Livin’ la vida in Grand Bend

Mexicans Anabel Salas, 18, of Torreón Coahuila and Carmen Rivera, 25, of Taxco both came to Canada in October to learn English. But it wasn’t until an email came through to Anabel’s adopted aunt Doris Becker that they realized the two were living only moments away in the same village. Now, they share a home with Becker in Grand Cove.

As told to Casey Lessard

Anabel: I wanted to learn English and I tried to come to a high school, but it’s so expensive because you need to be a Canadian. The paperwork is so complicated, and it’s as expensive as university. Doris told my dad, “She can come with me and find a baby-sitting job or something like that.” I am here, and I volunteer at her school – she’s a French teacher (at Usborne Public School). I read with the kids and help with the computers. I help in the kindergarten because there’s only one teacher and she needs help. I love the kids. They’re so cute and funny. The kids help me to read. I don’t have good pronunciation, and the kids laugh and tell me, you need to read like this. The kids are so nice.
Carmen: I had two Canadian friends, and they told me Canada is awesome. I love to paint, and they told me the landscape is beautiful, especially in autumn when the trees change colour. Now that it’s winter, there’s a lot of snow, and I like that.
When I was looking on the Internet, I saw the pictures of the beach and thought, it’s almost like Acapulco (laughs). The weather is too cold, but it’s okay. I like it.
I went through an Internet au pair agency. I got a family (the Gaukrogers) in Grand Bend, but they don’t need me anymore, so I decided to move here. Generally I came here to improve my English, but actually I’m a Spanish teacher in Mexico. I love to travel. The last year I was an assistant teacher in France and I was travelling a bit around Europe, too.
The idea is to live with a family so you learn the culture and you can go to the school. But here it was not the same because I didn’t take English lessons. As a nanny, you don’t get too much money. It’s good to learn the language, though.
Anabel: Doris came to Mexico when she was 18 (through Rotary), and she went to high school there and lived with my family. My father came to Canada to do the same, but he lived in Guelph. He stayed in Canada one year, too. Doris considers my family as her family.
Doris told me, “It’s a little town.” But I said, no, it’s not possible to be so little. When I got here, I realized it’s a little town.
I like Grand Bend. It’s so pretty. It’s different because I live in a big city. Here it’s so small and so quiet.
I miss the weather. I don’t like the cold. I don’t like the snow except when we are playing in it. I miss my climate so much. I live in the desert – right now it’s 45ºC there. I had only seen snow one time, but it only stayed one day.
I’d like to come back in the summer or in another year in June. I am not going to miss this weather. I don’t like wearing many layers. I feel I can’t move and I fall down because the ground is frozen.
Where I live it’s really warm. When it’s winter, in the night you need to wear a long T-shirt sometimes. But when I come here, I need three jackets and a scarf, two mittens.
Carmen: I love the weather. The snow, the landscape. Last week we went snowmobiling with a friend from Bikini Bob’s. It was awesome! I like it!
Anabel: It was like when you are driving a motorcycle. It’s so fun. We went by the drive-in. We went along the road and between the trees.
I’d like to go skiing. I went skiing with the kids from the school. I tried snowboarding, but I fell down many times and then I tried the skis and I like it. It’s fun, but it’s difficult.
Carmen: I like to watch, but I don’t want to try. Two years ago I was in Switzerland, and I hurt myself (almost breaking her arm) sledding.
Anabel: When Doris went to Mexico, they asked her if she lived in an igloo. She’d tell them, no, I have a house.
Carmen: I think people don’t know too much about Mexico. People think we are so poor. Obviously there are poor people and rich people. Here it’s easier to make money than in Mexico, but we are not so poor. People think we are ignorant and that we don’t know too much about culture or other things. I don’t like that. Sometimes people ask me, do you know pasta? I say, of course!
Anabel: I am going to miss my friends, the family, Doris. The kids from the school; they’re so friendly and they give me hugs and kisses.
Carmen: I’ll miss the people. People here are very friendly. Especially here in Grand Cove. They say hi when you walk down the street.