What’s happening right now in Merida
Mexico, one of Latin America’s most exciting countries, is host to Merida, a vibrant and cultural city. Merida was voted American Cultural Capital not once, but twice. Merida is situated on the Yucatan Peninsula, one of Mexico’s easternmost regions. The area has a strong cultural identity and a resonant history. It’s also known as the safest region in Mexico. Merida is having its moment right now and it shows no sign of slowing down.
Separated from the rest of the country by large rivers, the Yucatan Peninsula, until the last half of the 20th century, was more in touch with the Caribbean than with Mexico. The Mayan culture is still relevant here and the language is still spoken. The folklore is very colorful. A lunar eclipse is said to be the work of ants eating the moon and during those nights children bang pots and pans to make the bugs stop.
Over the past few years, American couples have begun to turn Merida into an expat community. The Starwood company has already taken over to buildings, an hour outside the city and made them over as luxury hotels. Sidewalk cafes, tree-lined streets, and fresh paint, Yucatan’s best-kept secret is cosmopolitan Merida. Just a half hour from the Gulf coast beaches, this city of almost a million is a center of commerce and home to universities, hospitals, friendly locals, and beautiful colonial homes that would cost you twice as much anywhere else. The expat community maintains a well-equipped English language library and hosts monthly get-togethers. The kinds of goods and services you would expect to find back home are available here too from Office Depot to Costco, Sam’s Club, Sears, all the familiar fast-food chains and several high-end shopping malls.
The expats have a saying about the local mentality where someone says they will do something tomorrow but really means next week. “Todo es possible, mas tarde.” This means everything is possible, much later. However, in Merida, everything seems possible, right now. Though it struggles with smaller versions of Mexico City’s problems (traffic, pollution, power outages), this is a tolerant and cosmopolitan city with its own airport, an English library, a Belgian chocolatier and an American Costco. Merida’s location in the northwest corner of the Yucatan makes it close enough for day trips to ancient cenotes and caves and the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza and Uxmal. Cancun is a four hour trip along a newly build superhighway.
One important thing you will need to pack when you come to Merida is extra patience. Nothing moves as quickly or efficiently as you are used to and Mexicans don’t resolve problems by shouting or insulting people. Get used to the idea that things will happen when they happen and adjust to a life of less hurry and less worry. Welcome to Merida.
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