My name is Lee, and I’m a Yucaholic


Our backyard is finally blooming, but I can’t stop pining for the flamboyans.

For over three years, we have kept up a steady schedule of flying into Mérida every three months. If we were still keeping pace, we’d be flying there now, which may explain why I’m feeling a little distracted these days. A voice in my head asks, shouldn’t we be going somewhere? No, we shouldn’t be. We need to take a chill pill.

It’s going to be quite a while before we’re there, and we could go crazy with anticipation, so all our chatter is turning into a form of torture. So about two weeks ago, we resolved to go cold turkey with all this talk. To stop thinking, and talking, about Mérida. The next morning, before work, there was a small detail about Casa Nana that I was about to share with Paul. But I decided instead to make the morning Mérida-free. That might have been the first time we didn’t talk about Mérida during our morning chats before work since 2012.

The next morning, the flood-gates opened again, ending the embargo. The house this, the gardens that. Meanwhile, the New England house where we actually reside every day seems on a campaign to recapture our attention. Look at me, look at me, it says. Flowers are popping up everywhere. Birds are singing in the trees. Bunnies hop and deer dash. Snow has melted to reveal a deck with sunset views of Ash Creek and Long Island Sound, improved when Hurricane Sandy leveled some trees. I read on Facebook that Mérida’s flamboyans are flowering early, but here the magnolias are popping out in pink; delicate green buds are appearing on the oak trees. Soon, tulips will appear.

All this holds my attention for a while, and then I start mentally comparing the magnolias to the flamboyans, and the robins to the grackles. The bunnies remind me of iguanas. I curse the cedars for not bearing limes.

So my morning routine is just as it ever was. I can’t start my day without getting the news online. Not The New York Times or the Connecticut Post. My news source of choice is Milenio or Diario de Yucatan. There’s seldom anything really that interesting on those sites, but I go for the escapism. While online, I check in with my Facebook friends, too. Can I help it if a third of them live in Mérida? I head to Feedly for my blog feed. Oh look, I wonder if Debi’s getting anywhere with Banamex. I have no New England or New York blogs in my feed.

What email with minor news from Mérida feels like.

What email with minor news from Mérida feels like.

Bulletins continue from south of the border. We get a message that the washer in Casa Nana needs a new motherboard. Those lights we shipped down from Florida, some goosenecks that we first saw on another house on Facebook, were finally installed and the architect sent pictures. Struggle as I might not to blather on about Topic A, these news flashes feel like divine dispensation to relax the rule.

Ding dong! A package has arrived. Oh what do you know. David Sterling’s Yucatan: Recipes from a Culinary Expedition finally arrived. I pre-ordered it in December, before our Mérida embargo, I remind myself as I mentally hunt for a loophole that will allow me to talk about it without technically violating our already-broken pact.

A package arrives, making it impossible to give Topic A a rest.

A package arrives, making it impossible to give Topic A a rest.

The book is heavier than I had anticipated. Immediately I’m taken by so many large, expressive photos, and it’s been so long since we’ve seen Yucatán presented in such a luxurious, vividly composed book. It’s not just images of food, which would have been good enough, but of the markets, parks, people, streets … the cathedral looked practically 3D. It provoked quite a good, healthy discussion of our forbidden topic.

Every day since, we’ve once again included Mérida among acceptable morning topics. Every day I’m a little less ashamed as I check on the weather, browse postings from our Facebook friends and favorite bloggers, reading aloud any passages that strike me as sharable. Then I say goodbye to Paul and go off to work, ready to face my current reality. I can’t promise I don’t check for Mérida postings and updates from my desk from time to time. Around 3, I check my email for any news from the property manager. When I get home at night, sometimes Paul still asks if there’s any “news from Mérida.” We just can’t quit you, Yucatán.

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  1. Thanks for this intriguing and optimistic article flavoured with great refreshing humour…

  2. Barbara says:

    It is the same except for me it is San Miguel. And I have been doing this for 12 years! Four to go before I can retire and move there. Sigh. But good to know it’s not just me. I have the live webcam in the jardin up full screen all the time and am transported by it. I literally feel I have one foot in, one foot out, wherever I am. Not to rush time, precious time, but oh my….how I long for the four years to pass and to finally, blessedly, BE there!

  3. Hostas … gosh Lee! The Deer eat my flowers on my front lawn, but not about to include them as venison “burritos”.

    And… a few hours south, my tulips have already come and gone. It’s time for the glad-ilolas. Really, the weather has been fabulous, finally, a real spring…
    It is soo pretty here now, but do understand the jacaranda (home-sick) feeling … what is the resolve? Enjoy the NOW time!

    • Those magnolias in the photo? They’re just now opening all the way, and a huge rain storm is coming, threatening to wash them away. I hate when this happens.

      • Quick. Take a picture. Magnolias are beautiful in all their glory.
        Then, buy some orchids, turn the heat up, and, if it’s a major downpour you can pretend it’s a summer evening in Mérida. Of course, it’s a given you are preparing a wonderful meal out of your new Yucatán cookbook. You are breathing in the delicious scents coming from all the steamy pots on the stove. All this with a cold drink in your hand…

  4. …and the deer are looking like burros.

  5. I could have written this. My mornings – Diario and blogs. Garden – how early can I buy another bougainvillia, hybiscus and they will live through October, Yucatan is also sitting in my office – mostly torturing me about walking through the markets and buying fresh fruits… I am obsessed. So I will also label myself a Yucaholic!

  6. Love your door and the color of your house…and your house number. Want to see more, more, more 😉

  7. David Sterling’s book is worth several conversations. It’s a coffee table book with recipes and wonderful images. Hope he is pleased with his ten years of efforts because his book is a masterpiece.

    Many of us are Yucaholics! Glad you joined the crowd.

    • The book exceeded all expectations. It’s “epic,” as the kids would say!

      • If you were here today, I think you’d be singing a different tune. In Mérida, the temps have skyrocketed this week, and have reached 43 degrees Celsius every day since Saturday. So ENJOY your New England springtime… Yucatán is great in the winter months, but you’re well away from it right now.

        I haven’t seen David Sterling’s new cook book but hope to do so soon. See you mañana on Skype!

        • The last few years I missed good chunks of spring to travel to Merida. I have to admit I’m happy to be enjoying the season here this year. I’m taking lots of pictures, too. I’m not sure how many springs I’ll be here for!

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