A student turns the tables on the blogger

Photo: Universidad Modelo in Mérida

Photo: Universidad Modelo in Mérida

Yesterday I was a little startled by a communications major at Universidad Modelo. She was writing a paper on foreigners involved with rebuilding houses in the historic district. She found me on Facebook and asked to interview me via chat, and I consented, half-thinking that someone was playing a joke on me.

She asked basic questions: How many of us are there? How many are staying permanently? Why did we come?

The questions were basic, but not too easy to answer. I don’t know about our numbers. So many of us get by with tourist visas, there aren’t [Read more…]

Visiting journalists have a way with words

My own collage from Eater's text and images, a nod to the beauty of words and to this blogger's frustrations.

My own collage from Eater’s text and images, a nod to the beauty of words and to this blogger’s frustrations.

It’s always interesting when a real wordsmith comes to Mérida and starts to write.

I’ve always struggled to capture the city in a way that communicates what it feels like to actually be here. I’ve struggled as far back as 2010, when my editor assigned me 500 words to write about my recent trip here. (I won’t even link to it anymore, I’m so embarrassed.)

The 500-word limit was impossible to begin with. The city, and the entire peninsula aside from the Riviera Maya, was unfamiliar [Read more…]

Imagining daily life in Yucatán: We draw a blank

Dinner at Apoala and at a vibrant Santa Lucia square was not possible in 2010.

Dinner at Apoala and at a vibrant Santa Lucia square was not possible in 2010.

We came, we saw, we built a house. But we’re still in Connecticut, preparing to rent out Casa Nana before we finally settle in possibly sometime next year. (And it kills me to have to add possibly to that sentence.)

You’d think by now we’d be able to picture what living in Mérida will actually be like. But we can’t. Last year, I kind-of could, but now I’m wondering.

I’ve lost sight of why we’re even moving to Mérida. Because I’ve always wanted to live abroad, and Mérida seemed like an up-and-comer, friendly, and well-situated destination? Or was it to escape [Read more…]

Mr. Jade won’t be part of Team Yucatán Expat

Mr. Jade

Mr. Jade

We have no children, and no pets. The closest thing we have to offspring is a giant jade plant that started off as a tiny little sprout bought at Home Depot. Suffice it to say, it’s flourished under our parenting.

Yesterday we gave in to the cold. We brought in the house plants, including Mr. Jade, shattering any illusion that it’s still summer in New England. It really was a great summer. We spent more time on the deck and less time on weekend day trips and restaurants and more time lounging around the house. The weather cooperated better than we’ve ever remembered, too. It was grand.

Summer ended with an 11-day trip to Mérida, where I had said all along I wanted to be on my 50th birthday. Two weeks later came an obligatory trip to Frankfurt, Germany, and I’ve never been less prepared to enter a new country. I would normally [Read more…]

Eat like a local? OK. Drink like a local? Nah

Arni takes cocktails seriously at Apoala.

Arni takes cocktails seriously at Apoala.

More about bitters. I’ll keep this brief, I promise.

The advice to new expats is to go with the flow, eat and drink like the locals, and keep things simple. Abandon your old ways and adapt to life as it is lived in Yucatán.

As you can see on the Facebook forums, this is easier said than done. We all want our old foods and drinks. Familiar brand names comfort us. Aunt Jemima syrup, Twizzlers and Pringles are prized possessions. We packed Triscuits for our neighbors.

So don’t judge me too harshly if I shun Montejo beer in favor of the Rob Roy, an American cocktail that requires Scotch, with a splash of vermouth and a shake or two of bitters. I’ve been documenting my search all along.  [Read more…]

The wheels are in motion

Open, pretty flower, open! Our plane leaves on Sunday!

Open, pretty flower, open! Our plane leaves on Sunday!

We’re back in New England, where the autumn chill is setting in, relying on Team Nana to keep our Mérida house in order. Team Nana consists of the property managers, the architects/project supervisors (still on the scene while the house is under warranty), and their own employees and contractors, plus the contractor’s subcontractors. Why did I ever think I’d just need to pay someone in the neighborhood to check the mail now and then?

We agreed this week, based on the recommendation of the person who designed our garden, to increase the landscaping budget at Casa Nana, from two to six hours a week. We approved the purchase of some tools, and bought additional irrigation sprinklers, too. The greenery is coming in very well, as it should with all this rain, but it takes constant taming.

A couple we know said they have a gardener come in daily, four hours a day. I was tempted to think [Read more…]