Anyway, here are some photos from around "La Ermita" to keep you warm.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Anyway, here are some photos from around "La Ermita" to keep you warm.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Meanwhile I find myself wandering through the local Pier 1 and daydreaming about furnishing the house we don't yet own. Merida has a Pier 1 inside the Sears store, and it has some of the same inventory as the Victoria outlet, so I tell myself I'm being practical. In reality, though, we're a long way from having a place to even hang a hammock.
Temperatures have cooled 10-20 degrees fahrenheit since I left and it has rained a lot. I think about the step down from the back garden into the dining room and worry about whether flooding is a possibility. I know, probably not. I'm probably confusing it with Vancouver Island, and Duncan, where salmon were spawning in the street this past week.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
"A second chance"..."una segunda oportunidad"..."Enjoy yourself"..."Que lo pases bien"..."He got fired"..."lo dispidieron"..."May I go now?"..."Me puedo ir ya?"
Did we buy a house in Merida? I think so..."creo que si." It's complicated. "Earnest money", a down payment, is waiting to be paid out of a U.S. account. The lawyer was drawing up a contract. But there's a hitch. There's a three-metre discrepancy between the property boundaries on the deed and the survey. So a new survey needs to be made. Maybe someone else could come in and put another offer on the house in the meantime. I guess that's a risk we have to take.
Friday, November 6, 2009
House Hunters International apparently has the same effect. Just yesterday I read a thread on Yolisto.com in which people were talking about what lured them to Merida and the Yucatan. I think about half a dozen said it was the HHI TV show and its Merida episode a couple of years ago.
Anyway, here are some house tour pictures
(Feb. 7/10 I finally got around to changing the title of this post because I had been warned that the original was likely to get caught in spam filters, as it compared real estate photos to certain illicit forms of adult entertainment.)
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Here in La Ermita tonight the main street is closed to traffic and people have set up Hanal Pichan altars outside the church and all the way down the street as far as my house. I took a few pictures though the afternoon light was challenging with my cheapo camera. It is very moving to see the photos of old folks and dads and teenagers and babies propped up on the tables amid food and flowers. A stage is set up by the park. I wonder what the performance will be tonight?
This spot is a parade of beautiful and unexpected scenes. Last night I looked out my door and a man was coming around the corner on a horse. Not driving one of the calesas - the buggies with the undersized ponies that serve the tourist trade. But a full-sized horse, with just a regular looking guy on top, in the middle of a big city. I wonder if he keeps it in one of those huge yards that extend way back from the street. You can't tell where they are, behind the high facades and walls of the houses here.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
It seems you can get almost anything here, now. It didn't used to be that way - Tom was remembering how, when we worked at the now-defunct Mexico City News, the opening of the first McDonald's in Mexico was a really big story.
It's very interesting. Here are some photos of the house and the area
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Took an early bus to the port town of Progreso, pop. 50,000. Haven't been here since 1982. Sure has changed. Hoped to hit several beach towns - east to Telchac Puerto to see the murals and the ladies who sell dulces at roadside stands. However, the 2:30 Costero bus was cancelled, or broke down, or something. So gave up on that and crammed into a combi (collective taxi) for the 7 peso ride straight to Chelem. There is a lot of wind here, and sand.
Here are some more images of Progreso.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
After several days of viewing houses there are a few that seem like possibilities - sometimes. Other times I am unsure. None are just right. They are either too small, too expensive, too noisy, too much work to handle, too far from the Zocalo, too close to bars or bus stations or the firemen's social club or the main market.
Tonight after attending (as a guest) the gathering of the International Women's Club, I walked, then cycled, around the colonial home in Santiago that was at the top of our list so far. I quickly realized there was more car and bus traffic on the street than I originally thought. I waited and counted. There sure are a lot of buses going to Petronilla, wherever that neighborhood is, and this seems to be their route!
Cycled past a couple of other houses that are under consideration, though they have their own drawbacks. Quieter streets, but at the moment I'm just feeling kind of discouraged.
Anyway, after several days dealing with camera and photo uploading and editing challenges, here are some of the best of the bunch so far. Let me know what you think.
Santiago Modern (Santiago's an old neighborhood just a few blocks west of the historic centre. Also known as Gringo Gulch.)
Santiago Colonial Restoration
Viva las Vigas
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Out of all the houses I saw yesterday this is the one that really ticked the boxes, as they say. Actually it was more than box-ticking. It had a great spacious feel about it, beautiful details and character, a not-overwhelming amount of renovation to do, and a great quiet location near to everything. Unfortunately a lot of the photos were lost amid downloading problems (so I hope an upgraded Flickr account will handle the load). What you can't see is the patio and garden in the back with room for the "plunge pool" and an orange tree, as well as space to hang out and socialize. Here are the rest of the surviving photos. Oh, and here's a link to the real estate listing which has more photos.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Meanwhile, I filled the bike tires and took it out for a spin - Mexican style. No helmet, no lights. It was great until I realized I'd got the street grid turned around in my head and was heading for Cancun by mistake. Still made it back in time for take out from the night food stands set up around Parque San Sebastian. No idea what I ordered but it was delicious.
