Sunday, October 28, 2007

What do YOU do all day?

Here's a homey, intimate blog written by a woman who has retired to Merida recently. I've been getting out more a bit lately (the "season" is starting here, now that the weather has cooled down) and I've noticed a lot of new faces. There definitely seems to be more extranjeros in Merida than there were, say, last year. And this woman, Theresa, is apparently one of them. Unlike a lot of them, she is writing about it.

Why do people move here? There are a million reasons, but one of them has surely got to be because they can afford to. They can retire a little early (she and her husband are in their fifties, apparently) and can live a relaxed but culture-filled life in a city not so far away from family and friends. Housing is still affordable here. Where else can you find a liveable home for under $100K USD? And be somewhere with a symphony orchestra, museums, archaeological sites, Walmart, Costco, good hospitals and the Caribbean just three hours away? In a nutshell, that explains why more and more people like Theresa and her husband are retiring here. In mine and a lot of other people's opinions, its just the beginning.

Theresa hasn't been posting for very long, so our window onto her world is still a tiny one. She seems comfortable here, even though she hasn't been here long. She posts about everything from shopping (all those people who want to know what it costs to live here? Stay tuned... unlike me, she actually seems to remember what she paid for tomatoes...) to how to bargain with the vendors that come to the door. In fact, that bargaining lesson post was particularly charming... and useful too. Bargaining is not something I'm very good at, but I learned a few things I'm going to practice later.

For a slice of a life in Mexico, this blog shows some real promise. Theresa writes well and includes the kind of little details that are both interesting and useful to someone thinking of following in her footsteps.

Andale, Theresa!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Black Mexico

What a find is this website!

A labor of love, written with insight, intelligence and as a result of much research... this is a website all about Mexicans of African descent.

Here in the Yucatan, we see a black Mexican about once a month... the black culture is not well represented in this part of the world. And the blacks we see are usually from Cuba. But on the other side of the country, in what is called the Costa Chica region, blacks have a definite presence, though still small. (The other area of Mexico with a significant black presence, according to the website, is the state of Veracruz)

The website is written by a cultural anthropologist named Bobby Vaughn, who boasts impressive degrees from places like Lafayette and Stanford. A former Fulbright scholar, he has researched the black population and its history within Mexico and shares the benefit of that research on this website.

For instance, did you know that there were six blacks who participated in the conquest of Mexico with the conquistadors? They were probably the personal slaves of their Spanish masters, brought over with them from Spain and that they were probably Spanish-speaking by the time they got here. Sometime after 1519, the New World started receiving slaves brought in directly from Africa, who were not christianized beforehand (not were they taught Spanish). According to the website, these slaves were called bozales. Probably the most fascinating fact is that black slaves from Africa outnumbered Spaniards from the Old Country from about 1553 until 1810 when the Spaniards started feeling more secure about their place here. Think about it!

I don't want to spoil the rest for you... check out the website yourself. There is a brief history, a little bit about the author, a photo gallery and a reading list. It seems that the website hasn't been updated for awhile, but the content is no less interesting for that.

As one who always loves to learn more about Mexico, I was happy to find this website. Hope you enjoy it too!