Sunday, April 17, 2011

Changes in the 'hood

Our house wasn't the only thing undergoing a transformation in our neighborhood in the time between my visits.

This time, right away, I noticed  new paint colors on some of the houses on our block. One end of the block had been anchored by two empty storefronts for at least the year and a half that I had been haunting the area. Now one of those
storefronts was occupied by a sharp new Dunosusa grocery/drygoods store, a nice complement to all the fresh produce and meat available at the Chem Bech market on the next block. The other storefront, while still empty, was freshly painted and looking much nicer - who knows what could be there by the time we return?

Other changes were less obvious but hinted at a changing mood or sensibility in the area. I went to the tendejon at the other end of the street to get water and cokes for the workers at our house. The shop owner is very friendly. On my first visit he informed me that there were many Canadian paysanos in the neighborhood, to my great surprise. I thought our area was a bit beyond the encroachment zone, where one charming neighborhood is so populated with American and Canadian expats it's sometimes referred to as "Gringo Gulch".

Dunosusa: Your full range of votive candles
This time, with my change for the drinks, the tendejon owner surprised me with a sales pitch: Did I want to buy his building? He listed off the features, opened the door to show me the living space in behind the shop area, divulged the asking price. I wasn't sure what to say, as I already have a house and wasn't thinking of going into the corner-store business. I told him I'd certainly let people know about the property. Then I left with my purchases and lingering questions about the exchange. Was he feeling pressured by the well-stocked new Dunosusa at the other end of the block? Is there a sense of a land rush in the neighborhood after a couple of (I was told) very slow years in the local real estate market? Or do random foreigners get these kinds of offers all the time?

My curiosity intensified a couple of days later at the local lavanderia. After I dropped off my clothes, out of the blue, the operator's husband approached me with his card and started to tell me how he could find me beach property at very good prices. Now I admit I am a bit of a real-estate weenie. Endlessly fascinated with the market, the prices, the opportunities, the hidden potential of even the sorriest wreck of a place. I've enjoyed buying and renovating a few places over the years, and would have done more if money wasn't such darned hard stuff to get. But I've never been approached repeatedly by total strangers who assumed I was "in the market".

I wonder what it means.

Dunosusa: I don't know what these are but I think you eat them.


  1. Deb,
    Perhaps it simply means that nearly everyone in town dabbles in real estate, if provided a listening ear.

    Mary and I were cruising the 'hood of Garcia Gineres on a recent visit. We stopped the car to take a photo of a place bearing a SE VENDE sign. The neighbor in the next house beckoned me over to his dwelling, and insisted we take the tour. (Nice place.) And then he picked up a pen and wrote down a price. (Fair price.) We exchanged pleasantries (and business cards).

    The house wasn't quite what we were looking for, but I thought his price was very reasonable, and his candor and the hospitality extended by him and his wife was downright neighborly. I would have bought the place directly, on the spot, if it had fit our needs.

    Further adventures were had as we cruised. We got invited in for refreshments around the corner from another place we were examining thru a gate. This is what is so appealing about Merida: it's the people who dwell there. Truly, it's a city of good neighbors. Roaming the 'hood opens doors and invites encounters with warm and friendly folks. It feels like home to me!


  2. We were approached a couple of times in Santiago with someone offering to sell their home. One, a nice lady in her car, followed us all the way down the street telling us about her house a few blocks away that we could purchase for a good price and renovate. The other, a very nice man named Francisco, called out from across the street we were walking down and showed us a friend's home for sale. Being the type people who never want to offend or brush off anyone, we have found ourselves in some interesting (and later funny) situations.

  3. When we were new here (now all our neighbors and then some know us by sight) we'd constantly be offered houses. We would stop to talk and maybe peek in a window and someone would appear out of thin air asking if we wanted to buy a house.
    I think people see what houses are selling for and want a piece of the action.

  4. Hello Eric, John, Alan, Theresa. Interesting to hear how common this is. A couple of years ago I was also spontaneously offered a house in Santiago neighborhood by an elderly lady (next door to one we were viewing) and in retrospect I realize it would have been a very good one.