Post Script: I identified my mystery meal with the help of the web. It was panuchos and salbutes, entertainingly described in this article.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Now I'm wide awake. At midnight the cacophony of the streets died down as if on cue: the loud traffic out front, occasional shouting, strange animal calls, thumps and bangs and other interesting sounds. Now come faint voices from old records on the night air, mixed with the background hum of distant traffic and barking dogs.
Hard to believe I'm really here. The little house I'm renting is even cooler than I thought, though I mean that in the funky, hip sense of the word, not as a reference to climate. It is hot, but the fans and the afternoon breeze through the open doors do help. There are a couple of resident iguanas that cause a racket when they run along the metal roofing over the covered porch/storage area. And what a charming neighborhood. Some colourful renovated and restored houses and lots of original ones with the abuelitas standing in the doorway. Raul, the shopkeeper next door, had heard I was coming and called out to me as I was walking back to the house with my take-out barbecued chicken(more on that to come). I had been told he was really friendly and would help if I needed anything. Big welcome, introductions to his daughter(who bestowed a hug and cheek-peck) and son Carlos.
Now I am restored by the pollo asado from the place a block from here, and I'm ready to go find more coffee and explore the streets around here.
Here's someone else's blog post about the charms of Merida as well as some ruins we haven't yet seen. Pix to come. First, coffee.
Taking the long way to Merida, as it turns out. Fifteen hours by bus, ferry and air yesterday. Overnight in the Mexico City Airport Hilton (not as fancy as it sounds, in fact sort of like a Travellodge with an upscale lobby, but comfortable enough.) Love seeing the Diego Rivera mural of man´s dream of flight, mounted without fanfare over the nondescript domestic departures check-in.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Friday, October 2, 2009
But seriously, I keep stumbling upon blogs by other people, regular folks even, fixing to move to Merida or thereabouts. You'd think there's a movement afoot. Today's other discovery is Moving to Merida. They've included a very handy guide on their blog about what to watch for when house-buying in Merida or the beach towns, salvaged from yet another Merida expats' guide that's now defunct.
Meanwhile I'm finally at the stage of lining up houses to see in Merida. I've been dreaming of a crumbling old high-ceilinged colonial project somewhere, but
Arturo Novelo with Mexico International sparked my interest in something newish in one of the lovely old neighborhoods. More of a decorating challenge than a renovating challenge.
What do you think? I'll be taking a vote as we work our way through the list.
13 days to go!
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Looks like this is one of the houses that will be featured on an upcoming episode of that irritating and ubiquitous House Hunters International program. There has been much promotional buzz online about the show's return to Merida. Looks like this wasn't the chosen one, but it is an extreme example of how much you can do with those skinny colonial townhouses that are listed in their unimproved state for as little as $20,000 US.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
It was interesting to see the amount of support for the move from expatriate Americans and Canadians for the move.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
I didn't have much of a sense of the village of Telchac Puerto except it was probably too far out of the way for my upcoming trip to Merida and the beach towns. Then I saw a confusingly translated reference to this mural project by young graffiti artists, with a link to this irresistable Flickr slideshow. On the apparently official Telchac Puerto website I learned that "Artist and muralist Rigel Sauris is 'Painting the Town'..." The undersea mural covering city hall is the grandest work but numerous other buildings in town have had similar treatment. Despite my determination to avoid driving around in cars while there, I think I'm going to have to see this place.
These photos are from the Telchac Puerto website linked above.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Fifty-three days to go.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Okay, I checked my line of credit documentation and discovered I have less available cash than I thought to purchase a little place in Merida/the beach towns. Once again I'll be the bottomfeeder - even in a place where homes start at 1/10th the cost of the crappiest Victoria abode. This week I saw a likely prospect come up in the Merida listings for $20,000 US. It sold within days.
My question of the week is how best to make arrangements with realtors. I've read the horror stories: down payments absconded and spent, unsolvable title issues involving ejido (communal) land or complicated family ownerships. I've found in my previous house-hunting foray in Merida that realtors often can't get in to show houses that are listed by other companies. So how does one decide which realtor to engage, and whether to go with different realtors to see their company's listings? I understand relationships are important to doing business in Mexico, so how awkward or counterproductive would it be to view houses with more than one realtor? Will I be able to see all the houses in my price range if I don't work with more than one? These are the big questions this week.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
My big thrill this week was deciding on a place to rent for my two-week trip to Merida. Last visit we stayed in beautiful small hotels including Hotel Marionetas and Medio Mundo. This time I wanted to experience what it would (will) be like to live in the kind of small and basic house we could maybe afford to buy ourselves. A reality check.
There were several in the low to modest price range. A small, charming one bedroom casa and a gorgeous, colourful, elegant place both in the Santa Ana/Santiago area we got to know last time we were there. And this one in La Ermita.
