We virtually set down with Patricia Grm, a half Mexican and half Panamanian who lives and works in Slovenia. She is the owner of an online shop called El Merkadito, where you can shop products from South America. Read our interview and find out what she thinks about Slovenia.
COULD YOU TELL US WHERE YOU ARE ORIGINALLY FROM? WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO SLOVENIA?
I’m half Mexican half Panamanian, and I was born in Mexico. Slovenia has been my home since 2008 once I decided to move here and live with my boyfriend (now husband).
COULD YOU TELL OUR READERS WHAT IS IT THAT YOU DO? WHAT IS YOUR CAREER BACKGROUND?
I’m the owner of El Merkadito, an online shop with products from South America, Mexico, and the USA.
My professional studies are totally different from what I do now. I hold a degree in English Literature and a MA in Applied Linguistics. I used to teach English and Spanish for many years but at one point in my life, I felt I needed a career change.
IN TERMS OF WORKING AND LIVING IN SLOVENIA. WHAT IS THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE FROM YOUR HOME COUNTRY AND SLOVENIA?
Everything in Slovenia is a lot more organized. Also, things are done faster than in Mexico. Perhaps, the population number is an advantage for Slovenia. Mexico is a very large country with millions of people.
DO YOU FEEL EXPATS IN SLOVENIA ARE TREATED DIFFERENTLY? HOW ACCEPTING ARE SLOVENIANS OF EXPATS LIVING IN SLOVENIA?
Back in 2006, the first time I visited Slovenia, I felt like a celebrity. People were curious and shy yet friendly. When I decided to move, here I always felt welcome to people’s homes. I lived in Sevnica for many years and I’m very happy I met really cool people there. I’m proud to say they’re my very good friends. I am not sure if being Mexican had anything to do with that. From day one, I tried to speak Slovene. This got me into funny situations sometimes. I said wrong words or made mistakes in pronunciation that led to laughs. I still laugh when I remember about those.
WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST ABOUT YOUR COUNTRY SINCE YOU HAVE BEEN LIVING IN SLOVENIA? IS IT THE FOOD, PEOPLE OR SOMETHING ELSE?
I miss the warmth of people in my country. The food, of course, I miss it too. But a little improvising here and there and you can get to almost authentic Mexican food. I’m a family person. Families in Mexico are huge. Everybody is an uncle or an aunt and parties in Mexico are very different from parties here. So, yeah, in general, I miss people.
WHAT FIVE WORDS BEST DESCRIBE SLOVENIA?
Green, organized, healthy, open-minded, & friendly.
WHAT ARE YOUR MUST-VISIT DESTINATIONS IN SLOVENIA?
Izola. I come from a city by the beach. My house in Mexico is only 10 minutes’ walking from the beach. The ocean represents an important part of my life so whenever we have the chance, we go to the beach in Izola.
Holy Trinity Church in Hrastovlje. The first time I saw the danse macabre I felt at home. It reminded me of Día de Muertos in Mexico.
Škocijanske Jame. Beautiful place. Worth sightseeing.
Bovec. Those emerald colors and beautiful hills are still in my head. There are plenty of things to do but even if you can’t decide, just a beautiful walk around the place will do for your trip.
It’s hard to decide. Slovenia is so small yet so beautiful everywhere you go. I still didn’t have the chance to see many other wonderful places this country has.
IF A VISITOR ONLY HAD ONE MEAL ON THEIR TRIP TO SLOVENIA, WHAT AND WHERE SHOULD IT BE?
I would say Gostilna bistra and their Nedeljska kosila (Sunday lunch). in Vrhnika. If you visit Slovenia you must try ajdovi žganci with ocvirki.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE SLOVENIAN SOUVENIRS TO GIVE AS GIFTS?
I always bring honey to my family when we visit them. For me, Slovenian honey is the best. I also like to give Šnops & handmade soap.
DO YOU KNOW HOW TO SPEAK SLOVENIAN? IF SO, WHICH WORD THAT YOU LEARNED SOUNDED THE WEIRDEST OR SILLIEST TO YOU? WAS IT PERHAPS A CURSE WORD LIKE THE “THREE HUNDRED HAIRY BEARS”?
Yes, I do speak Slovene. I’d be sad if after 12 years living here I wouldn’t be able to do it. The word teta in Spanish means boob so for me it was really funny when I had to use it at the beginning.
WHAT‘S THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON LIFE HAS TAUGHT YOU?
Home isn’t where you were born but where you belong.
WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL MOTTO OR PHILOSOPHY ON LIFE?
Dare and do not be afraid of changes. Not all changes are bad.