Monday, September 18, 2006

A Family Goes to Merida

Sometimes these websites that I review get really close to home. In fact, this one emerges from a house about a block and a half from my home! This family of five comes from Scottsdale, AZ and has decided to try living in Merida for two months. They are jumping into this new culture with a lot of enthusiasm and a digital camera. Their website has a blog which has been chronicling their experiences since before they left.

What I love about this blog is that it really is a blow-by-blow account of the strangeness of moving straight from the States to the Yucatan. The woman who writes it is going through so many of the same things that we went through five years ago when we first moved here. And of course, Merida is my home now and doesn't seem as strange anymore. So the bathroom with a shower in the cocina economica, the aisle of yogurt at WalMart or the water system that seems to have a mind of its own are just de rigeur now. But reading this blog reminds me of what life was like for us when we first moved.

Another interesting thread in this blog is something that you don't see talked about much in the english-speaking blogosphere about Mexico: racism. The writer is white, writer's husband is black and she has three sons of mixed race. They have experienced some racist remarks on the streets here, which doesn't surprise me. I don't think people here are racist... I think they are ignorant. There is not a very large black population in Merida so most people here, I'm guessing, have little or no preconceived ideas about black people. There is a large gay population, but little or no prejudice against gays. In other words, the Yucatecan people aren't intrinsically prejudiced against people who are somehow different. In fact, it seems to us to be one of the most tolerant places we have ever been in the world.

But what the Yucatan and Mexico do have is a class system that is hundreds of years old where the whiter you are, the richer and more important you are. "Indios" are indigenous Indians (Mayans, Nahuatls, etc.) and they have darker skin. If there is prejudice here, it's against the indigenous people, whose skin is darker to begin with and darkened by their labor in the sun. Add on top of that the growing influence of television and movies as the US culture infiltrates its way into the heads of young Mexicans... and well, you have an interesting concoction. I, for one, will be watching this blog to see if there are any other insights into this situation as this family gets more acclimated to Merida and the surroundings.

And then of course, there is the big "reality show" question here: will the Smith Family like Merida enough to move here? Or will they, after two months of living like locals, decide to move home to the United States? I, for one, will be tuning in to find out. Or maybe I'll just ask them over dinner later this week...


Melissa CookingDiva said...

Great link! The photos and the reports make me want to go to Mexico :-)

Anonymous said...

My damn dog...

She jumped the fence to nuzzle me and hid below my bed. From previous eperience that means MAJOR rain in Catemaco.

I now have a copy of that infamous "LAGUNA CATEMACO no es contaminada"

If you want a copy for your grandchildren to laugh at, please send 500 pesos to

Dematac's abuelo really needs it.

Meanwhile I checked the Catemaco News and clicked on Blogs

Blogging is relatively new to Mexico., but growing exponentially.

There is a Mexican Bog Recorder that lists most Mexican blogs, mostly in Spanish

And it is painfully obvious, that reading most of these mostly Spanish blogs, is an invasion of kiddy privacy.

Now for the Mexican disculpa: The percentage of these infantile blogs is probably similar to US blogs.
And in either country it is damn difficult to find one that is worthwhile reading.

As for English writing/speaking blogs about Mexico, they also blossom. Most devote themselves to a vacation period. But there are others concentrating on more in depth blogging about their surroundings and experiences.Ironically, there are now so many of these blogs, that the English/Mexican blogs now have an editorial site describing their qualities: - selected English sourced blogs of Mexico.

I may be one of those of people that the infamous Doug Bowers quotes as "You want to help drive up the prices of real estate until no Mexicans living or who have ever lived could possibly afford to live in their own town?".

As opposed to those who want to convert the catholics of Hueyapan to envangelism, or the recipients of Federal, State and Municipal handout recipients to taxpayers, or those that want to celebrate each event of the Mexican indigenous culture as something economically significant if it were not for tourism.

Of those there are almost no websites. They are hidden in deep dark closets.

Wanna buy a piece of the bridge I'm building to Bahia Escondida?

cheap, reserve your space now!

Anonymous said...

Why are most of your archive links dead?

I like what you write but am stomped for MORE.


Ellen Fields said...

Thanks, Don Gringo, for pointing that out. Actually, only three of my reviewed websites have turned up "muerto", so I deleted them from the list (though their reviews are still on the blog).