Moving to Merida, Yucatan, Mexico.

Our Beach Cottage in Chelem

For those interested more in the pics, they are toward the end. Enjoy!

As a result of total pandemic-induced madness, Lyn and I decided to take a trip to Merida, a small colonial city in the Yucatan, for the week of my birthday. Five months stuck in the house had taken it’s toll on me. In addition, I had just left my “job” and I really needed to get the hell out of dodge for a few days and try to recapture a little normalcy.

When we arrived, the heat and humidity hit us like a sledgehammer. By 3:00 p.m., the mercury had gone well past 100-degrees F. By the time we reached the car rental place, we were drenched with sweat.

Solo una persona por familia,” the car rental agent informed us immediately after we walked into the cool, air-conditioned office. That meant that Lyn, the one more sensitive to the heat, had to wait outside. I would have been glad to have him handle the reservation, but he doesn’t speak Spanish.

Sí, claro.

I kept checking the window to make sure Lyn hadn’t passed out on the sidewalk, or worse, decided he couldn’t take the heat and made his way back to the terminal for a trip back to Querétaro. Like the trooper he is, he hung in there, literally, like a damp cloth waiting to be wrung out.

Although it always takes longer to get a rental car than you think it should, we were finally on our way toward our hotel/airbnb/aparthotel in a very well-cooled Nissan March that we rented for a whopping $7 pesos for the entire week. $7 pesos! That’s not even $0.50 US. Of course, for that, you only get the A/C. Standard transmission (yep, a stick), wind-yourself windows, manual door locks, and the toughest steering I’ve seen in 40 years. It was a blast from my past-life first car, … a white, 4-speed Chevy Vega with a red faux-leather interior. Shifting gears in that baby while attempting to steer that car took every ounce of conviction I had. Truck drivers complained about how hard it was to manage. I suppose you get what you pay for, and $7 pesos was the perfect price for us.

But I digress.

The trip was not really a vacation. We had been discussing options for relocating for a while and Merida was on the list of possible places to live. We had agreed that it no longer mattered where we parked our laptops since neither of us had traditional jobs any more. Many friends, colleagues and students had raved about Merida — how safe it is, how pretty it is, how good the food is, la dee dah. And, to make it an even more enticing destination, it is 20 minutes from the Caribbean.

But holy moly it’s hot.

That week was also the week of Mexican Independence Day, a factor I hadn’t considered. If I had, I might have waited another week. You see, everything — and I do mean everything was closed. Not for the holiday per se, but because of the holiday combined with the pandemic. In order to prevent gatherings of drunken revelers, the city had basically been shut down. All restaurants, bars, malls, stores, … everything …. closed. All of our plans, such a visiting Chichen Itza, walks on the beach, and wining and dining for my birthday, were a no-go. “Wining and dining” became “whining and takeout” interrupted only by forays into house-hunting.

Several weeks before the trip, we had set up time to meet with some Merida realtors who had been referred to us. We had been swapping emails and real estate brochures, and I was getting antsy to get on with things. The first day out, we saw several new developments (desarollos) being built in the northern area surrounding the city. They were quite lovely, if you only looked at the floor plans. One in particular I really liked, except that it was in the middle of nowhere. And, of course, the dang heat — 106-degrees — put both Lyn and me in a foul mood. Despite the size and layout, nothing felt right. I didn’t want a great house; I wanted a great place to live. That means a house and a neighborhood, proximity to the things important to me (like the beach and/or the city), and a great price to boot. These places were all “outside the loop” — the highway that surrounded the city. They weren’t far, but they also weren’t close to anything. They were little enclaves, enclosed in concrete walls with security gates. Some large (over 100 homes), others smaller. They had every amenity, but no ‘there’ there.

We ended the day feeling quite discouraged, only to return to our room and no hot water, nothing to eat or drink, and nothing to do. At least the A/C worked.

The next day, Saturday, Lyn and I took our March for a spin to the beach, in part to kill time, but also in hopes of getting a feel for the small fishing villages on the coast in the event life there might have something more to offer.

The beach in Progreso. The pier in the background is 1.5 miles long and serves both cruise ships and freight lines.

Lyn isn’t a big beach person. He gets precancerous spots on his face just from walking across our courtyard, but he also wants nothing more than to make me happy. For me there is nothing better than seeing the amazing aquamarine water and inhaling the warm salt-sea air!

I was in love. Lyn, not so much.

Lyn in Progresso. As you can see, the beach/malecon was completely cordoned off. Closed!

After another two days of looking at everything “new” in the “up and coming” neighborhoods, I convinced the realtors to think wider and look at some beach houses, including some that needed a little renovation.

We looked at some lots and a small, oddly laid out house further out than we wanted. Then we struck gold — A cute little beach cottage just waiting for someone to come along and love on it a little. We saw several, but the little pink cottage was just right — 1600 square feet and needing minimal work. The owner had just reduced the price and was motivated to sell. And, it was just one block from the beach with an actual view of it due to the old building across the road slowing sliding back into the sea.

“It’s been like that for at least 10 years now,” said the seller’s agent. “I don’t think anything is going to be built there any time soon. And, if someone does, you just add a second story on yours.”

The view through the empty-ish lot across the street.

We continued to look at a few more properties, but this one stuck with me. After a nap and some cajoling, Lyn and I agreed, the little pink cottage was the one. Once again, we will have our own home, free and clear and with lots of little projects to do. And, best yet, within sight of the beach!

Once we made the decision, the rest was pretty simple. We were leaving the next day, so all of the paperwork has been handled via email.

We once again ventured out, this time to Izamal, one of the Pueblos Magicos about an hour from Merida. If you look at pictures on the internet, you can see that all the buildings are painted yellow. Again, it was f*c*ing HOT, so we didn’t stay very long. Just long enough to take some snaps, posted here for your enjoyment.

The black you see on the buildings is likely mold or mildew, as Izamal is in the jungle. I wish we had had more time to look around! From the top of the hill by the convent of San Antonia de Padua, you could see an ancient Mayan pyramid for the Maya Sun god, Kinich Kak Moo. The convent is, itself, built atop some of the ruins. (I captured it in one of the pictures.) You know those Christians! I have to say, I really liked the pretty pastel carriages parked in town to give tours to visitors. Ah, next time.

Published by donnageisler

Former marketing professional turned teacher of English as a Foreign Language. Living in Queretaro, Mexico. Lover of poodles, large and small.

3 thoughts on “Moving to Merida, Yucatan, Mexico.

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