We never even got to Ermita Santa Isabel last time, but heard a lot about it. A bit further from the main cathedral and park, on the other side of the somewhat grittier area around the bus stations. An up and coming area for expatriates, but not Gringo Gulch as some people call the Santiago neighborhood. I liked Santiago, but decided it's important to get to know other potential neighborhoods.
I think the owner won't mind my using these photo - free advertising!
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Prosecutors says hundreds of packages stuffed in the bellies of dozens of dead sharks seized in the Gulf port of Progreso contained 1,965 pounds (893 kilograms) of cocaine.
The Attorney General's Office says the sharks were found in two containers on Tuesday
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Here's info about average temps in Merida:
Monday, July 13, 2009
Finally I tracked down all the ingredients. It's hard to find masa harina in Victoria B.C. (just what is "fresh masa" anyway?) It took 3 1/2 hours Friday to put it all together, mixing the dough, soaking the corn husks, making two fillings (chicken and also mariscos, for our vegetarian teenager). When they were finally ready to eat, at about 9:30 p.m., it was all worth it - for me anyway. The taste took me right back to Mexico. I could almost hear the vendors' sing-song call: "ta-maw-LAYS!"
Here's the recipe from About.com :
6 cups masa harina and 5 cups warm water, chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups vegetable oil
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
In a mixing bowl combine masa and warm water or broth until combined. Let the mixture sit for 20 minutes or so to let the masa soften. Then mix it on low speed until a dough forms.
After Masa or Masa Harina is prepared-Gradually add in the salt and cumin.
In a separate bowl, add oil to the dough a little at a time while mixing until well combined.
The mixture should be about the consistency of peanut butter. If not, add more masa, water or broth as necessary.
Cover and store in refrigerator until ready to use.
México Del sur:
2 cups shredded chicken, seasoned with hoja santa
1 cup fresh, whole corn kernels
1 cup finely diced tomatoes
1/2 cup red chile sauce (I used Asian sambal oelek)
2 cups cooked shrimp or lobster
1 cup shredded Jack cheese
1/4 cup heavy cream mixed with 1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
To wrap and steam:
Sort husks: Go through the corn husks removing any debris. Separate the larger usable pieces from the smaller bits and pieces. Save the smaller pieces for later.
Soak husks: Place the husks into a large bowl. Cover husks with warm water. Set a heavy item (like a heavy bowl) on top of the husks to keep them submerged.
Remove the husks from the water and pat dry. Place into a covered dish or a large plastic bag to prevent from drying out. Use only the larger and medium sized husks for the tamales. The smaller ones can be used later for ties or patches. When looking at the husk, they have a narrow end, a broad end, and 2 long sides.
Add dough: Lay a husk on a flat surface. Place 1-2 tablespoons of dough onto the husk. When spreading the dough, leave a space of about 4 inches from the narrow end of the husk and about 2 inches from the other end. Spread the dough to the edge of one of the long sides and 2 inches away from the other long side. Try to keep the dough approximately 1/4 to a 1/2 inch thick.
Filling: Spread about a tablespoon of filling down the center of the dough.
Fold: Locate the long side with a 2 inch space with no masa. Fold that over, slightly overlapping the other side so the edges of the dough meet. Wrap the extra husk around the back.
Then fold the broad end over the top and then the longer narrow end over the broad end.
Tie: Create strips of husk by cutting or tearing 1/4 inch lengths off of some of the smaller or unusable husks. Use these to tie across the middle of the tamale to hold the flaps down.
Steam: Set tamales upright in a steamer over (not touching) boiling water. Steam for about 90 minutes.
Monday, July 6, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
We lived in Mexico City for a short time, long ago. It wasn't much fun. The 8.1 earthquake and its aftereffects didn't help. Still, something about this place stuck with us. Now, here we are more than two decades later, hatching a plan for a place in Merida. I hope to share discoveries and impressions as we pursue this crazy pipedream.
Here's a timely post from one of the blogs I love to check for my regular fix of Merida life:
I think we've been at stage 1 for about 2 years and counting.
Here's a link to an initiative that promises to provide more information on this issue, over time:
http://www.smh.com.au/environment/conservation/cousteau-inspires-mexicos-first-marine-observatory-20090624-cw49.html Cousteau inspires Mexico's first marine observatory
June 24, 2009
"Mexico and France launched Mexico's first marine observatory on Tuesday on the edge of one of the world's most diverse ocean ecosystems, the Sea of Cortez.
"The Jacques Cousteau observatory will unite scientific research on the environmental impact from humans and climate change on Mexico's coastlines, and aims to improve public policy to protect them, French and Mexican officials said.
"Its first base is housed by the Centre of Scientific Research of the Northwest (CIBNOR) in La Paz, on Mexico's north-west Baja California peninsula.
"A second is due to open later this year in Merida, in the south-east Yucatan..."