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Learn About Expat Life in México

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Learn About Expat Life in México


We just read (and really enjoyed) this 97 page pdf book written by Yucatango in Mérida. While some of the information is specific to Mérida, most of it would be useful for anyone considering life as an expat in México. Especially interesting are all her insights into interpersonal relationships. Here’s the link to her blog post with the link to the free book.

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Mérida, Yucatán, México – everyone’s favorite city

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Mérida, Yucatán, México – everyone’s favorite city


If you love México and haven’t been to Mérida, I bet you have been wanting to go. If you’ve been there, I bet you want to go back.  It is a beautiful, friendly, and proud city that will capture your heart, I promise.  Christine Delsol wrote recently in the SF Gate about Mérida in her article Maya Traditions Alive in México.  If her article doesn’t convince you it’s time for a visit, look above where it says Reports By State and pick the Yucatán.  After that you’ll be booking your tickets, I promise!

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Christian Science Monitor


The CSM’s reporter for Latin America, Sara Llanes, visited Merida a few weeks ago to find out if what she suspected was true… that expats who live and work in Merida Yucatan feel a lot safer here than most media is reporting. Sure enough, she found a lot of us who felt that way. And it wasn’t just the two of us who escorted her around to show her the sights. We stopped to talk to some expats who were renovating a home on Calle 53. This was unplanned and unannounced. Sara talked to the two of them, and to a Yucatecan couple who just happened to be walking down the street. Her planned meetings with Dan and Martha went expectedly well too. And, as a result of her weekend here, which she and her husband (who both live in Mexico City) thoroughly enjoyed, we have this article: American Expats Feel Safe South of the Border

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Two New Videos on Merida and Mexico

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Two New Videos on Merida and Mexico


Mitch Keenan is the owner and founder of the Yucatan’s oldest real estate company, Mexico International. Before moving here fifteen years ago, Mitch worked for Continental Airlines based out of Denver. As a flight attendant, Mitch traveled throughout South America, Asia, Europe and the United States. In this video, he talks about the relative merits of living in Merida and whether or not he feels safe living here.

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The video was produced (by Eclectec SA de CV) to inspire people to attend a series of seminars that Mitch and his colleagues will be giving in cities around the United States over the next nine months. For more information about those seminars, visit the Mexico International website.

And while we’re on the subject of videos and Mexico, here’s one from the Mexico Tourism Board that just came out:

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Logic Test

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Logic Test


Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are more pliable.
Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.” -Mark Twain

There is a whole lot of time and energy being expended on the internet about how dangerous it is in Mexico. I was looking at some news online, and the headline “Mexico Morgues Run Out of Room” caught my eye. I thought that it would be about the incredible red tape that you need to fill out when someone dies here, or maybe that morgues haven’t kept up with population growth. Something piqued my morbid interest. It turned out to be this story about the morgue in Cuidad Juarez.

When I went to college it was mandatory that you took a class in Critical Thinking or Logic. Is that not a requirement for a journalism major? Or is it a matter of choosing the wrong word and relying on spell check? Shouldn’t the title be “Mexican Morgue Runs Out of Room” as in, a specific morgue in Mexico, not all morgues in Mexico?

How would that logic problem go?

The morgue in Cuidad Juarez is running out of room. Cuidad Juarez is in Mexico. Therefore, all morgues in Mexico are running out of room. True or False?

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I feel perfectly safe here.

Oh, there is petty crime. I wrote about my experience with an unsuccessful pickpocket here. One time, Husband left a bag from the pharmacy on top of an ATM machine, and someone walked off with it. Another time we had a guy come running after us with an ATM card that we had left behind. Actually, the second scenario is the more likely one. Our neighbor had a taxista drive to her house, after his shift ended, to deliver her purse that she had left in his taxi. The other day I accidentally gave the pizza delivery guy a $500 peso note instead of a $50, and told him to keep the change. He shook his head and handed me back the $500 peso note! I hear about that sort of thing all the time.

When we were living down the street from the bus terminal, we had someone walking by in the wee hours steal stuff from our car. The car was in our carport, but the gate was unlocked. The car was unlocked, and the stuff was visible.

When we lived in California, my locked Honda was broken into while in our driveway, as well as our pickup truck that was on the street. They took my radio and trashed the car looking for hidden money or drugs. The police told us that they had a rash of car break-ins that night in our residential district.

While our current house was being remodeled, a pair of thieves noticed our contractor bring in our boxed ceiling fans. While he was getting more stuff, they sneaked into the house and made off with them. Fortunately, our contractor chased and caught them. These guys were on their way home, just having been released from jail in Cancun for theft! So back to jail they went.

This doesn’t compare to the 4 times I have been burglarized in the USA. When I was in college, someone broke into my apartment, stole my jewelry and my roommate’s valuables, then came back two weeks later to steal any replacements.

When I lived in Las Vegas, someone stole two of my dogs out of our backyard! The house next door was a rental. I glanced over the fence after the neighbors had sneaked out during the night, and saw a trail of my possessions in their yard! They had made a hole in the fence and into our storage shed, and made off with our stuff!

While we were on vacation someone broke down our front door, ransacked the house and stole everything that seemed valuable, twice, in the three years that we lived there. I can’t imagine that happening here.

