Tamara Jacobi, Near Puerto Vallarta

Who are you?

I’m Tamara Jacobi, founder of the Tailwind Jungle Lodge on the Mexican Pacific.I’m the author of Wildpreneurs (HarperCollins Leadership, Feb. 2020). My book is guide for turning passion into business. Wildpreneurs tells of my experience creating my dream business in the jungle. I’m also a new mom. My son, Zephyr, was born in Puerto Vallarta in fall 2020.

Where, when and why did you move abroad?

In 2007, I took a class called “Entrepreneurship 101” during my final semester at Middlebury College in Vermont (USA). I wrote up a business plan for an eco-lodge, graduated, and headed straight to Mexico to chase my dream. I’ve been in the jungle with my family ever since! It’s been a wild, transformative and beautiful experience.

What challenges did you face during the move?

When I moved to a small Mexican coastal community at 21 years old I had no idea what I was getting myself into! I faced a wide range of challenges—personally and professionally. I became a “master of artful mistake making.” No failure, only stepping stones. I share my experiences extensively in Wildpreneurs.

I learned much from the Mexican culture and was particularly challenged by the slower pace of life. As an American, I thrived on the culture of speed. I wore busyness as a badge of honor! It was challenging for me to adapt to the laid back “mañana culture.” In the end, this shift has been a powerful life lesson for me. Now I love the slower pace—my values and priorities have shifted!

The jungle has also challenged me throughout my journey. Mother Nature is an incredible teacher. The principles of biomimicry are a tremendous guide / resource for entrepreneurs.

How did you find somewhere to live?

We built our home in the jungle. During the construction stage in 2007, we found places to rent in the nearby community (San Pancho) through word of mouth. The community was welcoming and happy to make recommendations and connections.

Are there many other expats in your area?

When we first arrived in 2007 there were very few (we were the only blond family in town). A few years later the town was “discovered” and things changed rapidly. Now there is a thriving community of expats throughout this region (north of Puerto Vallarta).

What is your relationship like with the locals?

The locals are my family! They’ve been part of my life for over a decade—they watched me grow from a confused college graduate into a business owner and now a mother.

What do you like about life where you are?

I love the values and priorities of the people here. The community cares! My friends here (both expat and Mexican) are real, genuine and down to earth. Everyone always has time to stop on the street for a chat or a taco. I love owning my own small business with my family and living in the jungle!

I love all the small business owners here. Anyone with a wild idea can make it happen. There are unique, creative businesses on every corner (owned by both locals and expats)—food trucks, surfing schools, health coaches, digital nomads, artisans, micro-breweries, boutiques, podcasters. These free spirits are what gave me the idea to write Wildpreneurs.

What do you dislike about your expat life?

The awareness around garage, waste and impact (plastics everywhere!) is terrible. San Pancho does have a recycling facility but much education is needed to shift the waste mindset here. My husband, a sailboat captain, is currently developing a program for kids that focuses on ocean conservation.

What is the biggest cultural difference you have experienced between your new country and life back home?

The pace of life. Mexico moves slowly. I’ve learned to love this but it was a real challenge for me for years.

What do you think of the food and drink in your new country? What are your particular likes or dislikes?

My best friend here has an organic garden, I’m tremendously grateful for her veggies! I could live off of organic kale, fresh fish, avocados, coconuts and pineapples. The fresh, local options here are incredible. Though tortillas and quesadillas are everywhere I prefer to avoid them.

What advice would you give to anyone following in your footsteps?

It’s a wild ride, enjoy it! The journey is more important than the destination.

What are your plans for the future?

I’m excited to raise a family in the jungle. I’m also committed to empowering free-spirits globally to chase their wild dreams. Particularly now, the world needs healthy change. My book, Wildpreneurs, offers a gateway for imagining and creating a brighter future.

Find out more about the Tailwind Jungle Lodge and order your copy of Wildpreneurs.

Would you like to share your experience of life abroad with other readers? Answer the questions here to be featured in an interview!