A blog about one woman's journey to Merida

Monday, February 25, 2013

What Brings You to Merida?

I've wondered why so many people have chosen to make Merida their new home. 

Is it to get away from a seemingly hopeless economy?  Political dissatisfaction?  Are income and real estate taxes pushing them out?  Is it to live a simpler way of life?  Cost of living?  The Arts and History?  Adventure? Weather?

I fell in love with Mexico in the mid-eighties.  It wasn't the blue waters of the Caribbean, sun and sand. The people and history are what drew me in.  I've never felt more at home in a place. 

On the afternoon of my very first visit in 1986, I boarded a bus for Chichen Itza.  Not a tour bus...just the type the locals take.  I was the only gringa on board and it was late at night.  I had told the bus driver I wanted to go to the Mayaland Hotel.  (Back then it cost $39 a night and that included breakfast and dinner). 

Well, at about 11:00 pm the woman sitting next to me pointed behind us and said "el hotel esta ahi", warning me the the driver had just bypassed my hotel.  I rushed to the driver to tell him that he had missed the entrance, and he told me very gruffly "el hotel esta cerrado".  Back then the only road leading to and from Chichen Itza was too narrow for a bus to make a u-turn.  Before I had a chance to argue, he pulled over in the village of Piste, opened the door, took out my bag from under the bus and told me to "take a taxi"!

Piste is a lovely place, but at 11:15 at night, alone it can be very intimidating.  Not three minutes after being left on the street, I was approached by a man who asked if I needed a taxi.  My first thought was that I was being set up...that this stranger was somehow related to the driver and I was going to supplement his income.

I had read that you always negotiate the price of a cab in Mexico before you get in the car so I asked "how much?"  His reply?  Two dollars!   He was so apologetic for the behavior of the bus driver and, when we arrived at the hotel, insisted on waiting to make sure I was able to check in so late in the evening.  I thanked him over and over and handed him $20 dollars...after all he had rescued me, hadn't he?  He refused the money and said something that I will always remember.  "El gusto es mio".

We here those words often from people in the service industry, but never are they as sincere and heartfelt as when they are uttered in Mexico.

That's where and when my love affair started  Twenty-seven years later, I'm still in love.

I have friends and family here and living on the Hudson is beautiful...but Merida is waiting for me.  I know I'll be happy. I can feel it.

So, tell me...What brings you to Merida?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Where Do I Go From Here?

Now that the closing on my Merida nest seems eminent, I'm starting to give lots of thought to what comes next.
I kind of like the idea of leaving things the way they are.  The house seems to have worked well for the previous owners and who am I to second guess someone who has lived longer in Merida than I could ever hope to?  For now things can stay the way they are.

I've made a list of what changes I'd like to make. Fortunately, most of them are constructive, not destructive.  No walls need to be torn down and there's no need to reinvent the wheel.

I'd like to: 
  • Paint and polish the facade

Light grey with white accents

  • Change out the glass in the front door to white frosted, UV glass
  • Paint the hallway, kitchen, bath and second bedroom

Will go more neutral with colors
  • Replace the hot water heater
  • Have the tinaco checked and replaced if needed
  • Install ceiling fans
  • Replace the non-working mini split in the bedroom
  • Landscape the courtyard
Second bath out back

  • Installed a raised pond with seating in the courtyard

Half view of the patio where the pond and seating will go

  • Build seating and planters along one wall in the courtyard that incorporates hiding the propane tank
  • Repair the small cracks on roof and reseal it, even though it looks pretty good
  • Purchase appliances...need stove top, fridge, etc.
  • Build a counter with outdoor grill under the eave out back
  • Put in small skylights in hallway 

Then there are all the household things I'll need. Do I bring some of my own things from NOB on my next trip down? I'm not sure what is difficult to find in Merida and what I should schlep down?  How much is all of this going to cost? 

I know I'm forgetting things and that items will be added and deleted from my list.  For now it's a good start.  Just thrilled to finally have a new set of challanges waiting for me!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Charles Bonnet Syndrome

For many years my mother had hallucinations. Mind you she was more on the ball at eighty-two than I am now.

She suffered from macular degeneration for about ten years before passing away last year. Not a pleasant condition. Your vision slowly disintegrates starting dead center and gradually worsens until all you have left is peripheral vision. Imagine looking at the person across from you and only seeing a gray blur where their face should be. Eventually you must rely on the sound of a voice to recognize a loved one.

Shortly after her macular started to worsen, my mother was spending the weekend with me. She suddenly, frantically called saying there were rats on the walls. Assuring her that there were no rats, I poured her a martini and we started to talk. She told me that she had been seeing strange things for a while. Miles of brick walls along the side of the road, flowers growing on the ceiling..."not good", I thought.

On her next visit to the retina specialist I told him about her "visions". He asked her to describe what she was experiencing and told us that it appeared she had a "rare" condition called Bonnet Syndrome. (There are many websites on Bonnet but this link seems to explain it best and searching images will show that sometimes these visions can be quite frightening). 

I've since learned that it's not as rare as we think.  Unfortunately, many people don't share their experiences for fear others will think they're suffering from dementia. My mother told me that in the beginning, she thought she was losing her mind.  Eventually she developed a great sense of humor about the whole thing. Why couldn't Gregory Peck appear instead of a rock?

When the eyes stop sending messages to the brain, it replaces that loss with images of it's own. In my mother's case it was bricks, buildings, flowers, rocks, people, faces and sometimes, rats. But more often than not, it was rows of Mayan women and children. 

Occasionally when we'd be driving on a highway  I'd notice that she would flinch...the way you do when you think a squirrel is going to dash in front of the car. One day when she flinched, I asked what she saw.  Apparently there were twenty Mayan women walking in front of my car which was traveling at about 60 mph. Mind you, they were walking...yet we never came close to running over them. They just seemed to be heading in the same direction we were. My mother said that more often than not, the images she experienced where of these women.

The small inheritance my mother left me is what has made my dream of owning a home in Merida possible. I think those Mayan women and my mother have led me to a good place. My vision of living in Yucatan was her vision too.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

One Good Reason to Move to Merida

This morning I read a post from one of my favorite bloggers about an upcoming event in Merida that got me thinking.

I live forty-five minutes from New York City.  There are more cultural venues there then in most cities in the world.  Good for me?  Well, not really.

I thought about the cost of visiting some of those venues for the day and here are the numbers for two people...

Gas - $16
Tolls - $12
Parking for the Day - $63
Lunch - $30
Dinner - $100
Metropolitan Museum of Art - $50
American Museum of Natural History - $66
New York Botanical Gardens - $50
Theater Tickets - $125 to $300

Based on my math to would cost anywhere from $396 to $587 for a full day of "culture".

With so many free and reasonably priced events happening everyday and everywhere, Merida looks more beautiful all the time!