How a Middle Aged Gringo at the End of His Rope Found Love, Fortune and Adventure
on the Road in Mexico
Mexico...a Love Story
I guess this story begins with me.
Today I am a one lucky and happy guy. I have a growing online business. I travel two or three times a year on cultural and archaeological tours of the Yucatan Peninsula, and in everything my wife Alma is my companion and partner. But not long ago, things were very different.
Midlife breakdowns and breakthroughs
They say that middle life is a time filled with discovery. My hope for you is that you are smart or lucky enough to make your discoveries without demolishing everything you spent the first half of your life creating. It wasn't that way for me.
In 2001, my life was a shambles. I was newly divorced, bereft of a wonderful family, in poor health and stuck in a miserable, menial job. It seemed like the end of everything.
But while there's life, there's hope, so when I was invited to join a small business which would import crafts from various parts of the world, I jumped at the chance, choosing Mexico as my "territory."
Childhood Memories of Mexico
I had an old connection to Mexico. When I was thirteen I traveled there for the first time on an archeological trip sponsored by a local museum. I still remember climbing the steep sides of the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan, and walking through galleries of the Anthropology Museum in Mexico City, which had only recently opened and was still fresh and exciting, not shabby and sad as it is today.
For all of the rest of my childhood and throughout my life as an adult, those memories stayed with me. It was though I had a compass inside me set not for the north pole but fixed, just as magnetically, southward.
South of the Border Again
My trip to Mexico began in Toluca, where my niece was living with her Poblano husband and their family. Toluca is the capital of the Estado de Mexico, and like most state capitals, it's dull and unattractive.
But Toluca was an excellent place to begin my exploration of modern Mexico. I began to work on my Spanish. We climbed to the top of the Nevado de Toluca an extinct volcano which rises serenely above the still wooded hills behind the city. We visited craft galleries and slowly I came to know the work of some of the masters of modern Mexican handicrafts and their museum quality productions.
Then, one day, we went to Puebla, a gem of a colonial town two hours south of Mexico City. After spending a hot afternoon walking through the center and visiting the city's many gilded churches, we decided to stop off for nieves, Mexico's delicious take on ice cream. It was in this little shop that I met Alma and the entire course of my life began to change.
In that little ice cream shop, I met the woman who would very soon become my wife. Today, over six years later, we still can't quite believe it. An old gringo with very little Spanish and a young professional Mexican woman putting herself through law school by working part-time, meet, fall in love and marry. They say that God looks after fools, drunks and little children. I guess it's true.
A New Beginning
Within fifteen months, I had closed down the business, found a job teaching English in the city university and become an expatriate. This began a five year residence in Central Mexico and our shared life of exploration.
During that time, we traveled extensively, visiting highland towns and ocean-side resorts. We developed an intimate knowledge of the few right ways and countless wrong ways of getting around. As we entertained friends and family from the States, our avocation as travel guides quickly became a new life direction.
Back in Gringolandia
Then in the middle of 2009, for a variety of personal and professional reasons, we decided that it was time to move to the US. With my usual exquisite timing, we returned just as the financial meltdown was really getting under way.
So the burning questions were, first, how to make a living, and, second, how to take all had learned from our travels in Mexico, and turn it something we could build together which would give us the “permanent impermanence,” we desired, a migratory life between New York City and the Yucatan.
The answer came at the suggestion of an old friend who was also experimenting with new directions. He and his wife were using the Internet to market a CD of lullabies and a book she had written. Day by day they were moving toward their dream of a life funded—materially and spiritually—by the things that to them mattered the most: creativity, contribution, passion and love.
It was a very powerful example. I knew my friend, an MBA from U of T, would never recommend something that wouldn't work as a business. He had spent years of his life working as a strategic planner in corporate America and had a long history of ambitious and successfully executed projects to his credit.
They were building their new business using SBI! SBI stands for “Site Build It,” a comprehensive online service that takes anyone--from Internet newbie to experienced web design professional--through a step-by-step process leading to a site that commands the all important attention of the Internet's biggest search engines. The annual subscription also includes domain registering and site hosting so it's truly one-stop-shopping...just what I was looking for.
I checked out the SBI site, and it took me about five minutes to decide. I had a little experience with the web, but not nearly enough to feel confident about building a business online.
To be honest, it was daunting in the beginning to step back and look at the size and scope of what we were trying to do. But no individual task was especially difficult, and each one lead to the next until after about three weeks I had working website that was already beginning to attract visitors.
"Can I make a living at this?"
It's one thing to have a website, but that, by itself, is not a business. It could be a work of art, filled with valuable information, great photos, beautifully laid-out pages, but without ways to convert visitors into customers, it would remain just that: a beautiful website.
This part of the process (“monitization”), was something I was completely ignorant about. But here again, SBI! Took me through it: helping me brainstorm ways to add valuable resources to my web pages that visitors or advertisers would be happy to pay for.
Now with every passing week, more and more people are finding us online, and that first trickle of revenue is growing steadily into an income stream.
A Life on the Road...A Livelihood Online
Today, Alma and I are creating the life or our dreams. We have new friends who share our interests. We spend our days learning about a part of the world we love, and as we work we continue to develop our skills in everything form writing code, to researching archaeological sites, to taking classes in photography.
You can do this!
For hundreds of people online, SBI! has provided the ticket to a life that is profitable and fulfilling. But like anything else, learning to build on online business requires you to climb a pretty big learning curve. Thankfully, SBI! has an incredible set of tutorials, both in print and video formats, that provide all the training required.
Here is an example: a short video introduction to the SBI! process, featuring the company's founder, Ken Evoy. (If you're on a dial up connection, you may prefer the "lite" slideshow version here.)
Every step of the process from initial brainstorming and choosing your keywords, to page layout and monitization, is supported with online training and a user forum that is friendly, encouraging and knowledgeable. With such great resources at you fingertips, you have everything you need to build a great, new, home-based business.
So, if you are looking ahead into your future and can't see a clear way from where you are to where you'd like to be, check out SBI!
Everyone has something they know about, something they're good at. And that's all it takes. SBI! will do the rest, helping you to build a life centered on and supported by the things you're most passionate about.
And when your work is something you would do anyway if you had the chance, work isn't work anymore: it's play.
Then there's no stopping you.
To learn more about Solo Build It! and why we think it is a great resource for anyone who wants to build a solid, home-based business on the Net, click here.
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