuable resource to us. Knowing that there were expats in Puebla and how to be in touch (via your website) was a real source of comfort when making the transition here. Although it took almost a year of living here before I had the opportunity to meet you, I am sure glad I did. I know it takes a lot of time and energy to maintain this site, and I just wanted you to know that we sure appreciate your hard work.

    Best wishes to you in 2013, and I look forward to seeing you again soon in the near future.


  4. Rebecca says:

    Thanks for saying so, Kathleen. I appreciate your kind words and support. I’m glad we met, too — and I look forward to our paths crossing again in 2013. Happy New Year!

  5. Sophie Alvarado says:

    Hi Rebecca,

    I’m a young Brit living in Puebla, I’ve been living here for almost six months now. I’ve met some very nice people here including my current boyfriend who is fluent in English and has helped me to meet people here. I’m happy but I feel that my social life is missing something. I can understand Spanish and speak a fair bit but I feel that it’s not good enough to start working here yet so I don’t have any work friends to talk to. It’s pretty difficult to practice Spanish with your partner when you’ve gotten into the habit of English. It would be nice to have other people to socialise with and have English and Spanish chat. I hope the group is still up and running and that I can come along one day for a chat. 🙂

    Yours sincerely,

  6. Lorena Marsal says:

    Hi Rebecca
    Nice blog! I am a costarrican living in Mexico with my family. My husband was born in Spain but grew up in Southafrica where our two oldest kids were born. I left Costa Rica 16 years ago and as a family we have lived in Australia, Malaysia and now Mexico besides South Africa. We now have a little mexican boy!
    We have lived in Mexico City for 4 years now but are thinking of moving to Puebla within the following months.
    Besides being both from latin cultures, we enjoy meeting and socializing with people from other cultures as well as ours. We don´t really fit into any specific group as even within our family we have 4 nationalities but would really like to be in touch with expats living in Puebla.
    I think your blog is excellent and I hope we keep in touch.

  7. Rebecca says:

    Hi Sophie and Lorena: Thanks for reading All About Puebla. My husband and I relocated to the U.S. last summer, so we’re no longer living in Puebla. I believe a group of English- and Spanish-speaking expats and their loved ones still meets for a pub quiz the second Wednesday of the month, 8 p.m., at Texas Bar-B-Q restaurant near Avenida Juarez. If you go, please give everyone my regards!

  8. Giovanni Bautista says:

    Hi Rebeca,

    I am expat living in Puebla since a year ago. I agree with you about the expat definition and the experience in Puebla. Just in time, seeking the way to met people like me, I met your web page. I will be so happy to join you and the group at your events.

    Yours sincerely,


  9. Del says:

    Hello out there! I’ll be traveling to Puebla in the near future to scout for a retirement possibility. I would appreciate any feedback. Thanks!