So yeah, Mérida is not perfectly crime free, but if you read the police report (sucesos de policía) in the Diario de Yucatan, the crimes are pretty mild. Out of eighteen entries, there are two robberies (one of which was committed by a man from California!), one drug arrest, a probable arson (listed twice), and two missing people. The rest are related to either traffic accidents or family law.

What would be on the blotter in a comparably sized city NOB? I don’t worry about being assaulted, kidnapped or robbed. We lock our doors, but don’t wake up with every strange noise. I am not fearful of strangers. There isn’t a single neighborhood in this city of over a million people that I would be nervous walking in at night. I certainly don’t feel compelled to lock the car doors and roll up the windows while traveling in strange places. I have never ever feared for my safety here.

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Musings from Merida…

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Musings from Merida…


Those of us who have lived here for awhile are used to the way Mexico is treated in the media in the United States. Articles are either about wonderful places to travel or about how dangerous it is here. A few months ago, there was a noticeable uptick in the number of negative articles about Mexico. Murder, violence, danger… the drums were beating louder. Then there was an article about the two most potentially dangerous countries in the world: Pakistan and… Mexico! Then the U.S. State Department put out a travel warning, and it seemed everyone was writing about how dangerous it was going to be for college students on Spring Break to go to Mexico.

We pondered all this last night as we walked the dogs through the streets of downtown Merida. Not just any streets, but a neighborhood deep in a colonia south of the Plaza Grande, a place we had once been warned to stay away from because it was dangerous. Now we live here, in San Sebastian, one of the old neighborhoods in Merida’s centro historico. Once upon a time, this was a place of intense poverty and desperation. It still isn’t a neighborhood of manicured lawns and swimming pools, but desperation? danger? Not hardly.

The two dogs and two humans walked slowly through the streets, lit by streetlights and moonlight and the light spilling from the many open doors. In Merida, often the coolest place in your house is on the front step, where the breeze blows by, and it is traditional for people to take their chairs outside and set up light housekeeping in front of their house on the sidewalk. Each block had three or four families gathered around their front door last night, talking, laughing, listening to music. We know each other by sight, and they waved or greeted us as we walked by. “Buenas noches!” “Buenas noches!” The children squeal because the dogs are big and full of energy. At one door, a man is selling unfinished pine furniture… We stop and ask him about it because we’ve never seen him before. How much is the table? Does he make things to order? His friends ask us if the dogs bite, and when we answer “no, they’ve already eaten tonite”, they laugh with us, and we continue on to the park.

At the park by the San Sebastian Church, there are probably fifty young men playing a few games of basketball on the lit courts. The unlit baseball field behind them is fairly empty and we let the dogs run offleash for awhile in the dark, looking at the stars and listening to the distant sound of a TV coming from the cocina economica on the other side of the wall. We walk by later and notice that it’s a quiet night there tonite… only a few tables full of patrons watching television, visiting and eating something that smells delicious.

On the way home, some of the streetlights are not lit and the street is dark except for the passing lights of cars or busses. We wonder how someone reading all those articles would feel right now. Would they be afraid? Because we are not afraid, and we realize we are never afraid walking the streets of Merida. We are not worried that we are going to be shot, because Mexico doesn’t allow ordinary citizens to own guns. There are policemen everywhere in Merida, and it has always been that way. Merida is known as one of the safest places in Mexico and we have seen, heard or read nothing to change that. We feel safe here. We ARE safe here.

When we get home, as we’re lying on the roof looking up at the stars and moonlit clouds, we talk again about our safety. We have walls and locks on the front door and we take the normal precautions. But within our home, we don’t lock every door. We live an indoor/outdoor life and we have been doing that for seven years, with no breakins, no burglaries. One night, we didn’t close the front door well, and the wind blew it open. We slept through that and came downstairs in the morning to a wide open front door. But nothing was taken, nothing had happened. Everything was just the way we had left it the night before. Every so often, we are awake in the middle of the night. We open the front door for the breeze and let the cat walk outside. Before long, a policeman drives by. Everything okay? Thank you officer, everything is fine. We are always struck by how polite and respectful they are.

We can count on one hand the violence that we have heard about in our community in seven years. Those beheadings in ChiChi Suarez, a few miles from here, and another one in Garcia Gineres… that’s it. And those weren’t normal citizens; they were people caught up in the drug war, working for the narcotrafficantes. No one who was innocent was hurt. Not like the spectacular killings we read about in the United States, where an ex-boyfriend dresses up like Santa Claus and blows away the whole family.

So now we are wondering, who is this news serving? Who has suddenly decided that it is time to paint Mexico as the new bad guy? Whose interests are served by the prospect of sending troops to the border, and increasing military support to Mexico? Now that the economy is melting down in the United States, and we have plans for pulling out of Iraq, who might be worried about their profits or their influence?

As the night got later, and the moon rose, the city quieted down and went to sleep. The barking dogs stopped their nightly communication and the roosters stopped mistaking the moon for dawn, and the busses went to sleep… and so did we. Safe in Merida, Mexico. We’re worried about the future, about our safety, our finances. There are a lot of things to worry about these days. But one thing we aren’t worried about is the danger of living in Mexico.

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